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

 

As the FBI probed the sport's recruiting underbelly last preseason, Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey spoke for many at ACC media day.

"We can't have the games start soon enough," he said, "so our fans can be reminded there are some good things in college basketball."

College football's response: Hold my beer.

This first full week of competition couldn't arrive soon enough for a sport diminished by a summer of outrage and tragedy.

And there rests the difference in the two offseasons.

Whether payola in recruiting is scandalous, or merely symptomatic of antiquated rules, can be debated by serious minds.

What can't be debated is that the adults running football programs at Ohio State and Maryland cheapened those institutions. Moreover, they left many of us who love college football wondering if their callousness is pervasive.

As usual, Week 1 offers compelling fare. Saturday gives us Michigan-Notre Dame and Auburn-Washington, followed by Miami-Louisiana State on Sunday and Virginia Tech-Florida State on Monday. Closer to home, Virginia welcomes Richmond, while Old Dominion travels to Liberty.

But even as we tailgate, cheer and mourn, we shouldn't forget what transpired at Maryland and Ohio State. Most important, we should hold those schools accountable and do everything we can to prevent anything remotely similar.

Maryland officials concede the football training staff mismanaged the treatment of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who suffered heatstroke during a May 19 work and died two weeks later in a hospital. A lawyer representing McNair's family told the Baltimore Sun that medical personnel did not use cold water immersion, a fundamental failing.

No wonder Maryland president Wallace Loh said the school accepts "legal and moral responsibility" for McNair's death.

Maryland officials also are probing an ESPN report that detailed a "toxic" culture within the football program, manifested by unhinged coaches abusing players physically, verbally and emotionally. Until resolved, head coach DJ Durkin is on administrative leave.

If ESPN's portrayal is accurate, Terps administrators enabled that culture or were blind to it. Both are unconscionable.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer also was on administrative leave recently, his benching as university officials probed his handling of domestic violence allegations against former Buckeyes assistant coach Zach Smith, the grandson of Meyer's mentor, former Buckeyes coach Earle Bruce.

Resolution, sort of, came last week, when Ohio State suspended Meyer for three games and athletic director Gene Smith for three weeks. The Buckeyes then had the gall to "explain" the suspensions at a news conference staged before reporters had the opportunity to read the university's 23-page summary of its investigation.

The report casts Meyer as a habitual liar and says that on Aug. 1, he and director of football operations Brian Voltolini discussed how to erase texts from Meyer's phone that might be subjected to open records requests. That conversation occurred immediately after reporter Brett McMurphy posted a damning story regarding Meyer's knowledge of Zach Smith's issues.

Investigators went easier on Gene Smith, but criticized him for failing his contractual obligation to report Zach Smith's domestic violence past to Ohio State's office of university compliance and integrity.

Ohio State should have fired Meyer and Gene Smith for their tone-deaf toleration of not only Zach Smith's domestic violence past, but also his repeated job-performance shortcomings. Instead, the school caved to its football interests.

And those interests are paramount.

Meyer wins championships. He owns Michigan, the school up north. Most important to Ohio State power brokers, his program prints money. According to Ohio State's most recent U.S. Department of Education filings, for fiscal 2016-17, Buckeyes football turned a $51.5 million profit, with revenue of $89.9 million and expenses of $38.4 million.

The average profit margin for the S&P 500 was approximately 11 percent in 2017. Ohio State football's was 57.3 percent.

Some other context: Buckeyes football generated about as much revenue as Virginia Tech's entire athletic department, and its $51.5 million in profits would fund all of William and Mary's sports programs for nearly two years.

"I think anytime you have these kind of stories, the magnitude of these stories, it's going to hurt college football," said ESPN analyst and former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit. "This would hurt any sport, whether it's the MLB, the NFL, whatever it might be.

"When you have that many things happen, I think it kind of makes you take a step back and really look to see are we getting to a point where college football is becoming so big and the pressure to win is so great, that people sometimes are cutting corners, and sometimes people are maybe turning and not necessarily paying attention to some key things."

Key things such as respecting rather than intimidating players. Key things such as reporting allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault to proper authorities.

So revel in all that college football offers. But don't abandon common decency.

Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall acknowledged Wednesday the damage to college football.

"I think with the increased visibility of college football in particular, I think with the increased monetary values and exposure, the commercialization that comes with that, a shift more towards entertainment, I think with that has come some of the conduct and some of the tabloid-ish type of issues," he said, "but also some of the scrutiny that accompanies entertainment.

"I think there will be a tipping point at some point. I think there will be a point where there will be a significant shift back to college athletes and student-athletes and amateur sport, the development of young people through a game."

We can only hope.

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Copyright 2018 The Commercial Appeal, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

A dozen years ago, I wrote a guest column for The Commercial Appeal entitled "Putting Student Athletes' Health at Risk." With the unfortunate death of a young athlete in Byhalia, Miss., this week, it's obvious high school football players are still at risk.

It's time state legislatures took control of high school athletics by abolishing all high school athletic associations, such as the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) and the Mississippi High School Activities Association.

Place high school sports under the supervision of state and local school boards where it belongs, and where health - not wealth - can be made the top priority.

When it's this hot, we are told to protect our dogs, cats, and plants from the heat. We are urged to check on elderly neighbors. We are cautioned to drink plenty of water and wear light clothes. Yet, all the while, we allow young students as young as 14 to begin football practice during July, the hottest time of the year.

Even colleges don't start their practices as early as July 31. There's good reason for that: I have been told that practicing football with full pads can increase the heat index by 15 degrees.

What's so silly about starting high school practice in midsummer and regular season games in mid-August is that the regular season will end before Nov. 1; just about the time crisp temperatures that we think of as real football weather are likely to begin.

The main reason for this schedule is the TSSAA. This organization, which rules high school sports, wants to have as many teams, as many divisions and as many playoff brackets as possible to determine the state championship football teams.

Completing the regular high school football season early gives the TSSAA until mid-December to stage as many postseason games as possible, and to make money on them from parking, concessions, admissions and videos.

The TSSAA loves to have cities in Tennessee fight for the privilege of hosting some of its other postseason events, such as the annual Spring Fling. It's like bidding for a new Nissan plant: Its officials get wined and dined like rock stars, all on the backs of our student-athletes.

I have asked many of our state legislators why we allow the TSSAA to exploit our young student-athletes without government regulation. The response has been a reluctance to take on a body as powerful as the TSSAA. Thus it is allowed to operate its revenue-generating tournaments without oversight, even at the expense of our students' welfare.

I do understand some rules for safety have been enacted since my article first appeared, but that doesn't deal with the main problem: The season starts too early and is way too long.

As dangerous as summer football practice can be, once school starts it gets downright brutal. Most high schools start classes at 7:30 a.m. and many football teams are still practicing at 7:30 p.m. How are students supposed to shower, go home, eat dinner, study and be up by 6:30 a.m. to return to school?

Football practices should be limited to no more than 90 minutes. High school games should not begin until after Labor Day and the regular season should end by mid-November.

This would leave time for a reasonable yet reduced series of playoff games to determine the state football champions.

John Vergos is co-owner of The Rendezvous and a former member of Memphis City Council.

 

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

 

The NCAA cleared Michigan State University of any rules infractions in the Larry Nassar sexual-assault scandal, the school announced Thursday.

The school released a letter from Jonathan Duncan, the NCAA's vice president for enforcement, that addressed the Nassar case, as well as an investigation into how the university has handled allegations involving football and men's basketball players.

"This review has not substantiated violations of NCAA legislation," Duncan wrote in his letter, which was dated Wednesday and addressed to Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman. "Based on available information, it does not appear there is need for further inquiry."

Beekman said the university "cooperated fully with the inquiry" and welcomes the NCAA's conclusion.

Nassar, 55, pleaded guilty to assaulting girls and women while working as a campus sports doctor for Michigan State athletes and gymnasts in the region. Victims included U.S. Olympians who trained at Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics. He has been sentenced to decades in prison in three separate cases involving assault and child pornography.

The NCAA sent a letter of inquiry to Michigan State in January about potential rules violations related to Nassar, but this week's findings didn't come as a huge surprise.

"I think this is part of the challenge the NCAA faces," said Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at Tulane University. "They are not intended to be an extension of law enforcement."

The NCAA punished Penn State football for the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse scandal, but those sanctions were challenged in court and rolled back. Josephine Potuto, a law professor at the University of Nebraska and former chair of the NCAA infractions committee, said she thought the NCAA erred in its attempt to punish Penn State - and she's not surprised the governing body went in a different direction with Michigan State.

When the NCAA cracks down on a school for, say, a recruiting violation, that infraction can lead to an unfair advantage on the field. That's more in line with cases the NCAA often handles - even if many NCAA violations seem trivial compared with Nassar's crimes.

"I mean, it's horrible, and it's a crime, clearly - he's going to be in prison the rest of his life," Potuto said. "But that doesn't mean there's an NCAA violation there."

Michigan State has denied that anyone covered up Nassar's crimes. But former athletes say various campus staff downplayed or disregarded their complaints about him. The university in May reached a $500 million settlement with hundreds of women and girls who said they were assaulted by Nassar.

The NCAA's response drew a sharp rebuke Thursday from Rachael Denhollander, who in 2016 was the first woman to publicly identify herself as a victim of Nassar.

"I'm deeply disappointed at the NCAA's ruling," she said in a text message. "If the NCAA legislation does not prohibit their coaches from

-threatening consequences if a victim reports abuse

-asking their NCAA athletes to sign a card for someone jailed on child sex abuse charges and

-lying to police

-and failing to report allegations of child sexual abuse

Perhaps the NCAA needs to revisit their own legislation."

The announcement from Michigan State came the same day that former gymnastics coach Kathie Klages, a longtime Nassar ally, appeared in court on charges of lying to investigators. Authorities say two teens complained to her back in 1997.

The Nassar scandal caused a shake-up in school leadership early this year, and athletic director Mark Hollis retired . Around that same time, ESPN reported allegations of sexual assault and violence against women involving Michigan State football and basketball players. The report questioned how the athletic department handled those cases over the years.

Beekman said the NCAA's findings provided "external validation" of how football coach Mark Dantonio and basketball coach Tom Izzo run their programs. He said the NCAA's response to Nassar's crimes doesn't change the school's duty to maintain a safe environment.

"While we agree with the NCAA that we did not commit a violation, that does not diminish our commitment to ensure the health, safety and wellness of our student athletes," Beekman said in a statement. "That pledge permeates everything we do as part of a larger university commitment to making MSU a safer campus."

___

AP Sports Writer Larry Lage contributed to this report.

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

 

Jeffrey Wadsworth told The New York Times he quit the Ohio State board of trustees following its decision to suspend football coach Urban Meyer last week.

The former Batelle CEO cited "an issue of standards, values" in explaining his decision.

He apparently was concerned a more severe punishment was not more seriously considered for Meyer, who was suspended without pay for six weeks and will miss Ohio State's first three games of the season.

Wadsworth left the meeting when the board broke for lunch.

"It became clear to me where we were, discussing penalties, and I wasn't ready to do that," he said, explaining his early departure. "I was in a different place."

He "had larger concerns," he said: "I felt that getting into a limited number of games that was a suspension missed the point of a bigger cultural concern about 'What message were we sending?' "

Wadsworth had been a member of the board since June 2010 when he was appointed by Gov. Ted Strickland. His term was to be up next May.

Meyer's punishment was announced late on the night of August 22 after the board deliberated for nearly 12 hours about the results of an independent investigation into how the coach handled allegations assistant coach Zach Smith had abused his wife.

The investigators concluded Meyer had not tried to cover up the allegation, but their report also raised some eyebrows in noting Meyer had seemed interested in deleting texts that were more than a year old from his phone and was found to have memory issues resulting from medication.

Meyer's punishment was ultimately a result of failing to properly manage Smith in light of "a pattern of troubling behavior" including "promiscuous and embarrassing sexual behavior, drug abuse, truancy, dishonesty, financial irresponsibility, a possible NCAA violation, and a lengthy police investigation into allegations of criminal domestic violence and cyber crimes."

The Battelle Memorial Institute is a non-profit research and development powerhouse adjacent to the OSU main campus and just down the street from Ohio Stadium.

Wadsworth, who has doctorate degree in metallurgy and another doctorate in engineering, came to the U.S. from England and has worked at Stanford University, Lockheed Missiles and Space Co and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He has written nearly 300 scientific papers and one book and holds four U.S. patents.

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Hit the lights, Bartlett. It's showtime. After 20 years of playing home games at Streamwood High, the Bartlett football team finally takes its own field Friday night. The Hawks face Glenbard East under the lights as the District U-46 high school debuts a new $1.5 million on-campus athletic facility, which includes grandstand seating for 1,500, LED directional lighting and a press box. It is the culmination of a multiyear fundraising effort led by the Bartlett Booster Club and community leaders to raise $925,000 of the total cost.

Never again will Bartlett football players, cheerleaders and band members need to board a bus to attend a home game. "To have our kids actually walking out of our own school and straight to a field where the community has come together to raise the funds is really kind of cool," said Jeff Bral, the school's 10th-year athletic director and a Bartlett resident. "It's not a Bartlett High School thing, it's not a U-46 thing and it's not a booster club thing. It's a community thing, and that's something we don't have at Bartlett.

"I'm so excited for the kids — and not just the football kids — but all the kids who are going to come Friday night and do a tailgate and share the night with all of us." Bral said the plan is to continue to seek donations for a turf field. Future phases of the project also call for expanding visiting team seating (currently temporary bleachers in the north end zone seat 300) and the construction of permanent restrooms, concessions and storage.

Bral said a separate donation was made to erect a permanent memorial to fallen soldiers, which will be dedicated the night of the Sept. 7 home game against Glenbard South. Finishing touches were still being applied to the new facility in the days before kickoff. An asphalt crew paved a new ambulance pad on Wednesday. A school district work crew was scheduled to install a permanent flagpole Thursday.

A temporary flagpole is in place in case work is not completed in time. Parking should not be an issue. Bartlett boasts the most parking spaces of any of the five U-46 high schools. All traffic should use the Schick Rd. entrance. "This is great for the parents, too," Bral added. "They're always out supporting their kids. Now, they get to drive right down the street, park in a parking spot they know and come out here and watch. It's going to be pretty cool."

Brown out for St. Charles North

St. Charles North quarterback Peyton Brown will miss the rest of the season due to a torn ACL, he announced on Twitter Tuesday. Brown suffered the knee injury in the third quarter of last Friday's 23-16 victory over Schaumburg and did not return. It was a cruel twist of fate for a player who missed his entire junior season due to a labrum injury.

"Unfortunately adversity (has) struck me and my family again," Brown tweeted. "I have (torn) my ACL. I thank everyone who has supported me throughout this process and giving me positive energy. My very talented brother (Kyler Brown) will take the (reins) as QB. I will play through him." Peyton Brown was off to a promising start. Against Schaumburg, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound senior completed 9 of 18 attempts for 145 yards and 3 touchdowns and rushed 5 times for 32 yards. Kyler Brown is a 6-foot-2, 170-pound junior. He entered Friday's game after his brother was injured and completed 2 of 3 passes for 19 yards.

He was intercepted once. St. Charles North coach Rob Pomazak said he has confidence in Kyler Brown, who he confirmed will start Friday when the North Stars visit Bolingbrook. "Injuries are part of the game and it's not a matter of if but when," Pomazak said. "We do a nice job of establishing reps for all of our kids all summer and Kyler has taken as many reps if not more than Peyton. While I feel bad on a personal level because Peyton is a great young man who worked so hard, on a professional level as a head coach you have to prepare for this. We're not the only team to ever lose a starting quarterback. We feel Kyler will step in and do a good job."

Charging out of the gate

Dundee-Crown has an opportunity to open the season 2-0 for the first time since the 2014-15 season when it hosts McHenry (0-1) in the home opener in Carpentersville Friday. The Chargers fell behind 13-0 at Grayslake North last week only to storm back for a 30-25 victory. Senior Ricky Ibarra rushed for 181 yards and 3 touchdowns, highlighted by a 58-yard, third-quarter burst up the middle that put his team ahead to stay. Ibarra ran behind an offensive line that fifth-year Dundee-Crown coach Mike Steinhaus said "probably had the best game any offensive line has had since I've been the head coach or been in the system here. They didn't have any missed assignments. They played great."

That unit includes senior left tackle Nik Karavidas (6-foot-2, 215 pounds), junior left guard Anthony Fakhoury (5-8, 185), senior center Giovanni DeLaTorre (5-10, 232), senior right guard Austin Miller (5-11, 235), senior left tackle Gabe Kurzynski (6-3, 260), junior tight end Justin Prusko (6-6, 225) and senior tight end Jack Michalski (6-4, 185). The way the poised Chargers responded in the face of an early deficit was a tribute to the veteran leadership of a senior-dominated lineup.

"We're trying to create that iron will, that belief, so I think us going down 13 in the first quarter was a good thing, if you can believe that's a good thing," Steinhaus said. "Our kids were under control, they calmed down and did what they needed to do to win the game." Back with the Bulldogs: The first Batavia touchdown of the season was scored by wide receiver Nick Rempert, a senior who wasn't a student at the school this time last year.

Rempert attended Batavia as a freshman but "I got in a little bit of trouble, got myself straightened out and came back," he said. In the interim, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior attended Mooseheart and played football. He transferred back to Batavia for the spring semester of his junior year. "He met with us and said I really want to play football here, coach, and I really want to help the team," Batavia's Dennis Piron said.

"He immersed himself in the culture. He worked hard in the weight room, did track, didn't miss anything in the summer. He's really grown as a player and a receiver. He's a wonderful athlete and his blocking has improved. He's a good teammate. He's a fun kid to be around. He has a good sense of humor about things. He's a very confident young man."

With his team in the red zone at Lemont last Friday, Rempert saw quarterback Jack Myers scramble to the right and raced to the open edge of the end zone. He caught an 8-yard touchdown pass on the run to put the Bulldogs ahead 9-7 in the final minute of the second quarter of an eventual 22-15 win. "He's someone who is going to grow as a player week by week," Piron said. "He could really turn into, I think, a special, special force for our program the second half of the season as he gets comfortable with the speed level and the offensive sets." Playing for the defending Class 7A champs was a satisfying feeling for Rempert.

"It's like a dream come true because I've been watching them all this time at Mooseheart," he said. "I can't believe I'm here now actually doing stuff with them."

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Copyright 2018 The State Journal- Register
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The State Journal- Register (Springfield, IL)

 

The H.D. Smith Foundation announced Wednesday a $20 million donation to the University of Illinois.

The foundation, led by Dale and Chris Smith, will give $15 million to the new Football Performance Center. The center will be a 107,650-square foot facility adjoining the south end of the Irwin Indoor Practice Facility. The center will be named the Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Center.

"To say a simple thank you for such an extraordinary gift fails to do justice to the generous investment the Smiths have chosen to make in Illinois Athletics and, specifically, our football program," Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman said in a press release. "It has been my privilege getting to know Dale and Chris since my arrival on campus. For years they have been loyal to the University and supportive of our bold vision for this department. Their investment today will dramatically change our program, and the coming success of the Fighting Illini will be forever tied to them."

The center will feature new locker rooms, sports medicine space, coaches' offices and more.

The $2 million also will go toward the Illinois Carle College of Medicine, while the final $3 million will go toward scholarship opportunities for former student-athletes to return to campus for degree completion.

Chris and Dale Smith said their donation honored their late father, Henry Dale, and mother, Betty, for their passion for Illinois football.

The Smith family founded H.D. Smith in 1954, which has since become a national medical wholesaler, providing services and solutions for health-care providers.

AmerisourceBergen, based in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, acquired Springfield-based H.D. Smith earlier this year. AmerisourceBergen's $815 million deal to take over the Springfield company closed in early January.

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Copyright 2018 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

I had the privilege a few years ago of helping found and then serving as the first executive director of the Utah Anti-Bullying Coalition, a group of concerned Utah citizens whose goal is to help stamp out bullying in all its insidious forms. We chose to work primarily with middle school and high school students by sponsoring assemblies, bringing in motivational speakers and helping students form anti-bullying clubs, among other initiatives. The media helped, writing and broadcasting pieces about the need for more civility and inclusivity in schools. And we felt as though we had some success.

And so it was with no small amount of sadness and a little anger that I heard about a couple of ugly incidents that marred the start of this year's high school sports season.

On Aug. 14, the girls soccer team from Sky View traveled to Alta for a match. Sky View's team features two African-American players, sisters Darci and Emmie Woodward. About 10 minutes into the first half, Emmie says, a male shouted from the Alta student section, "Black lives don't matter!" A little later, Darci says, she heard someone in the same section shout, "I hope you're embarrassed" and "Nice shot, (slur)."

It is something Emmie and Darci say they had never experienced before. Their parents, who are white, adopted them when they were young children, and they say they have always felt welcome and secure in their Smithfield neighborhood and school, and everywhere they have traveled and played.

The girls say they reported the shouting of the racial slurs to officials and coaches at the time, but nothing was done.

Social media has been abuzz with the incident, and several local TV stations have followed the story.

A Canyons School District spokesman says the district has "a very strict anti-discrimination and anti-bullying policy" and when the district heard about the incident it "launched an investigation."

A few days later at a Jordan vs. East football game, an East High fan made derogatory comments about a Jordan coach who has a physical disability and walks with two canes. The coach's son, who is a player on the Jordan team, heard the comments, confronted the uncouth fan and a fight ensued.

The Jordan administration says it is investigating.

Investigations into episodes like these are expected, and who knows what may come of them.

Of course, the incidents never should have happened in the first place.

Students should feel welcome and safe at school, whether their own or those they may visit. Sporting events and the accompanying heat of competition seem to bring out the worst in some people. But that is no excuse for racist, bullying and boorish behavior.

Assuming the administrations' investigations find offenders, they should take appropriately strong actions to let everyone involved know that such conduct is not acceptable under any circumstances. In addition, the schools involved should use the incidents as teaching moments in assemblies or in the classroom to impress upon students once again that kindness, tolerance and acceptance are the mainstays of a civilized society.

They should encourage students to take a strong stand with their peers against racism, bullying and incivility in any of its forms. Indeed, nothing sends a stronger message than students standing up and saying, "Not in our house!" Also, it would be well for the schools and the districts to send communications to the students' homes encouraging parents to use these unfortunate incidents to teach their children about tolerance and kindness.

The vast majority of Utah students, their parents and fans of their sports teams are polite and considerate. But those few who choose to rebuff propriety and behave in unacceptable ways need to be called out and held accountable.

Don Olsen is a former television journalist and co-founder and partner of a media and public relations firm.

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Copyright 2018 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

OSHKOSH - The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh quietly fired its longtime, highly successful men's club volleyball coach last year after an investigation concluded he sexually harassed a player, the USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin has learned.

After the university announced coach Brian "Lumpy" Schaefer had "stepped down to pursue other opportunities," Schaefer implied to the community that he was leaving voluntarily. The coach who replaced Schaefer at UW-Oshkosh - and supported the player who brought allegations against him - also spoke glowingly about Schaefer publicly.

Schaefer went on to do independent contract work with Pacesetter Sports, an organization that offers summer volleyball camps in Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Nebraska and Iowa. He coached at least one of those camps.

The 2015 "Coach of the Year" for collegiate Division 1 club volleyball also has since worked for the Wisconsin Volleyball Academy, which organizes competitive traveling teams, camps, leagues and private training for youths.

The allegations against Schaefer involved incessant sexually explicit texting, supplying alcohol to a player and then engaging in a game the player found "weird" when the player was intoxicated.

Documents about the sexual harassment allegations against Schaefer were obtained by the Journal Sentinel after a Winnebago County Circuit Court judge denied Schaefer's attempts to block their release and to force the university to more heavily redact them before sharing them publicly.

The UW System Board of Regents is trying to address employee departures related to sexual harassment with a proposed new personnel policy. That policy, which is expected to be enacted in a few months, would alert prospective public and private employers to substantiated sexual harassment claims if they do reference checks.

"Cases like this underscore the need for the new and revised HR policies currently being developed by the UW System," UW spokeswoman Heather LaRoi said Wednesday.

The policy changes were prompted by revelations earlier this year that a UW-Stevens Point administrator resigned while under investigation for sexual harassment, then landed the same job at UW-Eau Claire.

Schaefer coached the men's club team, but also coached women's volleyball during his 25-year career at UW-Oshkosh. The male player who accused Schaefer of sexual harassment said the former coach asked him to do "weird things," and asserted that he was harassed over several years.

Schaefer was employed by UW-Oshkosh from January 1997 through August 2017 but was placed on administrative leave with pay in May 2017 when the university launched an investigation into the accusations against him.

Investigative documents detail allegations that Schaefer regularly bought drinks for the male student who accused him and for other male volleyball players. He was accused of showing up at the victim's apartment with alcohol, uninvited, and asking the young man to play a game called "nut ball" when he was drunk.

The young man described "nut ball" as a game in which they would "throw the ball at each other very hard in an effort to hit each other in the groin." Schaefer exposed his penis once and asked the student to throw the tennis ball at him - an allegation Schaefer acknowledged was true in an interview with the investigator.

Facebook posts show Schaefer continued to work as a volleyball coach in different organizations following his departure from UW-Oshkosh, including as the 2017-'18 lead coach for one of the Wisconsin Volleyball Academy's boys teams.

In May, Schaefer posted on Facebook that he was a coordinator for Pacesetter Sports' volleyball camps.

Schaefer became well known for his success in coaching the UW-Oshkosh men's club volleyball team, winning a collegiate club Division I "coach of the year" award in 2015, the Advance-Titan reported.

After Schaefer was fired, UW-Oshkosh Assistant Chancellor and Director of Athletics Darryl Sims said the coach "stepped down to pursue other opportunities."

In addition to the student's complaint, documents released by the university show the young man initially talked about Schaefer's sexual harassment behavior with William Brydon, a high school teacher in Oshkosh and coach for a UW-Oshkosh men's volleyball club program.

In his own complaint to the university about Schaefer's behavior, Brydon said he encouraged the student to report the harassment to college officials and told him he would support him.

Following Schaefer's departure, Brydon was hired to fill the head coach position and to lead the volleyball program, according to posts on the volleyball club's website.

Brydon declined to comment for this story.

Schaefer did not respond this week to multiple requests for comment.

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Copyright 2018 Independent Publishing Company
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Anderson Independent-Mail (South Carolina)

 

CLEMSON — When the Clemson football team kicks off yet another promising season on Saturday, the players may do plenty of talking on the field.

And who could blame them?

They won't be expressing themselves on social media.

Despite ever-growing social media platforms and participation, particularly among millennials, Clemson's players appear to be bucking the trend.

The 2018 season will mark the seventh consecutive year that the players have adopted a team-wide, season-long ban on posting on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

"We don't have time to be on social media, to be honest," said senior defensive end Austin Bryant. "So it's no big deal."

Despite overwhelming support for the ban on behalf of Clemson's players, the Tigers remain the only Atlantic Coast Conference team to institute a player-driven, team-wide policy, although N.C. State has had position groups that have elected to pass on social media during the season.

Each of the remaining 12 league schools were surveyed as well, and none have restrictions on social media participation, although most said they have individuals who choose to eschew the platforms once the season is under way.

"I know some guys do stay off social during the season," said Pete Moris, Virginia Tech's associate athletic director for strategic communications. "But there is no team or self-imposed ban."

Offered Jason Baum, associate athletic director for communications at Boston College: "We encourage our guys to use the platform — we just educate them on how to do it the right way."

No way apparently has become the right way for the Tigers, who don't appear to have suffered any social media withdrawal during the previous six seasons.

Talent has elevated Clemson to its lofty national standing, but both players and coaches are quick to remind that the Tigers are 72-11 since adopting the commentary on social media ban.

Coincidence? Probably.

Selling point? You bet.

"I think that just tells you about the collective focus that that program has," said ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit. "And the older players, they clearly are not letting success or individual notoriety go to their heads."

Senior cornerback Mark Fields confirmed that such is the case.

"It's a good thing," he said. "It keeps the team locked in and focused on the task at hand. It keeps everybody away from all the outside stuff, all the haters.

"Really, what we've got here is most important. Whatever everybody's talking about out there isn't important at all."

There's no question that it seems to be a bigger deal to outsiders than to the players themselves.

Some national sports media representatives have questioned the practice, contending that it denies players the right to express themselves.

Bryant scoffs at the notion.

"We're grown men, so I guess people feel like we should have the freedom to do what we want to do," Bryant said. "But we're such a close-knit team. It is team-imposed and really like it because during the season you'll see so much criticism for you and your performance if you play bad.

"Just knowing the whole team's not on social media, you don't feel the responsibility to stick up for yourself and say something back. Besides, we still look at it (social media), we just don't comment. It's not like we're in a hole or anything."

The origins of the player-imposed ban can be traced back to the summer of 2012, when a tweet by then-quarterback Tajh Boyd about the arrest of then-South Carolina quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus prompted a firestorm of feedback.

When fall practice began a short time later, Boyd told center Dalton Freeman that he didn't have time to deal with all the fallout from his tweet.

Freeman came up with the idea of going inactive on social media during the season and he and Boyd approached Swinney with the idea. The team unanimously approved and each team since has followed suit.

"I'm a fan of it," said Eric Mac Lain, who was a redshirt freshman tight end on the team when the policy was adopted. "I think it has kept us out of a lot of drama-filled situations that you see in other places."

Mac Lain doesn't expect the tradition to anytime soon.

"It's something the guys are used to now," Mac Lain said. "It's not some big secret. Nobody's like, 'Oh my, I'm transferring.' We have enough grown men to understand that this is only going to help."

Herbstreit, a former quarterback at Ohio State, couldn't agree more, saying that he's a big fan of Clemson's players "self-policing" themselves.

"I love that," he said. "I have four boys. I have two that are in high school, two seniors that play, and a sophomore as well. I'm constantly talking to them about focusing on what matters most to them, especially during those months.

"It's cool to hear that the players are setting that tone. Players are saying, 'Hey, we want all distractions out of our way. We want to focus on winning football games.' "

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Welcome to downtown Atlanta, Jake. Now trade in those khakis for something torch red and volt green.

The home of the Atlanta Hawks will bear a new name when it reopens this fall following one of the most expensive renovations in NBA history: State Farm Arena.

Officials from the basketball team and the insurance giant — which has a growing footprint in the Atlanta area — announced their new 20-year, $175 million naming rights deal with much pomp and circumstance on Wednesday.

That makes it one of the most expensive arena naming rights deals in professional basketball.

Hawks CEO Steve Koonin, who declined to comment on the financial part of the deal, said the relationship started with a dinner last November.

"We just had a really good conversation," Koonin said after Wednesday's ceremony at the site of the Hawks remodeled arena off Centennial Olympic Park Drive.

"That led us to saying, 'Let's explore what we can do.'"

The christening of State Farm Arena, complete with pyrotechnics and appearances by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Hawks players, marks the end of an era for the home of the Hawks, which has been known as Philips Arena since its inception.

The team and Philips, a consumer electronics company, signed a 20-year, $185 million deal before the arena opened in 1999. It was among the largest naming rights deals in U.S. sports at the time. But Philips largely abandoned its consumer-focused business efforts in 2013 and has transitioned to a health technology and lighting company.

Illinois-based State Farm, meanwhile, already has a significant presence in the Atlanta area.

Construction is well underway on the insurer's new regional hub in the Perimeter area, where thousands of employees are expected to work in a group of shiny glass towers being built near the Dunwoody MARTA station and Perimeter Mall. A previous fiscal impact study from Georgia Tech showed that about 2,200 of the projected 7,500 employees on the site will be new to the Atlanta area.

The first new tower is largely complete. The other two, projected to cost north of $400 million total to build, are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022.

"We have an enormous presence in the Atlanta area," said State Farm CEO Michael Tipsord. "And we're looking forward to building on that even more going forward."

Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler said that and State Farm's commitment to involvement in the community were big factors in the decision.

"They were our No. 1 choice," Ressler said. "There should be no confusion."

The soon-to-be State Farm Arena will host around 2 million guests every year for basketball games, concerts and other events. Over the last two years, the arena has undergone multiple phases of a $192.5 million renovation, which officials have said is the second-largest renovation in NBA history.

New offerings will include the league's "third-largest center-hung scoreboard," improved sight lines and a series of unique shops and experiences like a courtside bar, an in-arena barbershop and a number of high-end restaurants. The Hawks also announced last month a shift to "fan-friendly" food pricing, a suddenly popular trend that started with Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

Across the street, a group tied to Ressler's brother is proposing a massive, $5 billion development in the long vacant area known as the Gulch.

"It's not about one thing," Koonin said. "It's about all of these things."

Arena renovations are expected to be completed in October, in time for the Hawks' 2018-19 season. The first ticketed event at the transformed arena will be a 25th anniversary concert for Atlanta-based record label So So Def.

That concert is scheduled for Oct. 21. The Hawks announced Wednesday, however, that an "open house" to show off the renovated venue will be held Oct. 20. It will be free and open to the public.

The Hawks' first home game at State Farm Arena will be Oct. 24.

— AJC staff writers Tim Tucker and Chris Vivlamore contributed to this article.

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

DOVERA Portsmouth man convicted of beating a former PlanetFitness employee to retaliate for an alleged theft of $30,000 by her boyfriend will spend at least 18 months in state prison.Jordan Lamonde, 23, was sentenced to two to five years behind bars with six months suspended from the minimum Wednesday afternoon at Strafford County Superior Court in Dover.Judge Mark Howard said he watched the 28-second video of Lamonde assaulting 19-year-old Erin McCarthy outside the Rochestergym multiple times and was struck by the way her head snapped back as Lamonde kneed her in the face."The nature of that attack was quite brutal," Howard said.Howard also pointed out the amount of planning it took to find out where McCarthy worked and what time she would finish her shift on June 12, 2017.Lamonde's grandmother, Roxanne Lamonde, began to cry as Howard read the prison sentence. She had just pleaded with the judge to be lenient, saying he has lived with her since he was a senior in high school."You have only seen 28 seconds of his life. The worst 28 seconds of his life," Roxanne Lamonde said.She described her grandson as someone who loves animals and little kids and talked about how Jordan Lamonde has been publicly shamed time and time again.Roxanne Lamonde said they have had to flee restaurants with meals left unfinished when people recognize her grandson from the media coverage of his case.Jordan Lamonde's mother, Tonya Sorrell, also asked for a reduced sentence.

She said his only sibling wants to have him at her graduation in the spring.Before asking for prison time, Deputy County Attorney Timothy Sullivan explained to the court why Lamonde — who had been free on bail - appeared in a Strafford County House of Corrections outfit and shackles.Sullivan said that on Tuesday at around 7 a.m. Lamonde broke out of his GPS monitoring device. He turned himself in at 11 a.m. and allegedly tested positive for THC and cocaine.Lamonde has tested positive for THC multiple times while on bail, according to court paperwork. Sullivan expressed his frustration to Howard and said it proves Lamonde is hard to monitor in the community.Sullivan read a victim impact statement from McCarthy which said, in part, "I may have been able to take what he did to me, but I am no Superwoman."Howard said Lamonde is lucky McCarthy was not more seriously injured in the attack, in which Lamonde came up behind her, threw her on the ground, kneed her in the face and punched her in the head multiple times before fleeing the scene in his vehicle.

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Copyright 2018 Collier County Publishing Company
All Rights Reserved

Naples Daily News (Florida)

 

Collier and Lee school districts announced Wednesday that backpacks and other large bags would no longer be allowed inside district sporting venues, effective immediately.

The restrictions apply to high school stadiums and gyms and will be in effect only for games.

The Lee district's decision came after Cypress Lake High School had announced it would ban backpacks and large bags from sporting events.

In an email, Collier County Schools Superintendent Kamela Patton said an exception would be made for necessary medical items, after inspection.

All games will have increased security, district spokesman Greg Turchetta wrote in an email.

Turchetta said purses and other small bags will still be allowed, but they will be subject to possible screening.

Less than a week ago, a shooting at a high school football game in Jacksonville left one teenager dead and two others injured.

"With all that's happened in recent times and how close to home these events are, security is of the utmost importance," said Barron Collier activities director Ken Andiorio.

"We have to do everything we can to reduce the possibility of something like that happening here.

"I mean you're probably never going to eliminate it completely. You can't monitor every car that drives by a stadium, but you can do everything you can to make sure the stadium itself and the campus itself is as safe as it can possibly be."

Barron Collier was one of four Collier County schools already to have a backpack policy in place prior to Wednesday's announcement. Golden Gate, Gulf Coast and Palmetto Ridge were the others.

Lee County schools issued its policies after one of its member schools did the day before.

"Announcement: Do NOT bring any bags, purses, or backpacks to football games," the Cypress Lake High School Twitter account wrote Tuesday.

"You will not be permitted to enter the stadium if you bring them. Please leave them at home or in your car during the games. Thank you for your cooperation."

Lee County Superintendent Greg Adkins announced the districtwide policy after meeting with the School Board on Wednesday.

"Rather than have some of the schools doing some individual things... it would be best just to come out as a district with this new procedure," Adkins said.

Turchetta's email did not say whether Collier County's new policy is related to the Jacksonville shooting.

When asked what prompted the change, Turchetta wrote: "We continued to review all safety procedures and decided it was time to add this additional layer of security to help keep students, staff and our community safe."

Collier school district activities coordinator Mark Rosenbalm said Wednesday's move was just the latest in a series of moves to make campuses more secure.

"It's a totally different world out there today," Rosenbalm said. "And as a district we're always at the forefront of constantly trying to make sure our students are safe, whatever venue they go to in our school system."

Collier School Board member and Naples High School parent Erick Carter said he understood why the district felt the need to increase security.

"When we host these games, it's not just our students coming into our gymnasiums. We really don't know who's coming," he said.

"As a parent, I see it as another layer of protection for my son," Carter said. "We'll see how it goes this Friday, and I welcome feedback from parents as to what their thoughts are."

Andiorio said anything the district can do to make venues safer for student-athletes and spectators is a winning proposition.

"It's best to be vigilant in situations like this," he said. "There's an old saying, 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.'

"Only in this case, we're not talking about a rash. We're talking about issues of life and death. So it's great to see the district being proactive and putting these types of policies in place."

Fort Myers News-Press staff writers Seth Soffian and Thyrie Bland contributed to this report.

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Copyright 2018 The Commercial Appeal, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

Byhalia High School head football coach John Danley defended himself and his coaching staff against allegations that they returned a 16-year-old player to a Friday night game despite signs the teen was unwell.

Danley said Dennis Mitchell showed no signs of duress before he collapsed on the sideline and later died. Some of Mitchell's family members and classmates — cited in multiple news reports — alleged the sophomore defensive lineman suffered a hard hit on the field, felt woozy and sick on the sidelines before urging coaches to let him back on the playing field.

Danley, who is also assistant principal at the Mississippi school, provided game footage to The Commercial Appeal and described his recollection of the moments leading up to Mitchell's collapse during the second quarter.

"We had a turnover — an interception — and the guy returned the ball," Danley said. "You can see, on film, Dennis standing on the sideline cheering."

In the footage, Mitchell was shown off the field during the interception, rehydrating with his teammates.

Danley said Byhalia's defensive strategy includes regular rotations of the defensive linemen. Mitchell was on the sideline as part of that rotation, Danley said.

The video appears to show Mitchell on the field for every defensive snap until the Coahoma County possession that led to the interception, where the defensive lineman does leave the game momentarily.

Later, Mitchell returned to the sidelines just before the interception.

"We went on offense — we started driving the ball for three or four plays — and on film you can see Dennis walking along, following the (offense) like a lot of young players do," Danley said. "Then, you can see on film — I think it was play 52 — where you see the reaction on the sideline."

As Byhalia's offense marched into Coahoma County territory, numerous players and coaches rushed to aid a fallen Mitchell, who was on his back and unresponsive. In the film, an ambulance appears a couple of plays later to transport him to a Clarksdale hospital.

Coahoma County Coroner Scotty Meredith said Tuesday that Mitchell suffered "seizure-like activity" and was pronounced dead at 8:40 p.m.

Meredith added that Mitchell suffered a nose bleed during practice the day before his death.

Danley disputed that the teen suffered a nose bleed the day before the game, adding "on Thursdays, we have a no-contact walkthrough."

Danley said Mitchell never showed any signs of poor health during his tenure as coach.

The coach vehemently denied allegations that he would allow any player to return to action after exhibiting signs of concussion, sickness or major injury. He used junior wide receiver Kyle Edwards as an example, who was removed early in the first quarter of Friday's game after a helmet-to-helmet hit by a Coahoma County special teamer on a kick return down the right sideline. In the film, Edwards was never shown on the field following the hit.

On the topic of having no certified athletic trainer on the field during Mitchell's collapse, Danley said it comes down to funding and that "every coach in the state would love to have one."

"Byhalia and a lot of smaller schools across the country, we don't have access to (certified athletic trainers), he said. "We only have a small clinic here. If any of the kids suffer an injury, we have to send them to Collierville or Olive Branch — bigger cities — to orthopedic doctors who can see them."

Danley said he has never experienced a similar tragedy in his 30 years of playing and coaching football. He understands that Mitchell's family has a right to be angry and wants answers. Still, the coach is hurt by their allegations.

"It's sad to me because I've been around (Dennis) since he was in the seventh grade, when I was the assistant principal at the middle school," Danley said. "For the family to try to blame me or point fingers at the coaching staff for negligence or doing something improper to this young man, it's really devastating to me."

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

The Education Department is reportedly preparing a series of new policies on campus sexual misconduct that aim to protect the rights of the accused and to limit colleges' liability.

According to a report Wednesday in the New York Times, the policies undo a series of advisories made by the Obama administration under pressure from campus activists and feminists.

The Times report said the rules "narrow the definition of sexual harassment, hold schools accountable only for formal complaints filed through proper authorities and for conduct said to have occurred on their campuses."

The rules, which have not been formally adopted, also would reportedly encourage college and universities to provide more support for victims. They would also, the Times article said, raise the legal standard for proving that a school wasn't addressing sexual-misconduct complaints.

According to the Times, these new rules would, after the required public comment period, have the force of law. The Obama administration's contrary "policies" were merely advisory letters that pushed colleges toward adopting the feminist-inspired rules as their own, under the threat of federal lawsuits if they didn't.

The New York Times reported that it had obtained a copy of the proposed rules. Liz Hill, a spokeswoman for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, said Wednesday that the information was "premature and speculative, and therefore, we have no comment."

Nevertheless, Ms. DeVos has expressed skepticism of the Obama administration's pushing feminist understandings of sexual misconduct, the policies and rules that flow from them, and the resulting campus tribunals.

"The truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students," Ms. DeVos said last year. "Survivors, victims of a lack of due process and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved."

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

National youth hockey officials are looking into allegations of sexual misconduct and the sudden suicide of a popular Gwinnett County coach.

Parents of at least two players on the Atlanta Phoenix, a Duluth-based 16-and-under travel hockey team, reported to Gwinnett police Aug. 23 that their children had been sexually victimized by head coach Jason Greeson. Within hours, Greeson, 40, shot himself to death in a Hall County church parking lot near Lake Lanier.

Now parents involved in Atlanta's close-knit youth hockey community are searching for answers.

Greeson never spoke to police. Gwinnett police spokeswoman Michele Pihera said a detective was working on an arrest warrant when Greeson took his own life.

So far, no one else has come forward to report sexual abuse, and the criminal case is now considered "cleared" by suicide, she said.

Pihera declined to give details about the investigation, including whether other team personnel had been interviewed. The department did not respond to multiple requests to interview Police Chief Butch Ayers.

USA Hockey, the governing organization for amateur hockey in the United States from peewee leagues to the Olympics, is investigating the allegations, and a representative has already met with parents.

Dave Fischer, spokesman for the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based association, said USA Hockey is actively looking for any additional victims. The organization has set up avenues for parents to communicate their concerns anonymously if they wish, he said.

"It's going to be ongoing until we are satisfied that the people who want to talk have talked," he said.

"Unfortunately, we know in these situations where there is one, there is more than one who could have suffered abuse," Fischer said. "We want to make sure we fully understand the landscape and see if there are things that could have been done to prevent this."

USA Hockey General Counsel Casey Jorgenson said in an email to parents that he's spoken to "several parents from the program who have called to express concerns about the abuse."

"USA Hockey is very concerned about this situation," Jorgenson wrote. "The players and families that came forward about Mr. Greeson's abuse are extraordinarily courageous."

In 2013, in the wake of high-profile scandals involving young athletes sexually abused by predatory coaches, USA Hockey introduced a new training regimen and safety protocols known as SafeSport dealing with everything from locker room policies to social media prohibitions and hazing.

Fischer said Greeson had taken all of the SafeSport training and passed a background check. He said there had been no prior allegations of sexual misconduct against the coach.

Fischer said he was aware that Greeson held an annual, weeklong "bonding camp" at the IceForum arena where young boys were encouraged to stay overnight, despite a lack of sleeping accommodations. Without more investigation, Fischer said he could not say whether the camp was a violation of SafeSport protocols, but he said investigators were "most certainly" looking into it.

"We're heard the same thing," he said, regarding the unusual camp.

He said USA Hockey was informed last Thursday of the allegations and moved quickly to remove Greeson pending an investigation. Fischer said the organization learned of Greeson's suicide inside of two hours after advising local officials to suspend him. Since then, he said, USA Hockey has been communicating with Atlanta Phoenix Hockey Club officials on a daily basis.

Fischer declined to elaborate on the alleged abuse by Greeson or say whether the organization has heard from any additional families.

"I can't get into, at this time, specifics of that nature," he said. "As we know more, we will share more."

Greeson spent at least five years as a head coach of the Phoenix's Midget 16 AA team. He was an assistant coach before that for a youth team that won a national championship, according to his staff biography, which has since been removed from the team website.

Fischer said no other local officials have been suspended as a result of the allegations.

"They are still in place. There has been nothing that would lead us (to suspect them), at least at this point. Again, that could change in an hour," he said. "The bottom line is we want to know as much as we possibly can."

Greeson's body was found in the parking lot of what was once Lanier Islands Community Church. The building is currently not in use, and the church where Greeson was found is not active, according to Hall sheriff's spokesman Derreck Booth.

Booth said Greeson didn't have any affiliation with the facility or previous congregation. He said Greeson apparently contacted a family member and indicated he intended to commit suicide. The family member found him and contacted police.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

College football's version of the gig economy gets rolling Thursday, as teams across the country begin the annual ritual of playing one-time, non-conference games in exchange for huge payouts.

This season, well over $175 million will change hands just for teams getting on the field for these so-called "guarantee" games, according to an analysis of more than 275 contracts for matchups involving teams in the NCAA's top-level Bowl Subdivision.

While some of these agreements involve series of games on equal and relatively modest terms, the real money is elsewhere.

It's in about a dozen contests at off-campus sites, such as the weekend's featured matchups: No. 6-ranked Washington vs. No. 10 Auburn on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, and No. 8 Miami (Fla.) vs. No. 24 LSU at AT&T Stadium on Sunday night in Arlington, Texas. Those games will provide the participating schools a combined total of more than $50 million in appearance fees that come with strings, including a need to sell tens of thousands of tickets schools agree to purchase from third-party organizers.

Meanwhile, millions more will come directly from the schools with the wealthiest athletics departments. In at least 45 instances this season, one of those schools will pay at least $1 million to a lower-scale opponent while aiming to fill vast stadiums and — at least theoretically — get an impressive victory with minimal risk of defeat.

Then there is Liberty, which is paying Old Dominion $1.32 million to play a game Saturday in Lynchburg, Virginia, that will be its first as an FBS school.

More than 15 games this season will give the visiting team at least $1.4 million.

"The market just continues to go up," Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said. "I'm hearing stories of other schools paying $2 million for games (in the future). You continue to wonder where the market is going to stop."

The greatest payout this season is the $2 million Colorado State is getting from Florida for a game Sept. 15 that the schools created as part of package under which coach Jim McElwain fulfilled the $7.5 million buyout he owed for leaving the Rams to join the Gators after the 2014 season. McElwain and Florida agreed to part ways during the 2017 season, and he is now an assistant coach at Michigan — which will be paying $2 million for not playing a non-conference game against Arkansas. In 2016, Michigan canceled a two-game series that was to have started this season in Ann Arbor and been completed at Arkansas next year, which is when Michigan's payment will be due.

More conventional transactions for home-site games this season top out at $1.7 million. That's the price for four contests, including Oregon State's visit to Ohio State on Saturday. Even that game has a distinction, however. It's the only home-site game this season matching Power Five conference schools that is not part of a series.

But when you're Oregon State and you're struggling to compete financially within the Pac-12 Conference, or when you're a school in one of the FBS conferences outside the Power Five, you take to the road.

Kent State will collect $3.65 million by playing three of its first four games this season at Illinois, Penn State and Mississippi (its first Mid-American Conference game also is on the road, so the Golden Flashes will play one home game in September). Next season, Kent State is set for paydays of $1.9 million from Auburn and $1.5 million from Arizona State. And in 2020, it is due a total of $5 million for games at Arkansas, Kentucky and Alabama.

Middle Tennessee State — this season's adjunct member of the Southeastern Conference — will get just over $3.1 million from Vanderbilt, Georgia and Kentucky, but the Vanderbilt game is the last of a four-game series that involved two at MTSU. The Blue Raiders have lost the first three games of that set against Vanderbilt, but in the first game they lost by just 17-13. And last season, they became a Power Five team's nightmare, beating Syracuse in a game for which Syracuse paid MTSU $950,000. In an even sweeter turn for MTSU, its defensive coordinator, Scott Shafer, was Syracuse's head coach from 2013 through 2015.

Northern Illinois also pulled a lucrative upset last season, getting $820,000 from Nebraska and a win in Lincoln. In addition to that payout, NIU had gotten just over $1 million from Nebraska when a 2016 game between the teams set for Chicago was canceled.

The guaranteed payouts and chances for stunning wins give some schools ample reason to incentivize their coaches to play them.

This weekend, Bowling Green coach Mike Jinks will pick up a $25,000 bonus for playing a guarantee game worth at least $400,000 (the Falcons are getting $900,000 to play at Oregon), and he can get another $12,500 for a win over a Power Five team.

Wyoming's Craig Bohl can get $100,000 if the Cowboys beat a Power Five team — and Washington State visits Laramie on Saturday.

Contributing: Christopher Schnaars

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

 

The Citadel will delay the planned renovation of the east side of Johnson Hagood Stadium by at least a year, a school spokesman said this week.

The military school had hoped to have permanent seating for 3,000 fans on the east side of the football stadium ready for the 2019 season, bringing capacity to about 13,332. But that project will be put off by at least a year while The Citadel gets funding in place and works through state requirements, said spokesman Col. John Dorrian.

That will leave temporary seating for about 1,000 people on the east side for at least the 2018 and 2019 seasons, with total capacity at 11,332.

The Citadel will go ahead with plans to replace the grass field at Johnson Hagood Stadium with artificial turf after the 2018 season, Dorrian said.

"We remain completely committed to the project," Dorrian said. "It will just take a little while longer. We knew that 2019 was a push goal, and that's what we are facing now."

Last May, a committee of the Board of Visitors approved a $5 million plan for new seating on the east side and a new artificial turf field. The seating was to cost about $4 million and the new field about $1 million, with both in place for the 2019 season.

The plan also called for the eventual construction of 50,000 square feet in office space behind the east-side stands.

The Citadel moves ahead with plan for field turf, new stands at Johnson Hagood Stadium

The east side of the stadium was demolished in 2017 due to concern about lead paint and other issues in the aging structure. Temporary stands seating about 1,000 spectators were used on the east side last season.

Johnson Hagood Stadium was built in 1948 and The Citadel purchased the stadium from the city in 1963. The Altman Athletic Center behind one end zone was opened in 2001, and the west side underwent major renovation in 2005.

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A rendering of the plan for the east side of The Citadel's Johnson Hagood Stadium.
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August 29, 2018
 
 
 

 

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

 

Zach Smith, the former Ohio State football assistant coach whose behavior ended up getting Urban Meyer suspended, blasted college football reporter Brett McMurphy and other media members in a Twitter tirade Wednesday afternoon.

Smith was fired in late July after McMurphy brought to light accusations he had abused his wife in 2009 and '15.

Although charges were dropped in 2009 and never brought in '15, Meyer cited "an accumulation of events" for terminating Smith, including a trespassing charge and a restraining order being granted against him.

RELATED: Ohio State releases more documents from Zach Smith/Urban Meyer investigation

Ultimately an independent investigation commissioned by Ohio State found that Meyer had appropriately handled the domestic violence accusation but failed to properly manage Smith in light of "a pattern of troubling behavior" including "promiscuous and embarrassing sexual behavior, drug abuse, truancy, dishonesty, financial irresponsibility, a possible NCAAviolation, and a lengthy police investigation into allegations of criminal domestic violence and cyber crimes."

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Copyright 2018 Star Tribune
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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

On several recent nights, still-to-be-finished Allianz Field has glowed blue, its LED lights making it look like something out of a Steven Spielberg movie.

On Tuesday, looking out over the stadium bowl toward the supporters' section at the north end of the stadium, it wasn't hard to imagine what this gray-sheathed stadium will be like when 20,000 voices roar.

The day is swiftly approaching when Allianz not only becomes the new home for Minnesota's professional soccer team but the centerpiece of a transforming neighborhood.

On track for "substantial completion" by Feb. 22, 20,000-seat Allianz Field is substantially further along than just four months ago.

Thanks to workers logging 225,000 hours over a productive summer, the stadium is 75 percent complete, said Greg Huber of Mortenson Construction.

Sixty percent of the stadium's seats have been installed.

Seventy percent of the stadium's fabric sheathing panels — like giant gray shrink wrap clinging to outer walls — are up. LED lighting, for the field and behind the sheathing, is in. So too is the giant scoreboard at the north end, right above the supporters' section, where an enormous loon's head is being painted and where 2,800 of the team's most die-hard fans will bounce around all game.

Just this summer, Huber said, workers completed 25 percent of a stadium the team is calling unique in the world.

"There's really nothing like it in the world," said Bruce Miller of Populous, the stadium architect.

Much of that can be attributed to the stadium's Space Age skin. The gray fabric sheathing, made of a material called PTFE, has been used to make conveyor belts but never before on a stadium. It's meant to keep the worst of wind and unfriendly Minnesota weather off fans, all while trapping the decibels they produce inside the stadium, to rattle the other team.

Work continues on Allianz Field's interiors — concourses, locker rooms, concession stands, restrooms and press box. Sod is scheduled to be laid Oct. 17.

"It really feels like you're in a building now," Miller said.

While the stadium will soon be Minnesota United's home for at least 17 games a year, team officials hope Allianz Field will host other events, including occasional concerts. United team owner Bill McGuire said once Allianz Field is complete, he hopes it can host high school soccer matches.

McGuire said he is also interested in hosting Gophers soccer matches.

For the past several months, neighbors too have been watching with anticipation as the stadium rises in the Midway area of St. Paul.

Jake Fleming, soon-to-be owner of the Trend Bar, said he's pumped about the stadium's potential to drive business at the Trend. He's spent months cleaning the place, bringing in more daylight (windows were covered with cardboard) and hiring more security to help erase the Trend's murky reputation. Fleming, whose wife, Katie, is co-owner, said they plan to rename the bar Katie's Tavern, and reinvent it as a soccer fan hangout.

"It's perfect timing," Jake Fleming said of the stadium's completion. "I hope. I'm praying."

Fleming said he expects to complete the purchase of the bar in the next few months.

The stadium, and a clientele moving away from hard-core daily drinkers (and users of other chemicals), are already changing the vibe of the area, he said. About a dozen people were eating, watching television or sipping a beverage in the Trend early Tuesday afternoon.

"When we took it over five months ago, there was nobody in here at all," Fleming said. "We're trying hard."

Seeing Allianz Field every day also has Fleming willing to stretch his sporting appetite beyond football, hockey and baseball.

"I don't know anything about soccer," he said. "But I'm looking into it. I'm trying my best."

McGuire praised the look and feel of the stadium, which his ownership group is paying more than $150 million to build, saying "a lot of the inspiration for this is Minnesota."

With undulating lines mimicking lakes and rivers, and translucent sheathing that will allow a northern-lights glow to show through, Allianz Field "will stand on its own as the finest soccer-specific stadium in North America," McGuire said.

Staff writer Megan Ryan contributed to this report.

James Walsh: 612-673-7428

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Copyright 2018 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

A pattern is already developing in South Charleston's games, and it's not one that pleases coach Donnie Mays.

The Black Eagles come out blazing, but somewhere around the middle of the second quarter, they start to fade a bit. Rejuvenated by halftime, they begin a slow decline again, however, in the fourth quarter.

It happened two weeks ago against Parkersburg in the Mountain State Athletic Conference Grid-o-rama, which is set up much like a regular game, and it happened again in the season opener at George Washington last Friday.

Lack of depth is largely the underlying reason for the tapering off, especially now during the warmer part of the season. But one of the factors for that lack of depth can get Mays a bit hot under the collar.

Roster comparisons by the Gazette-Mail indicate that South Charleston lost at least eight experienced players from last season's team, seeing them transfer to other schools. Many of those players sure could have come in handy as SC navigates a difficult MSAC schedule.

Those departed include receiver-defensive back Nathan Barham (Hurricane), quarterback-defensive back Javante Elzy (Riverside), receiver-defensive back Carlito Carter (Cabell Midland), lineman Andrew Preast (George Washington), the trio of running back-linebacker Orange Dyess, running back-linebacker Zhantei Calloway and receiver-defensive back Dameon Robinson (Nitro), and receiver C.J. Allison, a two-sport standout who transferred to the basketball program at Wesley Christian in Kentucky.

Dyess was the No. 3 tackler on SC's defense last year as a junior. Barham was the team's second-leading receiver and Allison was the third-leading receiver.

"Like I've said before, we're not very deep," Mays said. "We've got about 50 kids in and eight of them have got to get a few more practices in before they can get out there.

"Every year, it seems like the same thing — we've got young kids. I'd like to challenge any coach in the [Kanawha] Valley or anywhere who wants to play young kids like we're always doing, and we're still right there."

Against Parkersburg, SC was moving the ball well and trailed just 14-6 midway into the second quarter. By halftime, however, it was 27-6 and ended up 41-6. At GW, the Black Eagles trailed 17-14 at the midpoint of the second quarter (and had another touchdown called back by penalty). But they fell behind 24-14 at halftime and lost 45-30, which included a late consolation TD.

"It's a sad epidemic that's going on," Mays said of the mass transfers, "but it's not an excuse. We're going to play with what we have, with the guys who want to be Black Eagles, and we're going to fight until the end, and that's what we did [at GW]. I'm not happy at all, but there are circumstances to what we're going through."

And it's not just a one-year exodus within the SC program. Last year, the team's No. 1 returning receiver, Curon Cordon, transferred to Hurricane and had a stellar senior season, and then-sophomore linebacker-quarterback Bryce Damous left for Huntington, where he's now a senior tight end-linebacker and a Division I prospect playing at an All-State level.

Mays wouldn't cite specifics or reasons for any of the player moves, but it's left him generally fed up with the situation.

"I'm tired of people recruiting," he said. "I'm sick and tired of people recruiting. It's annoying. But I'm here for these guys, and these guys that stayed on this football team are here because they love South Charleston football, just like I do. And all those other coaches going after kids and stuff like that, it's sickening. It's not what high school football's all about."

By the time the end of the regular season arrives, the Black Eagles will have met at least five teams where their former players wound up — GW, Huntington, Riverside, Hurricane and Midland.

In the opener, GW's Preast on defense had two forced fumbles, a quarterback sack and another tackle for loss against SC. Elzy didn't start at quarterback, but finished as Riverside's top rusher in a 21-6 loss to Woodrow with 110 yards and his team's lone touchdown. Barham caught a 25-yard TD pass.

Mays, though, is determined to see things through as South Charleston seeks its sixth straight Class AAA playoff berth.

"When teams pluck kids from you," he said, "and you keep playing young kids, and you keep fighting and fighting to grow, I don't know what else to say. The guys who stay at South Charleston know what we're about.

"I had a kid tell me — a senior and it's his first time out — that he has mad respect for the things we've done, and that meant more to me than anything I've done in the last seven years, because there are kids who get spoiled sometimes and whenever somebody tells them the grass is greener on the other side, they jump."

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Copyright 2018 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

A Bluefield State College men's basketball player died Monday night after collapsing in Bluefield High's gym, the college's athletic director said.

Oritsetimeyin Amatosero-Keke, a 24-year-old from Lagos, Nigeria, who was starting his second year at the college, died at Bluefield Regional Medical Center, according to Athletic Director John Lewis.

College President Marsha Krotseng announced the community-at-large is invited to a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Ned Shott PE Building's parking lot.

"People don't realize, Lewis said. "That when we're recruiting young people it's like our kids, so it's truly a sad day.

"It isn't just men's basketball, I have 10 other sports and it's like we're all one family, and when one of us hurts, all of us hurt, Lewis said.

He said a college basketball gym floor is being renovated, so the school partnered with Bluefield High to have "open gym there. He said "open gym consists of pickup basketball games.

Lewis said an athletic trainer told him that Amatosero-Keke collapsed after a pickup game as he was getting ready to go. Lewis said the trainer told him that students — Lewis didn't know whether they were high schoolers or college students or a combination — saw that Amatosero-Keke wasn't responding and rushed him to the hospital in a car.

The hospital is a mile-and-a-half from the high school. Lewis said the trainer reported that Amatosero-Keke was responsive during the drive.

Lewis said he got the call from the trainer around roughly 8:20-8:25 p.m., though he also said at one point that he got the call around 7:25 p.m., and then said he was unsure of the time. Regardless, he said he arrived at the hospital about a half hour after the call and Krotseng was already there.

He said some pastors and Bluefield Board of Governors members arrived later and they waited for news on Amatosero-Keke. He said he doesn't know what caused his death, but wouldn't be able to reveal the cause anyway due to NCAA rules.

Lewis said Amatosero-Keke was a civil engineering and technology major who only had two years left to get his degree because he was transfer student.

"He was working on his craft everyday, Monday through Friday, throughout the summer, getting ready for the season, Lewis said of his athletic work. He said the team's first game is Nov. 5.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of a vibrant member of our Bluefield State family, Krotseng said.

She said the Rev. Garry Moore and Salvation Army Chaplain Gene Hunt will be available this week to counsel students, faculty and staff. She said they'll be in the PE Building Conference Room (across the hall from the gym).

"We truly lost a first-class student athlete here at Bluefield State College, Lewis said. "So I would hope that everybody would understand and really thoughts and prayers should go out to the family and friends and teammates and campus community.

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Arlington Heights Park District officials broke ground Tuesday on a two-story, 53,975-square-foot addition to the Olympic Indoor Swim Center, expected to be complete at the beginning of 2020.

The facility at 660 N. Ridge Ave. will remain open initially as construction crews begin site work on the surrounding grounds and new building, which will include a gymnasium with two full-sized basketball courts, a second-floor indoor walking track, a 30-by-50-foot warm water pool, a fitness area and multipurpose rooms.

The center is expected to close in March 2019 at the end of swim team season until the completion of the project. That will mean temporary relocation of some swim activities to other pools.

Of the $16.9 million being spent — a mixture of borrowing via bond issues, property taxes and reserves — about $1 million is for maintenance of the existing building, including fixing a pool drain, replacing the boiler and installing a new dehumidification system. The soccer field will remain open during construction, expected to occur weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has a solution for how to solve the NFL's preseason problem: extend the regular season.

Jones told the Dallas Morning News that he's in favor of adding two more games to the regular season which would put the slate at 18 and cut two games from the preseason.

This idea has been raised before, and Jones said he presented the argument in the last round of negotiations for the league's collective bargaining agreement with the player's union.

"It would provide more than $1 billion to the players," Jones said. "It's certainly worth considering. It would direct more value for what the players expend to the players."

Extending the season might be a tough sell considering the idea would seemingly contradict the league's objective of making the game safer.

But Jones had an answer for that, too.

"I can make the case that we have an uptick in concussions in the preseason," Jones said. "If you look at it, I would contend there would be less exposure."

Fans have voiced various complaints when it comes to the preseason. For one, the product isn't as enticing with most starters on the sideline. That's understandable, considering the risk of injury, but it's hard for fans to justify paying for games at close to full price.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

NEW YORK — It was a scorcher of a day at the US Open on Tuesday, which raised the subject of how players will be protected from heat illness while playing their hearts out on court.

At 1:30 in the afternoon, the temperature was 95 with 46 percent humidity, which makes it feel like it's 103 degrees at Flushing Meadows.

Throughout the day, players used changeover breaks to place huge towels wrapped with ice around their necks in an effort to cool down.

While the women's WTA Tour has an excessive heat policy in its rule book, the men's ATP Tour doesn't officially address oppressive heat situations.

Worried about the possibility of heat illness affecting players, the United States Tennis Association took matters into its own hands Tuesday and set a policy for the men at the US Open. The USTA's extreme heat policy allows for the men to take a a 10-minute break between the third and fourth sets.

Reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic was one high-profile player to take advantage of the respite offering. He and Marton Fucsovics, playing on Arthur Ashe Stadium in the afternoon, headed inside to cool off for 10 minutes after the third set.

Djokovic, the No. 6 seed, looked out of sorts and on the road to defeat from the heat during the second set. On the last changeover of that set, he was attended to by medical personnel on the court. Djokovic, who lost the second set and was initially down a break in the third set, rebounded to recapture control of the match to defeat Fucsovics 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 in 2 hours, 59 minutes.

"We obviously struggled," Djokovic told the crowd. "By the end of the third set we started playing a bit better. Before that it was survival mode, at least from my side. I was actually praying the next moment I will feel better because I definitely wasn't feeling good.

"I want to thank the US Open for allowing us to have the 10-minute break because we both needed it. But we were not allowed to talk to any of our team in the locker room."

During the break, Djokovic said he and Fucsovics took ice baths side by side.

"We were naked next to each other in the ice baths after battling for three sets, and it was a magnificent feeling I must say," said Djokovic, laughing.

Also in the men's draw, Ricardas Berankis and Stefano Travaglia retired from heat-related symptoms during their matches Tuesday, according to the USTA.

Leonardo Mayer said he also retired from his match because of the heat. "I think we should no longer play five sets," the Argentinean said in Spanish, according to an ESPN report. "That's my opinion, I think that's the past. They won't stop until someone dies. It's incredible, matches become ugly."

This USTA policy has no particular Heat Stress Index criteria, but that could become a possibility as needed during the tournament.

"Having seen what we were seeing with the heat and humidity out there we thought it was the reasonable and the appropriate thing to do, to institute something to give the men the opportunity," said David Brewer, the US Open tournament director.

The ATP does have a broad policy that takes possible dangerous situations for players into consideration, but no specific rules regarding weather.

"When weather or other conditions threaten the immediate safety of the players, spectators, officials or any other persons on the tournament site, the Supervisor may suspend or postpone the match(es) until such time that in his opinion the threat to safety is no longer evident," the ATP said in a statement to USA TODAY in response to a question about its policy.

The women's WTA Heat Rule has been in place since 1992 and is used throughout the year at all WTA tournaments. The rule states that when the Heat Stress Index, which includes a number of factors such as air temperature, humidity and surface temperature, measures at or above 86.18 degrees, players can take a 10-minute break between the second and third sets.

On Tuesday, 10th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko and Andrea Petkovic, playing on Louis Armstrong Stadium, took a 10-minute break. Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, won the 2-hour, 18-minute first-round match 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.

Petkovic said she would've preferred to stay on court, but when Ostapenko left she also went to a private room with air conditioning, ice towels, water and sports drinks.

"When you go out into air conditioning and you come back it feels doubly as hot," Petkovic said. "But I had to change because I was drenched, but I think I would've stayed on court."

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

 

COLUMBUSIn response to public records requests, Ohio State posted an "initial batch of records" from the investigation ofUrbanMeyer that resulted a three-game suspension for the football coach.

In an email, a school spokesperson said the university continues to process requests, which must be reviewed for potential issues with privacy laws before they can be released.

In general, the documents include more details about incidents and events covered in a report published last week that documented how Meyer and other members of the university handled allegations assistant coach Zach Smith abused his then-wife, Courtney.

Among the notable items:

* Notes former Ohio State deputy Title IX director Miechelle Willis took during the investigation in 2015. She wrote of being in contact with Powell police and rhetorically asked what proper actions should be taken, noting at one point, "Lots of smoke — has had financial issues." Willis also wondered, "What would we do if this was a player?" to which she appears to reply, "Entitled to due process." Smith's activities were apparently limited and Willis noted, "When/if charges filed we take action."

* Travel records from a 2014 recruiting trip in which Smith spent $600 at a strip club visit that included another OSU assistant and at least one high school coach. The same record includes an updated coaches manual prohibiting such activities the following year. (These were both noted in last week's summary of the investigation.)

* An arrest record from a previously disclosed domestic violence incident from 2009 when Zach and Courtney Smith lived in Florida and Zach worked for Meyer on the University of Florida staff. Zach Smith was arrested, but charges ultimately were dropped.

* An incident run sheet from the Powell police department covering a Dec. 17, 2017, incident in which Zach Smith is accused of banging on the door and looking in windows at Courtney Smith's house.

* An email (dated Aug. 19) tipping off independent investigators about Zach Smith having been admitted to a drug treatment center in Mason in the summer of 2015. He is alleged to have left the program early and never returning to complete it.

* Copies of text messages between Courtney Smith and Urban Meyer's wife, Shelley, in which Mrs. Meyer expresses concern for Smith but also worries about compromising the police investigation.

Urban Meyer was placed on leave Aug. 1, and his suspension from the team is to last through Saturday.

He can return to practice next week but must miss the team's first three games.

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Copyright 2018 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

Sometime before noon Saturday, the first legal sports betting ticket will be sold in West Virginia, as Hollywood Casino in Charles Town becomes the first of five state casinos to offer sports betting.

Workers continue to put the finishing touches on the new sportsbook, the lounge area that will feature nine betting stations and nearly three-dozen big-screen televisions.

Staffers are going through the final paces of training on new sports betting machines.

"It's going to be big, Erich Zimny, vice president for racing and sporting operations at Hollywood, said Monday. "Just how big is tough to say.

It's been a whirlwind.

The effort went from passage of legislation to legalize sports betting in West Virginia on March 9 to a May 14 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning a federal ban on sports betting in most jurisdictions to rebuffing attempts by Gov. Jim Justice to impose "integrity fees sought by professional sports leagues to the launch date — all in less than six months.

"I can't tell you how many calls and questions I've gotten about the sportsbook, when it's going to open, Zimny said. "It's nice to have this amount of buzz and excitement going on.

While the West Virginia Lottery Commission's aim had been to put the five casinos on a timetable to launch in time for the first major NCAA football games of the season on Saturday, and more importantly, the start of the NFL season on Sept. 6, only Hollywood Casino will meet that goal, with Lottery officials expecting the other casinos to come online somewhere in mid-September to mid-October.

For Hollywood Casino, by far the state's largest casino, and one hard-hit by competition from casinos in Pennsylvania and Maryland, including the $1.4 billion MGM National Harbor Resort and Casino, the launch of sports betting is especially significant.

"Finally, after everything, we get to show off our shiny new penny, Zimny said.

For at least the foreseeable future, Hollywood Casino will have a monopoly in a lucrative region that includes the Washington-Baltimore metroplex.

While sports betting in itself is not expected to be a huge revenue generator, either for the casinos or the state, the goal is that it will attract more visitors to the casinos, and to the state, via use of mobile apps to place bets.

"We think it's going to add a lot of foot traffic, Zimny said.

Saturday, at 11 a.m., former Washington Redskins quarterback and longtime NFL broadcaster Joe Theismann will headline opening ceremonies at the sportsbook, at the conclusion of which sports betting will go live with ample time to place bets on the noon NCAA games, Zimny said.

"I would anticipate, come Saturday, it will be a pretty hectic scene here, he said.

In addition to betting on the outcome of sporting events, Hollywood Casino will offer a variety of "prop bets, such as picking the first team to score a touchdown, and will eventually offer in-play betting, in which odds will change throughout the game depending on the score, allowing players to place bets on games in progress.

While the sportsbook takes up a considerable amount of space on the casino floor — dominated by a 50-foot wall featuring odds boards and nine 82-inch TVs, Zimny said the intent is for it to compliment other gaming options at the thoroughbred racetrack and casino.

"We see this as an additional amenity we can offer, as opposed to cannibalizing something else, he said.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

BOSTON — Submerged in chemicals in the stainless-steel bowl is the key to life and, researchers hope, death.

It's a human brain. That of a man who played college football in the 1950s, to be exact. His family donated his brain to get answers for themselves, but what's found could lead to more answers about chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the devastating neurodegenerative disease that's linked to concussions and repetitive head trauma from football and other contact sports.

"Our main objective, our overarching goal, is to help the people that are living. To be able to diagnose this disease during life," says Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System, which houses the world's largest brain bank devoted to CTE research.

"If we can diagnose it, we can monitor it and test therapies to see if they're effective in treating this disease.... It would really dramatically increase our ability to point out genetic susceptibilities for this," says McKee, director of the CTE Center at Boston University's School of Medicine. "We'd be able to look at how much is too much in certain individuals or certain positions in certain sports."

As another football season gets underway, it inevitably leads to questions and fears about head trauma and its long-term damage. How many hits are too many? What can parents do to protect their children or players do to protect themselves? Are athletes in certain sports more susceptible?

Most importantly, which athletes will develop CTE — or Parkinson's or ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) — and why?

The answers will come from brains such as the one McKee dissected this month, when USA TODAY toured the brain bank.

The brain bank has more than 500 brains, most donated by former athletes or their families who suspected CTE because of mood swings, behavioral changes, depression or dementia. Of those brains, more than 360 had CTE, McKee says.

The arrival of a brain sets two teams in motion. One set of clinicians talks to the family to find out more about the individuals. Did they play any sports? If so, what and for how long? When did they start? Did they experience any other kind of head trauma, say from an automobile accident, domestic violence or military service? Did they have drug or alcohol issues? How did their mental health change, and when did that occur?

Separately, and usually without any information about the person whose brain it was, McKee and her researchers study the brain. It is cut in half, and one half is stored in a minus-80 degree freezer, so it will be available for molecular, genetic and biochemical studies.

The other half is photographed and sectioned. After removing the brain stem, McKee uses what looks like a bread knife to cut slices of the brain about a quarter-inch thick.

Simply by looking at the brain, McKee can tell a few things. The brain of this man, who was in his 80s when he died, has shrunk, noticeably smaller than it should be for a man who once played football. The folds of the brain, normally pressed tightly against each other, are loose and have gaps between them, some large enough that the tip of a finger could be inserted.

She points to the ventricles, chambers in the middle of his brain that are filled with fluid during life. They should be small, but these are "just gigantic."

"As the brain shrinks, they expand. What this indicates is there's been enormous shrinkage of the brain," McKee says. "Those are huge."

The hippocampus, a section in the middle of the brain that controls memory, is small but not abnormally so for a man in his 80s. If it was, that could be an indication of Alzheimer's. But a membrane that runs from one side of the brain to the other, normally thick like a rubber band, has shrunk. In some spots, it's almost invisible.

CTE can't be seen by the naked eye, and it takes at least three weeks to prepare slides of the brain tissue.

CTE is caused by tau, a protein in the brain released as a result of head trauma. When tau clumps together, it damages brain cells and can change the brain's function. Though tau causes Alzheimer's, McKee says the tau that causes CTE looks distinctly different.

Under a microscope, it can be seen in telltale brown spots.

As CTE progresses, those clusters or clumps of tau will spread, and the disease will become more severe. That's why, in the early stages of disease, stages 1 and 2, the symptoms usually relate to behavioral changes or mood swings. In stages 3 and 4, the disease is exhibited in memory loss.

Once the slides have been examined, the pathologists and clinicians will come together for a conference. At this point, neither knows what the other does. The clinicians detail what they've learned about the brain donor's history and suggest a diagnosis. The pathologists will then say whether the brain tissue confirms it.

"Every case is a mystery," McKee says. "It's not the same way you usually solve a mystery. I solve the pathology first, and then you go back and find out (the history). And then you try and put the two together."

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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

Medaille College on Monday officially confirmed that it will be the anchor tenant of the planned new $4 million athletic complex that is now being developed by developer Jon M. Williams at the former Buffalo Color site on Elk and Lee streets in Buffalo.

The new facility, dubbed the Medaille Sports Complex at Buffalo Color Park, will become the school's home field for practices and competition, primarily for its men's and women's soccer and lacrosse teams.

That meets a critical need for the small school, whose teams currently practice at a public field while playing their games at competitors' facilities because they have nothing of their own.

Medaille has now signed a multiyear lease for the new facility. Terms were not disclosed.

Williams' South Buffalo Development is creating the new facility on about 6 acres of land, with a 26,400-square-foot indoor field house at 427 Elk as well as an outdoor athletic turf field - measuring 300 feet by 300 feet - at 85 Lee. It's aimed at high school, college or adult leagues, with Medaille as the lead occupant.

Plans by architects at Carmina Wood Morris also include offices, classrooms, locker rooms, restrooms, storage space and concessions, as well as a 61-space parking lot, with the capacity to add another 50 spaces if needed.

Site work is already underway. Construction of the indoor facility will begin soon.

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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

After Byhalia High School football player Dennis Mitchell died during a game Friday, the USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee asked Memphis-area football coaches to describe precautionary measures they take to protect their student-athletes on the field.

Here's what they said:

James Thomas, Houston High School

On his staff's use of certified athletic trainers:

"We have a certified athletic trainer on site, a guy that's been at our school for over 25 years. We always talk to him. He's always the first person out on the field, he evaluates the person and then it is ultimately his call whether (the player) can return to play or not."

On playing through injuries:

"We tell (the players) to be tough, but ultimately there's a point where you're going to injure yourself more or you could become a detriment to the team in you try to play through an injury. That's why we always leave it up to the trainer - not up to a coach - whether he can return or not.

"(The trainer) wants what is best for the team, but ultimately he wants what is best for that kid."

Chris Smith, Germantown High School

On his team's medical staff and their procedure for handling injuries:

"We have an athletic trainer, a team doctor and usually an EMT on site. We're fortunate enough to have the resources in that area, and that plays a huge part."

"When a kid comes off the field, he's always assessed by our trainer first. If our trainer isn't familiar with something, the team doctor is there. They have the leeway to say whether he's cleared to go back in or not. If they deem that a kid isn't able to go back into the game, then we can't play him."

On preventing injuries:

"The thing we do best here at Germantown is our strength and conditioning program is year-round. That dramatically limits injuries on the football field. My first year at Germantown four years ago, we had 33 injuries in the first five weeks because we had never been through a real full offseason. Last year we had one serious injury, so we've gone from 33 down to one.

"I do think there are a lot of things you can do to limit serious injuries. You're always going to have freak accidents, but I do think you can teach a kid to better protect himself on the football field. Here at Germantown, we call it 'bullet-proofing our joints.' We've seen the ones that seem to get hurt the most are the ones that don't train for it year-round."

Quintin Jones, Kingsbury High School

On letting players return to the game after injuries:

"I wait until a certified trainer says that a player is allowed to return to a game. If the trainer says otherwise, he is not going back in."

Fred Copeland, Westwood High School

On listening to certified athletic trainers:

"When the athletic trainer says that a player can return, that is when I would allow a player to return to a game. I would never allow a player in on his own request. Wins and losses aren't that important when it comes to kids' safety."

Julius Jackson, MASE

On compromising a player's safety to earn a win:

"I tell my kids that I am not going to risk a kid's safety for a win. Last year, I had a kid get hit that I didn't see, and he came over and said 'Coach, I got hit and am feeling dizzy.' That was a game that we were competing in, but I sat him down the rest of the game. I only had 18 players last year.

"If I suspect any kind of a head injury, I would never allow a kid back in the game."

Rodney Saulsberry, Whitehaven High School

On being proactive with his players:

"The biggest thing is information - being educated. As coaches, we're required to be certified to look for signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest and monitor heat and workload.

"Being proactive is the biggest thing, (like having a) heat index monitor on the field when heat is elevated."

On proper nutrition:

"Being careful and attentive to each kid is important. Each kid is different. We try to focus on nutrition as much as can. It's difficult in high school to make sure kids have nutrition and eating properly."

The Tennessean's Michael Murphy and The Daily News Journal's Cecil Joyce contributed to this story.

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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

Multiple questions remain following the collapse and subsequent death of Byhalia High School football player Dennis Mitchell on Friday.

Questions that his grandmother, Adeline Richard, wants answered.

"How can (the coaching staff) just put him back in the game?" she asked. "It was hot, he was tired, his head was hurting, he didn't feel well and he got sick.

"I just don't understand."

Richard said her grandson, a sophomore defensive lineman for Byhalia High, absorbed a hard hit early in Friday's game against Coahoma County High School and was removed. She said the 16-year-old returned to the game upon his request. Mitchell later collapsed on the field after he resumed playing and was taken to the hospital, where he later died.

Don Hinton, executive director of the Mississippi High School Activities Association, said state high school coaches are required to have first responder course training and must abide by specific practice and game regulations.

These requirements include the ability to administer CPR, easing the student athletes into pads while progressively ramping up the level of practice intensity over a 14-day period, the availability of cold water immersion tubs during training and having emergency personnel with ambulances in the vicinity during games.

From ABDoes Absence of Athletic Trainers Constitute Negligence?

From AB: Understanding the Role of Athletic Trainers in High Schools

What's not required, however, is the inclusion of certified athletic trainers on the sidelines. Hinton said some available trainers travel on a rotation, but it is largely up to the host school whether one will be available.

"Schools are responsible for having a certified athletic trainer on site during the games," he said. "We'd like for all 250 or so schools to have one on site, but it's just not easy for us to provide one for every game in Mississippi each weekend."

Hinton added that smaller institutions such as 2A classified Coahoma County High, have trouble securing trainers on a regular basis.

There was not a certified athletic trainer at Coahoma County High when Mitchell collapsed. Principal Tony Young acknowledged that fact, but also reiterated his school did meet MHSAA requirements.

Houston High School head football coach James Thomas said a certified athletic trainer has been on the Mustangs' sidelines for over 25 years and that his staff is constantly in contact with them throughout a football game.

"He's always the first person out on the field, he evaluates the person and then it is ultimately his call whether he can return to play or not," he said. "(The trainer) wants what is best for the team, but ultimately he wants what is best for that kid."

Germantown High School head football coach Chris Smith said having a certified athletic trainer on site is a luxury that bigger public schools like his can afford. The Red Devils regularly have an EMT, team doctor and trainer on site.

"If our trainer isn't familiar with something, the team doctor is there," he said. "They have the leeway to say whether he's cleared to go back in or not. If they deem that a kid isn't able to go back into the game, then we can't play him."

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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

One of the unfortunate constants in football is that participants die or are seriously injured each year, and statistics show that high school athletes are particularly vulnerable.

According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, 42 football players at all levels died of direct and indirect causes between 2015 and 2017. Of that total, 30 involved high school players.

Why do those at the high school level die at such alarming rates?

Experts say there are a variety of reasons, ranging from inadequate equipment to the development of the brain to the availability of qualified trainers.

"Unfortunately, some of these deaths are preventable," Kevin Guskiewicz told USA TODAY in 2014, "and when you don't have appropriate medical care out there, you can have players going back to play when they shouldn't."

Guskiewicz is founding director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at the University of North Carolina.

A certified athletic trainer was not at Coahoma County High School in Mississippi on Friday night when Byhalia High School player Dennis Mitchell collapsed after re-entering the game after absorbing a hit and vomiting on the sidelines. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Deaths result from hits, heat stroke

Not much has changed in terms of the statistics since Guskiewicz's comments four years ago. High school athletes such as Mitchell continue to lead the way in fatalities.

The Catastrophic Sport Injury Research findings divide football fatalities into direct and indirect categories. Direct deaths result directly from injuries sustained during play, while indirect causes include things like heat stroke and cardiac events.

The numbers show that in 2017, the most recent year for which statistics are available, four direct fatalities occurred - two at the high school level and two at the college/university level.

Among indirect deaths, seven of nine were at the high school level and two in college/university competition.

The trend was the same in 2016, when two of three direct deaths and five of nine indirect were among high school players.

In 2015, all seven direct fatalities were among high school players. Seven of 10 indirect deaths were high school athletes.

The National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research has a long list of recommendations to make competition safer for high school players. The complete list of recommendations is available in the organization's annual report for all sports.

Among the recommendations:

Every school should have a certified athletic trainer.

An automatic electronic defibrillator should be available and accessible onsite and staff should be trained in its use.

All personnel associated with sport participation should be cognizant of the safety measures related to physical activity in hot weather.

When a player has shown signs or symptoms of head trauma (such as a change in the athlete's behavior, thinking or physical functioning), the player should receive immediate medical attention from an appropriate medical provider and should not be allowed to return to practice or the game that day.

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC


Newsday (New York)

 

Brentwood residents and Islip Town officials crowded Roberto Clemente Park on Monday to celebrate the long-awaited reopening of the pool after five years - complete with live salsa music, free food and extended pool hours.

An estimated 1,500 gathered to swim, splash, sunbathe and socialize around the Olympic-size pool that opened last week.

While the season is set to end on Labor Day, town Supervisor Angie Carpenter announced the pool will be open on weekends in September if the weather cooperates and if there are enough lifeguards.

"Today is an incredibly exciting day for us," Carpenter said. "It was a long, hard road, but we endured."

Budget cuts shut the pool in summer 2013, and a plan to reopen it in 2014 was postponed by the discovery that nearly 40,000 tons of contaminated debris were illegally dumped at the park. Monday's event came about a year after the park reopened.

Officials announced last year that the pool would be open by this summer. The opening date was uncertain until the day before, when the Suffolk County Department of Health Services gave its approval.

Officials attributed the delay to poor weather and the pool requiring more repairs than anticipated. Spokeswoman Caroline Smith said the town is reviewing invoices, and the total cost is not yet available.

Dorys Barrezueta, a Brentwood resident and retired accountant, took shelter in the shade while her 11-year-old grandson swam. She questioned why it took so long to open the pool, saying the delay "wasn't fair" to the community.

"This is what we've been waiting for," the 62-year-old said. "Now it's very nice."

A former kiddie pool and dive pool are expected to be converted into a spray park for next summer, and a skate park is planned, officials said.

Monday's event was part of the town's family fun night series, featuring outdoor movies - this week it was "Coco" - and games at different town parks every week in the summer. Brentwood firefighters gave out hot dogs, and Suffolk County police officers played basketball with kids, who could get their faces painted.

Alicea Allison said the pool is a much-needed place for community kids to stay busy and have fun. She said turnout at the event was "awesome" because the Brentwood community came together.

"If you give them something positive, they show up and come out," said Allison, 32, an attendance secretary at Brentwood Southeast Elementary School.

The pool will be free to residents for the rest of the season as a "way of saying thank you for waiting," Carpenter said.

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USA TODAY

 

Arizona dismissed linebacker Santino Marchiol from the program Monday, coach Kevin Sumlin announced, after a video surfaced in which he twice appeared to refer to former Texas A&M teammates as monkeys.

The source of the video, was uploaded last week, was Marchiol's Hudl account, a website where film and other analytics are stored. The clip was discovered by A&M fans and circulated on social media before it was deleted.

Last week, USA TODAY reported Marchiol had made accusations of misconduct against A&M, his former program, as he attempted to gain immediate eligibility at Arizona through a waiver request. Marchiol alleged that A&M's new coaching staff under Jimbo Fisher had illegally mandated practices in the summer and that linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto had given him hundreds of dollars to entertain recruits. Fisher has said the school will look into the allegations.

The larger issue for the NCAA was whether Marchiol might begin a trend of athletes using damaging information against schools in waiver requests based on a policy allowing immediate transfer eligibilityif there were "documented mitigating circumstances."

He will not be that test case now that Arizona has parted ways with him.

The video appears to show Marchiol and a woman watching film of him. On one occasion she asks, "Who's 26, carrying the ball?" A male voice, seemingly Marchiol, responds, "Yeah one of those monkeys." In another clip, the woman asks about a safety, and he responds, "Yeah, they call him the monkey safety," followed by laughter.

Attorney Thomas Mars, whom Marchiol hired to deal with his waiver request, said in a statement: "As someone who helped lead the effort to advance diversity in the legal profession, served on the National Urban League board, and worked closely with people like Dennis Archer, Rev. Al Sharpton, and other prominent African-American leaders, I understand and respect the University's decision. On the other hand, as someone who's grown close to Santino and who knows the quality of his character, the depth of his faith, and the sincerity of his convictions, I'm heartbroken. What can be heard on the highlights video doesn't reflect the values or beliefs of the young man that I've come to know."

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USA TODAY

 

Professional gamers spend hours with eyes glued to a screen, a controller or keyboard at hand, perfecting their digital dexterity for a chance to win - or lose - tens of thousands of dollars. Gaming has transformed into high-stakes, high-stress big business.

In the aftermath of a tragic shooting rampage at a "Madden 19" video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, that left three dead and 11 wounded, focus is shifting to the pressure on players and security surrounding these events.

This Madden tournament is just one in a growing competitive video game landscape in which hundreds of thousands of U.S. professional players battle in-person and online for millions of dollars in prize money.

With many major esports events upcoming, players and promoters are seriously reconsidering whether they need to beef up security. Another consideration: Should more attention be paid to the mental stress on players, who can train for more than 40 hours a week?

"There can always be better security because the fans' safety and the players' safety is of the utmost importance. But at the end of the day, you just don't expect something like this to happen frequently," said Mike Rufail, 35, a former professional gamer and founder and CEO of Envy Gaming, a popular esports franchise with more than 540,000 Twitter followers.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Rufail supports doing what's necessary to protect fans and players. While his teams now play in larger venues that follow similar security measures to ones used for a concert or traditional sports game, he expects a bigger focus going forward across the industry.

The rise of esports: Video games once were considered a solitary experience, with the common stereotype being that of an adolescent boy holed up in a bedroom blasting away at aliens on screen. But esports, or competitive video game playing, has become a cultural, global and co-ed phenomenon.

Multiplayer games such as "Call of Duty" and broadband internet connectivity fueled online gaming to such a level that it has evolved into a lucrative - and, yes, professional - spectator sport.

As many as 41 million Americans currently consider themselves esports viewers, according to research firm Interpret. Globally, about 258 million watched an esports event last year, according to research firm SuperData.

Even though most esports fans are between 18 and 34, 1 in 3 of them are aged 35 to 54, Interpret says. And the number of women esports viewers in the U.S. has doubled from 5 million in 2016 to 10 million today, the firm says.

Spending on esports is growing, with media rights, streaming advertising and ticket sales expected to grow from a projected $184 million in 2017 to $467 million in 2022, PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates.

Growing corporate and pro sport support: Major corporations, traditional sports leagues and TV networks have caught the esports bug with, notably, AT&T in June partnering with esports operator ESL to have a presence at several upcoming events including the ESL One New York event in September "It really also gives us an opportunity to reach that young and diverse audience." Shiz Suzuki, AT&T's assistant vice president for corporate sponsorships said at the time.

Indeed, the accounting firm Deloitte said in a recent report that esports offers a way to reach a demographic that has been increasingly beyond the industry's grasp. And both the players and fans are younger, less likely to watch traditional linear TV and often less interested in professional sports than the population as a whole, the report says.

One of the most popular online games, Activision Blizzard's first-person shooting game "Overwatch," has about 40 million players worldwide. Last month, more than 22,000 attended the Overwatch League Grand Finals at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and millions more watched on ESPN and Disney XD.

The current 12-team league, which has teams owned by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and New York Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon, is expected to expand for the 2019 season with team spots going for $30 million to $60 million. Among reported interested parties: Cox Enterprises, which owns Cox pay-TV and broadband services, and theCox Media Group.

"We view esports as a key accelerant to growing the NFL as it enables new ways for young fans to engage in the sport through Madden NFL competition," Michelle Micone, NFL Senior Vice President, Consumer Products, said in early August, when the league in conjunction with Electronic Arts and ESPN announced the launch of the "Madden NFL 19 Championship Series (MCS)," the largest competition in its history.

"Competitive Madden unlocks great potential as the authenticity it provides enhances engagement and connection between our 32 NFL clubs and football fans around the world," she said.

Last year, the NBA and Take-Two Interactive created an NBA 2K eLeague, the first official esports league run by a professional U.S. sports league. The 17-team league, which plans to add four more teams next season, conducted its first championship Saturday, which was broadcast on Twitch. The winner of the best-of-three competition, Knicks Gaming, won $300,000.

One of the shooting victims in Jacksonville was an NBA 2K player.

Twitch, the video service that was streaming the Madden 19 competition when the shooting occurred, is another sign of esports rise. Amazon four years ago paid $1 billion for Twitch, which now has more than 2 million broadcasters, the majority of whom stream video game-related content. Its TwitchCon convention Oct. 26-28 in San Jose, California will feature esports competitions as well other events.

It's not just attracting corporations. More than 80 schools belong to the National Association of Collegiate Esports. Even high schools have begun adding esports programs.

Possible repercussions for the sport: The shooting is likely to have raised concerns among parents who worry about security at such venues.

"And obviously there are screen-time (addiction) concerns because of the needs that you have to go through to actually become a professional," says Jeff Haynes, senior editor of video games and websites at Common Sense Media. The people who have turned professional "have put in hundreds of thousands of hours just like any athlete. Arguably the only difference is that their time is set in front of a screen versus maybe in a gym or on a practice field or court."

And like other athletes, they're subjected to injuries, from repetitive stress ailments to posture issues and back pain, Haynes says. According to Haynes, some esports teams are mandating that participants engage in physical activities and take a break from the screen.

Professional esports players' specialized training depends on the skills required for various games. Some place the focus on aiming, others on strategy, Rufail says, equating the overall commitment level to one that is not much different than an athlete's.

Players practice six to eight hours a day with the team in a practice facility in addition to spending an hour or two at home for individual practice time, he says. Nutritionists help the players with their diets, coaches and analysts are on staff to go through game film.

The team looks at game leaderboards to find top players in individual games, using those boards as a form of first-level scouting to see if they would fit the team, similar to how traditional professional sports teams search for players. Some top amateur players even have agents and managers.

The payoff: While the salaries vary game by game - similar to how football players and baseball players are not paid the same amount - stars in the esports world can make seven figures annually, with lower-tier players making $40,000 to $50,000 a year.

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Copyright 2018 The Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.
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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

A 24-year-old Maryland man opened fire Sunday in the middle of a video game tournament at Jacksonville's downtown waterfront mall, killing two people, injuring 11 more, then killing himself, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said.

The shooting was connected to a "Madden NFL 19" video game tournament at Chicago Pizza in the Jacksonville Landing. David Katz, from Baltimore, was the lone suspect, who some witnesses said began shooting around 1:34 p.m., after losing in the tournament. Williams, who would not confirm the motive behind the shooting, said Katz used "at least one handgun" on the victims and himself.

The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives visited Katz's Baltimore address and impounded his car.

"We have faced an occurrence that is all too common," Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said. "At terrible times, we see the best in people, and today is no different."

The Miami Herald reported Sunday evening that the other two people fatally shot were believed to be Taylor Robertson, 27, of Ballard, W.Va., and Eli Clayton, 22, of Woodland Hills, Calif., according to friends and family.

According to a Facebook post, one of the 11 people injured was identified as Dalton Hunt, a science teacher at Treasure Coast High School in Port St. Lucie. The school also sent out an update about Hunt to faculty.

Not all of the injured were shot -- two people were hurt in the rush to escape the shooting.

The tournament -- which attracted players from across the country to Jacksonville to compete for a spot in a 16-player competition in Las Vegas -- was shown on a video game live-stream service called Twitch, which captured what sounded like gunshots and screams in the background of gameplay. Those images and sounds captivated local and national media, and became a source of information for friends and family of the victims before police confirmed any details. Williams said investigators had seen the Twitch video.

At one point in the video, someone can be heard saying, "What did he shoot me with?"

According to the Associated Press, a red dot that appears to be from a laser pointer is visible on the chest of a player seconds before shots rang out.

The tournament included professional players, some of whom described the frightening scene and their injuries on Twitter. Drini Gjoka, one such player, said a bullet struck him in the thumb.

"The tourney just got shot up. (I'm leaving) and never coming back," he wrote.

"Worst day of my life," he wrote about 20 minutes later.

Jason Lake, founder and CEO of compLexity Gaming, a professional gaming company whom Gjoka plays for, said he was "cooperating with the authorities and we will be flying him out of Jacksonville as soon as we are given the green light from the officials on the ground."

The shooting thrust Jacksonville into the troubled club of cities to experience a mass shooting during an event that was supposed to be about entertainment.

Officials with UF Health Jacksonville, the top trauma hospital in the area, said they've had six victims ranging in age from 20-35, with one victim in serious condition. Some were hit in the torso, others hit in the ankle or wrist. Other hospitals also have patients.

"I heard a lot of gunshots back to back to back," said Rome Williams, who was in the Landing when the shooting started.

Gov. Rick Scott spoke with President Donald Trump about the incident and traveled from Naples to Jacksonville on Sunday evening.

The shooting prompted an outpouring of concern and comment from public officials and candidates in Florida and beyond.

"Horrifying news from #Jacksonville this afternoon," Sen. Marco Rubio wrote on Twitter.

It was also a major disruption in what had already been a violent weekend in Jacksonville. A triple shooting Friday night at the Lee vs. Raines high school football game -- a well-known rivalry -- killed a 19-year-old former Raines student and injured two others who currently attend Raines and Lee.

The copper-topped Jacksonville Landing -- a sibling to Baltimore's Inner Harbor -- has long served as the iconic backdrop for downtown, even as visitors and its fortunes have lagged in recent years.

About three blocks were cordoned off around the Landing. A police helicopter hovered in the air, and Coast Guard boats patrolled the St. Johns River near the Landing. A SWAT unit at one point appeared to be operating a bomb robot on the sidewalk outside a nearby parking garage, though it was not clear why.

Several members of Jacksonville Fire and Rescue were conducting a training exercise across the street from the Landing when they saw people running out of the building, including one who had been shot. Four responders rushed in without protective gear. Officials added that police responded within two minutes of the first 911 call.

Michael Barlow was working out on the riverwalk outside the Landing when he heard the approach of sirens.

"We saw a bunch of people getting taken out on stretchers," Barlow said. "I saw four people on stretchers and then two other guys getting carried. They weren't on stretchers, they were just being carried."

The waterfront mall still houses a handful of restaurants, including a Hooters Restaurant and Chicago Pizza, and holds concerts and occasionally political rallies on the outdoor pavilion that fronts the St. Johns River.

City officials and boosters have pined for years to replace or renovate the Landing, but those efforts have so far proven fruitless and left City Hall and the building's owners locked in a contentious court battle.

Staff writer Jane Musgrave and reports from The Miami Herald and the Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

Several state lawmakers stepped to the podium at the University of New Mexico Board of Regents meeting Aug. 17 with a common appeal: Please don't cut any Lobo sports until the Legislature convenes in January and can help explore alternatives.

Those pleas — which mirrored many other speakers at the meeting — were not enough.

The board took action anyway, heeding a recommendation from UNM President Garnett Stokes and Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez. Regents voted 7-0 to eliminate men's soccer, men's and women's skiing and women's beach volleyball next summer under a plan UNM says will help the athletic department achieve long-term financial stability and compliance with federal Title IX gender equity mandates.

But some are wondering if the move may haunt UNM when the Legislature makes its funding decisions during the 2019 session.

Jamie Koch, former UNM regent and onetime state lawmaker, said he did not expect legislators to "punish" UNM students, but they may not be as "gracious" to UNM as in the past.

"They wanted to have an opportunity to try to help the university; they asked if they'd postpone (a vote) to do it, and they didn't," Koch said. "I think that's created a problem."

Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, was among the speakers at the meeting and said lawmakers felt dismissed by UNM. Regent President Rob Doughty cut off her comments when she reached the official three-minute limit.

Lundstrom may continue pushing for keeping the sports that were cut-new estimates indicate the state could have $1.2 billion in new money next year — but indicated UNM could see intense scrutiny.

"I'd be very interested in restoring those four sports," Lundstrom told the Journal earlier this week. "But I'll be taking a very close look at everything else for UNM."

The state generally uses a formula to calculate most of the university's annual funding, but former New Mexico governor and recently retired New Mexico State University Chancellor Garrey Carruthers said the formula is not written into law, so legislators could exert influence. They also have tremendous discretion on funding for capital projects and special programs, including athletics.

Carruthers said he would not speculate how the Legislature would treat UNM in light of the recent sports decision, noting that a new governor and financial picture make it especially hard to predict.

But he said UNM has ample opportunity to mend possibly strained relationships and that the president should lead the way.

"There is time to do business (before the Legislature)," he said. "The leadership will have to step forward and make their case."

Don Tripp, retired state representative from Socorro and former House speaker, described UNM's decision as financially "prudent" and said he does not expect lawmakers to penalize the institution.

"If they're punitive towards UNM, who do they ultimately hurt? Their own constituents," he said.

Some lawmakers have been known to wield their funding authority like a weapon when they're frustrated, said James Jimenez, the state's former Department of Finance & Administration secretary.

Jimenez said he does not believe the Legislature would punish UNM as a whole over this issue, given the institution's scope and statewide importance, but he said UNM's decision to proceed against several lawmakers' wishes raises questions.

"I just don't think that was the wisest thing to do.... It's not like we're talking about tens of millions of dollars (in cuts); they're fairly small. So is it really worth compromising your relationship with legislators over such a small amount of money?" said Jimenez, current executive director for New Mexico Voices for Children.

Legislators say they do not intend to retaliate against UNM, which could have a vastly different Board of Regents come January. Five of seven members' appointments will have expired by Dec. 31, allowing the next governor to make changes.

Rep. Larry Larrañaga, R-Albuquerque, also spoke at the regents meeting. He said lawmakers and UNM officials need to work more collaboratively.

New Mexico reduced spending on higher education during recent budget cuts, he said, but now the Legislature and UNM need to cooperate to assure the future of both education and athletics programs.

"Of course we'll work with them," he said.

State Sen. John Arthur Smith, a Deming Democrat and chairman of the influential Senate Finance Committee, said the university's sports decision will have no bearing on his consideration of funding requests or other legislation affecting UNM. He's not there to "micromanage UNM," he said.

But Smith said he could speak only for himself.

"Whether it's at UNM or (New Mexico) State, invariably you have legislative members trying to dictate who the coach is going to be and all that stuff, and that's not my method of operation," Smith said.

Stokes and Nuñez said the plan to delete four sports would right-size the department, address perennial budget shortfalls and fix Title IX compliance issues.

New Mexico Higher Education Secretary Barbara Damron had placed UNM under enhanced oversight and in March warned she could withhold some of UNM's state appropriations unless the institution took measures to financially stabilize athletics.

Stokes pushed for a summer decision so affected athletes could have a full year to plan for the impending cuts.

Prior to casting his vote to proceed with cuts, Regent Tom Clifford said that athletics would require "recurring" funds to sustain its current size. He also questioned whether lawmakers, even with new money, could commit to UNM sports given many other priorities and needs statewide.

Asked about potential retaliation by lawmakers, Stokes said: "I understand very much that there are supporters of some of the sports that we cut out there. What I hope to continue to do is engage people in conversations about what it is we need to do moving forward."

Journal staff writer Dan McKay contributed to this report.

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Copyright 2018 Bangor Daily News

Bangor Daily News (Maine)

 

The fatal collapse of a University of Maine football player during a workout in July was the result of a rare medical tragedy that is the No. 1 nontraumatic cause of death in college athletes.

The Maine medical examiner's office ruled that 18-year-old Darius Minor died July 24 from aortic dissection with cardiac tamponade, a heart condition that is considered uncommon, especially among younger men. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, was listed as a contributing factor.

Only about 1 in 50,000 young athletes dies from sudden cardiac failure, according to the Mayo Clinic. Even so, sudden cardiac death is the most common nontraumatic (not caused by accident or injury) cause of death among college athletes, according to the NCAA, the governing body that oversees UMaine's Division I football team.

In response, a movement to explore how cardiac issues in athletes are handled is gaining momentum within the college sports community.

However, the first sign of a heart problem often is the fatal event itself, said Dr. Tracy Bras, a sports medicine physician at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

In 2014, the NCAA held a summit to discuss ways to prevent sudden heart failure. A task force later issued guidelines on improving how athletes are screened as well as outlining how to respond if an athlete suddenly experiences apparent heart problems. The recommendations, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, stressed the importance of a comprehensive pre-participation physical and the development of a well-rehearsed emergency response plan.

UMaine spokeswoman Margaret Nagle said the university's sports participation policies reflect the NCAA's updated guidelines.

"The published recommendations from that summit have been reviewed and help to guide university screening practices," she said.

It isn't possible to analyze how those policies were applied to Minor's case because the university has declined to discuss his specific medical condition and history, citing confidentiality laws.

UMaine's policies have not changed since Minor's death, Nagle said, but they will continue to be reviewed annually in accordance with updates from the NCAA. The latest guidelines recommend schools follow one of two screening models, which UMaine does.

Like all incoming UMaine student athletes, Minor was required to undergo a pre-participation physical with the Black Bears' team doctor, which he passed, head coach Joe Harasymiak said.

UMaine uses a screening that includes evaluation for high blood pressure, according to Nagle.

Minor was also required to submit a medical questionnaire where he was asked to list his medical history, including any heart problems, and he passed a physical from his doctor in Virginia.

On the humid afternoon he died, Minor was just 15 minutes into light supervised practice when he tapped a coach on the shoulder and said he felt like he was going to pass out, Harasymiak said. After he lost consciousness, the team's training staff, followed by EMTs, were unable to resuscitate him.

The NCAA's 2016 recommendations emphasize that a "written emergency action plan for treatment of cardiac arrest that is rehearsed" can be an area where schools can save lives.

"Our emergency action plans state how to react to the situation to cardiac arrest or other medical emergencies along with staff being trained as professional rescuers," Nagle said. "Nothing has changed [in the past month]; however, we will constantly review policy and procedure."

Bras, who wasn't aware of Minor's specific case but spoke generally about the field of sports medicine, said policies evolve with the "deep underlying motivation" to improve wellness and safety.

But even when an athlete passes all the required screenings, "in so many of these cases, a lot of the time the presenting symptom of these conditions is sudden cardiac death," Bras said.

"That is just an unfortunate fact," she said.

Follow the Bangor Daily News on Facebook for the latest Maine news.

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Copyright 2018 The Commercial Appeal, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

Artenzia Young-Seigler is unique in that she is the state's first African-American female high school football referee, but she's also well-suited for the job.

She spent several years playing in the National Women's Football Association and then coached her son's youth football team in Murfreeseboro.

So becoming a referee just seemed like a natural progression for Young-Seigler, who has been a biology professor at Tennessee State for 17 years.

"I was playing football for awhile with the Nashville Dream and then the Tennessee Heat," Young-Seigler said. "After playing five years I started coaching in my son's youth league and one of the other coaches said, 'Hey, you should officiate,' and I was like, 'That's a good idea; I think I will.'"

Officiating became Young-Seigler's way of satisfying the deep passion she developed for football.

"I just love the game and wanted to do something else in the game," she said.

Young-Seigler has quickly climbed the ranks in her second year in the Middle Tennessee Football Officials Association, which provides officials for local high school games.

"She's one of our top officials," said MTFOA commissioner/assigning officer Junior Ward, who along with TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress did the research to determine Young-Seilger was the state's first African-American female official. "She's a hard worker, she's knowledgeable of the rules, she administers a good game and she works well with her fellow officials."

Young-Seigler is so good, in fact, that she is now also calling college games in the Big Ten, Mid-American, Missouri Valley and the Pioneer League.

She never set out to be a trailblazer by becoming the first African-American female to officiate high school games in Tennessee. In fact, she didn't even know she had broken the color and gender barrier until Ward informed her.

"I recognize there were women that came before that really sort of paved the way for me and I appreciate that," Young-Seigler said. "And I will be paving the way for others coming behind me. I do recognize that I am the first (African-American woman) coming through. I want to just make sure I do a good job as an official. Not just gender-wise, just do a great job as an official."

When Young-Seigler played football she was a starting quarterback and linebacker.

Because females could not play high school football when she was growing up in Centerville, Texas, Young-Seigler was a cheerleader and in the band during the fall. In the winter and spring she played basketball, volleyball, tennis and ran track.

"It was a small town and if you were an athlete you pretty much played every sport," Young-Seilger said.

Aside from her love for football, Young-Seigler believes she has the right temperament to be an official.

"You have to have the personality to deal with people," she said. "You know they're going to be angry; that's a given. One side or the other is not going to appreciate the job you do. You want to be fair, you want to be impartial, you really don't want to be that person that decides a game - that's not your goal. You just want to make sure that you enforce the rules of fair play."

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Copyright 2018 Times-World, LLC
All Rights Reserved

The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Open records experts say any attempt by Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer to eliminate older text messages on his phone would be illegal.

A university investigation says Meyer discussed ways to change the settings on his phone to eliminate messages older than a year as a story broke Aug. 1 that centered on messages he may have received about domestic violence allegations against assistant coach Zach Smith.

The latest university records retention policy doesn't single out text messages.

As murky as the policy seems, Fred Gittes, a veteran open records lawyer in Columbus, said any elimination of texts on Meyer's university-issued phone related to his coaching responsibility would break Ohio's open records law.

Open records advocate Dennis Hetzel questioned why investigators didn't do more to track down any older messages.

"What happened to these text messages seems like a pretty big thing to ignore or not pay a lot of attention to," said Hetzel, executive director of the Ohio News Media Association.

Tom Mars, an attorney who pried phone records out of the University of Mississippi in a lawsuit on behalf of former Rebels coach Houston Nutt in 2017, questioned why Ohio State couldn't determine if Meyer deleted text messages from his university phone.

"If you can get possession of the phone, with the right software, the right forensic expert, you can retrieve everything the user thought was deleted," Mars said.

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Copyright 2018 The Evansville Courier Co.
All Rights Reserved

Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

EVANSVILLE — The Indiana High School Athletic Association has granted Evansville Christian School's athletic programs provisional membership.

That means Eagles varsity teams are allowed to compete against IHSAA schools, but they will not be allowed to participate in the postseason for four years until they are approved for full membership. The provisional period is effective immediately.

"It's big, especially because we have a K-8 that directly feeds into our high school," ECS high school athletic director Paul Dunham said. "For a lot of our kids who are great athletes, it shows them we are positioning ourselves for them to stick around. We'll be able to provide a quality athletic experience for them."

ECS, which opened its high school off Epworth Road last year, applied to join the IHSAA in June once it had met the requirements, which include having a freshman and sophomore class, offering both boys and girls sports in all three seasons and paying the $2,000 application fee.

The high school offers three sports for both boys and girls — cross country, swimming and track — as well as girls soccer, volleyball, boys basketball, cheerleading, and it hopes to field a baseball team in the spring.

"We had a cub team last year, but still don't know if we can pull it off this year," Dunham said.

ECS is growing one grade at a time. It will graduate its first senior class after the 2019-20 school year, but currently only has students ranging from kindergarten to 11th grade.

There are roughly 55 freshmen, 20 sophomores and 15 juniors. The current eighth-grade class has about 80 students.

"The talent is in our K-8," Dunham said. "The question is: can we keep them here?"

"As long as we can keep the kids here, we're going to be strong in Class A," he added.

He hopes ECS can retain more of its students when they reach the high school level by offering IHSAA-sanctioned sports. For instance, five members of Castle's boys' soccer team that finished as the state runner-up last year graduated from eighth grade at ECS. So did three all-Southern Indiana Athletic Conference baseball players.

If you build it, they will come. Or, in this instance, stay.

"There's no doubt we're going to be pretty strong in some sports," Dunham said.

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2018 CMG Corporate Services, Inc. on behalf of itself and the Newspapers Aug 26, 2018

Palm Beach Daily News

 

A dismayed and frustrated Architectural Commission last week sent a clear message to the Town Council and others involved in building the controversial and much-delayed recreation center. The compound's architecture, the board agreed, shouldn't be compromised just because the council is wrestling with an unexpected budget crunch.

The council's recent decision, in particular, to strip the center of much of its cast-stone detailing is short-sighted, commissioners agreed, and flies in the face of the high-quality standards Palm Beachers expect of buildings here.

"The (cast-stone) finish is important, and it's important to the look. The cast stone is the accent on the building. It's what makes the building stand out and says, 'This is Palm Beach,'" said Alternate Commissioner Katherine Catlin, echoing her colleagues on the dais.

The board considered four other proposed changes to the project Wednesday after being asked to review several cost-cutting measures the council adopted in July. That's when officials — facing a $2 million budget shortfall — approved a $13.8 million budget for the center, which will replace recently demolished one at 340 Seaview Ave. The project is to be jointly funded by the town; the project's lead donor, the Morton and Barbara Mandel Family Foundation; and individual donations collected by the nonprofit Friends of Recreation. Each entity is paying a third, with the two donor groups pledging up to $5 million each.

The council was told that the price of materials and construction costs rose during the year the project was delayed because of a lawsuit filed against the project by a group of residents. Director of Public Works Paul Castro reiterated that explanation on Wednesday.

Even after addressing the $2 million shortfall, the council took action to shave an additional $673,561 off the budget — and those changes were presented to the board last week.

In addition to removing some of the cast stone, the changes included eliminating — at least temporarily — an entry arch from the center's parking lot off Royal Palm Way. Also cut from the plan were an open-air porch pavilion in the children's playground; the tennis court's hitting wall and its porch; and a wall that would have connected the hitting wall and the playground pavilion. In all, those items were estimated to cost $326,047.

Months of work

The architectural board approved the project's architecture in March 2017, and several commissioners last week expressed dismay that the town was making changes after commissioners had spent months hashing out the final design more than a year ago.

Board members were especially incensed by the council's decision — acting on suggestion from the Town Hall staff and the architectural team — to save $167,327 by stripping cast-stone decorative elements from the main building, the attached gymnasium and a separate tennis pavilion. The stone would have been used as banding at the base of the main building and gym, around gym windows and for planters, benches and columns. The cast stone details would be replaced by stucco versions, architect Nelo Robert Freijomel explained.

Vice Chairman Michael B. Small said one of the board's tasks is to ensure that every new building enhances the beauty of Palm Beach. He asked: Why should the town be allowed to make deleterious changes to an already-approved project when a private property owner building a house would likely be denied such a request?

"You're asking us to treat the town, which ought to rise to a higher standard, lower than anybody else who comes before us," Small said. "People say we're nitpicking and so on... but we're trying to maintain this level, and recognition of beauty and quality in the town, that we love and that we call paradise. How can we do that? I'm unalterably opposed to removing the cast stone."

The commission also was asked to bless the idea of changing walkways to poured concrete rather than cast-stone pavers, which would save $180,187, Freijomel said.

Commissioner Robert N. Garrison's motion, which passed unanimously, opposed removing any cast stone from the project and included a statement that the board didn't favor the elimination of the entry arch, the playground pavilion, the tennis hitting-wall elements or the adjoining wall as a way to meet the budget shortfall. But Garrison's motion appeared to support a plan outlined by Castro, who said those specific items could be reintroduced to the project later in a phased plan, if funding could be secured from "a donor."

Commissioners Maisie Grace and John David Corey said they were fine with eliminating the playground pavilion in favor of a more open, tree-shaded space. But Corey was adamantly opposed to removing the entry arch, which he called a "gem."

The board's decision is expected to be reviewed in September by the council. The Mandel Foundation and the Friends of Recreation also will be briefed on the commission's vote, said Deputy Town Manager Jay Boodheshwar. But the council has the final decision about whether it will adopt the commission's recommendations, he added.

Seek a compromise?

Councilwoman Maggie Zeidman, who attended Wednesday's meeting, said the council could seek a compromise, now that commissioners have weighed in on the changes.

"It is entirely understandable that the (Architectural Commission) wants the recreation center to reflect the same good taste and high standards of other public buildings in town. The Town Council relies on their expertise and gives serious weight to their recommendations but we are also responsible to the residents to use their tax dollars prudently," Zeidman wrote in an email Thursday to the Daily News.

"Everyone is doing their best to keep costs reasonable and meet the goal of having a new recreation center, which will serve the residents for many years to come."

At the meeting, Garrison sharply questioned whether the savings represented a significant enough percentage of the center's overall budget to justify the eliminations. The cast stone proposed to be stripped from the structures alone comprises about 1.2 percent of the recreation center's overall budget.

In July, the council chose to eliminate the cast stone and the four structures after considering a laundry list of already-approved items that could have been cut to save money. The council decided not to ax a new tennis pavilion and agreed to proceed with renovating the tennis pro shop and a maintenance building.

The plan presented to the board last week retained cast-stone pavers on the entry walkway at the main entrance from Seaview Avenue, as well as cast-stone details on the clock tower there. Cast stone also will remain on the covered porches at the main entry and on a secondary entry on the south side, on the steps and risers leading up to the entry porches and on a covered porch on the south side of the gymnasium.

"We saw these as the key feature areas where we really did not want to sacrifice the finish," Freijomel said.

— dhofheinz@ pbdailynews.com

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Copyright 2018 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

The question often comes up when a serious scandal hits college sports: Where is the NCAA? Why isn't the governing body of major college sports, you know, governing?

Ohio State suspended football coach Urban Meyer for three games for mishandling allegations of domestic violence against one of his assistants, but it is doubtful the school, coach or athletic director — also suspended — will face penalties from the NCAA.

Meanwhile, 13 North Carolina football players were suspended by the NCAA earlier this month — some as many as four games — for selling sneakers given to them by the school.

What gives?

"It comes down to purpose and jurisdiction," said Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at Tulane University.

The NCAA's primary purpose, Feldman says, is fair competition between the lines and regulating recruiting and amateurism rules.

"It's a governing body over sporting competitions," he said.

Issues outside that — laws and university policies that touch students, employees and others at universities outside of sports — are mostly out of bounds to the NCAA. The 1,100 schools that come together under the NCAA to compete want areas already governed elsewhere to stay governed elsewhere.

Schools don't want the NCAA to expand into investigating to matters such as sexual assault or petty crime. And the NCAA itself couldn't take on more even if it wanted to, given its resources.

Almost nothing about the Meyer scandal clearly falls under NCAA rules. Ohio State's investigators say they told the NCAA that Meyer withheld reporting a potential recruiting violation when wide receivers coach Zach Smith took a high school coach to a strip club — a minor element in a 23-page summary of findings that more precisely examined whether Meyer broke any laws, the terms of his contract or university policies.

"With respect to the NCAA cracking down on either the coach or the institution itself, again it comes down to punishing consistent with their mission and also within their jurisdiction," Feldman said.

That strictly defined jurisdiction has made it difficult — if not impossible — for the NCAA to jump in on other high-profile scandals within college sports.

The NCAA has said it will investigate Michigan State and its role in overseeing Larry Nassar, the former gymnastics doctor who was sentenced to decades in prison after hundreds of girls and women said he sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment while he worked at the university. But it's unclear what bylaw the NCAA could say Michigan State violated. Perhaps a catch-all, lack of institutional control.

NCAA officials have been looking from afar at Baylor, where outside investigators concluded that former football coach Art Briles and other school employees mishandled sexual assault claims, some against football players. The NCAA is using bylaws regulating extra benefits to athletes as its entry point, investigating whether some might have received special treatment by the athletic department to shield them from discipline.

Some critics believe the NCAA has put limits on its jurisdiction to purposefully avoid more serious issues.

"In terms of big principles, academic fraud, protecting student athletes, issues related to concussion. It will not get involved in that because of fear of litigation. It wants to pass the liability down to its member institutions," said Donna Lopiano, president of consulting firm Sports Management Resources.

"It issues guidelines, but not rules, and it's afraid if it makes a rule then they're going to have to enforce it, and if they don't enforce it then they're going to be liable," Lopiano said. "That's why they don't do the right thing on the big and important things."

The NCAA is its members. University presidents have the final say over legislation and governance. The NCAA sets academic eligibility standards for athletes, for example. But each school still has the final say over admissions.

"The NCAA is trying to give the schools a level of autonomy that they both want and deserve given the wide variety of institutions that are members of the NCAA — secular schools, religiously affiliated schools, with significant geographical and cultural differences," said Oliver Luck, the former NCAA executive vice president for regulatory affairs.

The NCAA's policing role in many areas such as academic misconduct and drug testing is to ensure schools are following their own rules and treating athletes the same as the rest of student body.

"Otherwise, the NCAA would have to create a massive alternative adjudicative system to handle the substantive and procedural issues of alleged Title IX violations, sexual assault, sexual harassment, drug testing and the like," Luck said. "That's a big space."

The most high-profile example of the NCAA trying to expand its disciplinary powers showed how ill-equipped it is to do so.

The NCAA went outside its procedures and policies to punish Penn State football with massive sanctions for the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse scandal. Those sanctions were challenged in court and eventually rolled back.

Feldman said the NCAA does not have the power or expertise to investigate matters of criminal or civil law, and fans as a result see disconnects between how different issues are judged.

"I understand that's a difficult thing for people to wrap their head around but there are limits to the NCAA's power. I think it's as simple as that," Feldman said.

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Copyright 2018 The Columbus Dispatch
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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

 

The important issue is domestic violence, and Meyer and the others are just figures in another case.

To be sure, their involvement makes it a high-profile case. The OSU Board of Trustees suspended Meyer without pay as head football coach because he tolerated a favored employee's clearly unacceptable behavior for years; because he didn't tell the truth when asked at a press conference about the employee's controversy; and because, when people started asking uncomfortable questions about it, his first response was not to come forward with honesty but instead to make sure his old text messages were deleted.

Athletic Director Gene Smith was suspended without pay for 17 days because he failed to recognize and correct an organizational culture that allowed Meyer's failures.

Those are, under OSU's institutional policies, the offenses and omissions that triggered discipline. But there is a lot more to be troubled about in the story of Zach and Courtney Smith and their relationship to the university.

Zach Smith is a former assistant to Meyer, both at the University of Florida and at Ohio State; he is a grandson of the late Earle Bruce, beloved former Buckeye coach and mentor to Meyer. By all accounts, Smith and his former wife Courtney had a troubled relationship prone to conflict. Meyer knew about a fight between the Smiths in Florida in 2009, when Mrs. Smith accused her husband of throwing her against a wall. Mr. Smith was arrested, but no charges were filed.

Meyer has said he didn't believe Courtney Smith's claim. But over the years that followed, Meyer knew about plenty of bad behavior by Zach Smith. There was the recruiting trip on which he and another OSU assistant coach took high-school coaches to a strip club; failures to pay his credit-card and phone bills; and, during divorce proceedings in 2015 and 2016, an increasing tendency to show up late for work and not show up at all for recruiting visits and to lie about it.

In late 2015, Meyer learned that Powell police were investigating new domestic-violence accusations Courtney Smith made against her husband. In June 2016, Meyer told Zach Smith to get treatment for addiction to an ADHD drug.

But Meyer didn't fire Smith until July, after a court found he was a danger to his wife and issued a domestic-violence protection order against him.

Meyer has acknowledged that a "blind spot" about Zach Smith, rooted in his affection for Bruce, led him to repeatedly go easy on his assistant -- threatening multiple times to fire him the next time something happened, but never officially reporting his concerns to others.

Misplaced loyalty is one thing, but where was the concern for Courtney Smith? The couple's toxic relationship features many of the signs that often end up in violence and tragedy. It could have gone much worse.

Meyer espouses respect for women as a "core value" of his program; it's hard to understand how he could decline for so long to step in or speak up about a situation so fraught with danger.

Something Meyer told Zach Smith when he learned of the Powell police investigation is telling: "If you hit her, you are fired."

Domestic violence doesn't require hitting. It is an effort to control and break down a partner. It can take the form of verbal abuse, intimidation or controlling behavior.

It is worth noting that the troubles with Meyer and the Smiths play out in a larger context of the university's own blind spot.

Ohio State has struggled to respond adequately to problems of sexual violence involving employees and students. It established a Sexual Civility and Empowerment Center with much fanfare in 2015, but suspended its operations in February amid complaints that employees actually harmed people reporting sexual assaults by casting doubt on their complaints and "re-traumatizing" them.

An investigation followed and the university has promised to open a new centralized office to address sexual misconduct and harassment by explaining to people their rights and connecting them with support and resources.

And then there are questions about uninvestigated complaints of sexual assaults in previous years in wrestling and diving programs.

The saga of the Smiths and Urban Meyer suggests that the university needs a renewed emphasis on the idea that, when somebody knows that domestic violence might be happening, keeping quiet about it isn't an acceptable option.

The noisy public debate about Meyer's fate shows that many in our community don't recognize that obligation. Many have questioned why he should be responsible for "personal problems" between "consenting adults."

The answer lies in the kind of community the university and central Ohio strive to be. Victims of domestic violence often are overpowered in every way by their abusive partners and unable to protect themselves. The problem is pervasive, and turning away is shameful.

Whether Meyer and Gene Smith should have received harsher penalties is up for debate. But calling out their failure of leadership sends a message that this community needs to hear.

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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

TIPP CITYSupporters of upgrades to the City Park athletic stadium are continuing to raise funds for more pieces of the project after the installation ofsyntheticturf and other first-phase work was completed.

Full plans include new bleachers, locker rooms, press box, lights and ticket booths, but officials of a local organization leading the fundraising efforts say they have different levels of plans depending on how much money can be raised.

Money for an overall $4.9 million stadium project is being raised privately by the nonprofit Tipp Pride Association. Scott George, TPA vice president, said he hopes that when people and businesses in the community see the impact of $1.1 million in site work and synthetic turf installation, they will get more enthusiastic about donating.

The field, he said, "looks fantastic. People are getting excited. We hope that carries into contributions."

While businesses have been responsive to fundraising, efforts continue to increase community support.

"Several community members have stepped forward. The majority have not," George said. "We hope to prove to them, with the field getting done, this is something we are committed to."

The new turf project kicked off in the spring with site work and then turf installation under the coordination of Bruns General Contracting and Alliance Engineering.

The first phase, which was fully funded, cost around $1.1 million. The Phase 1 money came from the school district, which committed to provide the $75,000 a year it receives under an agreement with Premier Health for athletic facilities for 10 years, as well as from donations from businesses and individuals.

The Phase 2 plan has two options, and how much is raised by the end of the fall sports season will determine which is pursued.

George said there's money available from the city and TPA fundraising to do the smaller of two phase two options, which includes the home side concession, restrooms and storage building along with installing a portion of the new exterior stadium fencing. The estimate for that work is $690,000.

An expanded Phase 2 plan would require an additional $1.6 million. That plan includes the basic Phase 2 work plus demolition of home side structures and excavation to accommodate new home side bleachers and press box, new stadium lights, a stadium plaza and home side and visitors' ticket booths.

The amount of the city contribution to Phase 2 has not been finalized, said City Manager Tim Eggleston. Among options being explored are the city paying up to two-thirds the building cost because its facilities would be used by City Park visitors or the city fronting the building cost if there's agreement with the schools on a new stadium lease that would include the schools repaying a portion to the city, he said. The city owns the stadium, which is leased by the school district.

"To be able to keep the stadium project moving forward, the council has in spirit committed to funding the concession/restroom/storage building," Eggleston said in a written statement. "Before the city can totally commit to the project, a new lease has to be worked out … Otherwise, the city will only possibly contribute two thirds (of) the cost of the restrooms."

Once all Phase 2 work is complete, the remaining work would include home and visitors' locker rooms, visitors' concession and restrooms and visitors' stands, George said.

Anyone interested in supporting the stadium project or learning more about the effort can visit tipppride.com.

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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

Ask any of the owners of the Milwaukee Bucks what fans will say about Fiserv Forum in 20 years and the answer is the same: Wow!

Even two decades out, they say, fans will be impressed by a pro basketball arena that was built to be — and remains — state of the art.

And they'll be in a building that is surrounded by offices, apartments, hotels, a grocery store — a vibrant urban neighborhood that's a far cry from what was the desolate Park East freeway corridor.

"Instead of raw land and dirt patches they'll see all of that," said Bucks owner Marc Lasry.

"Twenty years from now, you'll say, 'Wow!' "co-owner Mike Fascitelli said.

The Bucks leadership hopes to deliver the first taste of that excitement at the Fiserv Forum grand opening Sunday. Thousands are expected to attend the event, which begins with an 11 a.m. block party followed by a ribbon-cutting, speeches and free tours.

Transparent, transformative

From practically any spot inside the $524 million building, you can see the basketball court and clear across to other concourses and levels. That transparency makes the arena feel more intimate; it's the first impression cited by many visitors.

The building also offers soaring views of the entertainment plaza and businesses under construction outside the main entrance on the east side. It's part of the transformation that the Bucks and local officials believe Fiserv Forum already has ignited in the northwest portion of downtown Milwaukee.

"The arena is already paying dividends," said Mayor Tom Barrett. "We're seeing more activity and continued interest in economic development and growth in this area, and that means jobs."

Co-owner Wes Edens and the other owners said the grand opening is one step in a much longer process that involves more than NBA basketball.

"I didn't just want to build an arena," Edens said. "I wanted us to play a real role in revitalizing downtown Milwaukee."

Rapid pace, no surprises

Sunday's event comes two years and a few months after construction began and a little more than four years since the team was sold for $550 million by former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl to New York billionaires Lasry and Edens.

The arena was a key part of the agreement that Kohl struck with the new owners, requiring that the Bucks remain in Milwaukee if a replacement for the Bradley Center was built.

The Bucks owners — and Kohl — delivered on their promise to cover more than half of the cost of the arena. And taxpayers, through state, city and county packages, contributed $250 million.

"Everybody did their jobs," Kohl said of the public financing package.

"It was a very fair deal for everyone," Edens said. "It's so important in life to deliver on the promises that we make."

Kohl said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver deserves special credit for paving the way for the deal and Fiserv Forum.

"From the first day, he was utterly supportive of our efforts," Kohl said. "He was great. It wouldn't have turned out as well as it did without his support."

Kohl said Fiserv Forum will be a "landmark for our city and the state to support and enjoy."

"I don't think that any of us were expecting to be ahead of schedule and under budget, which is where we are," said New York hedge fund manager Jamie Dinan, who joined Lasry and Edens as an owner a few months after the sale.

The Bucks exceeded goals for employment of local workers on the construction, Barrett said. At the same time, he said, the team has raised its involvement throughout the community.

The speed of the project surprised observers and even the jet-setting team owners, who in their day jobs are routinely involved in huge business deals such as the construction of power plants.

"Four years ago we had the team, but no land and an older arena that needed to be replaced," Fascitelli said. "And we did this in a time frame that was about as fast as humanly possible."

The owners approached the arena project "just like we would any serious business venture," demanding accountability and performance from all involved in Milwaukee, Edens said. That included Bucks President Peter Feigin, construction manager Mortenson and Icon, the owners' representative in the project.

"These are all really, really capable people," he said.

The project has faced bumps along the way. The naming rights deal with Brookfield-based Fiserv Corp. took longer than predicted. The bars, restaurants and other businesses in the entertainment block won't open until next spring.

A corporate headquarters hasn't materialized. However, Fiserv might be considering a move from Brookfield to a site that the Bucks control just north of the arena.

More development expected

Fascitelli estimated that, including the arena, about $750 million in development has come to the area.

That includes privately financed buildings such as the Bucks training facility, the adjacent Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin McKinley Health Center and Five Fifty Ultra Lofts, a 112-unit apartment building being constructed just west of the arena's new parking structure.

Gov. Scott Walker said Fiserv Forum will help revitalize Milwaukee.

"The new home for the Bucks is a big deal for Wisconsin and specifically Milwaukee," Walker said in a statement. "...A new arena and an exciting team will help attract and retain prospective employees."

Much more is to come, the Bucks owners promise.

The Bucks' real estate arm controls about 40 acres in the area, including the BMO Harris Bradley Center site and a large parcel just north of Fiserv Forum.

"In time, that whole area will be different," Edens said, adding, "I'm impatient about this and want it all to happen at once."

Attention to quality, details

Fans getting their first look inside Sunday will be impressed not only by the sight lines but also by the level of detail and quality of the building, the owners said. The signature zinc panels on the swooping north roof of the building appear in the main lobby.

As recently as Thursday, Feigin was patrolling the halls fussing over wallpaper, paint colors and the employee entrance. The attention to detail was remarkable, even in areas most fans will never visit.

Dinan said: "We really spared no expense to try and make it fan-friendly as far as the sight lines, the views and technology that people expect."

"This is not just an upgrade" from the BMO Harris Bradley Center, said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, a Bucks season ticket holder for 20 years. "People are going to be blown away."

Other touches include state-of-the-art, high-speed cell service; high-quality, locally sourced concessions; and a public art program.

"It's like the end of a long effort," Fascitelli said of the grand opening. "But it's also just the beginning of a whole new chapter."

 

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Corpus Christi Caller-Times

 

They're at the Hooks and American Bank Center, and soon you'll be seeing them at the next King versus Carroll game as they replay the last touchdown. Behind the cameras and up in the booth, however, are students who are gaining valuable experience.

Whether you realize it or not, big multimedia screens are a big part of sports games. They let the audience see a close-up replay of something that could've been harder to see from where they were sitting. It could also let you see what you missed while you were in the bathroom.

The video boards in Corpus Christi ISD were planned with funds from a 2016 bond that was passed and now two new screens will be making their debut this fall at Cabaniss Stadium and Buc Stadium.

The 26 x 46-foot screens will be fully operational by the time football season starts and to top it off will have students working them.

For CCISD, each screen will have a total of three students working them to start off. The students will work the cameras for the games, but as time goes on could work their way up to the booth.

Xavier Barrientez, a Miller High School media teacher, who will be overseeing the staff for the screens and will make sure the students are trained, says that this opportunity will let students gain some real-world skills for their future.

"The systems and skills that they learn are some that they will use when they leave," Barrientez said. "Even if they don't continue with video, they still have skills that will help them."

While the students will only be running the cameras at first, Barrientez says that in time they will move up to the control booth.

Part of the Career Technical Education program, the students will get paid for their work and some of it can even go toward college credit.

"For the class, they are going to work on videos for the games, do camerawork like spirit cam or replays and produce content for advertisements or the games," Barrientez said. "It will be fast-paced and sometimes hard, but once they get the hang of it, it will be good for everyone."

Can students do the fast-paced job or even learn anything from it? At Gregory-Portland High School, the students have shown that the video boards aren't just a part-time gig for extra credit.

Since 2016, Gregory-Portland High School has had a video board at their stadium and had students running the show. The small team of students goes beyond just the games, making advertisements for sponsors, shooting and editing interviews and whatever else pops up.

David Rains, the video tech teacher for Gregory-Portland High School who oversees the video board, says the boards are a way for students to get ahead.

"The skills that students learn to work these boards aren't skills that they'll never use again. The systems and editing skills are the same ones they'd use professionally," Rains said.

Aside from the boards, the students in the video tech program do the morning announcements, furthering their video and editing skills and introducing them to more advanced systems.

Senior Sara Maher has been with the program since her freshman year and has worked her way up.

"I've always been into AV. When I was a kid I even started my own video club at my old school," Maher said. "When I moved here and found out there was a class for it I wanted to be in it really badly because I knew it would be something I would love."

Taking the introductory video tech class, Maher's long love of video soon gave her a step up.

"When I got into the class I told Rains that I had done [the Corpus Christi Seven Day Film Festival] before and he told me he remembered my film and that I didn't need to be in here but in the next class," Maher said.

Over three years, Maher has adapted to the challenges of learning new and advanced software, editing and interviewing.

"I learned very quickly that I was very good at video and editing and started being with the older kids in more advanced classes," Maher said. "It's really fun and challenging and it's always something new."

Most students start with the morning announcements, then work their way up to man the cameras and the control booth.

"Sara will probably be the main director for this football season," Rains said. "Knowing her though, she will probably let some of the other kids jump on and watch over them."

And while some of the students will not continue on working in the video field, the skills that the students learn from working on the video boards could set them up for a career.

Ariana Jones is a 2018 graduate of Gregory-Portland High School who spent four years in video tech classes, two years working the video boards and now has spent one summer working the video boards at Whataburger Field.

"When they were putting up the screens, Rains asked if I would be interested in helping out during football season and then I got hooked," Jones said.

Always having an interest in video, Jones was a natural and quickly mastered how to work the screens and says she became a "jack-of-all-trades" when it came to the games.

"It's high-paced and you have to do everything, so you have to be flexible, but it's really exciting," Jones said.

After working two years on the screens, she decided to keep going and started working with the video boards at Whataburger Field earlier this summer.

While she will be continuing her education in Ohio this Fall, she says she won't lose this passion.

"Everything I learned working the games in high school really helped me with my new job," Jones said. "It's pretty much the same system and the same work, but it's not something you just learn."

Jones also sees first-hand how the screens are a part of the game just as much as the band or cheer team.

"The screens add a new factor to the game," Jones said. "They add a new dimension that makes it better for people watching and better for students who are working them. It's a win-win for everyone."

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Corpus Christi Caller-Times

 

Joel Hilliard has experienced plenty during his tenure as a football official but it was early in his two-decade career blowing a whistle at football games where he learned a valuable lesson.

During a game Hilliard was working an assistant coach from a team was constantly on him and at some points was "screaming and yelling at me," Hilliard said.

It came to the point where the coach said in his long tenure of coaching, Hilliard and his officiating crew were the worst he'd seen in 25 years.

"I asked the coach, 'You've been coaching for 25 years?' and he said, 'And you're the worst,'" Hilliard said. "I said, 'and you're still an assistant coach.'"

Hilliard said he immediately regretted saying it but it was also a valuable lesson for him in his career that has seen him referee around Corpus Christi for the last 20 years and even travel the state officiating games at the college level.

Hilliard later apologized to the coach and the two became friends, and he uses the situation at clinics to talk to young officials about their temperament as games can heat up, and a team's season could be on the line.

"I tell them, 'Don't do that,'" Hilliard said with a laugh.

But it is one of the many stories and memories Hilliard and others like him gain while patrolling the high school football fields around the area, and a reason they keep coming back each year.

"My hardest thing... I told my wife this is my last year, and she said, 'Yeah, whatever, you've been saying that for six year plus,'" Hilliard said. "I don't know where else I'd be on a Friday."

A NATIONWIDE SHORTAGE

Hilliard, 52, like other officials who are part of the South Texas Football Officials chapter love the game they officiate. But they also see something that is a concern - as older officials leave the game fewer younger officials are coming in to replace them.

The lack of officials has not reached a point in the Coastal Bend where it has required wholesale rescheduling of games, which has occurred in other parts of the state. But it is enough to have long-time officials and the organization's board increase recruitment efforts, and use patched together crews of experienced and inexperienced officials.

The Texas Association of Sports Officials has lowered the minimum age to 16 to offer chapters a chance to staff middle school and junior varsity games, and groom them for future varsity competition.

On any Friday night, the association will staff between 20 and 25 games and some weeks this year they have had to put together crews that do not normally work with each other.

Anthony Ford, who is president of the association, said coaches must agree to use officials from the pool and not on an established crew. If they do not agree, the game could be staffed by another chapter.

It mirrors what has happened in places such as West Texas, the Metroplex, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley.

"It's not just a statewide issue, but a nationwide issue," Ford said.

It is not an ideal situation for local officiating chapters who have put on the hard sell to bring more young officials into the game. A recent story from the Dallas Morning News found younger officials have left after a few years because of verbal abuse from fans and coaches.

Ford said it has changed a little bit in his more than two decades officiating but said communication is key and "having kind of a thick skin and bad hearing."

Hilliard and referee Valentin Moreno said the fans are more aggressive, which for a young official can make it tough to stick around for $40 a game.

"Most times nowadays the coaches are concentrating on coaching their team and they let us do our job and they do their job," Ford said. "The main thing is communication and we talk to most of the coaches and we explain a call, we won't argue a call, we will explain a call. Most coaches, once you explain it to them they will accept it."

WHAT IT TAKES

Most crews that staff varsity high school games in the Corpus Christi area have seven officials. If they are in a pinch, they will have five member crews but the organizations prefers to staff as many games with seven member crews as they can.

There is some expense early in getting involved as prospective officials have to pay for uniforms and any equipment, but as part of the recruiting effort they are offering new officials vouchers for uniforms.

Beyond the officials on the field there is also three to four people working the first down chains and two clock operators as each game can have up to 13 officials. Hilliard said many of the chain crews at varsity games are younger, inexperienced officials who may do middle school and junior varsity games during the week.

TASO uses a system of points to grade officials and help them advance. A Division five official is a new official on up to Division one, which is more experienced officials. Officials can move up a division by the grades and points they earn during each season. They also must pass tests to also move up levels.

Officials also attend rules clinics to learn new techniques and rules. Hilliard said he also invites coaches to come to the clinics.

Officials can be paid anywhere from $40 to $100 a game, depending on the level and how big a crowd may be at that game. Districts determine different levels of pay for officials.

Moreno said they will team experienced officials with younger officials for sub varsity and middle school games, to help younger officials learn.

Clayton Dawson, 52, is in his second year as an official and worked the chains during varsity games, while working as a head linesman or side judge for sub-varsity and middle school games. This season he will work on a crew with Moreno, a 21-year veteran official from Mathis.

Dawson, who works at the Corpus Christi Army Depot, got involved because he saw an ad on television looking for officials and decided to give it a try. Dawson, a native of Louisiana, said he was familiar with the game since he played and watched his son play and it has been an enjoyable experience to see it from the official perspective.

"I guess the best part is seeing the young guys coming who are playing," Dawson said. "My thing is I want to be the best I can as an official and put my best foot forward, making the right calls and to see the (young players) out there and guide them along."

MAKING THE RIGHT CALLS

Officials know they will blow calls during a game, and how they react and rebound from those calls is something that officials work on constantly.

They are also cognizant that they are doing this as a hobby, a way to make extra money and still be involved in the game while for the coaches this is their livelihood.

It is one reason it drives officials to be as good as they can each time they take the field.

"When you flip that coin, coaches become a different person," Hilliard said. "We do this as a hobby and that is their profession. I had one coach tell me, 'Y'all are out here for fun, the moving trucks are circling my house right now.'"

Hilliard said he has never called a perfect game and it is an attitude he takes into every game, and rarely knows a game's final score.

Moreno said he works to forge communication with the head coaches early in a night to keep the communication lines open when there are questions about calls.

Fans and coaches, at times, are more aggressive, Moreno said, which can make it hard to keep younger officials but sometimes they do get a pat on the back and said the reward is knowing you did a good job.

"Not everybody is going to be happy all the time but I keep coming back year after year and just love it," said Moreno, 61. "You go through some tough times with coaches and fans but you get rewarded and no official I know does it for the money because they love it. I like to tell everybody when the band is playing, the cheerleaders are cheering, the football players and coaches are pacing the field... it's exciting."

THE FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

Officials know the games they call on any day, from a middle school game on Tuesday or Wednesday to a sub-varsity game on Thursday to the biggest games on Friday night are those players, coaches and fans biggest games.

They know the sacrifice that goes into being able to be a part of the game, which is why they do it. They know fans and coaches will not be happy at times but the love of the game is what drives them to come back each week. It's what drives them to attend clinics, study a complicated and extended rule book, and correct mistakes they may make.

In simple terms, they love it.

"Not too many people step into officiating and football is a big, big part of our lives," said Moreno, who owns a restaurant in Mathis. "Every Friday night, we talk about the lights when we get out there. Sometimes you look around and you are putting the ball down, you are tired and at the end of the game you know you gave them a good game. You walk out knowing you did your best."

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Chicago Daily Herald

 

Students at Jacobs High School in Algonquin opened the school's new fitness center and group fitness/dance studio this week. The 6,462-square-foot center includes 24 strength training multistations that can accommodate 72 students at a time.

It was designed to help students reach fitness goals and offer opportunities to rehabilitate student athletes, officials said Friday.

The school's roughly 2,100 students and 275 employees will be able to use the facility.

A physical education teacher who also is a certified personal trainer will serve as an after-school strength and conditioning coach to help students stay fit.

Students who were working out at local gyms now are using the center, said Joe Benoit, athletic director.

"This is the first year that we truly have a consistent strength and conditioning coach," he said. "What we are most excited about is it allows us to have a more holistic approach to meeting the needs of our students across the board."

The new 3,505-square-foot group fitness/dance studio includes mondo dance grade flooring and is surrounded by full-length mirrors. The room has an 80-foot dance/balance bar, equipment storage, LED lighting, and an integrated audiovisual system with an 80-inch television for instruction.

It cost roughly $400,000 to build and equip the fitness center in an underutilized auxiliary gym space and to repurpose a balcony in the main gym for the dance studio. Improvements were funded through a combination of district and school funds - from sponsorships and gate receipts from athletic events - and donations from the booster club and senior class of 2017, assistant principal Mark Rasar said.

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Suspended Ohio State coach Urban Meyer issued an apology to the ex-wife of a former assistant coach who was suspected of abusing her.

Meyer was widely criticized after a news conference Wednesday for failing to directly address Courtney Smith, who said her former husband Zach Smith had abused her and Meyer was aware of it.

Meyer says in a statement issued by the university Friday: "Let me say here and now what I should have said on Wednesday: I sincerely apologize to Courtney Smith and her children for what they have gone through."

Meyer was suspended by the Ohio State board of trustees for three games.

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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

The attorney who represented two former University of Maryland football players last year after they were accused by a female student of sexual assault said Friday that he was hired by coach DJ Durkin and had "very minimal contact" with former athletic director Kevin Anderson.

That counters what the university said in a statement Thursday, that Anderson was the one who used athletic department funds to hire the attorney. In fact, Donald Maurice Jackson, a lawyer with The Sports Group, said Friday he was sent an email from Anderson about two weeks after taking over the case from another attorney informing him that Maryland was severing ties with him. Jackson said he had already been paid $15,000 by the football team and continued to represent the athletes.

 

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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

BLACKSBURG — A pair of major athletic facility projects could move forward this weekend when the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors meets at Hotel Roanoke.

The university's governing authority will vote on whether to take the next step on the Student-Athlete Performance Center and Merryman Center projects.

On Thursday, athletic director Whit Babcock confirmed to The Roanoke Times the university received verbal pledges for the $5 million project to renovate and expand the Merryman Center, the football strength and conditioning building that was built in 1998.

The commitments will allow the board to vote on a resolution this weekend moving the project into the planning phase. If the measure is approved, $700,000 will be allocated to complete "working drawings" of the project.

"The envisioned renovation and expansion will provide state-of-the-art spaces for weight training, nutrition, team meeting space, circulation, and an updated graphics package," the session materials for the board meeting state.

The plan is to expand the second floor of the facility by 4,880 gross square feet. The renovations will mainly take place on the first floor.

"The facility has received few improvements since its original construction, and requires an update to meet the Athletic department's expectations with the highly competitive environment for NCAA Division I college football," the resolution says.

The board will also vote on whether to approve the initial design work of the $16.6 million Student-Athlete Performance Center, which will replace the Jamerson Athletic Center's Bowman Room, which has existed since 1982.

Hanbury is the architect handling the design of the project. The university's tentative plan is to pick a contractor for the project in early 2019 with a goal of completing it by fall 2020.

The university received a $15.2 million donation for the project in Dec. 2017.

"This project includes a complete renovation and expansion of the fourth floor of the Jamerson Center, construction of a balcony cantilevered from the fourth floor, and a new elevator tower," the board material states. "The project will provide approximately 17,000 square feet for dining, nutrition, recruiting, donor hospitality, and allow for a seamless transition to the Cassell Coliseum concourse."

Babcock envisions the performance center having a "huge positive impact" on student-athletes.

While the athletic director wants to be proactive in developing facility plans, don't expect any football-focused projects in the short-term given that coach Justin Fuente is pleased with the administration's overall vision.

"We see it from the same lens," Babcock said Thursday. "We got some things rolling right about the time he got here. I don't feel like we are playing catch-up in any way."

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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

MARSHALL COUNTY, MISS.People in Byhalia, Mississippi are mourning the death of Dennis Mitchell, a high school football player, after he suffered cardiac arrest during a game and later died at the hospital.

Byhalia High varsity football competed against Coahoma County Friday night.

Mitchell got hurt, then began throwing up on the field, WHBQ reported.

Mitchell was taken out of the game but then asked to be put back in the game, according to close friends.

When Mitchell started playing again, he went into cardiac arrest.

Mitchell was then rushed to the hospital, where he had a seizure. Mitchell was later pronounced dead.

Byhalia High School released the following statement regarding the player's death:

"Our BHS family mourns the loss of Dennis Mitchell, a beloved student-athlete who collapsed on the field during Friday night's game at Coahoma. Please keep his family, our coaches, the team, students, administrators, faculty, and staff in your thoughts and prayers."

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August 26, 2018
 
 
 

 

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

 

JACKSONVILLE, FLA.One person was killed at a Florida high school football game as the contest ended Friday night, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office confirmed.

In a tweet late Friday, the Sheriff's Office said one person died and two were injured after a game played between host William M. Raines High School and Robert E. Lee High School.

The Sheriff's Office said early Saturday that one male and one female were shot and transported to hospitals, while one young male was pronounced dead at the scene.

The victims' names had not been released as of early Saturday.

Deputies estimated that 4,000 people attended the game, which was the season opener for Raines. Around 3,000 fans had left by the time the shooting began, the Sheriff's Office said.

"With the amount of people there, we should have many witnesses," a sheriff's spokesman said.

There were several fights and disturbances during the football game, according to the Sheriff's Office, and officials said they will be looking into those to see if there are any connections to the shooting.

Deputies said the shooting occurred up and down the sidewalk — between the stadium and the school entrance — around 10 p.m. Officers at the scene found three victims with gunshot wounds. One victim, a young adult male, died at the scene. Rescue transported two others to the hospital.

Federal authorities are assisting JSO in the investigation. A search is on for a single shooter, authorities said.

Duval County Superintendent Diana Greene said officials were still in the process of gathering information and will release a statement later.

Greene did say, however, that the incident was a "very troubling reflection" of what's happening in the Jacksonville community.

This is not the first time there has been an incident at a football game between the two schools.

A 20-year-old was shot after a 2012 game at Raines High School.

This is a developing story.

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Caption One person was killed and two more were injured after a football game in Jacksonville, Florida, on Friday. Photo: Morguefile
 
August 26, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Football coaches talk a lot about creating a family atmosphere in their programs.

They walk into the homes of teenagers and tell the loved ones of each recruit: We'll make him not only a better player, but a better person.

College football media guides are filled with coaching staff bios accompanied by photos with smiling wives and children. Players call the team a brotherhood. Coaches' wives bond over the shared experience of an unorthodox and transient life. They become team moms.

All of this makes sense. As seriously as we take college football — too seriously, clearly — we're talking about unpaid 18- to 22-year-olds playing a game. This business doesn't need to be all business. But what has transpired over the last three weeks at Ohio State is a lesson to all coaches. Your football program is not a family.

Urban Meyer treating Zach Smith like family almost cost one of the most accomplished coaches in college football his job. A case can be made that it should have. Instead, Meyer is suspended for the first three games this season.

It's OK to run your football program as a family right up until the point when it gets dysfunctional. When families are confronted with a troubled or troublesome relative, they tend to close ranks. They search for solutions within and often look to mom and dad to clean up the mess.

Meyer thought he knew best how to handle Smith, a former player for him and the grandson of his mentor, the late Ohio State coach Earle Bruce.

Instead of acting like the vice president in charge of football for THE Ohio State University, and protecting the employer that pays him millions to be the face of a $7 billion institution, Meyer's instinct was to shield his family.

"As I reflect, my loyalty to his grandfather likely impacted the way I treated Zach Smith," Meyer said Wednesday night, part of a dispassionate reading of a statement. "I should have demanded more from him and recognized red flags."

The red flags started in 2009 when Zach Smith was arrested in Gainesville, Florida, where he was working for Meyer and the Gators. Smith allegedly picked up his pregnant wife, Courtney, and threw her against a wall. He denies that.

The family closed ranks. Courtney decided not to press charges. Meyer and his wife sent the couple for counseling and came away doubtful of her allegations, according to the report delivered by independent investigators into Meyer's handling of domestic violence allegations against Zach Smith.

After Meyer hired Smith at Ohio State in 2011, one thing after another could have led to Smith being fired for simply being bad at his job. The investigation called it a "pattern of troubling behavior."

Smith brought a high school coach to a strip club while on a recruiting trip. Meyer warned him to not do it again.

Smith had credit cards declined when setting up recruiting trips and was delinquent in paying for other expenses. Meyer said he vaguely remembered those issues.

While Smith's marriage was falling apart, his performance at work suffered. He was late and no-showed on some responsibilities, the report said. Meyer's boss, athletic director Gene Smith, recommended Smith be fired. He wasn't.

In 2016, Meyer directed Zach Smith into a drug treatment facility. Meyer did not tell Gene Smith about this — or that 2009 arrest in Florida.

So it should be no surprise when confronted with allegations Zach Smith physically assaulted his wife in 2015, Meyer merely scolded Smith and threatened to fire him if Meyer found out he hit Courtney Smith. Charges were never filed.

Last month, Meyer finally fired Zach Smith after Courtney Smith received a protective order against her ex-husband. According to investigators, Meyer texted his agent that his plan for Big Ten media day was to keep the reasons in-house. "I will not tell media," Meyer wrote.

The text Meyer got back from his agent: only "a matter of time before he did something that did substantial harm to you or the program."

Too late.

"While we do not doubt that Coach Meyer respects women and is dedicated to fostering an environment of respect for women in his program," the report said, "his apparent blind spot for Zach Smith seems to have impaired his judgment and his management of the behavior of at least one of his assistants."

That blind spot now leaves a permanent mark on Meyer's legacy.

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August 24, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Lansing, Mich. — A former head coach of Michigan State's gymnastics team was charged Thursday with lying to an investigator when she denied that witnesses told her years ago about being sexually assaulted by ex-sports doctor Larry Nassar.

A charging document does not specify how many witnesses allegedly reported Nassar to Kathie Ann Klages, or when they did so. But former gymnast Larissa Boyce has said she told Klages of Nassar's abuse in 1997, when Boyce was 16 — 19 years before he was first criminally charged with sexual abuse.

Klages, who resigned in 2017 after she was suspended for defending the now-imprisoned Nassar, is now the third person other than Nassar to face criminal charges related to his serial molestation of young female athletes under the guise of treatment. Numerous other people have lost their jobs or been sued.

If convicted of lying to a peace officer, the 63-year-old Klages could face up to four years in prison.

Boyce, who declined comment Thursday, had been training with the Spartan youth gymnastics team in 1997. She has said Klages dissuaded her from taking the issue further, even after another teen gymnast relayed similar allegations.

The warrant released Thursday alleges that in June, after being informed by special agent David Dwyre that he was conducting a criminal investigation, Klages knowingly and willfully made false and misleading statements to him. She faces two counts of lying to a peace officer, one a felony and the other a high court misdemeanor.

It was unclear whether Klages had a criminal defense attorney. A message seeking comment Thursday was left with lawyers defending her against lawsuits. She lives in Mason, Mich., just outside Lansing. Her arraignment had not been scheduled.

Michigan State spokeswoman Emily Guerrant declined to comment on the charges, saying Klages is no longer an employee.

"MSU is committed to implementing changes for the fall semester that enhance prevention and education programming and establish new safety measures as well as increase resources and support for survivors of sexual assault," she said.

The charges were announced by special independent counsel Bill Forsyth, who was appointed by state Attorney General Bill Schuette to investigate Michigan State's handling of Nassar. He said witnesses have said they reported Nassar's sexual abuse to Klages dating back more than 20 years ago.

Hundreds of girls and women have said Nassar molested them when he was a physician, including while he worked at Michigan State and Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains U.S. Olympians. Nassar, 55, last year pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting nine victims and possessing child pornography, and his sentences equate to life in prison.

Lindsey Lemke was a gymnast at Michigan State and previously has said Klages in 2016 discouraged her from speaking about how she was abused by Nassar after The Indianapolis Star exposed abuse by Nassar. She said in a statement Thursday that the charges "validate my truth and represent a huge step forward in my healing process. It is my hope that she will be held accountable for failing to protect me and other young athletes under her care."

Other officials subsequently charged amid investigations into Nassar include the former dean of the university's osteopathic medicine school, William Strampel, who had oversight of Nassar. He is accused of neglecting his duty to enforce examining-room restrictions imposed on Nassar after a patient accused him in 2014 of sexual contact.

Strampel — who retired this summer while the school tried to revoke his tenure — also has been charged with sexually harassing three women, including two current medical students, who alleged bawdy talk about sex and nude photos, and a groping incident.

In Texas, a grand jury indicted former sports medicine trainer Debra Van Horn on one count of second-degree sexual assault of a child. The local prosecutor said she was charged as "acting as a party" with Nassar but he did not elaborate. Van Horn had worked at USA Gymnastics for 30 years.

Investigators have said Nassar's crimes were mostly committed in Michigan at a campus clinic, area gyms and his Lansing-area home. Accusers also said he molested them at a gymnastics-training ranch in Texas, where Nassar also faces charges, and at national and international competitions.

Michigan State softball, volleyball, and track and field athletes have said they told an assistant coach and trainers about Nassar's inappropriate behavior. The university in May reached a $500 million settlement with 332 women and girls who said they were assaulted by Nassar.

Separately, a Michigan sheriff is investigating unspecified complaints against former U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics team coach John Geddert, who owned and operated Twistars, a Lansing-area gym where Nassar offered treatments.

During Nassar's sentencings, some victims complained that Geddert was physically abusive and indifferent to injuries, and forced them to see Nassar. He has insisted that he had "zero knowledge" of Nassar's crimes.

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August 24, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 The Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.
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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

A security checkpoint outside Forest Hill High School's football stadium Thursday marked the start of new safety measures at Palm Beach County public school football games, six days after gunfire erupted at a game seven miles away.

At the lightly attended game between Forest Hill and Suncoast, students, parents and fans waited in line for guards to scan them with metal-detector wands and inspect purses and other small bags.

The game served as a test run of new security rules put in place by school district leaders after last Friday's shooting outside a Palm Beach Central High preseason game, including scheduling earlier start times, barring entry after halftime and allowing only transparent bags.

Thursday's game revealed another new security measure that the district had not publicly announced: metal-detector wands to search every attendee.

The managers of the security firm deploying the wands, Professional Security Consultants, said they had been hired to screen fans at all of the school district's football games this weekend.

Four private security guards at the checkpoint worked to keep the line moving, ensuring that no one waited more than a couple of minutes to enter. But the wait times will likely be longer at more heavily attended games.

Most fans seemed to appreciate the new measures, saying the extra security gave them more peace of mind while sitting in the stands.

"It takes longer but it's better to be safe," said Gianni Cedillos, a Forest Hill senior.

Jessica Hicks, whose son plays for Forest Hill, said that metal detectors have long been in place for games at nearby Palm Beach Lakes High, and that it was time for other schools to do likewise.

"I feel much safer," she said. "I love it."

While signs warned that purses would not be allowed, security guards let attendees enter with purses after inspecting their contents.

Forest Hill Principal Mary Stratos said some of the new security rules — such as barring entry after halftime — already were in place at her school. But she said she welcomed the checkpoint, saying it encouraged a family-friendly atmosphere.

"We want you to be able to feel safe and play," she said.

Most students seemed supportive as well, she said. Indeed, some students seemed to view the extra security as a school status symbol, mirroring security measures at professional sports games.

As Stratos stood outside the stadium Thursday watching students and families arrive, one of the school's varsity soccer players pointed to the security checkpoint. He said that when the varsity soccer team wins a state championship, "I want the same thing."

amarra@pbpost.com Twitter: @AMarraPBPost

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

In the hours after Ohio State announced that football coach Urban Meyer would be suspended for three games for his handling of domestic abuse allegations against former wide receivers coach Zach Smith, the school also released a 23-page report detailing the findings of its investigation.

Here are a few significant takeaways and key findings from that investigation, which was led by former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White.

Meyer doubted Courtney Smith's 2015 allegations: The report found that Urban and Shelley Meyer "had doubts about the credibility of Courtney's (2015) claims, based on, among other things, Zach Smith's denials and their belief that Courtney Smith's 2009 allegations had been false."

(Zach Smith was arrested in Florida in 2009 for allegedly throwing Courtney Smith up against a wall, but she later declined to press charges.)

In a text message to former Ohio State linebacker Stan White after Zach Smith's firing, Urban Meyer described it as a "he said she said" situation.

Smith had stretch of "problematic" behavior: The report found Zach Smith engaged in "other problematic, or at least questionable, behavior" beyond the allegations of domestic abuse.

Among those actions, according to the investigation...

He was "engaged in a sexual relationship with a secretary on the football staff who did not report to him."

He ran up "a significant bill" at a Florida strip club, which he attended with another Buckeyes football coach and "one or more high school coaches" during a recruiting trip in 2014.

He took "sexually explicit photographs of himself" at the White House in 2015 and at OSU's football facilities.

He was arrested for driving while impaired in 2013.

His credit cards were declined at least three times between 2014 and 2016, and he was "delinquent in paying for his iPhones and for costs associated with Bowl games."

Meyer knew about the 2015 investigation in 2015: The investigation found that Urban Meyer knew Smith was being investigated in 2015 and that he was notified by athletics director Gene Smith.

From the Ohio State investigation report: "In October 2015, Miechelle Willis, then the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for the Athletics Department, received information from the Ohio State Campus Police about the Powell Police investigation; Willis immediately notified AD Smith, who in turn notified Coach Meyer during a football practice that Zach Smith was under investigation for domestic violence and could be arrested at any time. AD Gene Smith recalls Coach Meyer having an immediate and strong negative reaction to this news."

Urban Meyer might have wiped his phone: The investigation revealed Meyer might have wiped old text messages from his phone after Brett McMurphy's original report that Meyer was aware of the domestic abuse claims against Smith, or at least discussed as much with director of football operations Brian Voltolini.

From the Ohio State investigation report: "The two discussed at that time whether the media could get access to Coach Meyer's phone, and specifically discussed how to adjust the settings on Meyer's phone so that text messages older than one year would be deleted.

"Our review of Coach Meyer's phone revealed no messages older than one year, indicating that at the time it was obtained by OSU on August 2nd, Coach Meyer's phone was set to retain text messages only for that period, as Coach Meyer and Brian Voltolini discussed. We cannot determine, however, whether Coach Meyer's phone was set to retain messages only for one year in response to the August 1st media report or at some earlier time."

Investigators called this discussion "nonetheless concerning" and later wrote that "often, although not always, such reactions evidence consciousness of guilt."

Questions over media day comments: The night before he spoke at Big Ten Media Days, Meyer started a group text message with Gene Smith; Brian Voltolini; athletic communications staffer Jerry Emig; and director of player development Ryan Stamper, according to the investigation. The group discussed how to address Smith's firing and the 2015 allegations.

The next day, Meyer told the media, in part, "I've never had a conversation about" Smith's 2015 allegations and "I know nothing about it."

Investigators wrote in the report that they "cannot logically square" Meyer's comments at the podium "with his extensive knowledge of those events," but they do not believe his comments were "part of a deliberate cover-up."

"Although it is a close question and we cannot rule out that Coach Meyer was intentionally misleading in his answers, we do not ultimately find that he was. He clearly misspoke and made misstatements, but the reasons that happened are complex. Coach Meyer did not, in our view, deliberately lie."

Medication might have played a role? At one point in their report, investigators speculate that an unspecified medication might have contributed to Urban Meyer's lapse in memory at Big Ten Media Days.

From the Ohio State investigation report: "We also learned during the investigation that Coach Meyer has sometimes had significant memory issues in other situations where he had prior extensive knowledge of events. He has also periodically taken medicine that can negatively impair his memory, concentration and focus. All of these factors also need to be considered and weighed in assessing Coach Meyer's mindset (at media days)."

Meyer had 'blind spot' for Smith: While Gene Smith and Meyer were informing university leadership about the decision to fire Zach Smith, investigators noted that Meyer "conveyed his regret in firing (Earle) Bruce's grand-son, not his disappointment in Zach's conduct." (Bruce was a former coach at Ohio State and one of Meyer's mentors.)

Investigators wrote that Meyer had a "blind spot" for Smith: "Repeatedly, Zach Smith's conduct was met with reprimands and warnings by Coach Meyer, but never a written report, never an investigation and no disciplinary action until July 23, 2018. While we do not doubt that Coach Meyer respects women and is dedicated to fostering an environment of respect for women in his program, his apparent blind spot for Zach Smith seems to have impaired his judgment and his management of the behavior of at least one of his assistants."

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August 24, 2018
 
 
 

 

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

 

Arizona high school students will be able to compete for a state championship in video games starting this winter, the state announced this week.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association, the governing body for high school athletics and activities, will sanction three-on-three competitions in "Rocket League," a game of vehicular soccer, and five-on-five competitions in "League of Legends," a multiplayer battle game.

More than a dozen states already feature video game state championships. Arizona will sanction the esports competitions as "activities" rather than a varsity sport.

After its first season, beginning in February, the state will feature two esports competition periods each academic year, in fall and spring. The contests will be sanctioned by the National Federation of State High School Associations, the nationwide high school sports governing body, which partnered with start-up PlayVS in April to build a platform for high school competition.

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August 24, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 The Florida Times-Union

Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)

 

FSU president John Thrasher announced on Wednesday that his chief of staff, David Coburn, will serve as the school's interim athletic director.

Coburn has bachelors, graduate and law degrees from FSU and came to the school after working in Florida state government.

He has been the chief of staff for the Florida Senate Ways and Means committee, the chief of staff for the Florida House under two speakers and was the director of planning and budgeting for Gov. Lawton Chiles from 1992-94.

"I am grateful to David Coburn for taking on this additional role while we look for a new athletics director," Thrasher said in a statement. "I depend every day on his wisdom and good judgment, and I am confident athletics will be in good hands."

Coburn was hired at FSU in 2012 by former president Eric Barron. He replaces Stan Wilcox, who left earlier this week to become the NCAA's executive vice president of regulatory affairs.

"I am happy to help," Coburn said in a statement. "I very much appreciate the confidence the president and Board of Trustees Chair Ed Burr have in me. There are a lot of great people in Athletics, and I am looking forward to working with them."

Burr said a firm timetable hasn't been set for hiring Wilcox's replacement. But Burr, a Jacksonville resident, said Thrasher is likely to move "as soon as possible," on naming the school's 14th athletic director - especially after a report that the school will hold a news conference on Sept. 2 to announce plans for a $100 million upgrade for athletic facilities.

"President Thrasher and I have talked and we think FSU will be seen as a great opportunity by the best athletic director candidates," Burr told the Times-Union.

As far as the type of person to inherit the job, Burr said, "it's too soon to tell."

"You want to move as fast as you can but these things tend to develop a timetable on their own," Burr said.

The new A.D. will have fundraising as a big part of his to-do list when taking over. The Tallahassee Democrat reported via social media earlier this week that the school will announce a $60 million stand-alone football facility, and up to $40 million in improvements for other sports.

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August 23, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 Boston Herald Inc.
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The Boston Herald

 

Women suffer from concussions differently than men do, according to new research, and it could change the way they're treated.

"For the first time, we're seeing a difference in the response of chemicals due to injury because we're now able to study women," said Dr. Alex Lin of Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Historically, most studies of sports-related brain injury have focused on male athletes, according to Lin, co-author of a study published yesterday in Frontiers in Neurology.

"A handful of papers looked at changes in women. A lot more of this type of research can be done," Lin said. "Very little work has been done so far."

In the recent study, researchers collected data from Canadian college hockey players, both men and women, before the start of the season, midseason and after the season ended. They found a significant change in certain brain chemicals, even for players who didn't suffer from concussions.

Many had sub-concussive injuries from repetitive minor head injuries that fall short of producing a full concussion but still change brain chemicals related to neuro health, according to Lin.

Glutamate, a messenger chemical in the brain, was of particular interest to Lin because of the different levels in men and women over the course of the season.

In women, there is a decrease in the chemical and in men there is an increase, which is typically shown in a lot of concussion studies, Lin said. If glutamate levels are too high in the brain, it can kill brain cells. If glutamate levels are too low, it can hamper the ability for the brain to communicate with different cells.

"Both could potentially be harmful," Lin said.

Researchers think the reason why the impact on the brain differs based on gender has to do with hormones. The symptoms and indicators doctors look for when diagnosing a concussion in men versus women could be revised as a result of this chemical difference.

"The changes we're measuring could potentially impact the choice of medical care to athletes after a concussion," Lin said.

Right now, the standard care is for players to stop playing and wait for recovery.

"I think as more scientific knowledge becomes available, we will better understand markers of injury and better govern how athletes will be treated by their injuries," Lin said.

Lin, a father of two girls active in sports, hopes to continue researching to find out more about recovery and increase awareness about concussions in women.

"We really need to view this in a different light, that women and men can't be treated in the same way," Lin said. "Going forward, those differences in gender need to be taken into consideration."

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August 23, 2018
 
 
 

 

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

 

DMC Boxing Academy & Fitness in Centerville is moving to a new location to add more accommodations for clients.

The gym is moving from its current spot at 709 Congress Park Drive in Centerville to a larger location at 976 Miamisburg Centerville Road in Washington Twp. The move will more than double the gym's punching bags to 13, said the gym's owner Daniel Meza-Cuadra. But the biggest addition is a boxing ring, which the old gym didn't have, he said.

"When I first started I wanted to minimize risk, so I went to a cheaper location," Meza-Cuadra said. "When you're in a cheaper location you're on a road off the back road."

But through Facebook and word-of-mouth, Cuadra's business has taken off since he opened the current location in November 2016, and now he's moving to a more visible location. He hopes to start operating business from the Washington Twp. location next week and have an official opening in early September.

From children to professional fighters, Meza-Cuadra has about 30 regular clients. He also works with large groups like the Wright State University soccer team and other sports groups looking to add boxing into their weekly training routines.

The focus of the program he created himself is endurance, along with other skills. He's had clients come and lose 30 pounds in the first three months, some want to tone and others are using boxing as a form of rehabilitation. Some of his customers are recovering from surgery and he's had another with broken ribs.

"I had to make sure I could do things that would not re-injure people, but would regain their mobility," Meza-Cuadra said.

He also plans to expand his class offerings in the new space, including a new class intended to help raise the confidence of children who are bullied and one for patients with Parkinson's Disease who could see improvements from practicing boxing skills.

Meza-Cuadra started practicing boxing in his basement when he was 14; that same year he started coaching his cousin. He also earned second place in the 1999 Chicago Golden Gloves.

 

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August 24, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

A block party, free tours, Milwaukee Bucks players and NBA brass will help celebrate the grand opening of Fiserv Forum Sunday.

The free public event starts with an 11 a.m. block party on the plaza at the east side of the new $524 million arena. Speeches and the ribbon-cutting ceremony take place at noon.

And then the Bucks will roll out what they're calling the "world's largest welcome mat," allowing the public to receive its first chance to walk through the new building.

Bucks players scheduled to attend include All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, along with other current roster members including Eric Bledsoe, Donte DiVincenzo, Thon Maker, Khris Middleton and D.J. Wilson.

Former Bucks Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Vin Baker and Michael Redd are expected to attend.

The event also will include Bucks owners Wes Edens, Marc Lasry, Jamie Dinan and Mike Fascitelli, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

Former team owner and retired Sen. Herb Kohl is expected and will be honored with the dedication of Herb Kohl Way.

"We are thrilled to open our doors to the community on Sunday," said Bucks President Peter Feigin. "Fiserv Forum will be a place of pride for the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin and we invite everyone to come celebrate the opening together."

Fiserv Forum concession stands will be open with food and drink available for purchase.

Admission to the event is free. The Bucks say those planning to attend need to claim their free ticket at www.bucks.com/openhouse.

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC

Newsday (New York)

 

The Riverhead Town police chief said his department is investigating allegations that as many as four preteen girls were "inappropriately touched" by at least two men on Tuesday in the wave pool at Splish Splash Water Park in Calverton.

The girls, campers from the Huntington YMCA, said the unidentified men groped them, Police Chief David Hegermiller said.

After a camp counselor alerted Splish Splash security, Hegermiller said, park officers ushered the men out of the facility without taking their names.

The parent of one girl called Riverhead police at 6 p.m. Tuesday to report the incident while the parents of three other girls came forward later to report similar allegations, Hegermiller said.

"It's a difficult case," the chief said, "because of a lack of evidence and the lack of an ability to identify somebody. We hope to find some video or other evidence to move this case along."

Said Gamini Perera, director of marketing at the water park, "Splish Splash takes safety very seriously. We are aware of the incident and are working with Riverhead Police Department."

An official with the YMCA of Long Island said the organization is "fully cooperating" with law enforcement but otherwise declined to comment about the allegations.

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

The NCAA is ditching the RPI for its own evaluation tool to select teams for the NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA Evaluation Tool will rely on game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency and quality of wins and losses. NET will be used for the 2018-19 season by the committee that selects schools and seeds the tournament.

NET rankings will be released in late November or early December and updated through Selection Sunday, with a final ranking following the tournament.

"What has been developed is a contemporary method of looking at teams analytically, using results-based and predictive metrics that will assist the Men's Basketball Committee as it reviews games throughout the season," NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said in a statement on Wednesday. "While no perfect rankings exist, using the results of past tournaments will help ensure that the rankings are built on an objective source of truth."

The NCAA has used the RPI since 1981 to help the NCAA Tournament selection committee pick at-large teams, seeding and bracketing teams each March.

The RPI has been criticized in recent years for not being analytical enough. The RPI is calculated on winning percentage, strength of schedule and opponent's strength of schedule, but more accurate tools for evaluating performance have developed.

NET will give equal importance to early and late-season games, and caps wins at 10 points to prevent teams from running up the score.

NET was approved in July following months of consultation with the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee, the National Association Basketball Coaches, top basketball analytics experts and Google Cloud Professional Services.

Last season, the NCAA introduced a quadrant system to put greater emphasis on wins away from home. The quadrant system will remain in place for evaluating teams.

The NCAA said the RPI will still be used in other Division I sports, including women's basketball.

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Copyright 2018 SCRIPPS Howard Publications
All Rights Reserved

Corpus Christi Caller-Times

 

COLUMBUS, OhioUrban Meyer will remain as football coach of Ohio State but will be suspended for three games after the school investigated his handling of allegations of domestic abuse involving one of his former assistant coaches.

The announcement comes after the school's Board of Trustees appointed an independent panel to oversee a two-week investigation of Meyer and what he knew about domestic abuse allegations against former assistant Zach Smith. The board reviewed the report and discussed its actions for nearly 11 hours on Wednesday.

Meyer will miss games against Oregon State, Rutgers and TCU. He is suspended without pay.

"I appreciate the opportunity to learn from a mistake," Meyer said at a press conference.

Athletic director Gene Smith also was suspended from Aug. 31 to Sept. 16.

According to the report: "Although neither Urban Meyer nor Gene Smith condoned or covered up the alleged domestic abuse by Zach Smith, they failed to take sufficient management action relating to Zach Smith's misconduct and retained an Assistant Coach who was not performing as an appropriate role model for OSU student-athletes. Permitting such misconduct to continue is not consistent with the values of the University and reflects poorly on Coach Meyer, Athletic Director Smith, and the University. Their handling of this matter did not exhibit the kind of leadership and high standards that we expect of our Athletic Director, Head Coach, Assistant Coaches and all on the football staff."

During his administrative leave, Meyer was barred from coming on campus. But he was seen entering the building early in the trustees' session. His wife, Shelley, arrived around 2:30.

Smith was accused of abuse by his ex-wife on several occasions, most recently in 2015. Meyer initially denied knowledge of the alleged 2015 incident during an appearance at Big Ten Conference media days in July. He later he admitted to previously knowing about the matter and said he followed proper reporting protocols and procedures.

In an interview for the web site Stadium, Smith's ex-wife, Courtney Smith, said she had told Meyer's wife, Shelley, and Lindsey Voltolini, the wife of Ohio State's director of football operations, about her ex-husband's abusive behavior.

Among the correspondences between Smith and Shelley Meyer were photos showing bruises stemming from the 2015 incident.

Following the interview of Smith, the school's Board of Trustees appointed an independent panel to oversee the investigation of Meyer.

Ryan Day, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, served as interim head coach during the investigation. Ohio State plays Oregon State in its season opener on Sept. 1.


Across multiple stops, each more successful than the last, Meyer's coaching career has been a contradiction of near-unparalleled success marred by bouts of controversy.

At Florida, where Meyer led the Gators to national championships in 2006 and 2008, his program dominated the Southeastern Conference yet too often found itself in the headlines for player misconduct. Off the field, a program that seemed invincible was anything but.

Thirty-one players were arrested during Meyer's tenure, which spanned from 2005-10. A report by Sporting News detailed an altercation between Florida assistant coach Billy Gonzales and star receiver Percy Harvin, which saw Harvin grab Gonzales by the throat and tackle him to the ground before being separated by two assistants.

Another one of Meyer's stars at Florida, tight end Aaron Hernandez, was involved in two incidents during his time with the Gators, both in 2007. In one, Hernandez punched a restaurant employee in the side of the head, rupturing the individual's eardrum. In the other, Hernandez was viewed as a person of interest in a shooting that occurred after a night at a local nightclub.

In 2013, Hernandez was arrested and charged in the murder of an acquaintance in North Attleborough, Mass. Hernandez was found guilty of first-degree murder in 2015.

On the field, on the other hand, Meyer led Florida back to prominence after a brief dip following the retirement of former head coach Steve Spurrier.

Led by quarterback Tim Tebow, the Gators won the national championship in both 2006 and 2008, finished No. 3 in the Amway Coaches Poll in 2009 and finished lower than 16th nationally just once, in Meyer's final season in 2010.

Meyer nearly retired in the winter of 2009, after a health scare involving chest pains following the recent conference championship game and a desire to spend more time with his family. He officially stepped down on Dec. 9, 2010 with a 65-15 record at the school, and spent the 2011 season as an analyst for ESPN.

"At the end of the day, I'm very convinced that you're going to be judged on how you are as a husband and as a father and not on how many bowl games we won," Meyer said at the time.

But it wasn't long before he returned to coaching. A native of Ashtabula, Ohio, Meyer was hired by Ohio State in late November of 2011, and immediately moved the Buckeyes into elite company: OSU went 12-0 in his debut season, in 2012, though the Buckeyes were ineligible for the postseason due to sanctions stemming from the Jim Tressel era.

Of Meyer's six teams, just one, in 2013, finished outside the top 10 of the Coaches Poll.

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Provo • BYU's men's basketball program could still face more NCAA sanctions stemming from star guard Nick Emery's acceptance of impermissible benefits from a BYU booster, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said Wednesday.

After being asked by a member of the audience at his annual BYU Education Week Q&A if the NCAA's investigation has been finalized, Holmoe said it was in regards to Emery, but not in regards to the program as a whole.

"Everything that has been known has been reported," Holmoe said. "But there is another part of it that comes up sometime in September, October. There's another part that has to do with not the individual athlete, but the rest of the program. We will find that out [then] and we will be able to discuss that in October."

BYU announced on June 14 that Emery will miss the first nine games of the season after the NCAA's completion of "a review of the reinstatement request" for Emery. Although he has been slowed by various ailments, Emery rejoined the team for summer workouts in late June.

The NCAA investigation looked into reports that BYU booster Brandon Tyndall paid for travel and gave Emery the use of a new car, The Salt Lake Tribune reported last October.

Emery withdrew from school in November, citing the emotional effects of a recent divorce, and did not play in any regular season games in 2017-18 after playing in some exhibition games.

BYU confirmed last October that it was "working with the NCAA" regarding Emery's case.

Holmoe answered nearly 30 questions in the 55-minute session Wednesday, but the aforementioned was the only one regarding Emery and the NCAA sanctions. The only other specific basketball question concerned BYU's program losing players to transfers or the professional ranks before their eligibility expires. Stars Eric Mika and Elijah Bryant have left early in each of the past two years.

Holmoe said the transfer rate in the NCAA for men's basketball nationally is 40 percent, and BYU hasn't been immune to that. The more pressing issue, he said, if figuring out a way to compete with national power and West Coast Conference rival Gonzaga.

"We are in a conference now where we are not the team to beat. It is Gonzaga, and they are really, really good, he said, referring to the Zags as "Goliath" at one point. "It is super hard" to stay with Gonzaga, which toyed with leaving the WCC last spring, but stayed after getting some scheduling and tournament format concessions.

Holmoe opened the annual class by telling the attendees he is "super excited" for the upcoming school year and sports seasons at BYU. He promised that the football team, which went 4-9 last year, "is better" and will be more competitive in 2018.

As usual, Holmoe was asked about BYU's football independence and prospects to join a Power Five conference in the future. He doesn't expect any significant movement until 2023 when television contracts expire, and warned that in 10 years most games won't be watched on television, but on laptop computers and telephone screens.

The starting quarterback issue - senior Tanner Mangum or freshman Zach Wilson - was the fifth question asked. Holmoe said he "never, never" goes to a coach to tell them who they should play.

"The coaches will put the best quarterback out there and I will be comfortable with that," he said. "Whichever one they choose, it will be a good choice."

Later Wednesday, head coach Kalani Sitake said his staff is "getting close" to naming a starter for the Sept. 1 opener at Arizona, but isn't quite ready just yet.

Holmoe said last year's disappointing season was hard on everybody, including him.

"I would walk into church and it was like the parting of the Red Sea," he said. "No one wanted to talk to me."

Holmoe called new University of Utah athletic director Mark Harlan "a really good guy" and said it is hard for Utah to schedule BYU in football every year due to the "small window" the Utes have for scheduling non-conference games.

However, Holmoe said his expectations regarding playing Utah is that the rivals play "every year in every sport." Utah has not been willing to do contracts beyond two years (home and home agreements) at a time, he said.

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

A new weight room for Georgia Tech's football team is not the highest priority for athletic director Todd Stansbury. The athletic department just finished renovating the locker room at a cost of $4.5 million, after all.

But there is at least an idea for how the weight room could be renovated, and Stansbury told the AJC that "we do have some potential donors out there that would have an interest in that."

One possible renovation would be an expansion of the Hugh Spruill Strength Center, which is behind the south stands of Bobby Dodd Stadium. The project would knock out all or part of the south end-zone stands and look out onto the field. Coach Paul Johnson has kicked around the idea since the tenure of athletic director Dan Radakovich.

"Before, when Dan was here, we talked about taking those bleachers out in the end zone and knocking it out and glassing it all in and making it a little courtyard and making it kind of a scenic thing for game day," Johnson said. "Open it up, get some light in there, some of that stuff."

Johnson said that he hadn't discussed it with Stansbury, but the AD has clearly heard mention of it.

"I don't know how feasible it is, but I really like the idea," Stansbury said. "I really like that idea. And so, as we get into it, if we were able to identify funding, that would definitely be a concept that we would want to look at."

At about 10,000 square feet, Tech's weight room is dwarfed by Clemson's, which is 23,000 square feet. Virginia Tech is in the midst of its own expansion, from 6,900 square feet to more than 12,300 square feet. The N.C. State weight room is 15,000 square feet. Duke's is 9,800.

The expansion could also provide visual pop that would be a positive in recruiting, just as a primary objective of the locker room renovation was to win the notice of prospects.

The current weight room does not have natural lighting and has a relatively low ceiling. (It's on the ground floor of the Wardlaw Center.)

Pushing out the space to the field could at least address the matter of natural lighting, a feature that many (though not all) of Tech's competitors have in their weight rooms.

Removing parts or all of the south stands would reduce Grant Field's capacity, which, given Tech's challenges to fill the stadium, might not be the worst outcome.

The weight room was most recently renovated in 2014, with new flooring, lighting, air conditioning system, graphics, artwork and audio-visual equipment installed, as well as a fueling station. It serves most of Tech's 17 varsity teams. A handful use the weight room at the Zelnak Basketball Center.

Many of Tech's football competitors have weight rooms that are designated as football-only.

Besides a new weight room, Johnson has also identified a new academic center as another item on his wish list in Tech's attempts to keep up in the sports facilities "arms race" designed to woo recruits.

A weight-room renovation is not part of the athletic department's $125 capital campaign. Among the facilities projects in the campaign are a proposed $70 million renovation of the Edge Center, new locker rooms for the basketball teams and a new on-campus studio for the ACC Network.

But, if a donor steps forward with a check for a new weight room, Stansbury would gladly fast-track it.

"There's a saying," Stansbury said. "It's something along the lines of, 'A funded project becomes a priority project.'"

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

 

BRENTWOOD -- The judge presiding over the trial of a youth hockey coach charged with assaulting a police officer and criminal threatening after a scuffle with Salem police is taking a second look at a gag order issued in the case.

Judge Andy Schulman described the order as "overbroad" after hearing arguments from the defense of Robert Andersen of Wilmington, Mass., the prosecution and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire.

Andersen is being represented by former New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney, who said his client was not present for the dispositional hearing at Rockingham County Superior Court on Wednesday because of a scheduling error on his part.

Delaney was attorney general from 2009 to 2013 and is now the director of litigation for the McLane Middleton law firm. Delaney was retained by Andersen this summer after Andersen parted ways with his first attorney in this case, Christopher DiBella.

The profile of the case rose in April after news reports citing several witnesses present at the Dec. 2 scuffle criticized Salem police for arresting and using a stun gun on Andersen. Several parents told media outlets that Andersen was attempting to mediate a verbal argument between parents from opposing teams following a game.

Soon after the news reports, police arrested two parents in May who were present at the Dec. 2 altercation; Christopher Albano of Reading, Mass., and John Chesna of Revere, Mass. Both men face misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct, simple assault and criminal trespass.

Superior Court Judge Marguerite Wageling issued a gag order on any information from police reports being shared by parties involved in the case.

Last month, the ACLU weighed in with a Right-to-Know lawsuit against the town of Salem. It later withfrew its civil action and motioned to intervene on Andersen's criminal case with motions to lift the gag order.

Judge Schulman was new to the case and spent much of the hearing catching up on the backstory and hearing arguments for and against the order.

The concern expressed by Gilles Bissonnette with the ACLU was that the public has a right to know the basis of the allegations against Andersen and the police reports would aid in an investigation into whether the arrests of Albano and Chesna were an attempt to chill witnesses for the defense. Albano had previously spoken to the media defending Andersen and criticizing police.

"These are not routine orders in a criminal case," Bissonnette argued before the judge. He said the order was unconstitutional.

Delaney argued the scope of the order was so broad that it impacted his defendant's due process rights and hindered his own investigation and his ability to interview witnesses.

"It clearly limits the ability to adequately prepare a defense," Delaney said. "There is no reason whatsoever that there should be a restriction on a defendant's use of information."

Assistant County Attorney William Pate, representing the state in the case, said the reasoning for the order came after an initial news report by a Boston news channel. He said that extensive coverage risked tainting a future jury pool.

"If we make it fully public like this, we're going to try it in the news," Pate said. The order was an attempt to "keep some control of the criminal proceeding," he added.

Schulman said he would issue a new order soon. He didn't say what the order would be, except that it would at least enable Delaney to prepare his defense.

"My sense is this is an overbroad order and a sort of rare order," Schulman said.

During the hearing, Pate recounted portions of the police reports that the ACLU is trying to make public, stating that Chesna went onto the ice during the hockey game and threatened the timekeeper after his son was penalized.

Pate said Andersen was standing over a parent identified as "Mr. Griffin" with his arms raised when police arrived. He said the officer who first approached Andersen "doesn't know that Mr. Andersen is defending" the parent.

Andersen backed up and then walked toward the officer. That's when police detained Andersen, fired a stun gun at him, and with the help of three or four officers, brought him to the ground.

The second half of that scuffle can be seen in cellphone videos taken by parents who were there. The videos were shared with a Boston news station, which aired them.

While the defense's version of events closely mirrors what parents told the media this spring, Pate said the state received a "boon" from the media coverage in the form of evidence against Andersen that flowed in after, such as witness testimony stating Andersen was "out of control."

After the hearing, Bissonnette was careful not to call the decision a victory, saying he will wait to see what the new order states, but he was thankful for the opportunity to present his arguments before the court.

Andersen's trial is scheduled for May 6 and is expected to last at least five days.

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Copyright 2018 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

MADISON - University of Wisconsin officials are attempting to gather more information regarding the alleged actions of wide receivers Quintez Cephus and Danny Davis.

That led to the late decision Tuesday to postpone the scheduled post-practice media session with head coach Paul Chryst.

Cephus, who faces two charges of sexual assault stemming from an alleged incident in April and is scheduled to appear in court Thursday, was suspended indefinitely Monday by UW under its student-athlete discipline policy after the charges were filed.

Davis, who according to the criminal complaint against Cephus allegedly took at least one photo of one of the two women involved, could face a team suspension and could possibly be charged with a crime.

Under state law regarding representations for depicting nudity, an individual can be charged with a felony if he or she "captures an intimate representation without the consent of the person depicted under circumstances in which he or she has a reasonable expectation of privacy, if the person knows or has a reason to know that the person who is depicted in the reproduction did not consent."

Without Cephus, UW planned to rely on wide receivers A.J. Taylor, Davis and Kendric Pryor.

If Davis is suspended and misses any games, beginning with the Aug. 31 opener against Western Kentucky, UW's depth will be tested even further.

News of the charges against Cephus first came out Saturday when he announced via Twitter he was leaving the team indefinitely because he anticipated being charged.

He wrote that he had been "wrongfully accused of unlawful conduct and I am innocent of any allegations associated with this consensual relationship."

Charges in the case were filed Monday in Dane County.

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Copyright 2018 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

SALT LAKE CITYUtah's four biggest college basketball programs convened on Tuesday with intentions of promoting the second annual Beehive Classic. Proceedings were aired on Facebook Live, which was part of the problem.

If you can catch it in the comfort of your home, why go out?

It's no secret the college game has lost steam. The state's most storied schools, for instance, have been slowly slipping in attendance. The product isn't at a particularly high point right now, considering none made the NCAA Tournament last spring. That doesn't mean there's no interest. A lot of it is coming via the Larry H. Miller family, longtime college basketball fans and owners of Vivint Arena, where the second annual doubleheader will be played on Dec. 8.

If the Millers have it their way, college hoops in Utah will again be a hot ticket. While Utah, BYU, Utah State and Weber State are doing fairly well compared to their contemporaries, all have empty seats on game nights.

"I think we've got a great game," said BYU coach Dave Rose. "But we've got some things we can really improve on."

Like living on less?

That's actually what it would take to bring the crowds back to what they once were.

Rose, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, Weber State's Randy Rahe and Utah State's Craig Smith all agree that television money, and availability of games via various media, have taken a toll on live crowds. Braving weather, finding parking and paying silly prices for food are reasons to skip live games. But there's one big reason to attend.

"You'll have a night of energy and emotion you can't recreate anywhere else," Rose said.

While Rose might be correct, many fans aren't sold. Attendance has fallen nationwide since its peak in the 1990s. It dropped in 22 of the previous 27 years before rising by 285 per game last year. Until last season, attendance nationwide had dropped for 10 consecutive years.

In fairness, the numbers aren't hugely different. Last year's national average of 5,084 was only a few hundred behind the 5,382 average 23 years ago. But it's enough that the Millers didn't want to watch old rivalries die, so last season they facilitated the Classic.

The format is simple. This year Utah and BYU meet at noon, with Weber vs. USU to follow. Last year Utah beat Utah State and BYU stopped Weber. Attendance was announced at 7,729, which got swallowed up in the 18,300-seat Vivint Arena. No one should have been surprised.

Of the Huntsman Center's top single-game crowds, just one was played in the last 20 years. Only one of BYU's 10 largest crowds occurred in the last quarter century. (BYU reduced the arena's seating capacity from 23,106 to 18,987 in 2015.)

The Cougars remain one of the country's better draws, having ranked in the top 25 in attendance every year except four since the Marriott Center opened.

Utah State's attendance last year was 6,943, slightly up from the previous year but far below its high of 9,792 in 2009-10. Utah's attendance last year was 11,710, down from its record of 14,281 in 1995-96. BYU's 14,230 was good, but far off the high point of 22,505 in 1980-81. Weber averaged 10,429 in 1979-80 but was at 6,778 last season.

While the numbers fluctuate, depending on wins, the trend is undeniable.

"If you've got the chance to stay home and watch the game rather than drive half an hour, 40 minutes, and fight traffic, fight crowds, a lot of people are going to say 'I'll stay home and watch it on TV.' So that's a big part," Weber State coach Randy Rahe said. "Hopefully, it will come back."

Then there's the problem of a wireless generation.

"Like Bill Belichick says, if they can't look at it on 'Snapface' and 'Instachat...' " USU's Craig Smith began. Then he got to the point. "They want access. You've got to always keep evolving to keep those things in front of the new generation."

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak thinks it's a clear choice: How much TV money is worth the loss in attendance?

"That decision is one of the effects — that when you're going to take all the TV money the leagues are getting, then you're going to have to be willing to sacrifice some of the home crowds," he said.

That decision is out of his hands. But there is one factor coaches can control.

"I know for us, attendance has been down," USU's Smith said. "But that's one of our jobs, is to get that back up — and one way is winning."

EMAIL: rock@deseretnews.com

TWITTER: therockmonster

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

 

Hamilton County Board of Education attorneys have agreed to negotiate a potential settlement with one of the two Ooltewah High School 2015 rape victims. At the same time, as a rescheduled December trial date approaches, they intend to keep fighting the victims' claims that the school system showed deliberate indifference to the culture of hazing and bullying that led to their injuries.

About 30 minutes before a scheduled hearing Tuesday in Chattanooga's U.S. District Court, school board attorneys filed a motion asking Judge Harry "Sandy" Mattice to give them permission to appeal his 62-page ruling from earlier this month that essentially allowed the victims to bring two of their arguments to trial. Mattice said he planned to use Tuesday's hearing, among other things, to discuss possible settlement talks.

In their motion, board attorneys renewed an argument they've regularly made since 2016, when victims "Roe" and "Doe" filed lawsuits against the board in connection with the Gatlinburg, Tennessee, trip that left one student in need of emergency surgery: Did the board have "actual knowledge" of the alleged hazing and bullying that happened before the December 2015 team tournament?

If a higher court, specifically the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, agrees to overturn Mattice's decision, that could help end the case for the school board.

Neither the judge nor the victims' attorneys had a chance to read the motion before Tuesday's hearing, which largely dealt with whether it made sense to appeal Mattice's ruling before the case went to trial or was settled.

Douglas Fierberg, an acclaimed Washington, D.C.-based attorney whose firm represents victims of school-related abuse, including "Doe" in this case, said any appeal should happen after a possible trial.

Ultimately, Mattice said he wants Fierberg and other victims' attorneys to respond before he rules on the board's request. He set a new trial date for Dec. 11 and dismissed all outstanding motions. The trial was previously scheduled to begin Monday, but Mattice canceled that date in July.

At this rate, the case may not make it to trial.

Board attorney Chuck Purcell said Tuesday he agreed to mediate a possible settlement for "Doe," the rape victim who was hospitalized for six days due to injuries to his rectum and bladder from a pool cue. Purcell said he would not agree, however, to negotiate with Roe, who was prodded with a pool cue but managed to escape being penetrated. Purcell has previously said "Roe" has "no real damages," partly because he didn't have physical injuries.

"Roe" and "Doe" are two of the four students who said older classmates attacked them with pool cues during a December 2015 trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for a basketball tournament.

In a civil case, attorneys often ask a judge to rule in their favor based on the facts and evidence to date. Those requests are called a "motion for summary judgment," and both sides filed them earlier this year. At the root of many of these legal arguments was the question of whether the school district showed "deliberate indifference" to the students before and after the attack, as attorneys for Roe and Doe alleged.

For proof, their attorneys pointed to student surveys that showed widespread bullying at Ooltewah, an independent investigator's report that concluded Ooltewah had a culture of hazing and deficient district policies, and emails in which then-school principal Jim Jarvis claimed there was only one victim even though four students said they were attacked in some fashion with a pool cue.

In their counter, board attorneys said victims didn't tell administrators about any hazing or bullying before the attack. After the rape, the district disciplined the attacking students, allowed the victims to transfer to other schools and hired an investigator to look into the situation and evaluate the district's policies.

Showing "deliberate indifference" is one of the cornerstones of Title IX, the federal law that says no student shall be discriminated against on the basis of sex or gender. Victims' attorneys say the board violated Title IX in this case. In his 62-page ruling, Mattice said any "moral blunder" by the district or its employees didn't amount to deliberate indifference post-attack.

But Mattice did leave the door open for Roe and Doe to argue that the board showed indifference pre-attack. He also said victims' attorneys can discuss a civil rights claim that a "failure to train" district employees resulted in their injuries.

Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at zpeterson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.

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

 

While a small group of community members are upset over the frequently reserved tennis courts at Doty Park, town officials have clarified some of the rules about when the public can use the courts.

Parks and Recreation Manager Doyle Best told the Journal Scene Thursday that at least two of the courts at the property on North Laurel Street stay permanently reserved but that anyone can access the courts and play on them until the group that reserved the court arrives.

"For instance, if you...arrived to play tennis and court 5 was reserved for a league team practice, you...could utilize court 5 until that league team arrived," Best said via email.

Courts cannot be reserved for recreational play and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis for everyone, "unless they are reserved for town-sanctioned events" that include everything from private lessons to camps and/or tournaments, according to town officials.

The town employs one instructor, Nancy Summersett, who teaches private and free lessons; but she is the only one the town permits to use the court for private lessons.

For the most part reservations are booked and posted on site as far in advance as possible, Best said. Community members can find the listing on the facility bulletin board located in the parking lot near courts 1 and 2. Best said signage around the property points the public to the informational board.

A small group of demonstrators gathered at the park on Wednesday to protest how the town has handled an ongoing dispute connected to court use. Demonstrators said they frequently see the courts reserved without players on them and said it deters people from park use.

Louis Smith, local civil rights activist and Community Resource Center director, walked earlier in the week along the empty reserved courts 1 and 2, suggesting that his access on the reserved courts was "illegal" or against park rules. But Best said otherwise.

"While these courts are always 'reserved,' that does not mean that members of the public cannot use the courts," Best said. "If they are open, they are able to be used. However, if our tennis pro arrives to teach a lesson/clinic, etc., those using the court(s) are asked to vacate the court."

The issue over the courts was brought to the Journal Scene's attention in May, but the issue has been ongoing for years, according to parties involved.

Disputes centered on "scheduling conflicts" have occurred between Summersett and private instructor, James Martin, who taught free lessons at the park through a program for underprivileged youth, many of whom were minorities living in surrounding neighborhoods.

Martin claimed that the courts were purposefully reserved to keep him off.

The town banned Martin from the property in May. He was placed on trespass notice because the town said Martin didn't adhere to court rules and not only didn't vacate courts for groups that had reservations but that he also used "foul language" and rude behavior with various league captains.

Demonstrators chanted Wednesday for the town to reverse the ban on Martin, who is black, and said they think he's a good role model for minority youth. They also said they want Town Administrator Colin Martin to resign, to which Colin Martin has not responded.

Mayor Wiley Johnson has stated he wants to find a solution that prevents the town from having to ban anyone from the park.

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One of two tennis courts at Doty Park are permanently reserved for the town's tennis pro to teach private lessons, according to town officials.
Jenna-Ley Harrison/Journal Scene
 
August 21, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

Up until July 20, Jeremy Fishbein hadn't really used Twitter as much. His handle @LoboCoachFish was mostly dormant or used by assistant coaches and sports information staff to remind followers of upcoming games or events, he said.

Fishbein is more about face-to-face contact and says that Twitter didn't feel genuine enough for him. But then July 19 happened. That was when four sports were cut, including men's soccer, because of budget and Title IX issues. His photo was on the front page of the Journal on July 20. He took to Twitter.

"LOBO SOCCER AIN'T GOING ANYWHERE AMIGOS!" he tweeted.

That was among the first of many tweets from Fishbein, who has experienced myriad emotions since men's soccer was in July and then again last week at a Board of Regents meeting because the first one had not been in compliance.

"It's a hard situation to be in," Fishbein told me on Tuesday. "You almost feel like you're an outsider looking in, in terms of anytime you're involved with athletics you always want to be progressive, you're always looking toward the future. I've given my heart and soul to this place for 17 years. It's hard to imagine that you won't have that ability."

Fishbein didn't appear defeated while sitting in his office. But he described his situation, his final season, "like living a slow death."

He said he doesn't know how to prepare for the end.

I see him more as a coach who is not going down without a fight. He tweets reminders of who is supporting his program (a photo of him with Albuquerque mayor Tim Keller), and the importance of men's soccer in New Mexico and at UNM. He wants fans to show up to the men's soccer game against Seattle on Friday night. He said he believes his job as coach has become even more important.

I see a coach who is reacting with anger. But that's when Fishbein corrects me.

He's said he's careful when he goes on Twitter. He wants clarity when he tweets. He has experienced anger but doesn't express such when he's on Twitter, he said.

"You can't be angry at individuals," Fishbein said. "You have to be upset with the outcome. It's not about being angry. It's about being challenged and finding ways to protect something that's so dear to me."

Fishbein said he is careful not to criticize individuals. He's aware of social media guidelines for UNM employees.

"They're pretty vague," he said of the rules. "I tried to cover myself. I asked our athletic director (Eddie Nuñez) about any concerns or anything that I did that might have affected the program. He said no. He gets it."

Fishbein loves to write. He sees Twitter as an abbreviated form of writing.

I asked him if he ever has fun with it.

"I haven't really had any fun in quite a while," he said. "This thing has been 24/7. I have probably never been so consumed or so focused in my life. I'm proud of myself that I have been able to keep some form of balance, diet and exercise. (But) I probably haven't been as good as a father or a husband as I should be. It's been one heck of a challenge."

Fishbein said he feels responsible for not living up to the commitments he made to players and recruits that he would coach them at UNM. It isn't his fault, but he still feels that way. And it's one of several reasons he will continue to stand up for his program until it's officially removed.

This isn't entirely about a coach who is not going down without a fight.

"It's a coach who believes in this state," said Fishbein, who has been humbled by the support. "It's a coach who believes in the youth of this state. It's a coach who believes in the impact of this program. As someone who loves New Mexico, I think (soccer is) an integral part of this state and I'm going to stick up for that. I don't think (cutting men's soccer at UNM) sends a good message to progressive-minded people."

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — When Buckeyes fan Tom DeLisio heard about Ohio State coach Urban Meyer being placed on administrative leave on Aug. 1, he made a friendly bet with a friend that Meyer would be fired.

Today, he regrets that wager. Now he's among many fans in the community or on campus who believe Meyer will remain as the head coach.

"The general take is that it will be a slap on the wrist," Delisio, 38, an Ohio State graduate, told USA TODAY. "Few people expect him to be let go."

The school's 20-person board of trustees will meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday to discuss a report filed by independent investigators about how much Meyer knew, and when he learned, that former Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith had been accused of domestic abuse in 2015.

"The Columbus Dispatch," citing two anonymous sources, said the likely recommendation would be for a suspension and not a firing.

"Initially, given the environment we have today, I thought he would be gone quickly," DeLisio said. "Domestic abuse is a sensitive issue. But the more I dug into it, the more my (opinion) changed."

Smith, never charged by police, was fired by the Buckeyes in July.

"Everyone I ask is optimistic, and I'm optimistic (Meyer will be back)," said Eric Staib, an Ohio State sophomore. "Obviously, there is information that I don't know, but from what I've seen and been told, it seems like he did the right thing. It's obviously something that should not have happened. But I think he is telling the truth."

Staib said he could see the university handing him a three-game suspension.

"I would disagree with that," he said. "You are either guilty or you are not."

OSU junior Alex Lesh of Cleveland said there is less talk about Meyer's situation today than there was two weeks ago when the news broke.

"There is buzz about it, but it has died down," he said. "There is no sense talking about it now, because it's all just speculation. Everyone is just waiting."

While Meyer hasn't spoken in public since being placed on administrative leave, he did issue a statement in which he said he had properly reported the Smith allegations to someone in authority. He didn't specify who it was. He also apologized for making false statements about the Smith situation during the Big Ten Media Day.

"The Columbus Dispatch" reported Meyer met with investigators multiple times during the probe and athletics director Gene Smith was interviewed at least twice.

After listening to the trustee's opinions, OSU President Michael V. Drake will decide Meyer's fate. He hasn't said when his decision will come, and the school has not stated how the news would be delivered.

The stakes are high because the Buckeyes are ranked No. 3 in the Amway Coaches Poll. Ryan Day has been the interim head coach for the last two weeks of practice. The Buckeyes open the season Sept. 1 at home against Oregon State.

Meyer is a popular coach with fans and students. "Everyone loves him," Staib said.

Added DeLisio: "I'd say he's the most popular coach since Woody Hayes. He's a 10 on a 1-10 scale."

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USA TODAY

 

Santino Marchiol had no difficulty deciding in June that he needed to leave Texas A&M. The hard choice was how to get his football career moving as quickly as possible at the highest level possible.

A four-star linebacker who enrolled at College Station in January 2017, he was hopeful even after his redshirt season ended with Kevin Sumlin's firing and Jimbo Fisher's arrival. Backed by a 10-year, $75 million contract, Fisher had vowed to make a culture change that would lift the Aggies into college football's elite.

Over the next several months, however, Marchiol said he witnessed behavior that made him uncomfortable, including, he asserts, an assistant coach giving him cash to host top recruits on "unofficial" visits. Marchiol also said he and other players were evaluated in June practice sessions that were allegedly voluntary but were operated and observed outside the NCAA rule book.

The new coaching staff arrived with a mind-set that the team was soft, Marchiol said, and demeaning and vulgar language directed at players became common. Then the training staff at Texas A&M, he claims, mishandled an ankle injury that doctors had said would require caution because of a surgery Marchiol had that sidelined him in his freshman year.

"I'm not a complainer," he said. "I like to adapt to any environment I'm in. I was excited to take on a new challenge with Jimbo Fisher. I was nervous, but I like new things. I told my dad, 'I'm going to be his favorite player here.'"

It didn't work out that way. Convinced that he needed a fresh start, Marchiol faced a choice if he was going to play at another top-level school: He could transfer quietly and per NCAA rules sit out a year before returning to the field, but that would mean a lost year of college eligibility because he already had redshirted a season. Or he could seek a waiver from the NCAA, which this year approved a policy change that allows transfers to play immediately if there were "documented mitigating circumstances that are outside student-athlete's control and directly impact the health, safety and well-being of the student-athlete."

The change to the transfer policy was implemented in May to address the eligibility of six former Mississippi players, who said they were misled during their recruitment about the seriousness of the NCAA case against then-coach Hugh Freeze's staff. The case resulted in penalties against the program, including a one-year bowl ban on top of the one-year ban the school self-imposed.

In the Ole Miss case, the players were granted waivers long after the school had been sanctioned. Marchiol's case presents a new possibility — that athletes could, in applying for a waiver, include allegations of improprieties within their former athletic program.

It's quite possible Marchiol's account might otherwise not have come to light. He didn't contact the NCAA. He included the allegations as part of a statement sent to the compliance office at Arizona, where Sumlin is the coach and he is enrolled and practicing with the football team, in his request for an NCAA waiver that would allow him to play instead of sitting out the upcoming season.

Marchiol's attorney, Thomas Mars of the Arkansas-based law firm Friday, Eldredge & Clark, allowed USA TODAY to view a copy of that statement before its submission to Arizona. Mars declined to further comment and referenced a section of NCAA bylaws that deals with infractions and investigations, suggesting the information has drawn the interest of NCAA investigators.

"At this time, commenting beyond what I've already said about the waiver process would appear to violate Article 19 of the NCAA bylaws," Mars said. "Therefore, I won't be able to answer any questions about the specific grounds for the waiver."

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said the association does not comment on current, pending or potential cases.

Texas A&M provided a statement that read: "Texas A&M Athletics takes these allegations seriously, and we are reviewing the situation with the NCAA and the SEC Office."

That a request for a transfer waiver, of all things, could spark an investigation into one of college football's most prominent programs might seem like an unexpected outcome. But Marchiol's willingness to speak out shows how the new process could bring impromptu scrutiny to any number of schools whose departing players allege rules violations as they seek waivers.

"Transfer restrictions have been lessened, but I don't think it's gone far enough" said B. David Ridpath, an associate professor of sport management at Ohio University and frequent NCAA critic. "If it's true what he's saying, I think it's great. Players are getting smarter, much more savvy. They realize even more than you and I that people are making billions here and we're not getting a whole heck of a lot and now they're telling me I can't even transfer and be immediately eligible? I'd be singing like a bird."

Love for A&M soured

The NCAA being alerted to potential wrongdoing at Texas A&M comes at a tumultuous time for college football, which has already endured a scandal-filled month with allegations of a toxic culture at Maryland that has put DJ Durkin's future in limbo and Urban Meyer being placed on administrative leave at Ohio State while he was investigated for whether he properly handled domestic abuse complaints against one of his then-assistant coaches.

The allegations against Texas A&M follow the arc of a more traditional NCAA controversy but are underscored by Chancellor John Sharp famously giving Fisher a national championship plaque with the date left open along with his $75 million contract. After firing Sumlin, who had a 51-26 record, the message for what Texas A&M expected was clear: No more messing around in the middle of the SEC pack.

Fisher, who led Florida State to the 2013 national title, has embraced those expectations and rallied the Aggies fan base behind a renewed momentum in recruiting. (Texas A&M's 2019 class is ranked No. 3 nationally by 247 Sports.)

Marchiol, a top recruit himself from the Denver area, could end up being a speed bump in that process, which isn't at all how he envisioned his career after choosing the Aggies from among more than two dozen Power Five scholarship offers. It was the unique atmosphere at Texas A&M, he said, and a lifelong fascination with the SEC that drew him to be an Aggie.

"I loved everything A&M stood for, the religious part, the kids, everybody there," said Marchiol, who spent his senior season at the prestigious IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. "Football in Texas is like its own cult. It was everything I always dreamed of."

Ultimately, though, Sumlin didn't win enough, which meant Marchiol would go from choosing his coach to having one chosen for him.

While Texas A&M fans have celebrated the so-called culture change that comes with paying millions for someone of Fisher's pedigree to come in, the reality can be punishing for leftover players who might not mesh well with the new regime for myriad reasons.

For those players, NCAA rules offer little remedy besides a transfer.

Due to the urgency of getting a waiver so that he doesn't lose a year of eligibility, Marchiol was willing to give a lengthy interview to USA TODAY about what he experienced after Fisher was hired. While Marchiol's intention was not to ensnare Texas A&M in an investigation, he was determined to give a full account in order to give him the best chance at playing right away.

"Santino doesn't want to go through this process, and he doesn't like it one bit," Mars said. "He just wants to play football."

Cash for recruits' entertainment

Marchiol detailed to USA TODAY the allegations that formed the basis of what he submitted to Arizona's compliance office. Marchiol acknowledged in the statement that NCAA bylaws required him to be honest and forthcoming and that a failure to do so could result in the loss of his own eligibility.

On two separate weekends this spring, Marchiol told USA TODAY, he was given hundreds of dollars in cash by linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto to entertain prospects on unofficial visits. Those recruiting visits occurred, he said, following the April 14 spring game with Zach Edwards, a three-star linebacker from Starkville, Mississippi, and the second weekend in June with four-star linebacker Christian Harris (now a Texas A&M verbal commitment) and Nakobe Dean from Horn Lake, Mississippi, ranked as the No. 1 inside linebacker in the country by Rivals.com.

While NCAA rules at the time allowed schools to give a student host $40 a day to entertain recruits during official visits, prospects must pay their own expenses for unofficial visits, meaning any money provided by coaches would be a rules violation. Recruits are allowed to take up to five all-expenses-paid official visits each, but many also add unofficial visits to see other schools or make additional visits to a favorite school. News accounts of visits that Marchiol discussed indicate all were unofficial.

Marchiol describes being taken aback after the spring game when Peveto pulled him into a bathroom near the coaches' offices and handed him $300.

"There were coaches having meetings in the other office, and he said, here, come in the bathroom real quick because he'd just asked me to host the recruit," Marchiol said. "So I went in the bathroom and it was just me and him in there, and he's like, 'Take this, if you need any more just text me and make sure they have a good time.'"

On the second occasion, Marchiol said, the money exchange took place in the bathroom at Razzoo's Cajun Cafe in College Station, a restaurant where the team frequently takes recruits to eat. Marchiol said he received $400 from Peveto and a teammate Marchiol identified in his waiver request was handed another $300 during the exchange.

Marchiol said the money went toward drinks and snacks, but he had no record of the cash or purchases made and kept whatever wasn't spent. He said he didn't give any of it to the recruits.

Offseason workouts

When Texas A&M's players returned after Memorial Day weekend, defensive coordinator Mike Elko brought his players into a meeting and made clear what he expected of them: "He said, 'We're going to have a lot of meetings and practices that aren't technically required, but you guys have to be here because you're way behind. We need to win,'" Marchiol said.

NCAA rules changed in 2014, allowing football programs to schedule up to eight hours of mandatory work a week in the summer months, with up to two of those hours available for film review. Anything beyond that is supposed to be student-led and organized, without coaches viewing or participating.

What Marchiol described, however, was more akin to a full-time job: Four days a week he would be at the football facility at 9 a.m. for study hall and online classwork, not leaving until well after 6:30 p.m. In between, he described linebacker meetings to review film and discuss schemes that lasted between one and two hours and required conditioning sessions that lasted up to three hours (a schedule he provided showed his group had workouts scheduled from 1 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, but he said they frequently lasted longer).

Later in the afternoon, he said, he was expected to participate in "voluntary" 7-on-7 sessions where some coaches watched, called out plays and evaluated performance.

NCAA staff interpretations of Bylaw 17 states members of the on-field coaching staff are allowed to be present during the eight hours of required summer conditioning drills and that those drills, according to the bylaw, "(which) may simulate game activities are permissible, provided no offensive or defensive alignments are set up and no equipment related to the sport is used."

While the bylaws are vague enough to allow for wide latitude — in other words, 7-on-7 isn't a real offensive or defensive alignment — Marchiol described sessions that mirrored a standard football practice.

"We'd be in our defense running our plays and if the offense caught a ball you'd see Elko go running over and go, 'What the f---? You're supposed to (cover) here over the top,'" Marchiol said, describing a voluntary workout.

On Wednesdays, Marchiol said, players were required to arrive at 5:15 a.m. for conditioning drills with coaches that began at 5:30 a.m. If players showed up even a minute past 5:15 a.m., he said, the gates were closed and they were banished to the Stairmaster for 45 minutes.

According to an NCAA bylaw that became effective in August 2017 as part of a legislation package to address time demands for athletes, "required athletically related activities other than competition" are, with few exceptions, prohibited between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Marchiol showed USA TODAY a text message from Peveto dated March 4 at 8:21 p.m. to linebackers informing them of a "Academic meeting at 5 am Monday morning! See u'ya there ! Thanks"

Marchiol said the "academic" meeting was not for schoolwork but rather a film session.

Marchiol said players frequently questioned the workouts when talking privately with each other but didn't bring their concerns to compliance officials. "Everybody was scared," he said.

Injury treatment the final straw

The third set of allegations Marchiol submitted to Arizona involves the handling of an ankle injury in June, which he said was the last straw that convinced him to transfer. On June 11, Marchiol said, he was warming up for a conditioning workout when he heard a "pop" while landing on his right foot.

Unable to put weight on it, Marchiol was immediately concerned because of the Lisfranc fracture he suffered in his other foot the previous spring. The Colorado doctor who surgically inserted three screws in his left foot had instructed him to be cautious with his feet, a warning the previous Texas A&M training staff under Sumlin took seriously, he said, by holding him out of practice last fall when he suffered an ankle sprain.

After Fisher got the job at Texas A&M, changes were made to the football program's training staff, which hired Dan Jacobi from Mississippi State as the director of athletic training. Marchiol said he was examined on June 11 by Jacobi and athletic trainer Dalis Boyette, who taped his ankle and rubbed Tiger Balm on it.

According to Marchiol, Jacobi told him to take four ibuprofens and advised him that he should continue with the practice and that X-rays would be taken afterward. Marchiol said he returned to practice and ran 24 100-yard sprints until he could not feel his ankle anymore.

"Dan said there was no fracture but that it was a Grade 2 (ankle sprain) and there was probably some ligament damage," Marchiol said. "I told him with the last staff I had this happen and I didn't feel like I could be my best at practice. It was hard to even walk on. He made me feel stupid because he'd say something to reassure me but I know my body. My whole foot swelled up."

He practiced the rest of the week and said his lower leg continued to swell and showed significant bruising.

Marchiol said he believes he was pushed to play through the injury because of a belief coaches frequently shared loudly with the players: The Aggies program had been like a country club under Sumlin. In fact, he said, everything in the message of Fisher and his assistants had been themed to demand more toughness, from the duration of workouts to the language coaches used on the field to players being told outright that highly rated recruits were coming to replace them.

"They called us soft all the time," Marchiol said. "They kept telling us, 'This is gonna get worse, you haven't seen shit.'"

Ken Marchiol, who played briefly in the NFL before moving into the financial services sector, said he also witnessed language that he felt crossed the line.

"He called them a bunch of p------, said they weren't worth a f---," Ken Marchiol said. "It wasn't teaching, just attacking."

After persevering through what he felt like was unfair treatment, Santino Marchiol had reached his limit. The week after he was forced to practice on an injured ankle, he packed up and moved out of College Station.

'What choice do you have?'

While the NCAA has seemingly been more lenient granting transfer waivers this summer — Demetris Robertson (California to Georgia) and Taysir Mack (Indiana to Pittsburgh) were recently ruled eligible despite no obvious basis for a waiver — it is still a process shrouded in the mystery of NCAA bureaucracy.

Some of the leniency appears to be connected to the NCAA's "mitigating circumstances" policy modification, which came together quickly as the Ole Miss issue simmered. While it allowed Shea Patterson, who was announced as Michigan's starting quarterback Monday, along with other transfers represented by Mars to be eligible right away, it also seems to have wider implications.

The Ole Miss situation was instructive for Mars, a former director of the Arkansas State Police who once worked as general counsel for Walmart Inc. Traditionally, as Mars discovered, the waiver process has been a collegial undertaking between the two schools, but not always to the athlete's benefit.

Though Marchiol said he understands that speaking out will make him a target for criticism from those who believe he simply couldn't cut it under Fisher, his attorney was adamant that laying all his cards on the table was the best path to overcoming the obstacles built into the system.

"When the stakes are this high, nobody should expect the student-athlete's advocate to be pulling punches," Mars said. "After all, what choice do you have when the transfer rules invite the disclosure of misconduct at the student-athlete's former school as grounds for a waiver?"

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Copyright 2018 Southeastern Newspapers Corporation
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The Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)

 

The high school football season is underway and through the early stages of the season teams will learn that heat will probably be a bigger opponent that the one on the opposite sideline.

The weather service has been issuing excessive heat warnings for the area since the start of practice in late July.

One of the biggest questions for coaches, players and trainers is how to beat the triple digits while preparing for games.

The answer at least for now may have come from the South Carolina High School League.

With the growing concern of athletes coming down with a heat-related illness, the South Carolina High School League just recently issued stricter rules to prevent heat strokes.

Every school must now have a device called a wet-bulb globe temperature monitor (WBGT). It is a device used to measure heat, humidity, wind speed and solar radiation.

Rob Roth has been the trainer at Barnwell High School for seven years. He's been using the device since the start of football practice.

"Coach Dwayne Garrick checks with me before and during practices to make sure we're doing the right thing by our players. If I say we need to take more water breaks, he gives the players more breaks," Roth said.

Roth said he supports the new safety measures implemented by the league.

"If it's safety for the kids then I'm all for it," Roth said. "With this device we have guidelines that we have to abide by. This device is not just for football. It is for all sports and it will help prevent players getting over-heated."

Roth said there's not an exception to the rule, no matter what sport.

"If it's a Friday night football game and the reading goes higher than 92 wet bulb, then we will stop until the reading goes down," Roth said.

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

 

Crowds filled local football seasons Friday for the official start of the 2018 high school football season, and district officials top concern is that fans enjoy the games safely.

Berkeley County School District's "Clear Bag or No Bag" entry procedure at high school athletic events will continue this school year.

In October 2017 Berkeley County School District announced it would pilot a "Clear Bag or No Bag" entry procedure at Goose Creek High football games. Tim Knight, director of safety and security for the district, said Goose Creek High is the largest in the district; the district figured if it could be successful there it could do it expand the procedure to any of the high schools.

Knight said the public really bought into it and the procedure has since expanded to all high school athletic events.

Knight said the procedure is about being proactive; the district looked at what some state colleges and universities were already doing and thought it would be a good idea to bring it to the school district.

He said the procedure is really catching on.

"I think as we progress into the fall...it's going to get easier and easier for us to do," he said.

Each ticketed individual will be permitted to carry one clear tote bag, not to exceed 12 by 6 by 12 inches. A small clutch or wallet can be included in this clear tote if it does not exceed four and a half by six and a half inches. A clear tote bag is not required in order to carry small permissible items such as keys, wallets, cell phones, credit cards, cash, etc. - which should be carried in a pocket.

Prohibited items include weapons, drugs, alcohol, tobacco and electronic cigarettes.

Residents are reminded that once they have received clearance to enter the event, they will not be allowed to re-enter if they choose to leave at any time. As safety and security is our number one priority, leaders will continue exploring all options to advance and improve safety and security measures in line with common procedures implemented at major events that have the potential to attract a large crowd.

Dorchester District Two does not have such a procedure in place, and while there no current plans to implement one at this time, district spokesperson Pat Raynor said the district is aware of what other area districts are doing in terms of utilizing a clear bag procedure.

Dorchester District Two has a security task force committee that has met regularly this year to discuss safety improvements to the district. Board Chairwoman Tanya Robinson said the clear bag issue has been brought up but the threat assessment policy and hiring of school resource officers has been the committee's forefront. She said the next committee meeting may be a time to revisit the conversation.

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

 

The Atlantic 10 women's basketball tournament is coming to UD Arena in 2020.

The conference announced sites through 2021 on Tuesday.

"For the Atlantic 10, the University, the Dayton region, players, coaches, media, and fans of all ages, we are excited to extend our long and rich relationship with hosting college basketball; one that will continue to bring the excitement ofcollege basketball to a community that loves it, an institution that embraces it, and afacility that is among the best in the country," said Vice President and Director ofAthletics Neil Sullivan in a release. "The renovations will be complete by 2020 and hosting the A-10 tournament will provide us a great opportunity to showcase UD Arena as one of the nation's premier basketball venues."

UD Arena, in the midst of a three-year renovation, has hosted more than 130 NCAA Tournament games, more than any venue in the country. It has played host to the First Four since 2001 and will continue to do so through at least through 2022.

"Having the A-10 tournament at campus locations will bring a lot of energy to the tournament and we are looking forward to the next three years," said Dayton head coach Shauna Green in a release. "I am extremely excited to be hosting the championship in 2020. The renovated UD Arena will be such an unbelievable atmosphere for all the teams. We have the best fans in the country and I know they will turn out to support this championship event."

The UD women led the A-10 in attendance last season with 2,605 fans per game.

Duquense will host the 2019 A-10 tournament and VCU the 2021 event.

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

The Maryland football team will honor late teammate Jordan McNair in the 2018 season and beyond.

The team wears No. 79 stickers on its helmets, referencing McNair's jersey number, and will effectively retire the number for as long as McNair would have played for the Terrapins. No Maryland player will wear No. 79 until 2021, the season after McNair would have graduated.

Terrapins players gathered Monday at Cole Field House in College Park to reveal the tributes they chose to honor McNair, who died on June 13, two weeks after suffering a heatstroke at an offseason team workout.

Since then, an ESPN investigative report into the football program led to the school putting coach DJ Durkin on administrative leave and an investigation into the allegedly harmful culture under Durkin. University president Wallace D. Loh said at a news conference Tuesday that Maryland took "legal and moral responsibility" for McNair's death.

Not long after, however, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents held a special, closed meeting to discuss the fallout, including potential litigation and "personnel matters." Some believe the futures of Loh, Durkin and athletic director Damon Evans at Maryland hang in the balance.

Former Terrapins and NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, now a syndicated radio host for CBS Sports, was the latest to speak out Monday. Esiason told his listeners he was disgusted by the "shameful lack of leadership" from Loh and Evans and suggested both should be shown the door.

In the meantime, players were allowed to decide how the program will honor McNair's memory. In addition to the sticker and the reserving of his number, the team will encase McNair's locker in glass and move it to Cole Field House as a memorial, and the offensive line meeting room will be named in McNair's honor.

The football program will also endow a scholarship in his name, and moments of silence will be observed before both Maryland's season opener Sept. 1 against Texas at FedEx Field and Maryland's first game at Capital One Field, Sept. 15 against Temple.

Ellis McKennie, a fellow offensive lineman who went to high school with McNair at McDonogh School near Baltimore, said McNair was a "dreamer" who would do anything for his teammates.

"The moment that we stop saying his name, the moment we begin to forget, his legacy will begin to fade. But we plan to have his legacy live on forever," McKennie said. "We plan to never forget. This season, Jordan's spirit will live within each and every one of us.

"Every play we make, every snap we take, will be in Jordan's honor."

McNair's former roommate, Johnny Jordan, called him "a gentle giant."

"We, as a team, will continue to carry on his legacy through this season and far beyond," Jordan said.

Players were not made available to answer questions from the media.

Only 11 days remain before the Terrapins open their season against Texas on Sept. 1 at FedEx field in Landover.

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Copyright 2018 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

Concerned that expanded sports gambling will bring additional costs for ensuring their games are on the up-and-up, college athletic departments are looking for a way to get a piece of the action.

A U.S. Supreme Court decision in May allowed states across the country to join Nevada in having legalized sports betting. Since then, sports books have opened in Delaware, Mississippi and New Jersey. A West Virginia casino is set to take bets within two weeks, with other states not far behind.

Schools in states where legal wagering has started or soon will are considering joining professional sports leagues in pursuing legislation requiring sports book operators to pay them a cut of the amount wagered on their games. College officials say the "integrity fees would help fund beefed-up programs educating athletes about unscrupulous activities associated with gambling and monitoring betting lines for possible game fixing or point shaving.

The American Gaming Association, which lobbies on behalf of the gambling industry, opposes integrity fees because they would be piled on top of state and federal taxes that cut into profit margins. Also, the AGA says, the pressure of paying integrity fees would result in operators offering less attractive odds than a bettor could get from an illegal bookmaker.

Legal sports books keep about 5 percent of the total money bet, and the proposed integrity fee typically is 1 percent. That would mean 20 percent of the profit would go to the recipients of the fees, said Sara Slane, the AGA's senior vice president of public affairs.

"It's absolutely absurd. There is no business that would agree to that, she said. "It's not going to accomplish ultimately what I think the leagues would like to see, even the colleges would like to see, which is to have regulated, legalized sports betting and consumers partaking in that platform versus continuing down the path of the illegal market.

There are no known estimates for how much money integrity fees might raise for an individual school, which would receive fees based on the amount of money legally wagered on its games.

"You're not talking about millions of dollars, said Andy Humes, executive associate athletic director for compliance and administration at Missouri. The state in 2019 likely will continue debate on gambling legislation that began this year.

Professional leagues contend they're entitled to integrity fees because sports books are making money off their product and, with more wagering opportunities, the leagues must devote more resources to monitor betting lines for unusual activity.

The NBA and Major League Baseball led an effort in New York to secure a 1 percent integrity fee — eventually reduced to one-quarter of 1 percent — but the bill didn't make it to the floor before the session ended in June.

While integrity fees have been a non-starter so far, universities that deal with unpaid athletes and are politically well connected in their states aren't discouraged. West Virginia lawmakers probably will revisit integrity fees next year.

Athletic directors Shane Lyons of West Virginia and Mike Hamrick of Marshall attended a May meeting where integrity fees were discussed. Both said they want their expenses offset for the extra monitoring of athletes and educating them on risks associated with gambling.

"I think at some point, someone has to say we've got to help the two universities in this state to make sure they don't become another Boston College or a Northwestern, Hamrick said, referring to past point-shaving scandals at other colleges.

Hamrick said he would be able to hire additional compliance staffers immediately if colleges receive compensation. He also would bring in speakers to talk to the athletes.

"The pros that come in, they're expensive, Hamrick said. "You could go as far as working with the university to maybe have a class the kids have to take on a regular basis.

Lyons said there was little consultation with WVU and Marshall when the state legislature passed the sports gambling bill this year.

"The ramifications of that are placed upon me, Lyons said. "As the director of athletics of West Virginia University, my job is to protect the integrity of this department. The last thing I want is for one of my athletes to be involved in any type of issue with sports betting.

Hamrick knows about the casino industry. He was UNLV's AD for six years before coming to Marshall in 2009 and said a sports bookmaking operation was located across the street from UNLV's football practice facility.

Hamrick said an athletic compliance staffer would watch after games to see who was waiting to talk to the players. And players who drove cars on campus were required to register their license plate with the university so the athletic department knew who owned the cars.

"Maybe that's overdoing it. But I was very paranoid, that I wasn't going to let something happen underneath my watch, Hamrick said. "What you're concerned about is the wrong person getting to one of your student-athletes.

Sports wagering began in Mississippi this month, and officials are discussing whether they want to pursue integrity fees.

"This will require additional funding from our athletic department, it will require additional staffing and it will require a lot of education — not only on the part of our student-athletes but on the part of our fans, on the part of the relatives of our recruits and for our administration, Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen said. "It's a big responsibility. Obviously, it's not something we'll take lightly.

Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork said integrity fees would go toward compliance and athlete education and that talk about making money off gambling would be "a losing conversation.

Rutgers (New Jersey) and Penn State did not respond to Associated Press requests for comment on integrity fees and the University of Pittsburgh declined comment. A casino operator on Friday began the application process for a license to offer sports betting in Pennsylvania.

The NCAA declined comment to the AP, though it has said it would not pursue integrity fees for itself and that it continues to oppose to any wagering, legal or otherwise.

Anthony Cabot, a longtime gambling industry attorney, said the NCAA — not individual schools — should take the lead in ensuring sports integrity by creating a division that works exclusively with sports book operators to look for irregular betting patterns.

"We really do need a national system to protect the integrity of the games, and how much a single university could contribute to that is somewhat limited, Cabot said.

Cabot said the NCAA would be like "ostriches with their heads in the sand if it doesn't initiate an overarching integrity program of its own.

"Whether sports wagering is legal or illegal, it's rampant, he said. "So to say we're going to ignore this because we don't like gambling is to ignore you had this significant industry that can impact the integrity of your games. To do nothing about it is, I think, irresponsible.

 

AP Sports Writers John Raby and David Brandt contributed.

 

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Copyright 2018 The Florida Times-Union

Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)

 

Florida State is seeking a new athletic director after Stan Wilcox accepted an executive position with the NCAA.

Wilcox will replace Oliver Luck as the NCAA's executive vice-president of regulatory affairs. Luck departed to become the commissioner and CEO of the new XFL.

In an announcement made by the school on Monday, Wilcox said that he was "honored and humbled to join [NCAA president] Mark Emmert's leadership team."

Wilcox replaced Randy Spetman in 2013 and three years later the school added the title of vice-president.

In a statement, FSU president John Thrasher cited national championships in three sports, a top-10 finish in the director's cup last season and an overall improvement in academic performances from the school's student-athletes.

"I want to thank Stan for everything he has done at FSU. We're excited for him, and we all wish him the best in his new position," Thrasher said in the statement. "Our success on the playing fields under his leadership has been exceptional, with national championships in football, soccer, and softball over that time. We finished ninth in the 2017-18 Learfield Director's Cup last year, and our student-athletes reached a cumulative 3.0 GPA this past year."

Wilcox hired Willie Taggart as the Seminoles' new football coach to replace Jimbo Fisher. He also extended basketball coach Leonard Hamilton's contract and

oversaw improvements to facilities used in football, basketball, soccer, softball, beach volleyball and golf.

Wilcox came to FSU from Duke, where he was the senior deputy athletic director for five years. He was an associate commissioner in the Big East for 11 years and a legislative assistant for the NCAA. He was also a basketball player at Notre Dame.

"I am so grateful for the opportunities and experiences that have led me to this point," Wilcox said in his statement. "The Big East Conference, Notre Dame University, Duke University and most recently Florida State University have provided a depth and breadth of experiences on which I will rely heavily moving forward. I am excited to return to the NCAA, where my intercollegiate athletics career began."

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Copyright 2018 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

MADISON — Wisconsin wide receiver Quintez Cephus faces two charges of sexual assault and is scheduled to make his initial court appearance at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in the Dane County Courthouse.

According to Wisconsin Circuit Court records filed Monday, Cephus faces one charge of second-degree sexual assault of an intoxicated victim and one charge of third-degree sexual assault. Both are felonies.

Maximum penalties for the first charge is up to 40 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine for the second charge.

According to Madison Police:

"Officers from the Midtown District were sent to a local hospital on April 22 to meet with a woman who had come to the emergency room. Officers obtained statements and gathered forensic evidence from the woman who said she was the victim of a sexual assault.

"Detectives were next assigned to the case. The woman provided the name and address of the person she said assaulted her. She said the incident took place inside the man's apartment prior to her arrival at the hospital.

"The man, Quintez R. Cephus, age 20, Madison, was contacted. Cephus was cooperative and provided a statement. During the early stages of the investigation, detectives learned the identity of a second woman, who had been present inside Cephus' apartment on April 22nd. She told detectives she was also the victim of a sexual assault by Cephus.

"Additional follow-up was done and the case was referred to the Dane County District Attorney for a charging decision."

According to the criminal complaint filed about the incident, UW wide receiver Danny Davis, who is Cephus' roommate, also was present at the time and took photos of one of the women. She later told Cephus how to delete the photos, according to the complaint.

Davis has not been charged with any crime and has not been suspended by the university. UW officials had no comment Monday evening about Davis' alleged involvement.

After the charges were filed against him, Cephus was suspended Monday by the UW per the university's Student-Athlete Discipline Policy.

Cephus announced Saturday via Twitter he was leaving the team indefinitely because he anticipated being charged.

"I have been wrongfully accused of unlawful conduct," he wrote, "and I am innocent of any allegations associated with this consensual relationship."

Cephus, who missed the final five games of last season after suffering a broken leg at Indiana, had practiced with the team through Friday.

According to UW's Student-Athlete Discipline Policy, he was allowed to participate in practice because he hadn't been arrested or charged.

"My football family has been supportive to me," Cephus wrote, "and I have too much respect for Coach Chryst, his staff and my teammates to become a distraction in what I know will be an outstanding year for the Badgers."

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

It's tough enough getting ready for high school football season, but harder still when coaches are prohibited from putting their teams on the field outdoors for practice.

The poor air quality in the region — reported to be the worst in the nation on Monday morning — affects everyone, especially when authorities are telling folks to avoid going outside if at all possible.

That includes area high school sports teams itching to get out on the practice fields.

Football practice in Washington started last Wednesday; Idaho started on Aug. 6. But due to the smoke blanketing the region the past couple of weeks, coaches have been leading drills and conditioning inside air conditioned gyms rather than dusty practice fields. Some are even traveling to locations that might not be quite as smoky to borrow facilities.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) for the city of Spokane on Monday morning reached 382 — out of a 1-500 scale — according to the Environmental Protection Agency's Air Now website. Any reading over 300 is considered hazardous, and the EPA suggests all residents should remain indoors.

High school teams are not allowed to practice or play outside if the AQI is 150 or above, which it has been for the better part of two weeks.

At 6 p.m. on Monday, when many teams would normally be wrapping up an afternoon practice, the index read 162.

The index ranged wildly across the region, but all at unhealthy levels.

In the Greater Spokane League, if the index breaches 150 in the area of any of the member schools, all are prohibited from going outside.

The league has allowed an hour of outdoors practice since Wednesday. Mt. Spokane coach Terry Cloer said on Friday that there have been a couple of days on the north side of town where the air quality reading was acceptable, but not so downtown.

Darin Reppe, coach at Wilbur-Creston, said conditions in his area were about the same.

"We made it outside on Saturday as the AQI was 86, but that is the only day thus far," he said. "(We're) hoping it will clear up, but certainly not too optimistic at this point."

The Coeur d'Alene team got creative and ventured to Kellogg last week for a couple of days of practice. Their practice options are further limited by construction going on at their gymnasium.

Idaho starts play on Aug. 24 and Washington begins play the following week — conditions permitting.

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

 

When it comes to selecting coaches for sports teams at public schools, seniority rules. It's a problem that requires attention.

At Hutchinson-Central Technical School, members of the football team signed a petition asking that Nick Todaro be reinstated as head coach after he was passed over for the job in favor of another teacher who has more seniority.

Todaro, formerly an assistant with the team, had been serving as interim coach since the previous coach resigned at the end of last season. The new head coach, Tony Truilizio, is a longtime teacher who transferred recently to Hutch Tech. Truilizio is well qualified: He coached Riverside to four Harvard Cup championships, and also coached at North Tonawanda and Erie Community College.

Hutch Tech was adhering to protocol for public schools, which - following state regulations and by agreement with their teachers' unions - have to give priority to teachers with seniority when filling coaching jobs.

This sometimes results in more experienced or qualified coaches giving way to less-qualified ones. A committee from the Buffalo school district has been working on proposals to change how coaches are hired. It's an area where fresh thinking is needed.

Truilizio appears to be eminently worthy of the job at Hutch Tech. The players there knew Todaro well and were upset to find out just one week before practice began that he would not be their head coach. Surely their concerns shoudl be taken into account.

But what if, say, a social studies teacher with many years in the classroom, but few on the coaching sidelines, had applied for Todaro's job? School administrations have some say in the matter, and districts vary in how strictly they adhere to the seniority requirements, but in many cases the veteran coach would get bumped in favor of the veteran teacher.

Another scenario that plays out at some schools: A longtime coach decides to retire from teaching, but would like to stay on as coach. In most cases if a certified teacher at the school wants to replace the coach, the teacher would get the job.

Why would teachers with lesser sports experience apply to be coaches? Teachers get paid a stipend for coaching, and their pensions after retirement are based upon their total compensation in their final years of teaching. That gives some veteran teachers a financial incentive to develop a sudden interest in coaching when retirement is getting near.

It's not as simple as a teacher just putting in his or her name for a coaching spot and being handed a clipboard and a whistle. State regulations require teachers to take courses in philosophy and principles of athletics, health sciences, theory and techniques of coaching and first aid within five years of appointment to a coaching job.

As outlined in a recent Buffalo News story about the coaching change at Hutch Tech, some city parents are lobbying for a change in how coaches are chosen.

Samuel L. Radford III, president of the District Parent Coordinating Council, said his concern was over teachers who know little about a sport, "and you only want to collect a $7,000 stipend and you get to bump a qualified coach. That's what we're against."

A committee that includes teachers and district representatives has been working to come up with proposals for change. Buffalo Teachers Federation President Philip Rumore says the BTF is committed to working with the district to come up with a better process for hiring coaches.

We take Rumore at his word. Coaches form a special bond as mentors to the kids on their teams, and young student-athletes should be confident that the person leading them on the playing field is, in all respects, the best person for the job.

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

On social media and in the press, Roswell City Councilman Marcelo Zapata played the foil. If residents were upset with plans to put a $50 million tennis center in a popular city park, he was, too.

But the truth is, Zapata voted for the tennis plan in a closed meeting, documents show.And at least one member of the city council is questioning Zapata's assertion that he had his own issues with the project before residents expressed their outrage.

"It's pretty obvious this wasn't exactly the way it seemed," said Sean Groer, a Roswell city councilman.

Groer asked an attorney to look into possible legal and ethical issues with Zapata's statements after Zapata spoke publicly about the closed-door council meeting where the tennis center was discussed, and told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that in his opinion, the process "was not the best one." Groer said his attorney found "significant allegations that have grounds" and he will take the matter to council.

Roswell officials were scheduled to meet in a closed-door meeting set for Monday evening to discuss personnel, but it is unclear if Zapata's comments will be a subject of that meeting.

After Roswell officials announced their plans to build the Angela Krause Tennis, Pickleball and Fitness Center in Big Creek Park, more then 25,000 people signed a petition in protest of the plan.

Hundreds came to a Roswell city council meeting to further express their disdain, saying the tennis center would destroy 60 acres of hiking and mountain biking trails.On Aug. 12, Roswell Mayor Lori Henry said in a statement that a vote scheduled for the next day would not be held. On Friday, she said in a statement that the tennis center would not be built in the park.

In an interview last week with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and in a statement posted on Facebook, Zapata said he told Henry and members of council that he disagreed with a

"proposal that would have put 135 tennis courts in Big Creek Park. He said many of his questions — including a market analysis, a business plan and impacts to traffic and the environment--were unanswered.

Additionally, when asked on Facebook how "something like this" is initiated without all members of council being informed, Zapata replied that it's possible that projects move forward because "only 4 council votes or 3 council votes plus the Mayor's vote are needed to approve any initiative."

Minutes from the closed session, obtained by the AJC from Roswell, show that a proposed agreement for the project — known as "yellow ball" — was approved by a 6-0 vote.

"After I read your article, I had concerns that what I heard behind closed doors didn't match the article," Groer told an AJC reporter. "It was a significant mismatch."

The minutes also indicate that members of council should get any comments on the proposed agreement for the tennis center to the city attorney. Groer said Zapata didn't submit any comments.

Reached Friday, Zapata said he wanted to see the minutes before he discussed the issue further. Monday, he did not respond to several phone calls and text messages seeking comment.

Andrew Lackey, a Roswell resident opposed to the tennis center plan, said he sees a "pretty big issue" if Zapata was lying about his initial objections to the proposal.

"It just means he's going to do that again," he said. "If you say one thing and do another, it makes me uncomfortable."

THE STORY SO FAR

On Aug.9,Roswell leaders announced a plan to build the Angela Krause Tennis, Pickleball and Fitness Center, in conjunction with Vernon Krause, in memory of his daughter.

The$50million tennis center would have 135 courts, and be located on 60 acres of Big Creek Park.

Residents and others who use the park protested, with more than 25,000 people signing a petition to keep the park intact, and hundreds coming to a city council

meeting days after the announcement.Roswell Mayor Lori Henry said the council would not vote on an agreement, as scheduled.Later in the week, she said the tennis center would not be built in Big Creek Park.

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Copyright 2018 The Post and Courier
All Rights Reserved

Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

Taking a swig of water during a brief break on the sideline, Will Daniel looks up and sees a drone circling the football field.

He's not surprised. The Bishop England quarterback is used to seeing the small aircraft as it takes photos and video during the Bishops' practices.

Heading into his first season as the starting quarterback, Daniel quickly grew an appreciation for the drone.

"It shows me things I may not have seen on the field, like where a linebacker was positioned or where holes in the defense opened up," he said.

Drones and other high-tech tools are becoming more prevalent in the sports world, even at the high school level.

This is Bishop England's third season using a drone. Head coach John Cantey remembers asking for donations on Facebook and getting the full amount ($900) from a woman who attended the school in the 1980s.

The technology has improved practices and games, and it's a safer alternative to a staffer sitting in a deer stand with a camera.

Plus, all of the video footage gets uploaded after practice so players can study tape at home.

"It helps on both sides of the ball, especially with our blocking," Cantey said. "Our guys can see what they're doing wrong with more clarity."

A Google search shows that Bishop England was right on time with its drone. Teams in Texas, New York and several other states bragged about their newly purchased aircraft around 2014 and 2015.

In South Carolina, teams are required to alert the S.C. High School League if they plan to use a drone. Rules are pretty loose, other than prohibiting the crafts from flying during games.

At least one other Lowcountry team is currently using a drone. Berkeley High coach Randy Robinson said the team's booster club helped purchase a drone prior to the start of the 2016 season.

The team has small facilities, making it tough to get proper angles during practices. That's where the drone comes in, Robinson said.

"It can go anywhere on the field, so you can send it to particular spots if you want to focus in on one area," he said.

It's especially useful for the Stags when they play 7-on-7 during practice, Robinson added. Players can more easily see their mistakes and make adjustments the next time they hit the field.

"From a defensive back perspective, it's incredibly useful," he said. "You have a full view of what you're doing so you can develop your technique more efficiently."

Drones aren't the clear-cut answers for success. Still, it's worth noting the Stags won just three games the season before they starting using the aircraft.

The past two seasons, they've won nine games and 11 games, respectively.

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

 

WORCESTER — While the city is confident its $70 million investment in an $86 million to $90 million stadium for the Worcester Red Sox will pay for itself over 30 years, two local economists say taxpayers should be concerned.

"I am far less optimistic about this public investment," Robert Baumann, chairman of the Department of Economics and Accounting at the College of the Holy Cross, wrote in an opinion column for the Sunday Telegram. "(Research shows) public money towards stadium construction is rarely, if ever, worth the investment."

The city intends to borrow $100 million over 30 years to pay for the project. The PawSox will kick in up to $34 million and cover cost overruns.

Financial details of the deal were not the at the center of Friday's press conference, with PawSox Chairman Larry Lucchino at one point remarking it was a "complicated" arrangement.

"Anytime someone tells you that it's complicated … they either don't know the answers, or they know them and don't want you to know," said Victor A. Matheson, a Holy Cross sports economist who opposes public financing for ballclubs in general, and for this deal in particular.

The two economists say decades of research show stadiums generally do not spur enough economic growth to justify the hefty public subsidies they receive.

The city's economic consultant, Andrew Zimbalist, says this project is different.

"A ballpark itself, on average, does not promote economic development in the United States," said Mr. Zimbalist, a Smith College professor. "But when you're getting not only a ballpark, but $90 million dollars plus of private development," the calculus changes.

A total of $240 million will be invested over 18 acres, officials said, in the form of two hotels, 225 market-rate apartments, 65,000 square feet of retail/restaurants and a parking garage. A second phase calls for 200,000 square feet of office and mixed-use development.

Mr. Zimbalist's projections show the tax revenue generated by all the development will be more than enough to pay off the bonds.

The Holy Cross economists remain skeptical. Mr. Baumann said studies show increased spending in one area of a city — such as the Canal District — often come at the expense of spending somewhere else, say along Shrewsbury Street. He also said minor league attendance is down 4.9 percent this year in the International League and 7.9 percent in the last decade.

Mr. Matheson argued that even if the project generates enough money to be self-sustaining on paper, there are drawbacks to taxpayer money that aren't being accounted for.

That's because if the city didn't build the stadium, development would still happen during that 30-year period, but instead of going to pay for a stadium, the revenues could be spent by the city for general purposes such as police, fire or schools.

Some people who live in the 225 apartments will send children to city schools, Mr. Matheson noted, and police and fire will still serve the area. But the revenue will go primarily toward paying for the stadium.

Mr. Zimbalist acknowledged the concern about money being deflected from the general fund, but countered that his conservative estimate shows the project will generate a $7 million surplus in net present value over the 30 years.

Mr. Matheson is skeptical about whether such an amount would make up for money not going to city coffers. Asked whether he had performed an analysis of how much city costs like education and public safety would rise as a result of the new development, Mr. Zimbalist said he had not.

However, he pointed out his projections include a 5 percent contingency, and don't take into account economic benefits from the anticipated 200,000 square-foot phase two of the project.

While the area would see some development over 30 years, Mr. Zimbalist said, large projects like this can catch the eye of investors and boost momentum.

He further noted that Kelley Square, in line for a fast-tracked, state-funded redesign as a result of the project, likely wouldn't have been addressed as quickly if not for the plan.

Even if someone did build on the vacant Wyman-Gordon site, he said, they would likely be given tax deals, too.

Both Mr. Matheson and Mr. Baumann are most concerned by the idea of providing financing to wealthy businessmen. Mr. Matheson, a self-proclaimed "anti-stadium" guy, said he can't understand why so many cities agree to "subsidize 70 percent of the rich guy's factory.

"If Popeye's says, 'Hey we can't sell chicken here unless … you pay two-thirds of the building cost, you'd say, 'It looks like we're not getting Popeye's Chicken,' " he noted.

But the PawSox are not Popeye's, and a baseball team of the city's own — not to mention the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox — conjures an intangible feeling of pride.

"It's going to enhance the identity of Worcester," Mr. Zimbalist said — an amenity not many cities can offer.

Mr. Matheson agrees there's an intangible benefit, but said he still believes Worcester gave too much.

In a statement following the news, Pawtucket's mayor, Donald R. Grebien, seized on the dollar amounts, writing that owners "decided to take our team and move it to Worcester in light of substantial subsidies."

Mr. Zimbalist says he stands by his projections, which he said were, on some points, conservative to the chagrin of Mr. Lucchino. For instance, he said, they do not count on revenue out-of-towners might spend outside the stadium, in part to make up for concerns about money being siphoned from one city district to another.

Mr. Matheson said while the study does not include some bad methods sometimes utilized, he believes the plan is more risky than advertised. And he also has a problem with the way the deal was advertised.

Officials Friday called it an $86 million to $90 million ballpark, but the city plans to borrow $100 million in total to finance the project, including costs for land acquisition and culvert work.

"This is a $100-million stadium," he said, calling the phrasing "appalling misdirection."

Mr. Zimbalist said the remark was unfair, noting the $100-million figure was not hidden from anyone.

"If you ask me, 'How much does the stadium cost,' I'll tell you $86 (to $90) million,' " he said. "If you ask, 'How much does the stadium project cost,' I'll tell you $100 million."

The deal in Worcester appears to be more financially favorable to the PawSox than the deal in Pawtucket.

According to multiple published reports, the deal approved by Rhode Island legislators would have required the PawSox to pay $45 million toward an $83 million stadium.

In his most public effort to woo the team, a letter sent in August 2017, Mr. Augustus wrote that while the city would love to have it, its momentum and success would continue either way.

Asked whether he'd attend PawSox games, Mr. Matheson didn't hesitate.

"Oh yeah," he said, chuckling. "I mean, I'm already paying for the stadium. "It's a great amenity — there's no question about that."

 

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Copyright 2018 Bangor Daily News

Bangor Daily News (Maine)

 

ORONO, Maine — Ken Ralph, who was named the University of Maine's director of athletics Monday, was in his first year as AD at Colorado College when he met with men's basketball coach Andy Partee to review Partee's performance during his team's 0-24 season in 2007-08.

"I was a little nervous," admitted Partee. "But (Ralph) said he liked working with me and said he wasn't evaluating me on my wins and losses.

"He said I didn't have what I needed to win and it was up to him to get me what I needed," said Partee. "That caught me off-guard. I expected hear that my Xs and Os were wrong and I wasn't getting the right players. But he made a commitment to me and helped me by bringing in the tools for me to be successful."

Ralph delivered on his promise and Partee's Tigers, after going 5-20 the next year, won at least 10 games in each of the following nine seasons and went 123-109 overall during that stretch.

Partee and long-time men's and women's cross country and track and field coach Ted Castaneda said the University of Maine has landed a gem in Ralph, a native of Salem, New Hampshire.

"He has been fantastic," said Castaneda. "He has achieved a lot of monumental things while he has been here. He wants to help you improve your program."

Among Ralph's projects are the newly announced $39 million Robson Arena project, a new on-campus hockey arena, and the $27 million refurbishment and expansion of the El Pomar Sports Center at Colorado College.

"The sports center needed a big boost because there hadn't been a major upgrade since way back in 1962, I think," said Castaneda. "It's so exciting."

During Ralph's 11-year tenure at Colorado College, the school has received a dozen gifts of at least $1 million each in support of athletics, with a top gift of $9 million for the Robson Arena project. Beyond capital projects, Colorado College has seen sponsorship dollars rise to record levels. The college also has secured deals with Nike and Bauer to outfit its teams.

Ralph agreed to a four-year contract that will pay him in excess of $200,000 annually, according to Dr. Robert Dana, the UM vice president for student life and dean of students who chaired the 12-member search committee. Ralph will start his new job Sept. 1.

"I wouldn't be interested in a job unless it was challenging. The big thing is the University of Maine's athletic brand is still very, very strong," said the 49-year-old Ralph, who was athletic director at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York from 2002-07 before taking over at Colorado College.

"It has always been a strong brand. I remember it growing up, and to be able to capitalize on that is going to be great. It's the kind of place where a lot of good things are happening but there is still room to grow. To be in that kind of situation and to be able to utilize my experiences to help Maine continue on the right path was too good to pass up."

Ralph said he looks forward to working with the people at UMaine.

"The people I met throughout the process were very genuine, honest, down-to-earth people who were passionate about the university and about the state," he said.

At Colorado College, he oversees a department of 51 professionals and a $10 million budget. Colorado College's Division I programs compete in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (hockey) and Mountain West Conference (women's soccer), while several of the school's Division III teams play in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.

The team sports at CC (basketball, lacrosse, hockey, soccer, volleyball) posted an overall record of 115-70-14 during the 2017â€"18 season. Success followed in the classroom as varsity athletes posted a cumulative grade-point average in excess of 3.3 for the academic year.

During his time at RPI, Ralph led a department with 23 sports, more than 600 varsity athletes and Division I hockey teams in the ECAC Hockey Conference. He also was involved with the initial design, planning and fundraising for the $92 million East Campus Athletic Village at RPI.

Before moving into administration full-time, Ralph coached college swimming for 12 seasons.

"The most important thing is he understood that an athletic department doesn't stand alone," said Dana. "It is part (and) parcel of the whole university and it belongs to the people in the state. The players, coaches and staff must be attended to very carefully but you also have to look outward and give the program the exposure and the heft it needs so everybody can be part of it. He is community focused."

Ralph said he wants students to love being at the University of Maine.

"I want all of our students to feel engaged to the program and for there to be a great sense of school spirit," he said.

The University of Maine's athletic teams play in three great conferences (America East, Hockey East and the Colonial Athletic Association), Ralph said, and he has strong relationships with coaches and administrators in all three leagues.

"The ultimate goal will be to have all of the teams compete for championships across the board," he said.

Dana said it was "very important" that Ralph had previous experience as an athletic director rather than just as an associate AD. Several of UMaine's recent hires for the job had not been full athletic directors before coming to the Orono campus.

He said Ralph's previous experience as an AD gives UMaine someone knowledgeable about the position so "it's a lot easier for him to come in and take off running."

Ralph said associate athletic directors at big schools are so specialized that it is hard for them to see the full picture.

"As the athletic director, you can't stand on an island. You have to be involved, you have to be engaged with everyone," he said. "A lot of people generate their opinions of a university based on their athletic departments because they are so visible and get so much coverage. You have to be very conscious about how you present yourself."

Dana also liked Ralph's New England ties because it means there is a better chance Ralph will make a long-term commitment to the university.

"We didn't want a flash in the pan," said Dana.

Ralph earned his undergraduate degree in political science at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, where he was recognized as an All-American in swimming in 1989 and 1990. He earned a master's degree in sports management studies from California University of Pennsylvania.

Capt. Jim Settele has served as UMaine's interim AD since March 12. When Ralph takes over as director of athletics, Settele will return to his previous position as executive director of UMaine's School of Policy and International Affairs.

Settele took over for Karlton Creech, who was named the University of Denver's vice chancellor for athletics in February after serving as UMaine's athletic director for four years.

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Move over, Catch Rule. There's a new Public Enemy No. 1 in the NFL this season, it appears. From the moment the league adopted a new safety rule related to players leading with the helmet in March, there was suspicion about how it would be called. The wording of it clearly had good intentions — increased safety — but also came with the kind of interpretive vagary to turn things ugly. Through two weeks of the preseason, it's playing out just as many feared.

First, let's give you the rule again, just to set the table here. It reads: "It is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent. Contact does not have to be to an opponent's head or neck area — lowering the head and initiating contact to an opponent's torso, hips, and lower body, is also a foul. Violations of the rule will be easier to see and officiate when they occur in open space — as opposed to close line play — but this rule applies anywhere on the field at any time."

There's more to it, but players are subject to a 15-yard penalty (and possible ejection) based on these criteria: Player lowers his helmet to establish a linear body posture prior to initiating and making contact with the helmet; unobstructed path to his opponent; and contact clearly avoidable and player delivering the blow had other options. In Saturday's preseason games alone, there were a handful of egregiously questionable calls that drew the ire of fans, media and yep, players, too.

As Richard Sherman pointed out on Twitter on Sunday morning, asking defensive players to stop ball carriers — both running at full speed — without some measure of helmet lowering feels nearly impossible. Sherman even followed up on his initial tweet after a few folks invoked the "rugby-style tackling" defense to the matter (and be sure to watch the video to which Sherman was responding, which looks like a clean, textbook tackle to the naked eye): "There is no "make adjustment" to the way you tackle. Even in a perfect form tackle the body is led by the head. The rule is idiotic And should be dismissed immediately. When you watchrugby players tackle they are still lead by their head. Will be flag football soon."

The rule was designed to be called against both offensive and defensive players, but the way it's been officiated through the first full two weeks of the preseason, it's clear that defensive players are the ones who are being targeted most. A few more examples... Chicago Bears CB Kyle Fuller was issued a 15-yard penalty on a play where Denver Broncos FB Andy Janovich appeared to lower his helmet to initiate contact with Fuller.

The way the rule was written, Janovichnot Fullershould have been flagged. Should Fuller have had had his hands out first? Yes. But punishing the defender here felt absurd, both live and after seeing the replay. Another wild one came when San Francisco 49ers DE Jeremiah Attaochu dropped his head briefly on a bull rush but appeared to bring it up into a neutral position as he engaged with the Houston Texans' right tackle.

Still, Attaochu was flagged 15 yards for this perceived infraction. On Friday, New York Giants LB Mark Herzlich was hit with a 15-yarder, wiping out a sack by teammate Lorenzo Carter. Herzlich was said to have lowered his helmet as he came on a blitz and locked up with Detroit Lions RB Theo Riddick. Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said he'd be sending the clip of that play to the league offices for review, and we can't blame him a bit.

We'd assume most coaches are uploading the bulk of these controversial plays (and likely more, perhaps even ones that were not called) and doing the same. And we haven't even mentioned the new roughing-the-passer enforcement that was flagged against the Minnesota Vikings on Saturdaywhat some have called the "Aaron Rodgers Rule" or "Anthony Barr Rule" based on the Vikings linebacker's hit on Rodgers last season that cut his 2017 season short. Barr's teammate, Antwoine Williams, was flagged against the Jaguars on this one, which perhaps is only fitting.

All of this is a problem. There's hope that, like players, the referees are still in preseason form. Perhaps it was a league directive to err on the side of caution now so as to provide a teaching template for officiating crews, who will adjust prior to the regular season, which is very much on the horizon. That sounds great and all, but we'll believe it when we see it. These zebras aren't robots, and they can't just be reprogrammed overnight and set back out into the field.

There are 18 days until the Philadelphia Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons in the opener, and this needs fixingor perhaps reinterpretation. What we're seeing so far greatly benefits the offense, doesn't appear to be called evenly and stands as a major red flag. Already fans are claiming to be kissing the league goodbye, although we can file that threat in the believe-it-when-we-see-it category as well. Still, you can't have a game of football where defensive players are hung out to dry this way.

In full-speed football, there are going to be helmets that contact ball carriers incidentally. There are going to be times when players' heads are lowered that are completely unavoidable. And if you're going to flag defensive players in this way, please, for the love of all things good in this football world, please call it evenly (e.g. the Janovich play, where he clearly drops his head and changes the target zone for the would-be tackler).

Thisnot the anthem debatehas a strong chance to be the negative talking point as we steam closer to Opening Day. This needs to be rectified, or the NFL will have a real issue here, with conspiracy theorists surmising when flag football will be the next major rule change on the Competition Committee's docket next spring. * Eric Edholm is a senior editor for Pro Football Weekly.

For more on the NFL, visit profootballweekly.com and follow Eric on Twitter @Eric_Edholm or @PFWeekly.

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Copyright 2018 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
All Rights Reserved

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

MADISON — Although Wisconsin wide receiver Quintez Cephus has left the football team indefinitely because he anticipates facing criminal charges in Dane County for an alleged incident in April, his case won't be covered by UW's student-athlete discipline policy unless he is arrested or charged.

The policy, implemented in 2003, applies when a student-athlete has been charged with or arrested for a crime based on conduct involving:

Causing serious physical injury to another person.

Creating a serious danger to the personal safety of another person.

Making a credible threat of serious physical injury to another person.

Sexual assault.

Delivering or possessing with intent to deliver a controlled substance as defined in Chap. 961, Wis. Stats.

Felony theft or felony criminal damage to property.

Stalking as defined in UWS 17.02(14).

Repeated violations of the criminal law that raise the concerns addressed by the policy.

It appears Monday is the earliest that charges would be filed. No incident report has been made available by Madison Police.

If the policy applies in Cephus' case, he would be suspended immediately from competition and practices.

Any financial aid would remain in place and his name would remain on the roster and with Student-Athlete Services.

He would have access to weight training and sports medicine facilities and academic support services.

Cephus, who is entering his junior season, practiced with the team through camp, which opened Aug. 2.

Anticipating he would eventually be charged, Cephus on Saturday informed UW coach Paul Chryst he planned to leave the team indefinitely.

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

Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

The security playbook for Palm Beach County high school football will be rewritten this week in the aftermath of the shooting on the outskirts of a high school football stadium Friday night.

The shooting at Palm Beach Central High in Wellington sent two men to the hospital and hundreds of fans and athletes scrambling in fear, and in its wake forced a hard look at school safety after the last bell rings.

The makeover will begin this week and include Saturday morning kickoffs for some of the biggest games of the season and an hour earlier starts at 6 p.m. rather than 7 for others.

Once fans get to the game, only clear bags -- and searched diaper bags -- will make it through the gates.

Leave mid-game and you'll have to buy another ticket to get back in. No tickets will be sold in the third quarter. Metal detectors or wands may be coming as well.

Going forward, security staffing plans for football games and other large events will be devised by school police and paid for out of district accounts rather than pinning those obligations on each school. A group of principals will be putting together a list of protocols to be standard at events countywide.

The measures were announced by Superintendent Donald Fennoy after meeting with his high school principals and school police Sunday afternoon. The group was unanimous in its support of these changes, he said.

Though changes are necessary, they should not be viewed as a criticism of security at Palm Beach Central where gunshots triggered panic in the fourth quarter, Fennoy said.

"Nobody has done anything wrong," district chief of staff Amity Schuyler said. "The events of this weekend have given us an opportunity. We're realizing some of our plans need to be standardized. We have an opportunity to course-correct at the beginning of the season."

School Police Chief Frank Kitzerow praised the security in place when the Palm Beach Central Broncos squared off against William T. Dwyer's Panthers. Seven school police officers were on duty as were several school officials -- in all about 20 district administrators were in attendance.

"When the school police officers heard the shots being fired, they immediately moved to where that was happening. The first officer was at that scene in a matter of seconds," Kitzerow said. "And that escalated as the minutes went by. By 10 to 15 minutes you had quite a large contingent."

The measures announced and those that are expected from the group of principals assigned to delve deeper into potential protocols, will improve the consistency of what is done for every game, he said.

Could these measures have prevented Friday's events?

Authorities have been quite clear in their message that the shooting that erupted on school property, but outside the stadium, was violent and dangerous, but was not random and not what would qualify in their definition of a school shooting.

"The bad guys in this were not there to shoot students. They were not there to go in and randomly kill a bunch of people. They just happened to be able to find (their targets) on the perimeter of that football game," Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said at a news conference Saturday.

He said that while investigators have no certain motive, they have some ideas and that the victims in the shooting "know who did this and we're going to find out who did it and apprehend them."

Kitzerow echoed that message: "This was, unfortunately, an act of community violence that happened to spill on to a school campus. It was probably 50 yards off a main road and outside the secure area of our stadium."

But both Bradshaw and Kitzerow agreed that now is the time to talk about extending the security perimeter around events, much as airport security has stretched to beyond the gate.

The measures announced Sunday would likely not have changed the outcome, Fennoy conceded. "But that doesn't mean we don't have an opportunity to improve our own practices. "

For years, security decisions have been made by principals, who then had to tap gate receipts to pay the bills. That put some schools in a bind, Schuyler said, particularly small schools or anyone hosting an event that draws meager ticket sales.

Games that start earlier or on Saturday morning appeal on multiple levels, Fennoy said.

"It's just better control in daylight," Fennoy said. "Typically, on a Saturday morning you're not coming to hang out, you're coming to support your child. Also, it allows us to end the day earlier -- people can go home at a more reasonable time."

School Board member Frank Barbieri contacted Fennoy by email earlier to say he endorsed moves including tighter restrictions on what can be carried into an event and daylight hour games.

"By the time kids get out of a football game it's going on 9:30, 10 o'clock. They're going out into a dark parking lot. People can't see. I think it'd be safer if people got out in daylight, though I don't know if that's always possible," Barbieri said.

Football games both in Palm Beach County and in cities across the country have canceled or rescheduled games for security reasons, but typically the move is a one-off, addressing a specific threat or safety concerns on one particular day.

In 2013, an Inlet Grove High home football game against Kings Academy was canceled in the wake of a threat to one of the players. In 2015 in Jacksonville, a high school game was moved from Friday to Saturday when the schools weren't able to staff enough police officers -- too many were already working a preseason Jacksonville Jaguars game.

Until now, high school football games across the county typically kick off at 7 p.m. -- sometimes 7:30 p.m. if the opponent is traveling a great distance. That means early in the fall, crowds begin to arrive in daylight as they did Friday at Central High. The shooting happened long after the sun went down.

On Sunday, the rescheduling had begun.

Reworking dates and times for local teams will likely to be easy to maneuver, Schuyler said. It's those involving teams visiting from outside the county that may pose a challenge. Not only must athletes alter their itineraries, so must bus drivers and referees.

Two football games slated for Friday night -- games involving the very teams in the center of the trauma just days ago -- will be moved to 10 a.m. Saturday. Palm Beach Central will play Atlantic High, while Dwyer will play Park Vista.

And efforts are underway to dial back the kickoff time of 11 others in this season-opening week.

The state's high school sports governing body, the Florida High School Athletic Association, reports that many football games take place on Saturdays across the state. The one day Florida high school football can't be played: Sunday, "except under emergency or extraordinary conditions."

The organization recommends host schools hire uniformed security but doesn't require it. It's up to schools and school districts to decide how to handle parking lot security.

Also Sunday, the district announced that counselors will be available at all schools today.

sisger@pbpost.com Twitter: @sonjaisger

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Copyright 2018 Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)

 

WORCESTER - Three tax-relief deals are a central part of the financing plan brought forward by City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. for the redevelopment of the former Wyman-Gordon property near Kelley Square and building a minor league baseballstadium there.

As part of that plan, Mr. Augustus is recommending tax-increment financing incentives for the developer of two hotels being proposed and a tax-increment exemption incentive for the proposed market-rate residential development.

The incentives would provide Madison Downtown Holdings, LLC, the developer of the private portion of the redevelopment project, with property tax savings totaling $5.6 million over the life of the three deals.

At the same time, the city will be collecting $20.3 million in additional taxes on those properties that it otherwise would not have collected if they remained in their current state.

The property taxes generated by the new private development will be used by the city to help pay off the bonds that will be taken out to finance the public construction of the baseball stadium.

Mr. Augustus said the incentives have been included in the financing plan in return for the developer's willingness to convey to the city, at no cost, the Wyman-Gordon parcels on the north side of Madison Street.

That is where the city plans to build a ballpark for the minor league baseball team to be known as the Worcester Red Sox, which has

agreed to move here from Pawtucket for the start of the 2021 season.

Madison Downtown Holdings will be acquiring from Wyman-Gordon 18 acres of largely vacant and blighted land located on the north and south sides of Madison Street. It plans a mixed-use development there, with residential, commercial and office space components.

One of the hotels it is proposing would be located on the south side of Madison Street and have of about 150 rooms, while the second hotel would be built on the north side and have about 100-110 rooms.

Mr. Augustus said the hotel to be built on the south side of Madison Street is expected to have an assessed valuation after completion in the range of $14 million to $15 million.

For that building, he is proposing local property tax relief through a so-called "TIF" deal that would provide a 40 percent tax exemption for the first five years and a 35 percent tax exemption for five years after that.

That means the developer would continue to pay full taxes on the current assessed value of the property plus taxes on 60 percent of the increased incremental value during the first five years and on 65 percent of the increased value in the following five years.

The TIF schedule would begin on July 1, 2021, and run through June 30, 2031. The exemption will average 37.5 percent over 10 years.

Mr. Augustus said the dollar value of the tax savings for the developer is currently estimated to be about $1.9 million over the life of the TIF, while the incremental taxes to be received by the city is currently estimated at $3.3 million over that same time span.

The manager said the city expects that about 50 full-time jobs will be created at that property.

The second hotel, a boutique hotel to be constructed on the north side of Madison Street, is expected to have an assessed value after completion in the range of $11 million to $12 million.

Mr. Augustus is recommending a TIF with a 20 percent tax exemption for 20 years for that building.

The developer will continue to pay full taxes on the current assessed value of the property plus taxes on 80 percent on the increased value resulting from the construction.

The dollar value of the property tax savings for that deal is currently estimated at about $1.8 million over the life of the TIF, while the city expects to collect about $7.5 million in property taxes during that time.

The manager added that the city expects that about 35 full-time jobs will be created at that property.

That TIF will begin on July 1, 2021, and run through June 30, 2041.

Meanwhile, the 250-unit apartment complex that is being proposed for the southerly side of Madison Street is expected to have an incremental assessed valuation after completion of about $28 million, according to Mr. Augustus.

For that phase of the project he is recommending a 15-year, property tax-relief deal, known as tax-increment exemption.

It calls for an exemption of 15 percent for the first five years, 20 percent for the second five years and 25 percent for the last five years.

The developer would pay full taxes on the current assessed value of the property, and then pay taxes on 85 percent of the increased assessed valuation during the first five year, 80 percent of the increased value during the second five years and 75 percent during the final five years.

The tax exemption will average 20 percent over 15 years.

Mr. Augustus said the tax savings over the life of the TIE plan would be about $1.9 million, while the taxes received on the property during that time are estimated at $9.5 million.

That deal would run from July 1, 2012 and run through June 30, 2036.

The entire financing package will formally go before the City Council Tuesday night, at which time it will refer it to its Economic Development Committee for review and public hearings.

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Copyright 2018 The Post and Courier
All Rights Reserved

Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

Hoopsters seeking indoor basketball opportunities will soon have their shot inside a state-of-the-art facility in North Charleston.

The city is doling out $14 million to construct a three-gym complex near the public works campus off Remount Road. It'll be beside the future Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments building currently under construction.

The city awarded Trident Construction and McMillan Pazdan Smith Architects funds to design and build the complex, which will be visible from Interstate 26. Officials said the facility should be completed by fall 2019.

The complex will contain three gyms with full-size, 84-foot courts - all under one roof. The main gymnasium will seat up to 1,600 people with two smaller gyms adjacent. Fourteen baskets will hang inside.

There are only a handful of indoor courts in the state's third-largest municipality and tri-county region.

In many cases, residents rely on outdoor courts similar to those at Russelldale and Highland Terrace, which can be brutal in the summer heat.

Soon, they'll play inside.

"You're going from a recreational gym environment to a competitive gym environment. These kids will actually be able to play on the wooden floors," said North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey. "We recognized (the need) for a number of years."

North Charleston Councilwoman Dorothy Williams, who represents the district where the facility is being built, has lived in Highland Terrace for decades. She recalls taking her children to the Danny Jones gym years ago when, at one point, it didn't have air conditioning. She said she's glad to see North Charleston making strides, especially near low-income areas.

"I'm so happy," Williams said. "We need that in North Charleston.... It's being built in the low-to-moderate neighborhood. That normally doesn't happen. So many people are going to be able to walk to the gym."

In the city, North Charleston residents play basketball inside four local gyms between Danny Jones, Ferndale and Northwoods. The city also uses River Oaks Middle School through a partnership with Dorchester District 2.

Now, the city's recreation department can serve a booming population in one place.

"Having that number of gyms under one roof gives you a lot of opportunity," said North Charleston Recreation Director Ed Barfield. "We have a very large youth basketball program. This will give us an opportunity to better serve our kids."

But basketball will be just one option. The facility will host wrestling, volleyball and pickleball events. It will have locker rooms and an eating area.

The project should also help alleviate financial burdens on many Amateur Athletic Union teams and other North Charleston sports families who trek for tournaments. Many families simply can't afford to travel. This facility would bring those events to their backyard.

"It gives the entire city a sense of pride," Summey said.

Hospitality dollars are expected to help pay for the project as it lures athletic competitions. Initially, the city will borrow money by issuing bonds and pay it back with accommodations and hospitality tax revenue, said Councilman Ron Brinson, who chairs the Finance Committee.

The three-gym complex is part of an $80 million capital improvement program, which includes an aquatics center that broke ground Aug. 8 near Fort Dorchester High School, and a $50 million dollar parking garage at the North Charleston Coliseum. City Council also approved funds for the garage at the Aug. 9 meeting.

Some said the complex will help curb crime. The city had three homicides in a single week in May, and five killings in five days earlier this month.

Tony Grasso, neighborhood president of the Russelldale community, said it will help steer the city's youth in the right direction.

"When I see something new like this, this is a breath of fresh air," Grasso said. "When a kid has nothing to do, what's left? I am thrilled to death. The city needs it. It takes the kids out of the devious things."

Brinson said the facility will meet a demand the same way the Senior Center on Dorchester Road helps older residents. The center welcomed 500 members after opening in April.

"It's amazing. It's sort of a pent-up demand for these kind of gathering places," Brinson said.

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The City of North Charleston is building a three-gymnasium complex beside the future Council of Governments building which is currently under construction near Remount Road. Rickey Ciapha Dennis Jr./Staff
By Rickey Ciapha Dennis Jr. rdennis@postandcourier.com
By Brandon Lockett blockett@postandcourier.com
 
August 19, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 Ventura County Star
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Ventura County Star (California)

 

When Food 4 Less in Oxnard moved to a new location next door, it left a big piece of property on Esplanade Drive that piqued the interests of the Banos brothers.

Angel and Willy Banos own 18 Gold's Gym locations in Southern California from Santa Barbara to Orange County, including ones in Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley. They consider Oxnard to be a void.

So the business partners pursued the opening of the third Gold's Gym in Ventura County. The two are still getting the proper permits but are eyeing an opening in March or April of next year. Presale memberships are slated to begin in October.

The brothers are not associated with the former Oxnard Gold's Gym on Gonzales Road, which filed for bankruptcy in 2013.

At 42,000 square feet with 5,000 more square feet of outdoor space, the new gym will feature high-tech equipment, fitness classes, a day-care center and an outdoor pool.

"We're not coming in to test the waters. We're coming out strong," said Willy Banos, vice president and chief operating officer for the gym.

An Oxnard resident, he's been in the gym business for decades with his brother Angel, who is the chief executive officer. The two opened their first Gold's Gym location in North Hollywood more than 30 years ago, and it's still operating today.

At the time, the gym had cardio and weight equipment, free weights, lockers and not much else. It didn't even have a cleaning crew.

"We sold memberships, vacuumed during the day. It was very grass roots," Willy Banos said.

"He closed the gym; I opened it," Angel Banos said.

The brothers are Cuban-Americans who grew up in the San Fernando Valley. Angel Banos, 64, is the athletic one, playing baseball and football at school and lifting weights at a private gym at the age of 14.

Today, his 90-minute exercise routine six or seven days a week is the same it has been for decades - stretching at the start and end with cardio and weight sessions led by a personal trainer.

Angel Banos believes a regular routine at a gym like Gold's can do miracles.

"We prevent people from aging and going to hospitals," he said.

Willy Banos' routine is a bit less intense.

"I'm more the eater of the family," said Willy Banos, 50. "My brother is the epitome of fitness, I'm the epitome of normal."

He said he struggles to get to the gym every day but manages to go two to four times a week. Like his brother, Willy Banos uses a personal trainer to push him to do that extra burpie.

Like other locations, the new gym will offer a range of classes from cycling to circuit training. Some classes target seniors.

Parents can drop their children off at "Kids Club," a day-care space with turf and enough room for soccer and basketball games.

"We're moving away from what they're already doing at home," Willy Banos said.

But for children who want to play video games, there are those, too.

For those who are not familiar with the Gold's Gym brand, Willy Banos said the reputation that it's a space for male body builders remains. But the gym is much more than that, he said, a full-service fitness center with characteristics of a boutique gym.

About 40 percent of members are women. At some locations, nearly half are women.

The two are excited to open in Oxnard, where Willy Banos has been living for the past year at Seabridge. Angel Banos, who lives in Santa Barbara, said they plan on being involved with schools, armed forces, local charities and community events.

"We plan to be full spectrum and embed in the community," Angel Banos said.

Willy Banos said it's important to support the community whether it's a beach clean-up or helping the needy.

"That will help us be the 50-year-old brand with heritage," Willy Banos said.

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Copyright 2018 Chattanooga Publishing Company
All Rights Reserved

Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

The irreplaceable Aretha Franklin first belted out the letters in 1967: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. It rightly became an anthem for women everywhere, even if the #MeToo movement wouldn't arrive for another 50 years.

But judging by two of the top four headlines on ESPN's website Saturday morning, too many women are still a long, long way from receiving the respect they deserve from the men in their lives.

The first story concerned the troubling behavior of former Ohio State football assistant Zach Smith during his time on the Buckeyes coaching staff -- including having sex toys mailed to his office and photographing himself in an inappropriate relationship with a female OSU staffer not his wife -- behavior that may ultimately cost Buckeyes boss Urban Meyer his $7.6 million annual salary.

The second story centered on LSU junior wide receiver Drake Davis, who has been suspended indefinitely for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend on multiple occasions in April and June.

A third story included a paragraph on the huge Las Vegas odds (200-1) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to reach the Super Bowl. Why is this noteworthy? Because the Bucs are quarterbacked by serial sexual miscreant Jameis Winston. At least they will be once his three-game suspension due to a groping complaint made against him by an Uber driver concludes.

And with each new charge, scandal or cover-up, is it not more than fair to ask what it's going to take for men to treat women with respect, decency and intelligence?

When is this going to end, or at least shift into reverse? The #MeToo movement shouldn't just scare straight the rich and famous and powerful. It needs to blanket every male on the planet. It needs to start being taught in elementary school, ratcheted up in middle school and become a full-blown class in high school.

It also needs to include young girls, older girls and women. It needs to teach them to stay away from any male who is physically or emotionally abusive to them at any time. It needs to teach them to get help at the first sign of trouble, not the eighth or ninth. It also needs to teach both genders that intimacy works best when there is some emotional attachment involved.

Sexual freedom must also include responsibility and common sense by both parties. Always. You can't expect others to respect you until you respect yourself.

I write this as Ohio State is supposedly concluding its investigation today into what Meyer knew about former aide Smith's alleged abuse of his former wife in 2015.

Maybe Meyer should lose his job and maybe he should merely be suspended without pay for not only the upcoming season, but also through the February signing period. Zero contact with recruits. Zero access to OSU practices and games. Zero comment about any of it past a single prepared statement and brief news conference.

Let's see how much Buckeyes Nation wishes to stand by its coach then.

But the Davis story goes to the root of the problem on so many fronts. If the charges against him are true, he reportedly attempted to strangle his girlfriend, broke one of her ribs and texted threatening messages.

However, there is also this: These assaults reportedly happened over four separate dates. Why would anyone who was choked or punched or threatened even one time agree to go out with Davis a second time? Or a third?

As with most sexual assault charges that don't include a video of the accused assaulting the victim (Ray Rice, come on down), there usually aren't a lot of witnesses to such crimes. It's almost always a he-said, she-said case. And when athletes are involved, the jock far too often gets the benefit of the doubt, as with O.J. Simpson.

But not always. Almost every Tennessee football fan is aware of the A.J. Johnson-Michael Williams rape trial. Nearly four years after the two were charged with raping a female UT athlete, they were found not guilty this past month. Perhaps their fame helped them, but Johnson's NFL dreams are likely done. Denver has reached out to him, but four years is a lot of rust. Whether you agree with the verdict, whether you believe all three might have acted more responsibly four years ago, in almost every way except the final verdict, Johnson, Williams and their accuser all lost.

When Franklin made R-E-S-P-E-C-T her signature song 51 years ago -- even though Otis Redding had written it and recorded a different version two years earlier -- the world was a far less sensitive place. It was, in every sense, a man's world.

The late Queen of Soul certainly helped change that, as much by her countless actions to help those less fortunate as her musical words.

But if the NFL's late-June suspension of Winston for his alleged groping of the Uber driver is a small step in sending a message that such behavior must stop, it still seems to stop far short of being tough enough.

Merely consider that Winston -- who was the subject of a lengthy sexual assault investigation while at Florida State -- wrote a sort of/kind of apology to his victim that stated, in part: "I'm sorry to the Uber driver for the position I put you in. It is uncharacteristic of me and I genuinely apologize."

Wrote the Uber driver in response: "I am glad to see the NFL discipline Jameis Winston. I do appreciate his apology, even if it needs some work."

When it comes to giving women the R-E-S-P-E-C-T they deserve, it would seem there is much work that needs to be done by many, including far too many athletes.

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com

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Copyright 2018 The State Journal- Register
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The State Journal- Register (Springfield, IL)

 

LITCHFIELD — The status of Litchfield High School's varsity football season, which is in doubt due to a low number of players, is expected to be decided on Monday.

Tom Priddle, entering his second year as the Purple Panthers' head coach, said Saturday he had 24 players — including 10 freshmen — in the entire program.

Several players joined the program in the last few days, but Priddle said they wouldn't be able to play in Friday's varsity home opener against Staunton because they wouldn't have participated in enough practices to meet Illinois High School Association eligibility rules.

Those players probably would be eligible for the Week Two varsity game against Piasa Southwestern, Priddle said.

Priddle said he will meet on Monday with Litchfield principal Douglas Hoster and new LHS athletic director Andy Kassebaum. They will decide on whether to move forward with the varsity schedule or to cancel it and forfeit the nine games.

The Purple Panthers are members of the 10-school South Central Conference, which includes mostly Class 3A programs including Carlinville, Pana, Hillsboro and Gillespie.

"When it's said and done, it will be us saying yes or no," Priddle said. "Now, the administration could say at any time, 'You know what? You're not doing this,' no matter what we say or want to do."

In the event the varsity schedule is canceled, Litchfield still would play its eight scheduled junior varsity games. Kassebaum said J.V. games currently are set for Mondays, but some could be played on Fridays if the varsity schedule is dropped.

Kassebaum and Priddle said a decision will be made Monday, and the decision will be final. Litchfield doesn't want to keep its opponents guessing from one week to the next, Kassebaum said.

"I know Mr. Hoster doesn't want to go week to week," said Kassebaum, a former Litchfield football coach who was hired as A.D. on Thursday.

"I think the parents would like to give it a go, but they've been very good about the situation. But definitely a problem."

With a listed enrollment of 395, Litchfield is the third-smallest school in the South Central. Roxana (559) and Greenville (524) are the largest.

The Purple Panthers have gone winless each of the last two seasons after going 4-5 under former coach Patrick Reents in 2015. Their last playoff appearance was in 2005, the last of three straight postseason trips under former coach Mark Elvers.

Priddle said he had 41 students signed up to play last spring, but those numbers dwindled throughout the summer. He said it's difficult to keep players committed when victories have been scarce.

"Over the course of the summer, I really don't know what happened," Priddle said. "I see no reason why we can't go into a season and be competitive against schools the same size as us.

"But we're under the gun because we're Litchfield. We're kind of under the microscope."

Priddle said he would like to move forward with the varsity schedule, but he's willing to listen to all aspects during Monday's meeting.

"I'd love to give the kids a chance," Priddle said. "But we have to weigh all the pros and cons. We have 10 freshmen, and I don't want to put some of them in a dangerous situation."

Pawnee moves forward

Pawnee football coach Tim Kratochvil said Saturday there are 22 players in the Indians' program. That includes three from co-op partner Raymond Lincolnwood.

Despite the low numbers, Kratochvil said Class 1A Pawnee intends to play its varsity schedule beginning with Friday's non-conference opener at Class 2A Shelbyville.

Pawnee hosts Class 4A Clinton in Week Two before facing the Mount Olive-Bunker Hill co-op, South Mac, for their Prairie State Conference opener in Week Three.

"I think South Mac has about 24 (players) and Nokomis might be under 30," Kratochvil said of follow PSC teams. "A lot of us are going to be in the same boat.

"But we're going forward."

Kratochvil said the Indians have a combined total of eight juniors and seniors along with six sophomores and eight freshmen.

"At the end of last season, we had 32 or 33 players," he said. "But we graduated 14 seniors. There are just seven boys in our senior class this year."

Contact Dave Kane: 788-1544, dave.kane@sj-r.com, twitter.com/davekaneSJR

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Since opening in mid-October 2016, Station Soccer, a soccer field at the Five Points MARTA station, has scored a goal with Atlantans and made its mark as the world's first soccer field at a transit station.

As early as 2015, Soccer in the Streets board member Sanjay Patel started talking up installing soccer pitches at MARTA stations.Even though he faced skepticism, Patel kept at it.

On a visit to London, he watched as schoolkids and workers alike emerged from a train to nearby soccer fields to play and socialize.

He knew Atlanta, too, could build stronger communities through soccer, said Jose E. Devarez, Soccer in the Streets communications director.

"Soccer in America is a middle-class, suburban sport," Devarez said. "We knew, we built a pitch accessible to everyone as well as a community green space, we could keep kids engaged and have a positive social impact."

His vision, now known as Station Soccer, is a miniature 99-by-66 foot pitch on the top floor of Five Points Station in downtown Atlanta, which was funded by an Atlanta United grant.

Organizers have seen growing interest from commuters, who stop between trains to ask about games and how to get involved.

Five things to know about Station Soccer:

It's a pilot program. Planned as a pilot pitch, the Five Points field has been approved for five years. Games take place nearly every night and all weekend long, in what was once an amphitheater built as part of the original station but closed off for years because of safety concerns.

Kids soccer program is free. Soccer in the Streets offers information about leagues and registration at www.soccerstreets.org. The nonprofit welcomes children from ages 6 to 18 to play in its program for free. Adult leagues subsidize the youth activity.

Late-night kickers are welcomed. Station Soccer hosts a nighttime coed league. It has also become a home field for five youth training sessions and four other adult leagues, including one from Atlanta City Hall and a lunchtime league for restaurant workers. It also hosts regular pickup games.

You don't have to join a league. Pickup games are available for anyone unable to commit to a league.A Meetup page keeps track of specific times and events. You can also follow the nonprofit on Twitter, Instagram and Face-book for photos, events and up-to-date schedules. There is a donation fee to play in adult pickup matches.

The field has won some bragging rights. MARTA named the project a "transit win" of the year for its success in drawing more people to the station and immediate impact in the community.The agency, donors and Soccer in the Streets are in talks to bring more fields to other stations with the hope of building a club community - a league of stations, if you will.

"I've never played in a place that has such an amazing vibe," said Devarez, who is also a former NCAA Division I player for Long Island University. "It's special there, in the middle of everything. We want everyone to try it and become part of our social impact soccer initiative."

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

Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

The moment pre-K teacher Britt Downey was ushered into a room by the front offices of Palm Beach Central High School late Friday, hours of code-red lockdown drills kicked in.

Downey, who teaches students with autism at Loxahatchee Groves Elementary School, wound up under a desk in a room along with six teenage girls after shots were fired during the fourth quarter of a preseason football game between Palm Beach Central and Dwyer high schools. The girls were "hysterical," one was praying out loud, and they kept wanting to know and see what was happening.

"We have gone through these drills," said Downey, whose son, TJ, plays for Central. "I kept telling the girls, 'We need to stay quiet.' The girls kept wanting to get up and look out the door. I kept telling them, 'No, you have to stay here until they come get us.'"

The biggest signs of the shooting Saturday morning were a field littered with items ranging from footballs, to crutches, to cheerleader megaphones to a parking lot with about 50 cars, mostly belonging to people who fled the stadium. Hundreds of people — students, parents, players, coaches, administrators — instinctively ran for safety, many leaving behind their possessions, when two adult males were shot by an unknown assailant just outside the gates of the stadium near the northwest corner of the field. One victim remains in critical condition and authorities say nobody has been charged with the shooting.

Downey — who was at the game with her husband, Tim, and daughter, Alina, a freshman at Wellington High — never believed teachers should be armed, even after 17 people were killed in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland six months ago. But while Downey was crouched under that desk in a dark room and not knowing what was happening beyond those four walls, she started having a change of heart.

"I chose not to live in fear and I feel schools are trained to come up with ideas to keep them safe," she said. "When I'm looking at this situation, even if they did add metal detectors and different things going in, this happened in the parking lot. There always will be a loophole.

"I believed teachers don't need to carry weapons. As I was sitting in the room under the desk, the thought did cross my mind, I thought 'maybe I'm wrong.... maybe I do need to have a weapon.' In that moment of feeling helpless and maybe someone is coming in to harm us, my thoughts changed.

"Maybe there should be weapons on campus. Before I didn't feel that way. There definitely needs to be protection."

Ivette Sepersaude drove her 17-year-old son, Jeffrey Torres, to campus Saturday to retrieve his car after she met her son on Forest Hill Boulevard, just west of the high school, after Torres fled the scene on Friday. Torres was getting into his car when he and a friend heard the shots. They got snarled in traffic and decided to run.

"First thing I told him was to stay calm," Sepersaude said. "I told him get in your car but then he called his dad and his dad's like, 'No, you need to run.' That's when he started to run."

It took about eight tries for Sepersaude's calls to finally go through. "I really started to panic because I couldn't get ahold of him," she said.

As he was trying to leave the lot in his car, Torres saw what he believed was one of the men who was shot. He ran in front of the car belonging to Torres' friend.

"His right leg was all bloodied," Torres said. "I think he was the other dude. They said one guy left by the vehicles and he got into the passenger seat of another car."

Now, Sepersaude is questioning whether she wants her son attending high school football games. The Broncos open the regular season Friday at Atlantic. Their first home game is Aug. 31.

"I told him if they don't have security, I'm not going to allow him to go to games," she said. "I'm sorry."

Torres was one of several people who lined up Saturday morning, waiting for a school district officer to arrive and unlock the gate so they could get their cars. The officer arrived around 8:30 a.m., unlocked the gates and sat in his vehicle in front of the school close to the yellow crime scene tape. Soon after, Palm Beach Central coaches arrived and started combing the bleachers for items left behind by people fleeing.

One of those was senior Chase Strelec, a member of the student government and Key Club president, who left behind his keys, wallet and phone. Strelec found his keys and wallet but not locate his phone. He also retrieved a friend's purse along with a set of keys and a phone.

Strelec was part of the chaos as fans attempted to escape the bleachers.

"I saw all the football players running, Dwyer, Palm Beach Central, the coaches even as well," he said. "I remember vividly just watching everybody jump and just, I don't want to say trample, but it gave the feeling of the urgency. A lot of my friends got bruises. One of my friends got pushed to the ground and thankfully there was another guy that said stop and made everybody calm and picked her up."

Jose Cortes, 39, was on the visitors' side of the field supporting his nephew, who plays for Dwyer. Cortes and his family ran east to the baseball field and hid in the dugout before another shot rang out and people started running again. He wound up being ushered out of the field on the south side, crossing Forest Hill Boulevard and being picked up at Okeeheelee Park.

For Downey, the reality of the situation hit her late Friday. Frantic to find their children, she and Tim finally realized they were safe when they were reunited in the parking lot. TJ was with his teammates and Alina had made it safe to a friend's house not far from the school.

"I learned my children are growing up in a completely different world," she said, "and they can take care of themselves."

tdangelo@pbpost.com Twitter: @tomdangelo44

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Copyright 2018 The E.W. Scripps Company
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Abilene Reporter-News (Texas)

 

Headline-grabbing media coverage about the serious effects of concussions on professional football players has made some parents hesitant to let their kids play football or other sports.

Nationwide, the number of teenagers playing high school football has declined about 5 percent since 2008, according to a study published this year in JAMA Pediatrics. And even in Texas, home to Friday Night Lights, we have seen a falloff in participation.

As both a researcher who studies brain injuries and as a parent, I believe these fears have become somewhat overblown.

While every head injury must be taken seriously, most concussions result in short-term symptoms. And the benefits from participating in team sports outweighs the costs of leading a sedentary life, even considering the risks of concussion or other injuries.

Unfortunately, heart-breaking stories of pro football players who showed signs of a degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in post-mortem examinations have heightened fears that playing contact sports will potentially bring on this devastating disease.

This is a misperception.

Not everyone who hits their head ends up with a concussion, and the vast majority of concussions do not result in CTE. While we are learning more about the brain every day, we cannot yet identify who is at higher risk for prolonged recovery from concussions.

Public concern has been growing as the NFL gradually has adjusted its rules to try to make the game safer. In the latest change, players this season will be penalized if they lead with the helmet on any tackle.

On the scientific side, a study released last year led to widespread misunderstandings about the connection between football and CTE, which has been linked to repetitive head trauma. The article, published in JAMA, reported that CTE had been found in the brains of 110 of 111 former NFL players — or 99 percent — that had been donated for analysis.

It covered only a highly select group of cases — players who had reportedly shown signs of mental decline before their deaths — and is not representative of all pro football players. Yet some media reports inferred that CTE is a common disorder. The truth is that less than 200 cases have been confirmed worldwide since first identified in boxers in the 1920s.

Currently, CTE only can be diagnosed at autopsy by measuring the level of tau protein in certain parts of the brain, and researchers even disagree on the amount needed. A buildup of tau in the brain has been linked to more than 20 other conditions, including normal aging.

I fully support increased awareness to the risks of concussions. That's why I helped to establish the ConTex concussion registry at UT Southwestern Medical Center, in partnership with the state's University Interscholastic League, to gather data on concussions suffered by student-athletes from middle schools and high schools in Texas. And it's why we conduct workshops with high school coaches and trainers to provide the latest information.

But we can't bubble wrap our kids and sometimes they are going to get injured. My son played soccer from childhood through college, and suffered several concussions. While I was concerned as a parent, he fortunately recovered quickly each time after receiving appropriate treatment.

If you're weighing this decision as another school year begins, my advice is to let your kids play sports as long as they are physically and mentally prepared and you're confident in the ability of their coaches and athletic trainers to handle injuries. If your son or daughter shows signs of concussion, make them sit out. In most cases, they'll recover after a brief rest.

Dr. Munro Cullum is a neuropsychologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center's Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute in Dallas.


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Copyright 2018 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

OGDEN - Weber State University Athletics is excited to announce the construction of a state-of-the-art athletic complex at the north end of Stewart Stadium.

The building will include the Barbara and Rory Youngberg Football Center, the Sark's Boy's Gateway, the Stromberg Strength and Conditioning Complex, the Marquardt-Kimball Plaza and the Behnken Plaza.

The 27,000-square foot building will surround the Chick Hislop track on the north side and will serve as the main entrance to the stadium.

The facility will include a new state-of-the-art strength and conditioning facility for all Wildcat student-athletes. It will also feature new football team locker rooms and a new expanded football equipment room, in addition to football coaches offices and position group meeting rooms.

The building will also include a 125-seat team room that will benefit all student-athletes. A new plaza, ticket office, and souvenir shop will also be part of the project.

"This building is transformational to our program," said Weber State Athletic Director Jerry Bovee. "Over the last 10 years we have made great strides in improving the athletic and academic facilities for our student-athletes and this is a capstone project that will assist in the development of not only the football program but all of our 16 sports. It also allows for an expanded space for our training and nutrition needs, which will benefit all student-athletes. This is made possible through the generous donations of community members and former student-athletes."

"This building demonstrates to recruits, players, coaches, and staff the commitment Weber State University has to its student-athletes," said Weber State head coach Jay Hill. "This new facility is critical for our program's progress moving forward. It will enable us to have an expanded locker room and weight room and state-of-the-art meeting rooms. It is fundamental for recruiting and the future development of our players."

Construction will begin on Aug. 28. A groundbreaking ceremony for the building will take place prior to kickoff of this season's home-opener on Sept. 15 against South Dakota. All fans are encouraged to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony, beginning at 5 p.m., prior to the 6 p.m. kickoff.

The building is expected to be completed in time for the 2019 football season, which marks 100 years of football at Weber State University.

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

 

It's Friday night. Are you ready for some football?

Too bad. It's probably going to rain. And lightning. Then stop. And start again.

Welcome to the first half of the Florida high school football season — productivity level: almost none.

The reason, of course, is because the only thing the state may have in greater abundance than a love of football is thunderstorms. Not just any kind, but fierce, lightning-filled, Shakespearean tempests.

Worse, they come and go so quickly — or pass close enough to force everyone inside, at least based on greater modern safety standards — that our teams get more practice filing in and out of locker rooms than they do running routes or improving tackling technique.

Perhaps the best "solution" is so novel, or ignorant, that it belongs on a different planet.

Here it is: Move Florida high school football to the winter. That's probably in a trade with boys basketball or wrestling, although neither is necessarily a must.

OK. You can stop laughing.

Below and in the accompanying materials are all the reasons it makes sense — and why it has about as much chance of happening as, oh, a reality TV star becoming President of the United States.

Oh, wait.

Along with a list of pros (hint: one rhymes with "honey") and cons (how many can you count?), we also asked area football coaches and athletic directors to rank its hypothetical worthiness (all over the map) and chances it ever happens (they'd have used negative numbers if we let them).

George Tomyn, executive director of the Florida High School Athletic Association, was nice enough to hear out our proposal, too. He also didn't get far without a polite chuckle.

Money matters

First, though, is understanding why so disruptive an idea might be necessary and all the negative byproducts of the current situation, which are myriad.

Since it's what people secretly value more than safety, let's start with a big one: money.

Chris Patricca, a Lee County School Board member and FHSAA board member, was preparing during last year's storm-battered season to ask athletic directors in her FHSAA district to compile data on how much money is lost because of bad weather.

That would cover lost ticket, concession, parking and booster revenue as well as added costs to reschedule referees, security, staff, busing and more.

Since football revenue effectively props up high school athletic departments much of the year, this is no small issue.

Patricca had those plans before Hurricane Irma struck the state in September, wiping out several weeks of activity while communities were flooded and without electricity.

The data gathering had to be postponed given more pressing matters. But Patricca said she plans on resuming it this season.

"We are losing a ton of money, and it's not fair to the kids," Patricca, a former college athlete whose own children compete athletically, said last year.

She also cited school days that can start for athletes at 5:30 a.m. and sometimes end after midnight because of weather delays.

"Our No. 1 priority is academics, and sports are there to support academics," she said. "If we have kids (in that situation) then we're not serving those kids academically. We've got to find a solution."

Practice impacted, too

Even before Irma forced the postponement of the third, fourth and — for many schools in Southwest Florida — fifth weeks of the regular season last year, most already were playing catch up thanks to Week 1 storms.

The end result was some teams arguably stretching the limits of safety playing three games in nine days. Cape Coral and East Lee even had to do it twice, leaving both playing eight games in just more than five weeks.

Along with salvaging critical revenue, schools played such cramped schedules to help kids get film for recruiters and for teams to have enough games to qualify for the new points-based state playoff system. Kids also just wanted to play football.

But even without Irma, prohibitive weather is routine in much of Florida well into October.

And it's not just games, either.

The word "practice" itself is a misnomer since they get to do so little of it in August and September, unless one wants to count rehearsing plays in sneakers in the cafeteria. That's not just for football but any outdoor sport not played before noon in the fall.

Could delaying the season work?

Starting games earlier Friday wouldn't get away from the customary start of storms in the afternoon. And it would only cut into revenue.

Saturdays are generally out of the question because most officials already are scheduled for Pop Warner, and low pay and worsening harassment make finding more a growing problem.

Rescheduling often is for Monday night. But that comes with the same bad weather. And it wedges late-night finishes and bus rides up against school the next morning.

Often suggested is pushing back the start of the season several weeks. But that would only push football, which already runs longer than any other sport on the FHSAA calendar, further into the start of winter sports.

Besides, with thunderstorms a problem into October — and hurricane season not officially ending until the end of November — how much does delaying the season several weeks really accomplish?

A very out of the box idea

One suggestion, pushing back the start of the high school day — an experiment tried in Lee County in 2002 as part of changed start times in all schools, with contentious, lawsuit-inducing results — would make morning practices more feasible.

But addressing half of the rotten fall weather problem still does nothing for Friday nights.

Since we're saying crazy, Sun-around-the-Earth things anyway, the importance of — and revenue from — football raises the idea of building one or more indoor facilities.

Such facilities could stack numerous games in a day or two and be available for many other uses.

As big as football is, though, even in Florida, the price tag for such facilities would have to make the ongoing war over Lee County's half-cent sales tax proposal feel like it's about pocket change.

Only game in town

Which brings us back to crazy town, party of one.

Can you imagine the revenue for Friday night high school football on beautiful winter nights in Florida, after the college and NFL seasons end?

Tomyn acknowledged that the idea of moving football to the winter does get discussed in committee meetings once more-practical options are covered. But it stops quickly.

"It's not really said in jest," he said. "Other people pipe up: 'How would we...?' We don't get any further than that."

Tomyn wondered if college coaches might actually like the ability to devote more time to Florida recruits after the New Year once their playing seasons end.

But that is just one possible benefit to an idea that has innumerable downsides.

"I think that it would never happen. That is too big of a change," he said. "We're not a sports car jumping all over the place. We have 800 member schools. It's a huge state. Big bureaucracy's change slower."

Still, if you started from scratch drawing up a high school sports calendar for Florida, you'd start by placing its most-influential sport where it works best.

While that would cause new problems, what we have now isn't working too well, either.

And continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results, as they say, is the definition of insanity.

Follow @NewsPressSeth on Twitter.


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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

New York — Without stretching, New York Giants offensive lineman Chad Wheeler folds his 6-foot-7, 317-pound frame over far enough to place his palms flat on the ground. His knees are straight but not fully locked, because that's poor form, and he can comfortably hold himself there — he's that flexible.

That's nothing for Wheeler. Like many NFL players, he does yoga.

"It's funny doing it as a team because a lot of guys haven't done it," Wheeler said. "It makes me feel proud in a way. Like guys that are way more athletic than me, I can bend better than them in certain positions."

Football players don't fit the mold of a yogi , someone who regularly practices yoga. They're large athletes with sculpted muscles from countless hours of lifting and conditioning. Most do not look capable of the contortions required of the ancient discipline, such as standing on one foot with the other propped up on their knee in a tree pose for an extended period without falling over.

Yet in recent years, the presence of yoga has grown in the NFL. The fast-paced, hard-hitting sport has accepted the more calming practice that emphasizes conscious breathing and body flow. Much like yin and yang, the two complement each other both mentally and physically.

"Obviously (yoga) helps with flexibility, what we call join integrity, discipline, focus and balance," said Los Angeles Chargers Director of Football/Medical Services James Collins, an NFL athletic trainer for 31 years. "It has a lot of different entities to it. And one thing about professional football players is that if you explain something to them and give them the science and reasoning behind it, you can get them to buy into it."

Many teams haven't adopted yoga, but their players practice it individually, including Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, Buffalo Bills placekicker Steven Hauschka and New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold.

The Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears offer it to their players on recovery days. Others make it a team activity the Chargers, Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys.

"I was going into it expecting to tell them all the reasons why they should be practicing yoga and why it's so beneficial," said Kaleen Lugo, the Chargers' yoga instructor. "They're just like, 'You're preaching to the choir, girl. We know.'"

Physical benefits

Getting ready in his pass-rush stance, New York Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams has his legs spread, knees bent and feet staggered. He leans forward with a hand on the ground.

That's how he stays until the ball is snapped, holding his 6-5, 302-pound body in the three-point stance.

"For my position, you can get knocked off," Williams said. "When we're playing double teams, we got to stunt and do stuff, so it's like sometimes we have to be on one foot, plant and go somewhere. I feel like yoga helps with that, when we're doing one-legged poses and stuff like that. It helps with my balance ."

Yoga helps with so much more than balance, and flexibility.

Collins, who's also the Professional Football Athletic Trainers' Society president, said yoga is great for multidirectional joints such as the elbows, wrists, ankles, hips and shoulders. Regular stretching is linear and doesn't help strengthen those areas .

Yoga also keeps muscles pliable and allows them to recover faster.

"At minimum, doing it helps maintain what you have," Collins said. "Especially as an athlete and a football player, as he's going through a season and his bodies getting beat up, everything starts to shut down — 'Boy, I feel stiff. I'm sore. I can't do this.' But if you're doing things throughout the season, like yoga, to help maintain what you've established with your body, that helps you get through the season, helps reduce your chance of injury and things of that nature."

Each player — position, really — is different, too.

Gwen Lawrence, founder of Power Yoga for Sport, has been teaching athlete-focused yoga for 25 years and taught the Giants for more than a decade under former head coach Tom Coughlin. While she would work on arm and spine strength — spinal rotation — for a quarterback, she would focus more on the neck, hips and wrists for a lineman.

It comes down to releasing tension and building strength in overworked parts of the body.

"I didn't realize once I got the hold of it how much stronger I felt," Giants linebacker Jordan Williams said. "I wasn't doing anything but using my body weight, and I felt so much stronger."

Mental benefits

Bending to the side, Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah reaches for a block on the floor . He then lifts his other legs straight out so he is parallel to the ground and extends his free arm upward.

Each limb is stretched out straight, as he breathes through the difficulty of holding yoga's half-moon pose.

That's where the mind-over-matter mentality comes in.

"They need to be trained when they're in a tough situation, they can't just bail," Lawrence said. "A lot of times they'll be like, 'Ah, this is too hard. This hurts,' and they'll jump out of that. You can't do that in a game, and you can't do that in yoga."

Mental toughness is one of the six facets Lawrence teaches in her yoga class, along with strength, flexibility, balance, focus and breath. But she also has a six-week mindfulness course Coughlin had the medical staff and players go through. The well-being of the mind is just as important as the well-being of body.

"We spend a lot of time paying attention to the psychology of the athlete," said National Athletic Trainers' Association president Tory Lindley, who's also the Senior Associate Athletic Director for Health, Safety and Performance and Director of Athletic Training Services at Northwestern University. "That mind-body connection is critical."

On the field and off it.

In 2003, Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Keith Mitchell sustained a career-ending injury . It came after seven years in the NFL, mostly spent with the Saints. He was lost, saying he showed signed of depression and had suicidal thoughts, until he found yoga.

Mitchell credits meditation and conscious breathing for getting him through the tough time. Now, he's a yoga instructor and hopes the practice grows in the NFL because he wishes he had done it as a player.

"The game, I always say, is 80 percent mental," Mitchell said. "So anything we can do to reboot the mind — I call it a meditation and I teach it as a mind practice — that's just going to make you even more impactful, more effective on your endeavors."

Many players do it for the mental aspect alone, saying yoga gets their mind right and prevents overthinking. It forces them to be in the moment, otherwise there's no way they'd be able to accomplish some of the poses, which make them feel better physically.

One thing leads to another, much like the flow of a good sun salutation — moving from one pose to another.

"When you feel good, you play good," Lugo said. "When you play good, it's all good. They know that comes from so much more than just keeping your body in peak shape and condition."

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State says factfinders investigating coach Urban Meyer's handling of domestic abuse allegations against a former assistant will deliver a report to university leaders next week.

The school announced Friday that the investigation will wrap up on Sunday, and a report will be delivered to the six-person group appointed by trustees to coordinate the probe. The report will then be shared with trustees in a still-unscheduled executive meeting next week.

Meyer has been on paid leave since Aug. 1, when Ohio State began investigating the superstar coach's handling of 2015 abuse allegations leveled by the ex-wife of former receivers coach Zach Smith, the grandson of former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce.

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

The Maryland Board of Regents is scheduled to hold a closed-door meeting Friday.

They like those closed-door meetings.

They had some doozies nearly five years ago, meeting in secret to discuss the move by the school to the Big Ten Athletic Conference.

Turns out they broke the law then, according to the state Open Meetings Compliance Board.

This time, though, they may have grounds to meeting privately Friday — legal reasons, as they say in the closed-door meeting business.

They have to figure out how much of that Big Ten money the death of Maryland football player Jordan McNair is going to cost them.

The one-man gang of college sports reporting, Brett McMurphy first reported that the meeting will be closed because the board will discuss a potential lawsuit against the University of Maryland, College Park as well as "personnel matters" related to the future of football coach D.J. Durkin (currently on administrative leave), athletic director Damon Evans and President Wallace D. Loh.

They may not have enough Big Ten money to pay for the pain and suffering of the McNair family and the damage to the school.

It's crass and insensitive to be discussing money in the wake of the death of a young man a death that could have been prevented, save for the gladiator school Durkin and his staff were operating, according to an ESPN report that cited the "toxic" culture of the football program.

But that is what the meeting Friday is about how to protect themselves, from lawsuits to payoffs.

That's what the press conference Wednesday by school president Wallace Loh and athletic director Damon Evans was about damage control, in this case, their own.

The school reportedly just paid football strength and conditioning coach Rick Court $315,000 as part of the agreement for him to leave the program officially he resigned. Court is a big part of the ESPN report about the abuse in the football program. Court allegedly forced injured players to participate in workouts and was verbally abusive to him, among other charges.

That's a strength and conditioning coach. What's it going to cost to cut Evans, who, though was just named athletic director in June after serving as interim since October, has been part of the program and arguably, part of the problem since 2014? He signed a six-year, $800,000 contract just two months ago.

And what about Loh? What's it going to cost to pay him to leave? He received a $75,000 raise last year and reportedly earns close to $700,000 annually.

Don't worry Maryland is rolling in Big Ten money, right?

You know that faucet that was gushing money when Maryland moved to the Big Ten $93 million in revenue in 2015? It is slowing dramatically. A USA Today report showed that while the athletic department did bring in $95 million in revenue in 2017, that put them next to last among the 13 conference schools where that information is public.

Now, given the damage to the football program already a Big Ten bottom feeder as a result of this tragedy and scandal, Maryland will like rest at the bottom of the revenue chain in the Big Ten, with a football program destined for years of failure in a powerful football conference.

The basketball program? They seem to play soulless games in a soulless basketball conference, the tradition of ACC games now little more than a fond memory.

It's also received several subpoenas in connection with the continuing federal investigation into college basketball corruption that resulted in the arrests of four assistant basketball coaches from Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and Southern California last September.

What will the fallout be from that?

How's that Big Ten move looking now?

According to the bylaws of the University of Maryland Board of Regents, the board is "charged with responsibility for the governance and management of the University System of Maryland and all constituent institutions, centers, and institutes thereof."

On Friday, that means governing and managing the damage from the death of a football player. This one they can discuss in private.

⦁ Thom Loverro's podcast, "Cigars & Curveballs," is available on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver network.

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Copyright 2018 Independent Publishing Company
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Anderson Independent-Mail (South Carolina)

 

IVAConcussions and head trauma are two of a parent's biggest concerns when their child plays football. For Trent Center, that became a reality last season with his son, Sam, a linebacker on the Crescent High football team.

"He had a concussion last year, and it worried me with him getting back into the game," said Center, who also is the Crescent High School Booster Club president. "My son is a brainer, he wants to go to school for his brains. That brain is a commodity for him."

At Crescent, the football program is taking steps to better monitor its athletes. When the Tigers open their season Friday night at McCormick, the players will sport new speedflex helmets from Riddell. They may not look much different, but there is a big change beneath the black matte shells.

Hugging the inside lining of the helmet with a matchbook-size device at its center, the Insite Training Tool monitors impacts to the head and sends data from those collisions to coaches and athletic trainers.

Justin Kenny, communications manager for Riddell, said the system gives real-time updates, allowing staff to know when a particular player has experienced a major head impact.

"It is a tool that offers a better training and practice opportunity to coaches," Kenny said. "The system reviews impact data and allows coaches to reduce unnecessary impact during practice."

He added the helmets do not prevent concussions but are a tool to help coaches and athletic trainers better monitor head impacts.

Crescent got the helmets after the Anderson District 3 board of trustees voted unanimously to approve money from the penny-sales tax fund during its April 16 meeting. The district purchased 70 helmets for $30,000, an average of $428.57 per helmet.

The helmet costs about $400 individually, according to Riddell's website, while the Insite system costs an extra $150 per player. Through a bulk order, Crescent was able to save an estimated $8,500.

Crescent also received 30 sets of shoulder pads in the deal, worth around $300 apiece, according to Riddell's website.

"We found out they were buying the helmets about three months ago," Center said. "My first thought was any kind of technology they can pull in to make these kids safer (I'm for it). I am really impressed with the helmets."

Coach Sheldon Evans said he and his staff already have seen the benefits of the program since debuting them at spring practice.

Along with the helmets' allowing the staff to monitor head impacts, Evans said the data also can reveal which players need extra coaching.

"We can look at data player-by-player. Say if a running back continues to take 80 percent of high-level magnitude hits (on the top of his head) we need to look at that. It means he is lowering his head," Evans said.

"If we see one or two players who have a much higher impact, that is a sign we need to get with them and work on their tackling or blocking."

Evans also recalled an instance where the data showed his offensive linemen were using correct form.

"It was saying we had a lot of front impacts. I thought it meant our offensive linemen were coming off the ball with their heads down. It turned out the sensor was picking up impacts from their facemasks, meaning their heads were up, which is what you want," he said.

"In the end, it helps us do our job better, and helps us teach better fundamentals to keep the players safe."

After the Tigers got some scrimmage experience, Evans said the coaching appears to be paying off, according to data collected.

"We have not had any major head impacts," he said.

Mason Johnson, a senior receiver, said he prefers the new helmets over the ones the team had previously.

"They feel more molded to my head and are more comfortable. Everyone on the team likes them," Johnson said.

He added he feels safer playing with the extra monitoring the helmets give.

"It really helps a lot. Not just as protection but training," Johnson said. "It has been a good experience."

Athletic trainer Chelsea Pounds, who works with Crescent High School and contracted out through Playsafe, says the system aids her job as well.

"Everyone has their toolbox that makes their job better. This is getting an advanced version of things I already have. This adds another thing, a more advanced thing," Pounds said.

Pounds said the notification is sent to a device the size of a smart phone that she keeps with her.

"On the sidelines it is good because I can't see everyone, or for kids who don't come to me because they don't think anything is wrong," she said. "It is more of a tool, instead of a yes or no decision on if a player has a concussion."

Each player wears a specific helmet that corresponds to their name in the system. The system tracks hits, and an alert is sent when impacts meet or exceed a 95 percent threshold.

"When we get back to the school, if we want to look more in depth, we can look more in depth," Pounds said. "This system is worth the money. It has helped us teach the kids better, regardless of what it does for concussions."

According to Playsafe, Crescent is the only Anderson County school affiliated with its Insite system.

Center said with all that is in place at Crescent, he is a little more at ease as he watches his son.


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Copyright 2018 Times-World, LLC
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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

The most challenging part of Carla Williams' first visit to the Roanoke Valley came on the drive from Charlottesville.

Williams, the athletic director at the University of Virginia, and UVa athletic fundraiser Jim Harshaw were headed south on Interstate 81 during the early stages of what became a 6-mile backup Thursday.

Fortunately, Williams arrived in Salem in plenty of time to address the Roanoke Valley Sports Club, and if anybody was curious about the wreck, she had a photo of one car piled on top of another.

Williams, whose term as UVa athletic director officially began last December, spoke without notes for 30 minutes before answering about a dozen questions.

"I've had the type of year that most athletic directors will never have," said Williams, who came to UVa from Georgia, where she was deputy director of athletics and specifically oversaw the Bulldogs' football team.

"I was a part of the No. 1-ranked football team in the country [at Georgia]. I get here to UVa - I love basketball - and the UVa men's team is ranked No. 1 in the country. To be part of the No. 1 football team in the country and the No. 1 men's basketball team... that just doesn't happen."

Williams has been joined in recent months by a new UVa president, Jim Ryan, following the retirement of Teresa Sullivan, whose term ended July 31.

"Teresa Sullivan did something, I thought, that was really awesome," Williams said. "During the process to hire a new athletic director, she included Jim Ryan in that process.

"When I interviewed for this job, I interviewed for Jim Ryan and Teresa Sullivan. I basically had two presidents for the last eight months. [Ryan is] wonderful. He's a sports fan. He's a runner. He watches sports and already has several of our sporting events on his calendar.

"I think he'll be another great supporter of athletics. He's already said to me, 'Let me help with fundraising.' He's seen the plans. He knows what we need."

Williams said that she has been devoting considerable time to a master plan for facilities.

"A lot of people thought that when [John Paul Jones Arena] was built that University Hall was empty," Williams said, "but there are more than 400 student-athletes in there and a lot of staff members."

Demolition of University Hall, which opened in 1965, is scheduled for November 2019.

"I had a meeting [Wednesday] with Ralph Sampson," said Williams of the Cavaliers' three-time national basketball player of the year in the 1980s. "I was curious about what he thought about U-Hall coming down.

"Obviously, that was a special place for him. And I said, 'What do you think about it?' He said, 'I've seen it and I understand.'

So, that was good for me to hear someone with so many great memories and understood that it was great for the university but knew we needed new facilities."

Williams also addressed the UVa football facilities and particularly the McCue Center weight room.

"What we're doing at Virginia is not an arms race," she said. "I was part of an arms race at Georgia and an arms race is when you have what you need and you continue to build because competitors are doing that.

"For us, our construction is to meet a need, not just for recruiting but for our current student-athletes. Five years from now, I hope we have a football operations center and I hope we have an Olympic sports operation center."

When Williams opened up the floor for questions, it wasn't long before venerable UVa supporter Dr. Kellogg Hunt raised the matter of Virginia's recent lack of success in football, describing the program as "pitiful."

There was a clear reference to UVa's 14 straight losses to Virginia Tech.

"I've grown up a fan of football," said Williams, who signed to play basketball at Georgia and also considered Alabama and Auburn. "My dad and I used to sit on the front porch and listen to Georgia football games on the radio.

"So, there's a long history of [me] seeing and being a part of good football. At Georgia over the past 13 years, [with] various levels of involvement, I have seen a lot in regards to football."

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

The question hung as heavily as the air over Spokane on Thursday:

Should I run outside or stay indoors?

Is it better to settle for something less on the treadmill, or take my chances and perhaps let something worse settle in my lungs?

The answer: It depends.

For the third day in a row, Spokane's Air Quality Index was suspended in the 150s range — a gray zone for anyone contemplating strenuous outdoor activity.

Most public agencies — from health districts to schools and parks — have established an index of 150 as the dividing line for allowing outdoor activities.

At 149 or below, all is well. Any higher means pool closures, indoor practices for sports teams and tough choices for everyone else who prefers to play outdoors.

And with more of the same warm weather expected through next week, every warmup will begin with a check of the AQI.

Dr. Bob Lutz, health officer for the Spokane Regional Health District and an avid runner, understands the dilemma.

"You tell yourself, 'I want to get out and do stuff,' but with these kinds of numbers ? we say that's going to be a concern for at-risk groups," Lutz said.

"For others, I wouldn't say that you can't do it — you don't know what you don't know," said Lutz, referring to long-term effects of strenuous exercise in the haze.

That didn't bother Heidi McAdams, who was running briskly past the pond at Manito Park.

"I'm going by how I feel," said McAdams, a Tacoma resident and marathoner who was visiting her pregnant daughter. "Yesterday I didn't go out, but today I'm testing the waters, and it will have an effect on what I do tomorrow."

The rest of the family — including a husband with breathing problems — remained indoors. But after two days of inactivity, that was too long for McAdams.

After suffering from depression for 25 years, she discovered the joys of running and other lifestyle changes.

"I get so much joy from endorphins," said McAdams, who is training for the 21-mile Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Run on October.

Seconds later, McAdams passed Spokane resident Micah Dunlap near the Japanese Garden.

"I just want to get my run in, and it doesn't seem too bad," said Dunlap, who said he checks the Air Quality Index every morning.

"It hasn't bothered me yet," said Dunlap, who know knows that winter will be here soon enough.

"We have such limited time outside," she said.

That's also true for families — several were gathered Thursday morning at the Manito playgrounds — but that's where Lutz draws a sharper line.

"Children breathe more rapidly and their systems are still developing, so I would strongly encourage parents to reconsider taking their kids to the park in these conditions," Lutz said.

Likewise, Lutz hopes that family members and neighbors are aware that seniors and others with medical issues may need help.

"Perhaps running errands, or just checking on them from time to time," Lutz suggested.

For everyone else, "I just encourage them to be cautious," Lutz said. "If you can limit outdoor activities and go indoors, I would encourage that."

That's a tough sell for sports teams. With the high school and college football seasons only two weeks away, teams are heading indoors or out of town.

On Monday, the Eastern Washington University football team fled hazy Cheney for clearer skies in Pullman.

The Eagles were back the rest of the week. Meanwhile, Whitworth opened fall camp outdoors on Sunday, then practiced indoors for three days before traveling to Colfax on Thursday afternoon.

High schools in the Greater Spokane League are bound by strict adherence to the 150 mark. On Wednesday night, the Gonzaga Prep football team got in one hour of outdoor work before the AQI crept up too high and forced the Bullpups indoors.

High readings downtown also affected teams in Mead, where the AQI was in the 120s and 130s on Wednesday and Thursday. By GSL rules, if one team is forced indoors, so are the others.

Perhaps the most strenuous event of the month, the Spokane to Sandpoint Relay, begins on Friday. The 200-mile event was still a go as of Thursday afternoon.

Contact the writer: (509)459-5437, jima@spokesman.com

 

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Provo — Getting around LaVell Edwards Stadium will be a bit easier in the future.

BYU announced Wednesday that it will be making several improvements to the stadium at the end of the 2018 season, but won't increase its capacity, which currently sits at 63,470.

Most notably, BYU will add structural sections at the four corners of the stadium to connect the stands at the mezzanine level. The sections, which will not include seating, will let fans walk between the stands without having to return to ground level.

An artistic rendering of the plan is not yet available but should be within the next few months, according to a school news release. The project is still in the design process and construction will begin at the latter end of the football season, but will not impact game-day access.

It is the first major renovation since 2012, when new LED video boards replaced the existing scoreboards in the north and south end zones and video ribbons were added that stretched along the top of the north and south stands.

Also, the elevator shafts were painted blue and topped with the oval Y logo.

In 2010, capacity was reduced to its current number when the stadium was altered to allow for more wheelchair accessibility.

The project to add walkways between the four separate stands will also increase the number of restrooms by adding women's, men's and family-friendly facilities on the north and south mezzanine levels. It is expected to be completed before the 2019 season begins.

At June's Football Media Day, athletic director Tom Holmoe announced a variety of upgrades to the fan experience that already are in place or will be in place before the home opener on Sept. 8 against California.

The upgrades include a state-of-the-art, large-venue WiFi system similar to many used in NFL stadiums. With that improved mobile connectivity in place, BYU has launched a new game-day mobile application built specifically for the stadium.

The app will provide real-time statistics, on-demand highlight videos, social media components and more.

BYU has also adopted the NFL's clear bag policy for all home games. Approved bags must be made of clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and should not exceed 12 x 6 x 12 inches. Season ticket holders have received a BYU-branded clear bag with their season tickets.

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Copyright 2018 Times-World, LLC
All Rights Reserved

The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

The father of Jordan McNair, the 19-year-old Maryland football player who died of heatstroke weeks after collapsing at practice in May, called for the firing of Terps head football coach DJ Durkin Thursday.

In an interview with Michael Strahan on ABC's "Good Morning America," Martin McNair said the coach — who is on administrative leave along with three other staff members pending a review of the team's culture — should not return to the sidelines in College Park, or anywhere else.

"He shouldn't be able to work with anybody else's kid," he said. "Of course he should be fired."

The 19-year-old died in June, two weeks after he had trouble finishing a conditioning test that consisted of 10 110-yard sprints.

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh and athletic director Damon Evans met with McNair's parents to apologize and take "legal and moral responsibility" for the circumstances leading to his death, Loh said this week.

During the "Good Morning America" interview, McNair's mother, Tonya Wilson, said if the program has the "toxic culture" that has been referenced in ESPN reports, she is sure her son would have pushed himself as hard as he could to make sure he fit in — even to his detriment.

"He would give his all," Wilson said. "He would give his best because someone had asked him to do something. He wouldn't've stopped."

Hassan Murphy, an attorney for the family, said he had "no doubt" that such a culture existed on the practice field.

"It's what led them to push Jordan beyond what his body was able to tolerate," Murphy said.

McNair's father said he hadn't been in the hospital since he was born.

"Here was a kid that was healthy for 19 years," he said. "He worked hard every day at all games, never missed a game, never missed a practice. Initially, it was hard to wrap our minds around the severity of a heat stroke."

Martin McNair's father said parents teach their children that hard work will lead to success, and that he and Wilson sent their son to the university and its football staff, trusting they would "keep him safe."

"They did anything but," he said.

Taggart still won't pick starting QB for FSU

BRADENTON, Fla. — Florida State wrapped up four days of training camp at IMG Academy with coach Willie Taggart saying the Seminoles accomplished several things as they prepare for their season opener against Virginia Tech.

"I thought we got a lot done," Taggart said Thursday. "I'm really impressed with the way the guys competed in practice. Plays that they're not familiar with, we got better."

What Taggart wasn't ready to announce, though, is his starting quarterback.

Redshirt junior Deondre Francois, sophomore James Blackman and redshirt freshman Bailey Hockman are competing for the job. All three have been taking snaps with the first team.

Taggart said he's looking for playmaking and leadership.

"Part of it is getting the ball to the right guys, some of it is just building them up and encouraging them to do the things they are supposed to," Taggart said. "But a lot of it comes down to playmaking. As a quarterback, you can make a receiver better by putting the ball on him."

Taggart said the trip also helped build chemistry within the team. The Seminoles, who signed a multi-year agreement to host a portion of preseason camp at IMG. headed back to Tallahassee after Thursday's practice.

"I thought we got a lot closer as a football team," Taggart said. "You see 30 guys on their down time just hanging and being around each other having fun."

Meanwhile, Taggart announced defensive end Tre Lawson is no longer with the team.

Lawson, a redshirt freshman, did not make the trip to IMG. Offensive lineman Cole Minshew did not practice, but Taggart expects him to be ready for the opener.

 

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

 

Holed up: Gym owner accused of violating consumer laws arrested after police spent two hours trying to get him to come out.

A man accused of operating an unregistered health club in Newton appeared in court Thursday after state and local police spent nearly two hours trying to get him to surrender while he was holed up inside the gym.

CrossFit Affirmation owner Thomas Lavigne was arraigned in Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood on a misdemeanor charge alleging that he continued to operate the gym at 4A Puzzle Lane, Unit 3, despite a court order issued on July 31 prohibiting him from running the business until it was registered with the Attorney General's office.

The order also barred Lavigne from accepting any membership fees from customers until the gym was properly registered and imposed $40,000 in fines for violations of the Consumer Protection Act, $5,000 for failing to comply with a subpoena from the Attorney General's office, and $3,701 as reimbursement to the state for its investigation.

The Attorney General's office began investigating in April after receiving a call from someone asking if the gym was registered. Lavigne failed to show up for his arraignment on the criminal charge Monday, prompting a warrant for his arrest that was executed by police Wednesday while he was at the gym.

According to Senior Assistant Attorney General James Boffetti, chief of the state's Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau, Newton police and state police showed up at the gym just after 4 p.m. Wednesday to arrest him before members were scheduled to arrive for classes.

Boffetti said Lavigne ran back inside the building when a state trooper spotted him coming out a back door and ordered him to stop.

Police used sirens to try to get him to come out, Boffetti said, but officers never entered the building. Lavigne came out on his own about two hours later, but resisted arrest and refused to cooperate during the booking process, he said.

Some gym members arrived while police were at the facility. Boffetti said one member expressed concern because Lavigne has his credit card number.

Lavigne, who decided to represent himself at Thursday's arraignment, refused to answer some questions from Judge N. William Delker or gave answers that made little sense.

When Delker referred to him by his last name, Lavigne responded, "I am a living man known as Tom."

Lavigne later told the court, "I do not consent to being detained or touched."

Delker ordered him removed from the court at one point, but he returned a short time later and the arraignment continued.

Lavigne, who said he doesn't currently have a permanent residence, was released from jail on $5,000 personal recognizance bail with several conditions.

The court order issued in July found Lavigne violated the Consumer Protection Act by failing to register as a health club; soliciting memberships for terms of more than a year, which isn't allowed; failing to disclose membership liability for purposes of bonding to protect prepaid membership dues; and failing to provide members with contracts with consumer protection disclosures and buyer's rights that are required by law.

According to Boffetti, Lavigne's gym website at one point advertised lifetime/platinum memberships of between $5,000 and $7,500 each. By law, health club term contracts are limited to a year or less and aren't allowed to contain an automatic renewal clause for a period of more than a month.

In court Thursday, Lavigne said any money from lifetime memberships was collected in Massachusetts before the business opened and that it was all spent on equipment.

Lavigne began an online fundraising campaign to open a new gym on the website GoFundMe in March 2017.

In the description of the fundraiser, he identified himself and wrote that he was director of "CrossFit Cedardale" in Haverhill, Mass., until Cedardale Health and Fitness was damaged in a fire and he lost his job.

"In additon (sic) to that due to my citizenship as a Free American National I am unable to recieve (sic) unemployment benefits. With that said I am doing everything in my power to find opportunities that will allow me to not only be self sufficient but to thrive in the coming months and years," he wrote, in part.

Lavigne explained that the fund, which raised $1,687, would help him pay his bills while searching for space for a new gym and that anything left over would be used for new equipment in the gym.

It's not clear whether Lavigne will have to refund any membership fees. Boffetti said he doesn't know how many members use the gym and exactly how much they paid.

Boffetti asked any members who may be concerned about refunds to call his office at 271-0302.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

As college football season approaches, Urban Meyer and DJ Durkin are dangling by a thread. One coach far more famous than the other, both irreparably weakened, they are destined to be viewed more as villain than hero as time passes, the power and platform they thought was always going to be theirs disappearing by the day even if they survive and keep their jobs — which they should not.

If they practiced what they preached, Ohio State's Meyer and Maryland's Durkin would already be gone. They wouldn't have waited for investigators to tell them what they already know: that they failed miserably as teachers of student-athletes and representatives of their university. If they paid attention to their own mighty locker room bluster about team and family and molding young men in their image, they would have acknowledged their failures and quit by now.

But Meyer and Durkin are not the kind of good men they are trying to teach their players to be. They are lawyered-up opportunists seemingly incapable of shame. If they survive, and Meyer at least just might, we should never forget that.

Meyer harbored on his staff an assistant coach, Zach Smith, who physically abused his wife, Courtney Smith. Meyer said he knew about a 2009 incident when he was head coach at Florida and Zach Smith was one of his assistants in which Smith was arrested for aggravated battery against Courtney, who was pregnant at the time. A few years later, Meyer became head coach at Ohio State and brought Smith with him.

In 2014, the Ray Rice scandal turned domestic violence into a national conversation, but Meyer still didn't get rid of Smith. In 2015, police twice went to Smith's home to investigate reports of domestic abuse. Again, Smith remained on Meyer's staff.

Meyer finally fired Smith this summer, nine years after first learning about his abuse of his wife. He then belligerently lied about it to the news media and millions of football fans before finally being caught by journalist Brett McMurphy and forced to tell the truth, or, hopefully, at least a little bit of it.

What Meyer did was bad. What Durkin didn't do was worse.

He failed to help a 19-year-old student who was in such physical distress at a May 29 practice Durkin was in charge of that the young man, Jordan McNair, died two weeks later.

Of course Durkin knows what he and his staff did and didn't do to help McNair. He has known for 21/2 months. Yet it wasn't until Aug. 10 that the public found out how terribly he and his staff had erred.

How did we find out? Did Durkin come clean? Of course he did not. It took more journalists to tell us, this time from ESPN.

When we hear of the self-serving failures of Meyer and Durkin, whose reflex was to defend their programs and their quest for bowl games and championships rather than look out for the human beings in their midst, it's natural to wonder where else trouble might be lurking. Every college program? Most? Some?

Will Muschamp, South Carolina's football coach, might have given us a clue the other day when he was asked about Durkin, one of his former assistant coaches, and what's going on at Maryland.

Did Muschamp immediately express sadness and concern for a dead teenager? No, it took him 48 hours to do that. His initial instinct was to attack ESPN, calling its use of some anonymous sources "gutless," and saying, ridiculously, that there is "no credibility in anonymous sources." Hmmm. Watergate, anyone?

What in the world is wrong with these football coaches, and with us for allowing them to be this way? Meyer and Durkin didn't just fail as coaches and leaders of young men, they failed as human beings.

Durkin likely won't survive, and shouldn't, but Meyer might. If he does, what an interesting situation that will present. Meyer, as sanctimonious a man as exists in college football, has never hesitated to suspend his players for actions as varied as public urination and drunken driving. He also hasn't hesitated to speak out about the transgressions of his rival coaches.

So, what would that Urban Meyer say about this Urban Meyer?

He'd probably call him a fraud.

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

A "Rally To Save Lobo Sports" has been organized for 6 p.m. today at the UNM Student Union Building mall area between the front of Popejoy Hall and the SUB's south entrance.

The organizers say the rally will "call for the reconsideration of cuts by the UNM Regents to the UNM athletics program eliminating (men's) soccer, men's and women's skiing and beach volleyball."

The statement also reads, "The rally... will demonstrate support for our student-athletes, and to urge UNM's leaders to vote to keep all of our current Lobo teams."

The regents on July 19 voted 6-0 to approve a proposal from UNM President Garnett Stokes and Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez to eliminate the four sports while drastically altering the rosters of others, including phasing out the entire diving portion of the women's swimming and diving team.

The decision, they said, was based on three factors: finances (they aimed to save $1.9 million annually, but fell short of that mark with the cuts), to be compliant with federal Title IX gender equity mandates (UNM is currently far from compliant), and to align with Mountain West Conference affiliation (all four sports cut are not in the Mountain West while UNM's 18 remaining sports are in that league).

Since the vote, heavy community outcry and political criticism has come, including from lawmakers who said UNM should have asked for state funding and from Attorney General Hector Balderas, who ruled the regents violated the state's Open Meetings Act in July by not posting an adequate agenda.

Meanwhile, a petition to the regents on the website Change.org that started in April and is titled "Save UNM Mens Soccer!!" had 15,263 signatures as of Wednesday night.

UNM's men's soccer team won't be at the rally or at Friday's meeting as they are in Colorado to play two exhibition games (Wednesday at Denver University and Saturday at Air Force).

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Copyright 2018 Woodward Communications, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)

 

A baseball field and playground aimed at serving children and adults with disabilities could become a reality in Dubuque next year.

Miracle League of Dubuque hopes to begin construction in the spring, with the new ballfield and "all-inclusive" playground opening in the fall of 2019. Organizers have raised $2.2 million of their $3.5 million goal for the project, and they plan to seek a $500,000 state grant.

"We really would like to play our first Miracle League baseball game in the fall of 2019," said Merle Santjer, president of the board for Miracle League of Dubuque. "That's always been our objective."

Plans call for the construction of a baseball field in Veterans Memorial Park in Dubuque, along with a playground with equipment that can be used by children with different ability levels.

Officials also plan to construct a pavilion area that includes Americans-with-Disabilities-Act-accessible bathrooms, a quiet room, two classrooms, an ADA-accessible concessions stand and a family picnic area.

"It's very much family-oriented, and obviously, we're thinking of families that may be coming a half-hour to two hours away to watch a son, daughter, granddaughter play the game," Santjer said.

He said the closest comparable facility of which he is aware is located in Ankeny, Iowa. The national Miracle League counts more than 300 affiliated organizations globally, according to the organization's website.

Officials plan to seek a $500,000 grant through Iowa Economic Development Authority. As part of that, they are asking the City of Dubuque and Dubuque County to each agree to donate 10 percent of the amount received from the state in the grant.

As part of the grant application, Miracle League officials are required to line up cash contributions from both the city and county.

The rest of the needed money will be raised through private donations and other grants, Santjer said.

Earlier this week, Santjer and Tom Witry, who helped launch the Miracle League of Dubuque effort, spoke with the county Board of Supervisors about their plans to apply for the state grant.

The supervisors expressed their support for the project, particularly noting how much of the funds had been raised through private dollars.

"It's going to be a destination for Dubuque County, for this area, so I think it's a great project," said Supervisor Dave Baker.

Miracle League of Dubuque officials intend to give the facility to the City of Dubuque once it is completed and turn responsibility for programming and maintenance over to the city, Santjer said.

The group is working with city staff on an operating agreement outlining how that would work.

Dubuque Leisure Services Manager Marie Ware said the agreement between the two entities still is being negotiated.

She said working with the Miracle League of Dubuque board has been exciting and that the plan is an "amazing" one for the community.

"It's a project we're all excited about, and you have to work through this stuff that you work through to get to the fun stuff," Ware said. "Really soon here, we're going to get to the fun stuff."

Santjer said he was encouraged to see support for the project across the community.

"We have many corporations, businesses, as well as individuals and volunteers, that believe in the vision of Miracle League, to have this kind of facility locally to benefit children who have special needs and their families," he said.

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

COLLEGE PARK — The University of Maryland football program opened a portion of Wednesday's practice to the media for the first time all summer, a noteworthy decision after the school took full responsibility for the death of former player Jordan McNair.

Two "cooling tents" were set up on the campus practice fields where there had been none before, and Matt Canada spoke for the first time as interim head coach, emphasizing how the players have weathered the recent period of turmoil.

"Our practices have been extremely crisp," Canada said. "The focus on our players' health and safety is No. 1. And our players are feeling that and understanding that, and that's our primary focus."

The Terrapins practiced for an hour and 46 minutes Tuesday with two breaks, Canada said, and a similar plan was in place for Wednesday's session. The practice was open to reporters from 12 to 12:30 p.m.

One cooling tent was located on each field, accessible to the offensive and defensive players, respectively. In addition to providing shade from the summer heat, they included fans, ice buckets and coolers with water, Gatorade and snacks. Training staff still drove utility vehicles around to hand Gatorade bottles to players, a practice that had been in place before, a Maryland spokesman said.

The updates and the effort for transparency came after a regrettable five days for the football program. Head coach DJ Durkin and other staffers were placed on leave Saturday after an ESPN investigative report brought light to allegations of excessive verbal abuse and a "toxic culture" under Durkin's tenure.

University officials released preliminary findings from the independent investigation into McNair's death, saying Tuesday that the 19-year-old was not properly treated for the heat illness he experienced before collapsing at a May practice.

Strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, the subject of many abuse claims, also announced his resignation Tuesday. Canada said assistant strength and conditioning coach Mason Baggett has taken charge of the weight room.

Canada first spoke to the Terrapins as their interim coach Saturday at a team meeting.

"I briefly addressed the football team and told them this was a challenging situation, we're all in it together, we're gonna work through it together and we need to consult with each other, talk to each other, lean on each other, be with each other, talk to your families," Canada said. "And whatever they needed from us as a staff, we were there. That was as brief as it was at the time."

The team's culture right now is "awesome," Canada claimed, and players are "loving each other" and still grieving for McNair.

"No matter what else comes out of this conversation, I want that to be echoed, that our players are special, they're doing a great job sticking together, they're excited to play football on Sept. 1 and we as a staff are really excited to get to watch them play," he said.

Canada also said he called Durkin to offer his support "in a situation that's really challenging," but he declined to give more details.

Maryland hired Canada in January after offensive coordinator Walt Bell left to take the same job at Florida State. Canada served as offensive coordinator at six other Division I FBS schools, most recently Louisiana State, before coming to Maryland. But this is his first time serving as head coach of any team an unusual way to take up that mantle.

Canada and athletic director Damon Evans arranged a parents' meeting Saturday, coinciding with a team scrimmage.

"I've talked to a couple parents and I've been very open and honest, which is the only way to be," Canada said. "Everybody's concerns right now are very wide-ranging.... Our parents and our players want to have a good football season. That's what they're focused on."

Maryland opens its season Sept. 1 against Texas at FedEx Field.

Meanwhile, players and coaches who've associated with or played for Durkin continue to speak up about their experiences, leading to a mixed bag of support and criticism.

Local media at a Florida State practice asked Bell about his experience in College Park. Without directly mentioning Durkin or Maryland's program in his answer, Bell implied it was not a pleasant place to coach.

"I'm excited to be at a place where our kids smile at practice, they have a great time at practice, and they work for a head football coach (Willie Taggart) that kind of instills that family atmosphere in our organization," Bell said.

Cleveland Browns safety Jabrill Peppers played at Michigan when Durkin was the Wolverines' defensive coordinator. Peppers told "The Rich Eisen Show" that he thought Durkin used "extreme" tactics that he didn't like, describing it as "bully coaching."

On the other hand, some former players continue to say they had no problem with Durkin's style, even if it was demanding.

Will Muschamp, who had Durkin on his staff at Florida, was the first to defend the coach by accusing anonymous players cited in the ESPN story of wanting payback for lack of playing time. And Jim Harbaugh, Durkin's boss at Stanford and Michigan, declined to comment on Durkin's style when asked.

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

The dictionary has a new picture next to the word "inexcusable."

It's a turtle on its hind legs clutching a red 'M' to its chest under a University of Maryland banner.

As it turns out, the identical image appears in three other places in the dictionary: alongside the definition of indefensible, reprehensible and unjustifiable.

Mistakes happen. But the circumstances of 19-year-old Jordan McNair's death can't be dismissed with a simple "my bad." Maryland's football staff betrayed the former offensive lineman so blatantly, it seems almost willful.

No, I don't believe the team officials present at McNair's fateful May 29 workout wanted him to die. I suspect that coach DJ Durkin, former strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, head athletic trainer Wes Robinson and other staffers on hand would claim they loved McNair like a son, because a football team is family.

But their inaction before, during and after McNair's final team activity tells a different story.

It says they, literally, couldn't care less.

We're talking about the most basic expression of concern. They could've demonstrated that bare minimum by ensuring that a few simple items were on hand.

Water. Ice. And a 300-gallon Rubbermaid tub.

Having those items in place during a preseason practice likely saved the life of a Towson University lineman five years ago this month. When Gavin Class began struggling and collapsed during a series of sprints, Towson's staff sprang into action.

They called 911 immediately and carried him several yards to one of four cold tubs they keep on hand. Paramedics arrived after 10 minutes and transported him to the hospital, where his temperature was recorded at 108 degrees.

Doctors said it certainly must've been higher before he was immersed in cold water and he probably wouldn't have survived otherwise.

Contrast that rapid response with Maryland's sluggish reaction when McNair showed signs of distress.

The 911 call wasn't made promptly, perhaps nearly an hour late. The cold-water immersion didn't happen at all. McNair's temperature reportedly was 106 degrees when he arrived at the hospital and he died two weeks later.

Health experts armed with a significant amount of data suggest that such deaths are unnecessary and avoidable. There's a consensus that heatstroke is "100 percent survivable when it is treated aggressively and appropriately," Rebecca Stearns told USA Today.

Stearns is the COO of Korey Stringer Foundation, an organization named after the Minnesota Vikings lineman whose 2001 death led to increased awareness on the dangers of heatstroke, especially during summer football conditioning. The Korey Stringer Institute helped write the heatstroke section in the NCAA's sports medicine handbook.

"A delay in treatment can be fatal," the handbook warns. It advises that training staffs should have an emergency action plan that includes "immediate cooling of the body with cold water immersion."

The National Athletic Trainers' Association has a list of recommendations on addressing exertional heat illnesses. "Aggressive and immediate whole-body cooling is the key to optimizing treatment," according to the task force, adding that cold-water immersion "should be initiated within minutes post-incident."

Towson's staff knew that and acted accordingly.

Maryland's staff?

"Some of our policies and protocols do not conform to best practices," Maryland president Wallace D. Loh said Tuesday at a news conference. "Our athletic training staff basically misdiagnosed the situation. No vital signs were taken; other safeguard measures that should've been taken were not."

How does that happen in 2018 at a supposedly world-class university? Did the staff know the best practices and disregard them? Or were the best practices ignored because the staff was unaware of them?

Whatever the answer, it's untenable.

Court resigned before he could be fired. Robinson and an assistant trainer remain on administrative leave, but they can't return. Neither can Durkin, who previously claimed to be in lockstep with Court.

Athletic director Damon Evans might keep his job, but there's a good argument for putting him on administrative leave before giving him the boot, too. He's been on campus since 2014, served as the administration's liaison to the football program and was named interim AD in October 2016.

"I believe I'm the one to lead us through this very difficult time," Evans said at Tuesday's news conference.

Someone has to do it.

If Evans survives, he better ensure that the next coach is concerned enough to shun trainers who are incompetent, at best, or immoral, at worst.

McNair paid the ultimate price for the current regime's incomprehensible indifference.

Not another Maryland athlete should suffer that fate ever again.

Loh and Evans can apologize to McNair's parents until the end of time.

But there's no excuse for what happened.

There's just a whole lot of shame.

• Deron Snyder writes his column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Boston — Simone Biles is not here to save gymnastics. Or at least USA Gymnastics.

The reigning Olympic champion understands how bumpy of a ride it has been for her sport's national governing body since she stepped off the podium in Rio de Janeiro two years ago, a fourth Olympic gold medal around her neck and the world at her feet.

Biles doesn't really care.

The 21-year-old revealed in January she is among the hundreds of athletes who were abused by Larry Nassar under the guise of medical treatment. The longtime former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State team doctor Larry Nassar is serving an effective life sentence after being convicted of federal child pornography and state sexual abuse charges. The fallout, which began in the fall of 2016 when the first victims came out publicly, continues to consume one of the U.S. Olympic movement's marquee programs nearly two years later.

It's put athletes like Biles in a tough spot. There's been so much chaos atop the organization they compete for — including a nearly complete overhaul among the leadership , numerous legal battles and murky details on how to implement the necessary changes in the wake of the Nassar scandal — that they're not sure how to respond.

Asked Wednesday if thinks USA Gymnastics is headed down the right path, Biles offered an answer that spoke volumes about the iffy confidence in the new president Kerry Perry and a recently reappointed board.

"That's a good question," Biles said as she prepared for the U.S. championships that begin Friday at the new Boston Garden. "I'm not so sure yet. Hopefully, it's going in the right direction but nobody can know until Kerry Perry speaks up. It's kind of hard."

Asked if she thinks it's time for Perry to take on a more public persona, Biles responded simply "yes, it's her job."

Maybe, but it's one that Perry has largely sidestepped since being hired last fall to replace Steve Penny, who resigned under pressure in March 2017.

"My focus is going to be creating an environment of empowerment where all have a strong voice and we are dedicated every single day on athlete safety," Perry said on the day she was hired last November.

Yet in the eight-plus months since taking over, one of the voices that seems to be missing is Perry's. Though she has made a concerted effort to visit as many of the 3,546 member gyms across the country since taking over, she's only put a small dent in that number. When it comes to becoming the public face of the organization, she's stayed in the shadows.

Outside of a couple of appearances in front of lawmakers on Capitol Hill and brief remarks on a teleconferences with reporters, Perry has yet to articulate a way forward outside of generic and carefully crafted open letters. There is a growing sense of frustration not just among athletes at the elite level but also among the gym owners and operators that serve as the organization's lifeblood.

"The communication from the top down has been really reactive and disjointed," said Kim Ransom, who runs Pittsburgh Gymnastics Club in the eastern exurb of Braddock. "We get mass emails kind of bombed to us when there's a catastrophe in the news and it's sort of just feels very forced and contrived... It feels like nobody is being real with us."

Ransom's gym is like many of the 3,546 across the country that count themselves as USA Gymnastics member clubs. The odds of the next Biles or Raisman walking through the door are slim. The business is a passion project where Ransom and her small staff coach about 200 or so kids. She wants to do things the right way, but feels she's spent most of the last two years in the dark even as USA Gymnastics has tried to implement the more than 70 recommendations made by former federal prosecutor Deborah Daniels in an independent report released in June of 2017.

"I would like to know when they're rolling out new policies and things member are supposed to abide but it needs to be black and white," Ransom said. "Things need to be much more clear."

Ransom is hardly the only one either confused, angry or both.

Mark Williams, who has guided the Oklahoma men's program to nine NCAA championships and served as the coach of the U.S. Olympic team in 2016, believes the organization is too busy "choosing what they can and can't say by the advice of lawyers rather than necessarily doing the right thing, saying the right thing, coming out and changing things because that's what needs to happen."

That includes assuring the parents and guardians of the more than 169,000 athletes in the organization that they're taking the necessary steps to make sure the circumstances that allowed Nassar to run unchecked for so long never happens again -- at any gym, at any level.

"Putting out a statement that says nothing really doesn't help the club programs that are looking for direction on this whole issue," Williams said. "We want to bring comfort back to parents that their kids are going to be safe doing gymnastics."

Maybe, but enrollment numbers seem to highlight a separation of what happened with Nassar at the sport's highest levels and what is happening locally. USA Gymnastics membership numbers climbed by nearly 4 percent between 2017 and 2018.

"It's really not affecting the everyday," said Haney, who now coaches 40 athletes at the gym she works out of in Monmouth, New Jersey.

Still, Haney called the Nassar fallout a "black cloud" that won't go away. USA Gymnastics ran a more limited international schedule this year and there has been so much uncertainty that Haney has been forced to reassure Riley McCusker — who finished second to Biles at the US Classic last month and is expected to contend for the podium this weekend — that there will be a U.S. entry at the 2018 world championships.

"It's unfortunate that we have to have that conversation with them," Haney said. "It's sad that we have to reassure them that we're going to send a team out. I think throughout this year I was probably not the only coach telling their athlete that."

The athletes aren't the only ones who are uncertain.

Sponsors that used to flock to align themselves with a program that has been the dominant force in its sport over the last decade have fled. Though there is a feeling inside USA Gymnastics that they will return when the legal battles end, for now they are sitting out. The proof is on the ribbon boards around TD Garden.

At the high-profile where Visa and Proctor & Gamble once served as the title sponsors, the only corporate sponsorship visible inside the arena is a couple of small black-and-white signs that read "Team USA Summer Champions Series Presented by Xfinity," part of a deal between the cable company and the U.S. Olympic Committee, not USA Gymnastics.

Having advertisers lined up isn't an issue for Biles, who parlayed her success in Rio and cheerful charisma into lucrative deals that have helped make her a household name.

She's got enough on her plate at the moment as she tries to become the first woman in more than 50 years to repeat as Olympic champion. The problems surrounding USA Gymnastics are not her problems. She understands there's an urge to portray her as the hero. That's not the case. She understands what her return means to fans. That she's fine with.

The rest? Not so much.

"No, it's not fair to me because I can't carry the whole gymnastics world on me," Biles said. "But I guess it's kind of exciting I can bring some happiness back to the sport."

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

 

Another northern Virginia high school is suspending its varsity football program for the 2018 season due to a lack of participation.

Manassas Park High School will play a junior varsity schedule, principal Pamela Kalso wrote in a letter to parents. Team practices were routinely drawing only 15 players, she said, which raised safety concerns.

"In consultation with the (Virginia High School League)," she wrote, "their recommendation is that no member school which has less than 25 students physically fit and eligible for participation engage in varsity football."

There is a "strong plan" in place, she said, to revive the team in 2019.

Manassas Park is the second area program in recent weeks to drop its varsity football team. Park View High in Sterling canceled its varsity schedule after only 18 players reported for tryouts.

"Given the competitive nature of Park View's schedule, we didn't want the players exposed to a heightened risk of injury," Loudoun County Public Schools information officer Wayde Byard said.

He added that in the 18 years he has worked for the county school system, this is the first time a varsity football team has folded.

The declines come amid the sport's struggles nationwide. High school football has battled in some communities to maintain a foothold.

Centennial High School in Ellicott City, Md., disbanded its varsity squad last year amid similar issues.

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

SEATTLE - The Seattle Storm reached an agreement with the University of Washington to play 2019 regular-season games at Alaska Airlines Arena while KeyArena undergoes a two-year $700 million renovation.

Co-owner Lisa Brummel characterized the deal as a one-year "trial" and added "assuming it goes well... we'd like to continue for 2020."

For at least a year, Alaska Airlines Arena becomes the primary site for the Storm, but it's uncertain how many of its 17 regular-season home games will be on campus.

Additionally, there are no guarantees the building will be available if the Storm advances to the postseason.

"We're hopeful we can play there during the playoffs, (but) now you're really running into volleyball season," Brummel said.

"We typically play on days where where volleyball and football haven't played."

Seattle's 2019 schedule will be released along with the WNBA schedule at a later date.

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Copyright 2018 Orange County Register
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Orange County Register (California)

 

LOS ANGELES— USC's football team and the Rams will continue to play their home games at the Coliseum this fall, though the stadium remains under construction until the 2019 season.

The school's $300 million renovation of the historic stadium began in January and is more than halfway toward its scheduled completion, officials said Wednesday.

Lynn Swann, the Trojans' third-year athletic director, acknowledged potential challenges for fans who attend games in 2018 due to the ongoing construction.

"Growing paints, if you will," Swann said, "but I think we'll get through it."

The renovation began with the removal of about 12,000 midfield seats on the south side, most of them to make room for the building of a so-called scholarship tower filled with luxury boxes, club seats and a press box. A pair of yellow cranes currently hang over the construction zone. The tower will continue to be constructed through the rest of the year, above new seats that were added in the first 40 rows along the south sideline.

The Rams play the first game at the stadium Saturday when they host the Oakland Raiders in their second NFL preseason game.

USC opens its season on Sept. 1 against UNLV.

"The biggest change for fans is they gotta get ready for a brand-new Coliseum," said Kevin Daly, the director of events and customer service at the Coliseum. "It's gonna be awesome. They're going to come in, see those new seats and picture it around the entire bowl and realize it's not the venue your grandfather came to. We've elevated the experience and we're getting ready for a whole new era here."

Here's a look at the most significant changes at the Coliseum for the 2018 season.

LESS PARKING>> Parking lots in Exposition Park surrounding the Coliseum will be reserved for permit holders in 2018. Public parking is not available.

It is due to the ongoing construction of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, to the west of the stadium, which has eliminated more than 1,000 parking spaces. About 1,500 parking spaces are ultimately expected to be added for 2019. With the museum construction, 39th Street between Vermont Avenue and Bill Robertson Lane, previously an entrance into Exposition Park, will be closed.

Officials said they encourage fans to use public transportation and carpool if possible.

STADIUM ENTRANCE>> The concourse level will be closed between Tunnels 5 and 9, situated below the under-construction scholarship tower on the south side, restricting fans from walking around the stadium.

Officials said fans should enter the stadium through the suggested entry gate that is printed on each ticket to more easily access their seats and arrive early.

NEW VIEWING TERRACES>> A pair of viewing terraces were added in the northeast and southwest corners of the stadium.

The northeast terrace includes standing room for students and the southeast terrace for Trojan Athletic Fund members.

ADJUSTED CAPACITY>> The official capacity of the Coliseum will be 78,467 during the renovation, a drop from about 92,500 last season.

When the renovation is completed in 2019, capacity will be at about 77,500.

TICKET USE>> The Rams will require fans to use mobile or physical tickets due to a new NFL policy prohibiting print-at-home PDF tickets.

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

NBA expansion is coming to Atlanta.

The Hawks will be one of four franchises added to the NBA 2K League by joining the esport next year for its second season. The Hawks, Nets, Lakers and Timber-wolves will bring the total to 21 of the 30 NBA franchises to participate in the joint venture with Take-Two Interactive as a professional league playing the NBA 2K video game.

The NBA 2K League is nearing the conclusion of its inaugural season. A number of major projects prevented the Hawks from being a part of the considerable venture from the start. The day they could join for the second season, the Hawks were all in.

"We only sat on the sidelines because of the scale of the practice facility, the arena transformation and our (G League team and arena in) College Park project,"Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said. "We thought we would take the year to observe, learn, visit and talk to teams. We have traveled and met with teams and met with several folks to learn because it is the first professional sports league to have an esports league. We were the first to raise our hands because we believe this is a way not only to extend the Hawks season but to extend the Hawks brand."

Koonin says 99 percent of NBA fans never walk into an arena on a global basis. The esport league gives the Hawks a chance to reach fans, old and new, and offers advertising, promotional, sponsorship and content opportunities that didn't exist before.

The Hawks will announce the name of the NBA 2K League team Wednesday night. Other important aspects such as a team logo, color scheme and staffing will come later.

The NBA 2K League began in May with 102 players competing on the 17 teams. The 17-week season, with teams competing head-to-head, culminates with the championship Aug. 25 as the playoffs begin this week.

Teams must live in their home markets and compete in weekly 5-on-5 games with unique characters (not current NBA players) at the league studio in New York City. Games are streamed on Twitch.

The league began with two stages of qualifying from a field of 72,000 players. A field of 250 players was further reduced to the 102 who were eligible for a draft held in April at Madison Square Garden.

There will be an expansion draft in the fall for the new franchises.

"We're very excited about the four teams, but we're extremely confident that the other teams are eventually going to join the league," said Brendan Donahue, NBA 2K League managing director. "Many of them really kind of were back and forth this year before we got our final decisions. The league is a significant commitment, and we're actually glad that teams take that thought seriously."

The commitment is considerable with a $750,000 expansion cost. In addition, players receive a salary of up to $35,000 for the six-month season. They also receive housing and insurance. This season there is also an opportunity at a share of $1 million in prize money.

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Austin, Texas — Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt got a major boost to his effort to move the Major League Soccer club to Texas when the Austin City Council voted Wednesday to move ahead with a plan for a new, privately funded stadium on city land.

Precourt has been courting Austin for a potential move since late 2017 and has sought a deal to build a 20,000-seat stadium on 24 acres of city property in time for the 2021 MLS season.

Austin is the largest metropolitan area in the country without a major league sports franchise. The 7-4 vote allows city staff to "negotiate and execute" a stadium plan with Precourt Sports Ventures. The final contract would not need another council vote.

"It's been a long, emotional process," Precourt said. "We're thrilled to move forward. The work starts now and we're bringing Major League Soccer to Austin, Texas."

The San Francisco-based investor bought the Crew in 2013 and moving the team would uproot a bedrock MLS franchise that won the league championship in 2008. The Crew is in the hunt for a playoff berth this season. Precourt has said he wants to move because of poor attendance, lack of corporate support and an aging stadium in Columbus.

Precourt's plans have upset Crew fans in Ohio. Fan groups have rallied to try to save their team with pledges for future season tickets and pleas for local investors to step in to buy the team.

Ohio and Columbus officials have also sued Precourt and MLS to stop or slow down the move. Ohio law requires teams that use tax-supported facilities and accept state financial assistance to give six months' notice and give local investors a chance to buy the team. The law was enacted after the NFL's Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996.

"Precourt Sports Ventures and MLS still have an obligation under Ohio law to provide notice and a reasonable opportunity for local investors to purchase the rights to keep the Crew in Columbus. Our lawsuit will continue," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office said in a statement.

Precourt declined comment on the pending litigation and declined to offer details on his planned move. Previous proposals have the Crew in Austin by the 2019 season, but the team would need to find somewhere to play before the stadium is finished.

The Austin plan is strongly backed by Mayor Steve Adler, who said bringing professional soccer could help bridge racial and economic divides in the Texas capital.

"This city is excited about Major League Soccer. I am, too," Adler said. "I can't wait until we are all wearing the same jersey."

Precourt will pay for construction, pay rent, and must address local transportation needs to help get people to and from the stadium. The team will not have to pay property taxes.

The Austin stadium has critics who call it a giveaway of city property that could be used for affordable housing or parks. The land has been vacant for more than 20 years but is near a rapidly expanding, high-end retail and condominium project.

"A soccer stadium is a want, not a need," said council member Allison Alter. "Stadium deals represent a race to the bottom by cities."

MLS Commissioner Don Garber has said the league is reluctant to see one of the original franchises move, but has also backed Precourt's desire to look for a new home. The league declined comment on Wednesday's vote.

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

 

After a search that included more than 100 candidates from around the country, The Citadel has tapped someone already on campus as the Bulldogs' new athletic director.

Mike Capaccio, who has been serving as interim AD since mid-July in addition to his role as vice president for athletic development at The Citadel Foundation, will be the school's next AD, it was announced Wednesday.

"Mike Capaccio knows our program inside and out. His passion, energy and commitment to The Citadel make him ideal to fill this key leadership position," said Lt. Gen. John B. Sams, Jr., USAF (Ret.), interim president of The Citadel. "Mike has already served The Citadel well, is a former AD, knows our coaches, players and staff and believes in our mission to develop principled leaders. We are grateful he has agreed to let us remove the title 'interim' to take on the AD role fulltime."

Capaccio worked eight years at UNC Wilmington, including three years as athletic director. He was dismissed by UNCW in 2007 after UNCW and basketball coach Brad Brownell, now at Clemson, could not agree on a contract extension. Brownell left UNCW for Wright State.

Capaccio joined The Citadel in 2012 after working as chief executive officer of the Brunswick Community College Foundation in North Carolina.

"The Citadel was fortunate to have a strong field of highly qualified athletic director candidates from which to choose," said Daniel Bornstein, Ph.D., search committee chair and professor/researcher with The Citadel Department of Health and Human Performance. "Mike Capaccio came out on top and will serve our mission and our athletes well."

The Citadel worked with the firm Parker Executive Search to find a replacement for Jim Senter, now at UTEP. The search narrowed to a field of five finalists, with interviews concluded this week.

"Mike has been outstanding at developing relationships with donors and our Citadel community as vice president for athletic development at the foundation," said Dr. Jay Dowd III, The Citadel Foundation chief executive officer. "We look forward to working with him in his new role taking The Citadel Athletics Department to the next level."

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Copyright 2018 The Florida Times-Union

Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)

 

In the competitive world of high school sports — where a standout performance can lead to a lucrative college scholarship — many top student athletes want to get back into the game, even after getting injured.

That can be especially true with a concussion, a brain injury that doesn't always manifest immediately recognizable symptoms.

That's why the University of Miami Health System Concussion Program hosted a workshop on Aug. 1 to educate 120 athletic trainers in Miami-Dade public and private schools about concussion management, prevention, and awareness.

UM's concussion program partners with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the Miami Dolphins Foundation, the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the UM Miller School of Medicine, Ransom Everglades School, and Gulliver Schools.

"It's important that we educate youth programs so that parents and coaches know what to do," said Gillian Hotz, director of the UM concussion program, which has hosted the program for five years.

From UM's countywide high school program, which includes 35 public schools, about 200 concussions are reported per year, Hotz said.

In 2013, almost 330,000 youths 19 or younger were treated for a sports-related concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that number only includes diagnosed cases. The real number might be 50-75 percent higher as many athletes don't seek treatment, say UM concussion experts.

"The most commonly expressed view after a concussion or head injury is that the parent or athlete didn't know the signs and symptoms of a concussion," said Michelle Benz, the athletic trainer at Palmetto Senior High School in Pinecrest.

UM's program is educating trainers, coaches, parents, athletic directors, and most importantly, the student athletes.

"UM does this annual program every year that does a spectacular job of uniting us toward a common goal," Benz said.

The recent program at the Lennar Foundation Medical Center in Coral Gables included a demonstration of an assessment of a player who is pulled from play, a concussion-protocol review, a review of vestibular, or balance, issues associated with mild traumatic brain injuries, and baseline and post-testing tools used to assess concussions.

Although a concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury, one that goes untreated (or multiple instances) can result in permanent brain damage. Symptoms of a concussion include but are not limited to headaches, dizziness, confusion, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and sleeping difficulties.

"About 58 percent of concussions result from football," Hotz said. "The girls' concussions typically come from soccer and basketball."

Danielle Ransom, a clinical neuropsychologist and a UM assistant professor of neurology who specializes in sports-related concussions, led a workshop about testing. In baseline testing, student athletes are tested ahead of time so that if they get a concussion, doctors can examine the brain, pre and post injury, to assess any potential damage.

"We now have a grown awareness of concussions and doing this training every year ensures that our athletic trainers are up to date with recommendations and guidelines," Ransom said. "It's key to make sure that our student athletes are able to return to play safely."

The stigma around concussions is evolving, and the "let-them-play" mentality has become less common in recent years, Hotz said. Parents and coaches are much more hesitant to allow a child to play with a brain injury.

"Knowing that our athletes are better protected in the event of an injury has shown that they're not as fearful to come forward with a concussion," Ransom said.

Ransom urges student athletes to talk to their doctors and athletic directors about concussions to stay informed.

"Don't resort to Google," she said. "Enjoy your sport, this is your time to play, but play safely."

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

The head strength and conditioning coach of the Maryland Terrapins' football program resigned from his post in light of the allegations of abuse reported by ESPN.

While Court did not admit to any wrongdoing in a letter posted to Twitter Tuesday, he said he was "stepping down to allow the team to heal and move forward."

As many of you know, I resigned yesterday as the head strength coach 4 @TerpsFootball. I wanted 2 thank Coach Durkin & all of my colleagues & players for their support, love & commitment. I am blessed for the relationships I have built and wish nothing but success for our team. pic.twitter.com/llT2HABKUC

Coach Court ‼️ (@courtstrength) August 14, 2018

"Jordan McNair's life and death are what we must all remember to put first as we face the future," Court wrote. "What did we learn? How will we improve? What can we do to pay tribute to Jordan's life?"

The university provided preliminary findings from the independent investigation into Court's death Tuesday. Athletic director Damon Evans said that athletic training staff did not follow proper protocol for emergency response and did not identify or treat McNair's heat illness, which led to his death two weeks after he collapsed at a team workout.

An investigative report ESPN published Friday included allegations that Court was responsible for a "toxic" culture of fear and intimidation in Maryland's football program. Anonymous players said Court threw small weights in the direction of players, knocked a plate of food out of a player's hands and called an injured player a "p----" after he was made to compete in tug-of-war singlehandedly against the entire defensive backs unit.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Preliminary findings from an independent investigation of the death of University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair show medical personnel failed to immediately treat McNair for heatstroke when he fell ill during a supervised workout in May, Maryland athletics director Damon Evans said at a news conference on Tuesday.

"We have learned Jordan did not receive appropriate medical care and mistakes were made by athletic training personnel," Evans said.

Evans and university President Wallace D. Loh met with McNair's parents earlier Tuesday, and Loh repeated to reporters what he told them: "The university accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes that our training staff made on that fateful workout day of May 29."

Evans also announced the school had "parted ways with" strength coach Rick Court as a result of the investigation's findings, and others on the training staff were put on leave.

Another investigation will examine the conduct of head coach D.J. Durkin and his staff. Durkin, 40, was put on paid leave Saturday over allegations he allowed a toxic culture to persist in the football program.

"It will be an expedited yet very careful review," Loh said of the Durkin investigation.

McNair, 19, became ill during a supervised workout -- he performed 10 110-meter sprints-- and he died on June 13.

The school announced at a news conference on June 14 that it had hired an outside firm to handle an investigation of the events surrounding McNair's death. Rod Walters, a former college athletic trainer, was tasked to lead the investigation.

"There are no words to say to Jordan's parents that will be good enough," said Evans, as he began to tear up. "I have looked into the eyes of a grieving mother and father, and there is simply nothing good enough. We will honor Jordan's life, and we will ensure a tragedy such as this never happens on our campus again."

Durkin, 11-15 in two years with Maryland, agreed in 2015 to a five-year deal worth $12.5 million. Loh and Evans each said that Durkin deserves "due process" when it came to allegations laid out in last week's ESPN report on the program.

"You can motivate people without engaging in bullying behavior," Loh said. "These are allegations, but we have to take them very, very seriously. A fair process demands that we do a thorough investigation by an independent group, who will make recommendations. We will implement those recommendations."

Loh said the four-member review panel will include two former federal judges (Ben Legg and Alex Williams) and former federal prosecutor Charles P. Scheeler, who served as the monitor to ensure that Penn State complied with agreements with the NCAA and Big Ten related to the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. Loh didn't name the fourth member, although he said he is a "respected, retired football coach."

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Columbus, Ohio — The Urban Meyer investigation is costing Ohio State $500,000, but whether the superstar football coach keeps his job still comes down to whether the university wants to stick with him based on how he's already been tainted by the scandal.

Meyer is on paid leave while Ohio State pays an outside firm to investigate and a six-member university committee considers whether he responded properly to accusations of domestic abuse made against one of his coaches, Zach Smith, who has been fired.

But Meyer has already given his bosses plenty to consider - he says he knew of domestic violence allegations against Zach Smith before he brought Smith to coach wide receivers at Ohio State, and that he reported new accusations properly when they surfaced in 2015.

University officials expect to make a decision within about a week in what could come down to a public relations balancing act involving the school's reputation, $38 million in future salary under Meyer's contract and other jobs at stake.

Why fire Meyer?

Meyer knew about a 2009 domestic incident in Gainesville, Florida, when Smith was a graduate assistant coach for Meyer's Florida team. A police report says that during an argument Zach Smith picked up a pregnant Courtney and threw her against a wall. Zach Smith was never charged.

Knowing that, Meyer allowed Smith to stay on staff at Florida and then brought Smith in at Ohio State. Meyer also knew about the 2015 abuse allegations , but Smith - the grandson of former Ohio State coach and Meyer mentor Earle Bruce - kept his job until Courtney Smith filed for a restraining order on July 20.

"At the end of the day, (Meyer is) the highest-paid state employee in Ohio, and you have a lot more responsibility than coaching," said B. David Ridpath, an associate professor of sports administration at Ohio University in Athens. "And clearly there was enough smoke with Zach Smith that they should have gotten rid of him a long time ago."

Ohio State didn't put Meyer on leave until Courtney Smith talked to a reporter, saying she was abused for years by her ex-husband. Zach Smith has denied her abuse allegations and has never been prosecuted for abuse.

The Meyer investigation plays out at a time when the school itself - and college athletics at large - is under scrutiny around the handling of misconduct allegations.

Ohio State has a growing list of more than 100 former students and athletes who say they were groped and otherwise mistreated by Dr. Richard Strauss, a deceased athletic department doctor who worked at the university for nearly 20 years. There are questions about whether Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan knew about the abuse when he was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State during the same time.

At least three federal lawsuits have been filed against Ohio State by men who say they were abused by Strauss.

Don't expect fans and critics to separate the scandals when a decision is made on Meyer.

Why keep Meyer?

Meyer said he followed "proper protocol and procedures" after finding out about the 2015 abuse allegations.

"Please know that the truth is the ultimate power, and I am confident I took appropriate action," Meyer said in a tweeted statement.

Meyer didn't detail those actions but the crafted statement was clearly a public defense of his job.

Meyer signed a contract extension in the spring with new language that requires him to promptly report any "known violations" of Ohio State's sexual misconduct policy to the school's Title IX officials. The policy includes sexual harassment, intimate violence and stalking "that involves any student, faculty or staff." The clause doesn't specify how Meyer should treat older accusations.

Meyer may have limited responsibility for reporting because of the scope of behavior covered by the misconduct policy and Title IX, according to Micaela Deming, staff attorney with the Ohio Domestic Violence Network.

Both the policy and Title IX focus on incidents on-campus or at university-related events, she said. So in the case of Zach Smith's 2015 arrest, "this off-campus, non-student-involved domestic violence incident seems to be largely excluded from both the sexual harassment policy and Title IX," Deming said.

If Meyer did everything he was supposed to do, Ohio State then faces the question of whether to fire him without cause, leaving the university on the hook for $38 million to pay off the balance of his contract.

Dissolving the deal would certainly invite a challenge from Meyer, adding legal costs and leading to new rounds of public scrutiny.

There's also winning to consider.

Meyer is 73-8 with a national title in six seasons with the Buckeyes. Winning generates money and prestige, while his dismissal would certainly cause turmoil for the football program.

Nobody at Ohio State wants a repeat of 2011, when the Buckeyes had a losing season after coach Jim Tressel was fired for lying to the NCAA about player violations.

Other options?

Ohio State could suspend Meyer rather than fire him, if university leaders want to retain him while still delivering some punishment for keeping a coach around for so long despite accusations of domestic abuse.

The investigation also has implications for other athletic officials.

Athletic director Gene Smith and Meyer's wife Shelley Meyer, an instructor in Ohio State's nursing school, also knew of the 2015 incident, Zach Smith and Courtney Smith has said.

A key detail for investigators will be whether the Title IX office or athletic director responded properly - if they were indeed informed. Citing the investigation, the university would not make those officials available for comment when contacted by The Associated Press.

What about the Smiths?

Zach Smith lost his $340,000 job, but still faces a court case where more details could emerge about his situation with Courtney Smith, including their friendships with the Meyers.

Zach Smith said he was never aggressive with his ex-wife and that any injuries she suffered were the result of him defending himself against her aggression.

The Smiths are due in court next month for a hearing on the restraining order, which Courtney sought after Zach drove to her apartment to drop off their son after he had been told to stay away. He was charged with criminal trespass as a result.

Courtney Smith has spoken with Ohio State investigators, her lawyer said.

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Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)

 

Dyersville City Council members are considering holding a joint work session with the city Park and Recreation Board on Sept. 24 to examine the municipal pool policy.

The issue came up at the council's most recent meeting, during which council members said they had heard so much negative feedback regarding the city pool that it was time to take a fresh look at its policies, especially those regarding when the pool closes.

City Administrator Mick Michel said he already ordered a review of the current policy and that the parks and recreation director was gathering that information.

Since the pool is slated to close Sunday, Aug. 19, council members recognized they couldn't make changes in time for this season, but they could visit the topic with an eye on 2019.

"This is the time to start working on it because we actually start preparing for the next season within the next month or two," said Michel. "So we'll need answers so we can appropriately make changes."

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The New York Post

 

How do you own everything?

That's the aggressive question posed on the online application for Performix House, an exclusive new gym near Union Square where wannabe members must undergo a rigorous application process.

"Owning everything means 'I'm gonna go to the gym today and dominate my workout,' " the gym's high-octane founder, Matt Hesse, tells The Post. "But it's also an elevated way of saying you're taking responsibility for yourself and the achievements you want in life." While most gyms will do just about anything to get you to sign up, at Performix, you have to convince them you're worthy of being a member.

After filling out the online form — and providing an Instagram handle, of course — applicants must undergo a phone interview with their director of membership, followed by an in-person consultation with a trainer.

In a fitness-obsessed age where hoards of boutique studios offer to curate the perfect workout experience — from the design of the locker room to an instructor's playlist — Performix is taking it a step further, promising to make sure your fellow gymgoers are also top-notch.

The application process involves a review of an applicant's Instagram feed to determine if they do, in fact, own everything, says Hesse, a 40-year-old who lives in Soho, founded the nutrition product company Corr-Jensen and currently sits on Vitamin Shoppe's Wellness Council.

"We simply want to see, from a real-life feed, how they live their life," Hesse says. "[We want] people who want to live a fitness-driven lifestyle. It's as much a mentality as it is physical." Since opening membership in February, the gym has admitted 240 people out of roughly 1,000 applicants, according to Hesse.

They plan to cap membership at around 500 people. Boldfacers such as Mark Consuelos, Hannah Bronfman and Nina Agdal belong, and Hesse says creating a place where they don't have to worry about a rabid fan on the spin bike next to them is key.

"Celebrities have a tough time working out; they can't go to gyms," he says. "We try to create a place of comfort for them." The comforts include plenty of supplements. Upon entering the second-floor, 8,000-square-foot gym through a clandestine back entrance on 14th Street, members are greeted with a slushie machine serving Performix's brightly colored leucine-, isoleucine- and valine-infused "pre-training energizer" drink and a glutamine-laced "training recovery" beverage. The equipment room includes an AstroTurf area for pushing sleds and massive weights suitable for Olympic weight lifters. A recovery area features a 3-D-imaging machine that can show you where all of the fat on your body is. Overall, the space is more intimate and the vibe is edgier than your average Equinox, but it's hardly plated in gold.

"I feel a privacy that I haven't felt with other gyms," says Benjamin Thigpen, 34, a Performix member and celebrity hairstylist who lives in the Meatpacking District.

The locker rooms have various amenities — private massage rooms, infrared saunas with bigscreen TVs that stream Netflix and cryotherapy chambers, which are particularly popular for selfies — but they're not for everyone.

Membership is available in three tiers, at costs of $250, $400 and $900 per month. The lower two tiers are allowed to use a limited amount of amenities and then must pay for them a la carte, though a gym spokesperson declined to offer specifics.

But for some members, many of whom are fitness influencers, the big draw is a content studio, with lights and four cameras, where they can tape workouts and share them on social media.

"It looks like it's a set, and they can record a workout, talk to their fans about nutrition, whatever they want," Hesse says.

Another perk that Hesse touts is access to top trainers. Some of the city's popular fitness instructors, including SoulCycle's Akin Akman and Charlee Atkins, offer personal training exclusively at Performix.

"[They left] well-known personal training gyms" to bring "their clients to train solely at the House," says Madison Rizzo, the gym's senior manager of partnerships and engagement.

But, for all its talk of exclusivity, the gym does open some of its classes to nonmembers, for $24 to $40 apiece, as long as they use a different entrance — a fitness poor door of sorts — on bustling Fifth Avenue.

And Hesse says that membership isn't limited to waifish women and "super ripped" guys, though they did seem to be the only sort of people there on a recent visit.

"We have a variety of all kinds of people, but what we want to see is progress," he says. "If someone said [on their application], 'I want to own Twinkies, and I don't like to work out,' we'd either say this person really needs help, or they just want to hang out with our celebrities."

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

 

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh says he doesn't expect any of his players to be suspended for selling shoes.

Harbaugh told reporters Monday night all team-issued shoes of current players have been accounted for by the school.

Harbaugh says many former players and some former assistant coaches had access to the shoes that have been sold on the secondary market.

North Carolina announced last week that 13 football players will miss games while serving suspensions for selling team-issued shoes. The school reported the secondary NCAA violations.

Michigan requires its athletes to sign and return forms acknowledging that any sale of team shoes or apparel will jeopardize their eligibility. Michigan's equipment staff writes names and numbers on shoes given to athletes, who don't get shoe boxes.

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

 

HAMILTON -

Classes for the new Hamilton school year may be off and running, but the school system's premier sports stadium track has been stuck at the starting line.

Classes opened last week for the 10,000-student school system.

But heavy rains during the summer break delayed the installation of the first new track at Hamilton High School in decades, said the school's Athletic Director Todd Grimm.

No track means no access for a bit longer to Virgil M. Schwarm Stadium for early season sports like football and soccer as well as high school gym classes.

Hamilton's Catholic Badin High School teams also use the playing field.

If the weather cooperates, said Grimm, the new track that encircles the football and soccer field, should re-open for use this week.

Two years ago, the stadium's first-generation artificial turf was replaced with an upgraded and more colorful surface - along with other stadium improvements - at a cost of $400,000.

Grimm estimated it's been at least 30 years since the track was replaced all the way down to its underlying asphalt, leading to years of cracks that manifested on the running surface.

The new track project will eventually cost more than $600,000.

"You got to have some good luck with the weather, but we're very happy with the potential outcome once the track is installed," he said.

No access to the sports stadium impacts many students far beyond Hamilton and Badin's fall sports teams, said Grimm.

"Physical education classes like to come out here and we've had to make some schedule adjustments. We had some soccer scrimmages that were supposed to be played here but we've made arrangements with other schools and they have graciously accepted us coming to them this year," he said.

"We're very hopeful and we have our fingers crossed that the weather doesn't play havoc," and the final lane striping of the track can be completed, said Grimm.

Hamilton's first football scrimmage is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 17, against Lakota West High School. The game, which was scheduled to be played at Virgil M. Schwarm Stadium, has been moved to Lakota West's stadium, school officials announced this week. Game time will remain 7 p.m.

Once it's all done, said Grimm, "we'll be set for a long while."

"Schwarm Stadium is one of the best sports venues in Southwest Ohio, and these projects will keep it up to date," he said.

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Copyright 2018 The Columbus Dispatch
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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

 

The Planet Oasis sports-and-entertainment project in Delaware County will include a $10 million arena dedicated to the emerging business of esports, developers of the complex announced Monday.

"We are very excited to bring an esports partnership, one of the fastest growing entertainment experiences in the world, to Planet Oasis Ohio," said David Glimcher, CEO of Blue Horseshoe Ventures, developer of the project, in a statement.

The multilevel, multi-use arena is designed to host every form of gaming and features a competition stage, giant LED video wall, UltraStar Gamer Caves PC and console gaming stations, and TV broadcast production studio, according to Blue Horseshoe Ventures.

Details on construction timetable and opening date were not available.

Columbus has been a hotbed for esports for more than a decade and will host the Call of Duty World League Championship at Nationwide Arena this weekend.

In addition, Major League Gaming opened its first dedicated arena tournament space outside of New York in 2014 on the Northeast Side. But the MLG Arena, at 14,000 square feet — slightly larger than the typical CVS store — is dwarfed in size by the planned 30,000-square-foot esports arena planned for Planet Oasis.

The intent is to create "a home for the gaming community in the Midwest," said Jeffrey Schoonover, principal of Peninsula Lifestyle Capital, who is leading the project for Blue Horseshoe Ventures.

"This is truly the next generation in emerging sports and entertainment," he said in a statement.

The esports arena is part of the $2 billion Planet Oasis project that is planned for 350 acres adjacent to the Tanger Outlet mall on the east side of I-71 in Delaware County.

The Planet Oasis complex, as envisioned, also includes indoor skydiving, go-kart racing, rock climbing, an indoor water park, skate park and BMX racing, as well as other attractions. A wellness center, hotels, a conference center and at least 70 restaurants also are in the plans.

Nearly half of Planet Oasis is expected to open by December 2019, Glimcher said.

tferan@dispatch.com

@timferan

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Copyright 2018 Digital First Media
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The Daily News of Los Angeles

 

The proposed Clippers arena in Inglewood faces another lawsuit, this one claiming a pair of city-related boards violated state laws related to open meetings and California's Environmental Quality Act.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Hermosa Beach-based law firm Chatten-Brown & Carstens, representing Inglewood Residents Against Takings and Evictions.

According to the petition, the Successor Agency to the Inglewood Redevelopment Agency and the Oversight Board to the Successor Agency to the Inglewood Redevelopment Agency violated the Ralph M. Brown Act, the state's open-meetings law, by failing "to inform the public that the parcels being transferred are specifically designated... in the [exclusive negotiating agreement] for construction of the arena project" before their meetings in June.

"Inglewood is a Brown Act-challenged city," attorney Doug Carstens said Monday. "They have a perpetual problem complying with the Brown Act. The vagueness of the agendas [was a problem.]"

Inglewood Mayor James Butts denied that assertion.

"This is another in a series of frivolous lawsuits, from a nonexistent group of persons to date never seen, whose sole purpose is apparently to attempt to delay or obstruct the process of a potential NBA arena," Butts said Monday.

IRATE also filed a CEQA-related suit last year, and the activist group Uplight Inglewood filed a lawsuit in June that claimed the city failed to notify housing developers about the availability of the land where the new Clippers arena is expected to be built, violating the Surplus Land Act.

In a newsletter posted on the city's website, Butts wrote that the city's agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration bars it from allowing housing at the location.

Madison Square Garden Co., which owns the nearby Forum, also filed suit in March, claiming the ad

dition of another arena would violate its development agreement with Inglewood, which the city denies.

Meanwhile, Assembly Bill 987, introduced in June by state Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove, has been making its way through the legislative process in Sacramento, with members of the state Senate set to discuss it this week. If approved, the bill would fast-track the development of the Clippers' arena by allowing a judge to halt the project only under narrow circumstances.

In June 2017, Inglewood officials approved an exclusive negotiating agreement with Clippers owner Steve Ballmer for an 18,000-to-20,000-seat arena on a 23-acre site. The project is currently in an environmental review process that's expected to take 18 months. In addition to the arena, the site is expected to house a training facility, team offices and hotel. The first renderings are anticipated to be released this fall.

The Clippers have a lease to play at Staples Center through 2024.

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

 

The next time the Cleveland Browns win a regular season game, the first round is on Anheuser-Busch.

The team and the company revealed Tuesday several Bud Light Browns "victory fridges" will be place around the Greater Cleveland area (including at FirstEnergy Stadium), and they are set to be opened remotely as soon as the next Browns win occurs.

Here's more from cleveland.com:

Each orange and blue fridge holds upwards of 200 aluminum 16-ounce bottles. The company is being a bit coy about specific locations because Ohio law prevents pre-promotion of this type, the folks at the beer company say, but all will be in the "general Cleveland area."

For those wondering if this violates the league policy of cutting off beer sales at the end of the third quarter, it does not, since the bottles are not for sale. A Bud Light rep says "It's up to them (Browns) to distribute them at their discretion."

The Browns went 0-16 last season and have not won a game since Christmas Eve two years ago.

They open the 2018 regular season at home against the Steelers on Sept. 9 and travel to New Orleans in Week 2.

Their best chance for a win in the first month of the season is likely Sept. 20 when they host the New York Jets on a Thursday night.

The Browns don't play the Bengals until Nov. 25 in Cincinnati. The rematch is scheduled for Dec. 23 in Cleveland.

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

 

RALEIGH — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has spent $21 million on legal, public relations and investigative costs related to its long-running academic scandal, bills released last week show.

The bills from 2016 through this year show the university has spent more than $3.5 million on several law firms involved in successfully defending the university against NCAA allegations and individual lawsuits by former athletes. The university had previously spent nearly $18 million on legal, public relations, investigative and records production costs.

The university is not likely to spend much more. The NCAA's infractions committee, after a drawn-out case that involved three separate notices of allegations, did not sanction the university. The three athlete lawsuits were dismissed by state and federal judges.

UNC officials said the money for the various costs did not come from tuition or state appropriations.

The News & Observer made a public records request for the bills in November.

UNC in a news release said the legal bills totaled nearly $3.6 million, but the N&O's tallying of the bills came to more than $3.7 million. The reason for the discrepancy wasn't immediately clear, but the bills include payments to two law firms not mentioned in UNC's news release: $16,000 to the Charlotte office of the Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice firm for representing basketball coach Roy Williams and $71,000 to the Williams & Connolly firm in Washington that was billed to athletics director Bubba Cunningham.

The legal, public relations and investigative bills cover several aspects of the university's handling of the situation involving 18 years of classes that had no instruction and required only a term paper or two that drew high grades. Nearly 190 of those classes were listed as lecture-style classes in university publications; hundreds more were listed as independent studies.

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Copyright 2018 San Angelo Standard-Times
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San Angelo Standard-Times (Texas)

 

The Lone Star Conference is set to become the biggest conference in NCAA Division II.

The LSC — which includes Angelo State University — announced Monday that the University of Texas at Tyler will join the league on July 1, 2019.

UT Tyler will become the LSC's 20th school. The Patriots are transition from Division III. They will compete in the LSC in all sports beginning in the fall of 2019 and will become a full member of Division II in the fall of 2021 after fulfilling several requirements over the three-year period.

However, UT Tyler does not have a football program, so the LSC still has only nine teams in that sport. UT Tyler President Michael Tidwell said in January at a city council meeting that he hoped to bring football to the school if it became a Division II university.

"The Lone Star Conference is perhaps the most exciting and dynamic NCAA Division II conference in the nation, and The University of Texas at Tyler is honored to join," Tidwell said in Monday's press release. "We are also pleased to be in a conference that shares our values of academic excellence, sportsmanship, and community service as we educate successful student-athletes."

LUT Tyler was founded in 1971 and enrolls more than 10,000 students. The Patriots sponsor intercollegiate teams in 17 sports: baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, men's and women's soccer, softball, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's track and field, men's and women's indoor track and field and volleyball.

UT Tyler has won NCAA Division III national championships in men's golf (2013), softball (2016), and baseball (2018).

"We're excited to welcome UT Tyler to NCAA Division II and the Lone Star Conference," said LSC Commissioner Jay Poerner. "Their location, tradition and history of academic and athletic success make them a natural fit for the LSC."

The addition of UT Tyler continues recent expansion as eight institutions were announced in 2017. The Patriots will be the 39th institution to compete as a member of the 87-year-old LSC.

UT Tyler joins the league along with the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, Dallas Baptist University, Lubbock Christian University, Oklahoma Christian University, Rogers State University, St. Edward's University, St. Mary's University and Texas A&M International University.

The LSC, founded on April 25, 1931, started as a five-member conference of Texas-based schools and with the latest expansion will become a 20-member league with 14 members in Texas, three in Oklahoma, two in New Mexico and one in Arkansas.

The LSC conducts conference championships in 17 sports (eight men and nine women). Men's championships include football, cross country, basketball, baseball, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, golf and tennis. Women's titles are determined in volleyball, soccer, cross country, basketball, softball, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, tennis and golf.

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

Joe Paterno. Lefty Driesell. Rick Pitino. Bobby Knight. DJ Durkin.

It's darn near impossible for a college or university head coach to know what his coaches and players are up to 24/7. That hardly offers a break, however, to University of Maryland football coach DJ Durkin.

Jordan McNair, 19, fell ill on the field during practice and died nearly a month later. Over the weekend, we received word that his grieving family has hired an attorney, the notable Billy Murphy, for possible legal action.

While the family ponders its actions, Maryland authorities must make the right move if Coach Durkin doesn't do it himself.

Coach Durkin must go.

ESPN reported Friday on allegations from current and former staff and players of bullying, verbal abuse and humiliation directed at players. Coaches reportedly have endorsed unhealthy eating habits and used obscenity-laced epithets to mock players' masculinity. One player reportedly was belittled verbally after passing out during a drill.

ESPN also reported Friday that McNair, 19, died of heatstroke after showing visible signs of distress during a workout May 29, including difficulty standing up and having seizures. Coach Durkin led the workout during which McNair became ill but was not involved in treating him afterward.

McNair died June 13.

"Coach Durkin was receptive to players' concerns about the coaching staff's methods, according to sources, and voluntary workouts lessened in intensity," ESPN reported. "But when preseason training camp opened Aug. 3, the atmosphere largely resumed as it had been prior to McNair's death, with some more attention paid to players showing fatigue or distress."

Student-athletes are under the care of their coaches, athletic directors and schools' hierarchies and the godfather of collegiate sports, the NCAA.

The facts surrounding McNair's death beg the question the same question asked of other notorious big-name schools and coaches:

⦁ Louisville's head basketball coach Rick Pitino, whose program caused scandal over hookers and players, and pay-to-play ties with athletic gear manufacturers.

⦁ Maryland's Lefty Driesell in the on-campus, draft-night drug death of basketball phenom Len Bias.

⦁ University of Indiana's tantrum-throwing Bobby Knight, former coach of Hoosiers basketball.

⦁ Penn State's legendary head football coach Joe Paterno, who left the beloved school following stomach-churning, years-long child-sex abuse allegations leveled against his assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

Coach Knight was so notorious he once said, "When my time on earth is gone, and my activities here are passed, I want [them to] bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my a." What an attitude.

For Maryland's Coach Driesell, there were no serious collegiate repercussions, although a grand jury probing Bias' death criticized the school's athletic department, admissions office and campus police.

Bias, you see, wasn't even qualified to graduate.

They all should have known.

Student-athletes are unprepared to fend for themselves, which is why "student" comes first.

Which is why Jordan McNair's death echoes a troubling question and offers a statement, too.

Who's minding NCAA coaches?

⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

The development is almost as astounding as it is disturbing. On Saturday, when Maryland's DJ Durkin was placed on leave while the school investigates allegations of mistreatment of players, he became the second Big Ten head coach, joining Ohio State's Urban Meyer, in dubious limbo as kickoff nears.

It's unclear at this point whether either will lose their jobs, or if they should. Although Durkin once worked for Meyer, the unfolding scandals appear very different. Durkin's program is under scrutiny that began with the death of a player after an offseason workout, while Ohio State is examining Meyer's actions in responding to allegations of domestic abuse against one of his assistant coaches.

Whatever is eventually uncovered in both cases, we can hope these are isolated instances. That elsewhere in college sports, people are as astounded as they are disturbed. But the investigations should also prompt concern:

It's long past time for athletics directors and football coaches everywhere to assess their own departments and programs, to see if they're really practicing those "core values" they preach. And even more than that, to make sure the cultures they've created are actually, well, good.

That's in serious question at Maryland, where the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair after an offseason workout led to allegations, levied in an ESPN report, of verbal abuse and intimidation by coaches that created a toxic brew. Maryland strength coach Rick Court, director of athletic training Steve Nordwall and athletic trainer Wes Robinson were placed on leave a day ahead of Durkin.

A former player told "The Washington Post": "There was just constant degrading of players, and that was the culture they brought to the program and they thought it would toughen us up."

Let's stipulate this much: College football's universally sought culture of toughness and perseverance can be a very good thing.

Most of us have no real idea of our limits; we have never gotten close to exploring them. That's also true of the gifted athletes who play college football, sometimes because they have excelled largely with talent alone. It's in that context that coaches prod and push players, trying to coax extraordinary effort that produces performance gains they otherwise might only have dreamed of.

In the best programs, the result is rigorous competition, with each other, but with themselves. By definition, it's not an easy thing to achieve. And unfortunately it can be far too easily perverted into a hyper-macho, sadistic bullying culture.

Regardless of the specific events that led to McNair's tragic death, which are still under investigation, it appears the Maryland football culture promoted by Durkin, and enforced largely by Court, was built on intimidation and fear.

Maybe forcing an overweight player to eat candy bars while his teammates worked out, as alleged in the ESPN report, isn't that big a deal. Perhaps moving an injured player's locker into the showers is just a motivating tactic. It could be that name-calling and persistent profanity by coaches are effective ways to motivate. Maybe forcing players to finish every drill and workout, even when they're clearly struggling, when they're obviously past the point of exhaustion or worse, is just old school toughing it out.

But so was the misguided notion, common a few decades ago, that players could prove their manhood by going without water during practices.

Coaches everywhere should take note and take stock of their own methods and practices. It's long past time to leave the meatheads behind and move into the 21st century. Players can be coached hard without intimidation and humiliation. They can be motivated without endangering their health.

Maryland President Wallace Loh said in a statement released Saturday that he was "profoundly disturbed" by the allegations. Loh said the school would undertake "a comprehensive examination of our coaching practices in the football program, with the goal that these practices reflect -- not subvert -- the core values of our university."

Which brings us back to Ohio State and the core values preached by Meyer: Decisions. Honesty. Treat women with respect. No drugs. No stealing. No weapons.

Those are fine and good. But the program's core values seemed malleable when Meyer was coaching at Florida, when multiple star players misbehaved without much consequence. And they're now under scrutiny again. Domestic abuse allegations involving former assistant coach Zach Smith, and Meyer's decision to keep Smith on staff for years despite knowing of the allegations, lead inevitably to this question:

Does Meyer's program really adhere to those values? For others in college athletics, it should lead also to this: Does yours?

The allegations at Maryland might be extreme examples of meatheads run amok. Perhaps values such as Meyer's are practiced, not simply preached, in most programs. But if nothing else, the astounding, disturbing developments of the last couple of weeks should serve as prompts, all over college football, for a comprehensive examination.

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Copyright 2018 Sun Journal Aug 13, 2018

Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)

 

LEWISTON — There have been times in previous coaching stints that Lewiston head coach Bruce Nicholas has had to pick up rocks and toss them off the football field.

So, during his opening statements prior to the first practice of 2018, Nicholas pointed out how fortunate the Blue Devils were Monday morning.

"We get to start on this," Nicholas said, pointing to the new green field behind him.

Monday morning was the first day of fall sports practices in Maine, and the first time the Blue Devils were able to set foot on the new, improved and relocated Don Roux Field.

The new digs made the first practice a little more special.

"We're all excited," quarterback Tanner Cortes said. "You see guys laying on the logo and stuff, it's a great feeling."

The new football field is located on the exact same spot as the Blue Devils' former practice field. But it isn't the same field.

"It's awesome," Nicholas said. "We used to practice back here, and it was just woods and it was a swamp.

"We've been excited about this for a while."

The new field also is a nice upgrade from the previous one, which has been turned into a parking lot for the new elementary school. Instead of an uneven grass field, there is now a state-of-the-art artificial turf with striking blue end zones and painted white and yellow lines (the Lewiston soccer teams also will play on the field). Also, the bleachers are now several feet closer to the field.

"It's not even done yet and it's getting me hyped up," Cortes said.

"It's pretty much an honor to be a senior class on this field," Hunter Landry said.

Landry and Cortes are both seniors this year. During their football careers, they've spent two years playing on the old Don Roux Field and last year on Garcelon Field at Bates College.

The new field combined with the large number of players who graduated in June make this a new era for Lewiston football.

"It's a fresh start, kind of, for the program," Cortes said. "Just being the first senior class to play on the field and really set the tone for the rest of the years for our program — I mean, this is going to be around for a while, and to say, 'I was the first one, we set the tone, we got the rock rolling,' it's a great feeling."

Nicholas said that every team in Maine was starting from scratch Monday. With that in mind, the Blue Devils spent their first practice of the day working on basics, including a few reps practicing the huddle.

"I think every head coach will tell you, if we can the paperwork in, if I can get the kids there, we can stretch out, we can get them in line, and maybe run two, three plays … and we did that this morning, so I'm happy," Nicholas said. "You always hope it would be a little bit better, but the first morning in football — I've done other sports — it's just crazy."

The Blue Devils, coming off a 4-5 season and a first-round bye in the postseason, already have their attention honed in on their first opponent. They open the 2018 season at Don Roux Field against Oxford Hills on Friday, Aug. 31.

"They're going to bring some heat," Nicholas told his team before they took the field Monday.

He went on to reference the Vikings a handful of times throughout the morning practice.

The Blue Devils are excited to show off their new house.

"Coming down, getting on this turf for the first time, there's nothing really like it," Landry said. "Like I heard (Cortes) say, it's not even done yet. Imagine being here under Friday Night Lights, there's nothing else compared to it.

"I'm excited to play here."

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

Fifteen years as a head coach, from his humble beginnings at Salem College and Samford through the big time at Auburn, then — poof — gone, vanished, banished to the broadcast booth. Terry Bowden wasn't resigned to this fate, as "a spokesperson for the sport rather than one school," but he had come to accept it.

"At that point of my life, at 42, I had such a great job that it was what I was kind of moving toward," he said. "I was going to be a broadcaster."

What broadcasting couldn't do, however, is scratch that itch: Bowden wanted back in. By 2005, Bowden had made a "full commitment to get back into coaching." Two years later, he publicly campaigned for the open job at his alma mater, West Virginia, after Rich Rodriguez's departure for Michigan, calling it his "dream job." The position was eventually filled by a former Rodriguez assistant, Bill Stewart.

While part of the broadcast team for the Division II national championship in 2008, Bowden met with officials from North Alabama. It wasn't West Virginia, nor even a lower-level Football Bowl Subdivision job, but it was an entry point.

"I wanted to finish my career in life doing what I loved to do, which is coaching," Bowden said. "So I made the decision to get back in."

Three years later, Bowden was hired at Akron, where he's led the Zips to two bowl berths and a division title in the past three seasons. For Bowden, and roughly 20 percent of active FBS head coaches, there was a second act.

Of the 130 head coaches in the FBS, 25 were fired, dismissed or chose to resign from a previous stop. Four coaches on this list are currently in the Pac-12. Four — Arizona State's Herm Edwards, UCLA's Chip Kelly, Michigan's Jim Harbaugh and Illinois' Lovie Smith — were ousted from the NFL before resurfacing on the college level. One, Randy Edsall at Connecticut, is back for a second stint where his career as a head coach began.

"There are a lot of different scenarios because people are fired for so many different reasons," said Duke coach David Cutcliffe, who previously held the same position at Mississippi before being let go after the 2004 season. "You've got to be good. You don't become someone's best choice by not being good. So whether you've been fired or not may be the unimportant part. It's the confidence that you're going to do well."

Several active head coaches were hired with varying degrees of baggage. Washington State hired Mike Leach after his contentious departure from Texas Tech, which included allegations of player mistreatment. UCLA hired Kelly despite his drawing a "failure to monitor" charge from the NCAA stemming from recruiting violations that occurred during his tenure at Oregon. Florida International coach Butch Davis was fired at North Carolina in the summer of 2011 amid an NCAA investigation into impermissible benefits and academic misconduct.

These examples provide a potential case study for the recent developments at Ohio State, where an independent investigation into a timeline of Urban Meyer's handling of allegations of domestic abuse against a former assistant has the three-time national champion's position in doubt. The investigation, which is set to conclude at the end of next week, might produce a seismic change at Ohio State and across all of college sports, impacting how universities handle matters of personal conduct involving not just a head coach but also handpicked members of his staff.

Should Meyer be fired, the inevitable question that follows — perhaps as soon as this coming December or January — asks whether he'd be a viable option on the coaching market.

Coaches who spoke on the topic of second chances with USA TODAY echoed an important point as it relates to Meyer's future: Getting fired comes with its inherent lessons, but getting another shot demands being able to prove that those lessons can produce different results if given the opportunity.

In other words, Meyer wouldn't need to address questions on his coaching acumen, which is unimpeachable. Instead, he'd need to illustrate the steps he's taken to ensure no future repeat of the missteps that have dotted his otherwise spotless tenures at Florida and Ohio State — that he's learned from those mistakes.

"You learn a lot, period, every year that you're a head coach," Cutcliffe said. "Unfortunately, that learning curve often comes with being fired."

Bowden's time away from coaching led to a shift away from the "tunnel vision" that came to define his tenure at Auburn.

"When I had a chance to get back in, it became more about the players than it had ever been," Bowden said. "When you're 26 or 30 and you're trying to move up in this business, it's almost like, 'What can they do to help me reach their goals?' And now it's about what I can do to help them reach their goals."

Now, Bowden added, "I consider myself the very best I've ever been as a coach."

For South Carolina coach Will Muschamp, the "football side of it hasn't changed" since his tenure at Florida, though the Gators' failures on offense have impacted his views on that side of the ball with the Gamecocks. Certain other themes have remained constant, whether in South Carolina's practice style, his recruiting blueprint or how his staff evaluates talent.

But like other second-chance head coaches, Muschamp has evolved. The trick to getting another shot was to prove it, to show how his time at Florida would inform how he'd run another program in the same conference, let alone the same division. Should he and Ohio State part ways, Meyer's future would hinge on the inevitable question: What have you learned?

"The more you do this, the more you've got a good feel," Muschamp said. "I think that as much as anything has helped me to be able to anticipate issues, to handle them before they arise. That, to me, has been the one thing I'm doing a much better job of."

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Copyright 2018 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

BALTIMORE — The attorney for the family of the University of Maryland offensive lineman who died after a strenuous offseason workout is calling for Terrapins football coach DJ Durkin to be fired, citing the abusive culture of the program and the team's failure to properly react after Jordan McNair fell ill on the practice field.

The 19-year-old McNair was hospitalized May 29 and died June 13. McNair family attorney Billy Murphy Jr. said Sunday he's seen the preliminary death certificate and has concluded, "This is an obvious heatstroke case.

Durkin was placed on administrative leave Saturday in the wake of reports that he and his staff verbally abused and humiliated players since his arrival in College Park, Maryland, two years ago.

"Coach Durkin should be fired immediately, Murphy said. "His conduct and the conduct of the coaches was reprehensible. They were not prepared... to deal with a heatstroke incident.

Murphy also contended the climate of the program was all wrong, and cannot be corrected unless Durkin is no longer part of it.

Durkin "fostered a horrible culture, Murphy said, that included "physical and verbal abuse of players.

"And the third reason he ought to be fired is: How are you going to have a viable football program as long as it is possible for him to become the coach again? Murphy said.

Murphy has not yet filed a lawsuit against the school on behalf of the family, but said that's only a matter of time. Dr. Rod Walters, a former college athletic trainer, has been hired by Maryland to head an independent investigation, which is expected to be available by Sept. 15.

"In the best of all possible worlds we want to wait until that investigation is released, Murphy said.

Maryland has put two high-ranking members of the athletic training staff on administrative leave. Murphy said an investigation by his law firm determined the team's head trainer, Wes Robinson, was on the scene when McNair collapsed.

"We have corroborated facts that Wes Robinson made completely callous statements to Jordan McNair as he was suffering from heatstroke, as his temperature was rising to 106 degrees, Murphy said. "He yelled at Jordan McNair, Drag (your butt) across the field.' That is absolutely reprehensible and completely reflects the culture that we're saying and has been pervading the University of Maryland.

Keisha Staples, the mother of junior defensive back Antoine Brooks Jr., said after McNair's death the parents' major concern was with the Maryland training staff. Staples said parents she is closest with believed Maryland addressed those concerns by putting Robinson and director of athletic training Steve Nordwall on leave.

She had no issues with Durkin, and had little interaction with strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, who was also placed on leave Saturday. Brooks has never complained about either coach, Staples said.

"From all the parents that I know personally, they're in full support of coach Durkin.

Staples said parents of players have been reaching out to athletic director Damon Evans to arrange a meeting with him and other university personnel to discuss Durkin's situation.

Regardless, it's too late to correct what happened to McNair on a hot spring day in College Park, Maryland.

"I think the coaches expected this to be a severe workout because it was their opportunity to find out who was in what shape for football, said Malcolm Ruff, an associate of Murphy, Falcon and Murphy. "Ice baths should have been there. That's the real issue here. You have a young man who is 19 years old who has his entire life ahead of him, but instead of recognizing those symptoms the University of Maryland attempted to re-insert him back into practice.

Murphy said the law firm knows of this because, "we have spoken to several of the players, and this what they said happened.

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Copyright 2018 The Columbus Dispatch
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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

 

The new $25 million Linden Community Center is expected to transform the park it will occupy, but it also could become a catalyst for a neighborhood that has struggled for years.

The 50,000-square-foot recreation center and 20-acre renovated Linden Park, to be financed through the city's capital budget, will include a "spray ground," gymnastics room and teaching kitchen, pedestrian paths and lighting, and a bigger parking lot.

But it will also be a "center for opportunity" in North Linden that provides health and wellness, jobs and educational programs. Partners could include Franklin County Job and Family Services, Boys & Girls Clubs, the YMCA, Columbus City Schools, faith-based groups and private partners.

"This model is about collaboration," said Tony Collins, the city's recreation and parks director. "We know we can help the neighborhood out through collaboration."

Collins said his department is working with COSI on an outdoor-education learning lab. The center also will include a performance stage.

"We're inviting residents to be part of the program," he said.

"I truly believe this is going to be the neighborhood center. It has been demonstrated around the country that if you invest in your park space, community centers, you see improvements in neighborhoods."

The Linden area has struggled with crime and poverty for years. Linden is of one of the three highest-priority areas of the city targeted by CelebrateOne, the group charged with reducing infant mortality in Columbus; the others are the near South Side and the Near East Side. In the period from 2011 to 2015, Linden's infant-mortality rate was 20.2 per 1,000 live births, the highest in the city.

The current recreation center, at 1254 Briarwood Ave., was built in 1951. It has a gym, weight room, dance room, fitness room and other amenities. But it is only 24,000 square feet and outdated.

The new center, to be built on the same site, is expected to serve 78,000 residents, which the city said is 56,000 more than the current center serves. It is still in the design stage, but construction is supposed to begin in June 2019, with the center opening in early fall 2020.

The city surveyed residents in May about what they wanted at the center. Among the most popular ideas were more computers, cooking, day trips, book clubs, dance, drama and fine arts, and summer day camps. Also sought after: an arts and crafts studio, a shelter house with picnic tables, and a gymnasium.

Columbus Councilwoman Elizabeth Brown, who leads the recreation and parks committee, said she and Collins have talked a lot about centers of opportunity that will improve people's quality of life. The other community centers scheduled to be redeveloped based on that model include William H. Adams, Glenwood, Driving Park, Douglas, Beatty, Fedderson, Dodge, Sullivant Gardens, Howard and Marion Franklin.

Brown said residents were at the drawing board to help create a plan "truly alive with their vision for the neighborhood."

"We hope it is an improvement to help... the neighborhood in every sense," she said, comparing it to the Reeb Avenue Center on the South Side, a social-services hub with a market and cafe in a former school.

Walt Reiner of the North Linden Area Commission said it was "good to have real grass-roots input from people."

mferench@dispatch.com

@MarkFerenchik

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

 

COLUMBUS — Courtney Smith met with Ohio State's team investigating how football coach Urban Meyer handled domestic abuse allegations against her former husband.

Disclosure of that meeting came from Smith's lawyer Monday afternoon.

Today, Courtney Smith met with the independent investigative team hired by The Ohio State University Board of Trustees. She was accompanied by her lawyers and welcomed the opportunity to speak to the investigators. Courtney continues to be thankful for the support she has received during this time.

Meyer has been on paid leave since August 1, the day Courtney Smith told reporter Brett McMurphy and Stadium.com she had told Meyer's wife, Shelley, about abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband, Zach, who was the receivers coach at Ohio State from 2012 through last month.

Courtney Smith said at the time she was not sure Shelley Meyer had told her husband about their exchange, but she believed he knew.

He initially denied there was anything to the 2015 incident but later said he had followed all required protocols at the time.

Zach Smith, who was fired July 23 after his ex-wife was granted a domestic violence protection order against him, has claimed he is guilty of being a bad husband but not of physical abuse.

He is reportedly set to speak with the investigative team Monday or Tuesday.

Ohio State has said it plans to wrap up its investigation by August 19.

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Copyright 2018 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

I had two basketball coaches in high school.

One guy profoundly influenced the person I became, while the other guy became someone I tried to forget.

I started thinking about the coaches I've had and their influence on me after reading the heartbreaking details of how a toxic coaching culture led to the death of a young football player, Jordan McNair, last May. The 19-year-old offensive lineman died at a Maryland hospital two weeks after collapsing during a sprint workout on May 29. When he died of heatstroke, his body temperature was 106 degrees, according to an ESPN article detailing the problems at the football program.

The ESPN article details a program where there is a "coaching environment based on fear and intimidation." It interviews a number of athletes about having their masculinity mocked, belittling them for passing out during a drill, forcing players to eat until they puked, and slapping the food out of a player's hands during a team meeting.

When ESPN asked to interview the coaches in question, they were told they'd been placed on leave while an investigation into the allegations took place - something that didn't happen until nearly two months after McNair's death.

This is not a football issue.

It's a sports issue.

There were reports of this kind of abuse in the University of Utah's swim program led by former head coach Greg Winslow for six years, and I've talked with dozens of parents over the years whose children have endured verbal and emotional abuse at the high school level.

I'd like to say organizations know how to deal with physical and sexual abuse, but Michigan State and Penn State proved that's not true. Still, it seems those situations have become slightly more clear - and intolerable - while verbal and emotional abuse remains this gray area that those in power can use to ignore or excuse what would be absolutely unacceptable behavior outside of sports.

For example, I regularly see and hear coaches swear at players, including calling them names, and this is accepted by all of us as part of the experience. Sometimes the swearing is more at the situation than the teen, but it's still intimidating, and I wonder if that's ever a positive.

Which brings me to my two basketball coaches.

I never played club basketball, so my only exposure to the sport was high school. My first coach was also my biology teacher, and he was no softie.

He was, however, extremely patient and very good at reading what each of his players required. I was terrible the first year, and so he praised my work ethic and how I supported my teammates.

He took me aside more than once to tell me that I was a good teammate and that he enjoyed coaching me. The grand total of my playing time in that first year amounted to my age - about 14 minutes.

But I loved it. I returned the next year and was his starting point guard. Again, he praised me, helped me and made me feel pretty darn good about my basketball abilities. I even got to spend a bit of time on the junior varsity team that year.

My junior year, however, I was exclusively a JV player, and while I started, I was miserable. Our coach was perpetually angry, and I found myself working overtime not to "trigger" a tirade.

One practice, that sometimes I joke about, he threw passes at us until no one dropped one. My hands were sore for hours afterward, and it was then I decided I wasn't good enough to stick with the sport after that season.

Here's why I bring up my ridiculously modest basketball career. Because of coach No. 1, I saw myself as a hard worker who was a good friend and teammate. I saw those kinds of contributions as valuable. I realized, because of his influence, which included many one-on-one chats, that a person didn't have to be center stage to be critically important to team success.

He taught me to embrace, and really to value above all else, the idea that team matters more than individual accomplishment.

Coach No. 2 taught me one thing - the kind of person I didn't want to be. I didn't want those who looked to me for information or advice to be afraid of me. He didn't make me hate sports, thanks in part to a lot of other great coaches, even some of whom I never directly competed for, like our high school football coach.

That's not to say these coaches didn't sometimes yell in frustration or swear because we failed for the 50th time to execute something simple. But the good ones didn't belittle us. They didn't ridicule us. And they always talked to us about what we did wrong and why it mattered that we cared enough to do it right.

I know coaches are under intense scrutiny and pressure these days, but the Maryland case is a reminder that we have to change the way we think about toughness if we hope to truly eradicate all kinds of abuse from sports programs.

High school coaches do so much for so little, and in fact, I'd suggest that they actually form a safety net for kids like me who likely would drop out of high school if it weren't for the lure of athletics. It is a powerful tool, which is why it's critical that we ensure it isn't being used to beat our children into submission.

The reason some of these situations drag on for years and don't get resolved until someone files a lawsuit or a family succeeds in revealing criminal behavior is that we've become numb to this behavior in sports.

We accept in athletics what we'd never accept in any other situation. If a math teacher ridiculed a student who forgot his math book the way a basketball coach taunted a kid who forgot the designed play, he'd be punished without any three-month investigation.

If an English teacher punished disruptive students by making them exercise until they puked, she'd be looking for a new job without the benefit of weeks or months of paid leave.

It is possible to instill toughness without abuse. It is possible to admire what coaches do without giving them a free pass to belittle, demean and maybe scar for life young men and women.

We have to learn to distinguish between plain, tough behavior and abuse. Some of those who suffered abuse in Utah's swim program reported psychological issues long after leaving the program and even the sport.

If we care about high school and collegiate sports because of how they enrich the lives of young people, then we have to care about the student athletes enough to put their health and welfare above winning some games.

If we truly believe prep and college athletics enhance a school and its community, then we have to get serious about eliminating an atmosphere that rewards or glorifies abusive behavior of any kind.

That's not going to lead to "soft" sports or entitled athletes.

That will, instead, lead to athletics being the uplifting, character- building endeavor that we assert they are.

EMAIL: adonaldson@deseretnews.com

TWITTER: adonsports

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

 

The NCAA is to inertia what Joey Chestnut is to gluttony. From enacting legislation to sanctioning outlaws, college sports' governing body is ponderous to a fault.

So it's hardly shocking that a rare NCAA hot take included some hiccups.

When the FBI rocked college basketball in September with bribery and conspiracy charges against four assistant coaches and six others, NCAA president Mark Emmert vowed rapid response. Soon thereafter, he impaneled a commission, chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to probe the sport's recruiting underworld and suggest remedies.

The Rice Commission issued its report in late April, and Wednesday the NCAA echoed the report, unveiling fast-track and welcome reforms to assist athletes and overhaul rules enforcement. As for measures to address the sport's recruiting ills, well, the rollout was awkward and raised as many questions as it answered.

Helpful steps include doubling to 10 the maximum number of official, on-campus recruiting visits a prospect may take before high school graduation and required degree-completion assistance for athletes who return to college after completing their eligibility.

Surely these sensible changes can be adopted for all sports and not only men's basketball.

In fact, where the NCAA truly breaks ground is with a new enforcement model that will apply to all infractions cases in all sports. To wit:

Lacking formal subpoena power, the NCAA will require employment contracts compelling all university presidents and athletics staff to cooperate with association investigations and infractions hearings. Individuals can be fired for cause, and their schools can be sanctioned, for failing to cooperate.

Also, the enforcement staff can accept findings from outside entities such as courts, government agencies, accrediting bodies and commissions authorized by the school. Schools also may essentially plea bargain, negotiating sanctions with the NCAA, sparing both the time and expenses of an infractions hearing and possible appeal.

Penalties are more severe, including postseason bans of up to five years and suspensions of coaches for more than one season. Finally, cases the NCAA deems complex such as academic fraud and athlete abuse, or those with potential major sanctions, can be heard by outsiders starting next year.

The 15-member panel, five of whom will address each complex case, will be comprised of people with "legal, higher education and/or sports backgrounds." They will not be affiliated with any NCAA school or conference.

This is all XXL stuff, and while the proof will be in the execution, the concepts are sound. But the enforcement reforms largely were lost amid the basketball measures.

"What you saw on the ticker was agents and draft," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said at a news conference Friday, "and it's so much more … than that."

The basketball-specific legislation is where some things get sideways.

Allowing early NBA draft entries who are not chosen to retain college eligibility is long overdue. But why limit it to those who were invited to the NBA's pre-draft camp?

The NCAA allowed, effective immediately, any college basketball player to retain an agent after a season in which the player requests a draft evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee. If a player wants to resume college competition after withdrawing from the draft, not declaring for the draft or going undrafted, he must terminate the agent relationship.

That relationship, by the way, can include the agent paying only for player and family expenses associated with agent selection and the draft. Good luck enforcing that provision.

"To have an agent and then not have an agent: I don't see how that works," Krzyzewski said.

Delving deeper into the piranha tank that is the agent world: If the NBA and the NBA Players Association agree to abolish their ill-conceived ban on high school seniors declaring for the draft, the NCAA will allow high school players to retain an agent on July 1 prior to their senior year.

The NCAA said USA Basketball, which coordinates our international teams, would identify the elite prospects eligible for agent representation. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that USA Basketball was blindsided by the news, prompting the NCAA's Dan Gavitt to tell CBSSports.com's Matt Norlander that communication with USA Basketball had been lacking.

With Adidas recruiting influence central to the FBI's September arrests, the Rice Commission and NCAA were bound to address youth basketball. The spring/summer circuit is rooted in tournaments and leagues bankrolled by Adidas, Nike and Under Armour, and curbing their often-abused power is a worthy pursuit.

After all, as long as the big three apparel companies pay schools fortunes to wear their brand - UCLA's 15-year deal with Under Armour is valued at $280 million in cash and gear - those firms will be motivated to steer prospects to their preferred programs.

So allowing college coaches to evaluate prospects at the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp in late June - the event has recently been staged at the University of Virginia - and at high school-sanctioned competitions in June is an upgrade. As is the creation of NCAA development camps in late July, a collaboration with USA Basketball, the NBA and players union.

Adidas, Nike and Under Armour still will ply kids with gear and conduct their events, but the NCAA enacted more rigorous certification standards and is demanding greater financial transparency.

"I'm not sure there's a coach who could tell you exactly what the recruiting calendar looks like right now," Krzyzewski said, lamenting the NCAA's rush to act, but lack of coordination.

Indeed, Wednesday's reform package is far from a cure-all. Nor, by the way, would abandonment of amateurism and concession to free market.

Rather, this is a well-intended and flawed first step.

"It's important to be mindful that we won't reach perfection," ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. "However, we can't let that stand in the way of significant progress. I'm sure there will be unintended consequences as we move forward, and we'll need to evaluate and perhaps make adjustments along the way. But these are necessary actions that should enhance the culture within the sport."

Krzyzewski summarized the news well in six words.

"Hopefully," he said, "the good stuff will stick."

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Maryland placed head coach DJ Durkin on administrative leave Saturday while the school scrutinizes allegations of poor behavior by the football staff, apparent misdeeds that came to light following the death of a player.

In an open letter, athletic director Damon Evans wrote "At this time, the best decision for our football program is to place Maryland head football coach DJ Durkin on leave so we can properly review the culture of the program."

Offensive coordinator Matt Canada will serve as interim coach.

Earlier Saturday, the head of the football team's strength and conditioning staff was placed on paid leave while the school investigates claims he verbally abused and humiliated players, according to a person briefed on the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Maryland had not announced the decision regarding Rick Court.

Maryland has also placed two athletic training staffers it did not identify on leave as it investigates the death of Jordan McNair. The 19-year-old offensive lineman was hospitalized May 29 after a team workout and died June 13. Dr. Rod Walters, a former college athletic trainer, has been hired by Maryland to investigate the circumstances of the death. A report is expected by Sept. 15. McNair's parents are being represented by Baltimore attorney Bill Murphy, whose firm is also investigating.

In his open letter, Evans wrote "The external review into the tragic death of Jordan McNair continues, and we have committed to releasing publicly the report being prepared by an independent and national expert."

ESPN reported that head football athletic trainer Wes Robinson and director of athletic training Steve Nordwall were placed on leave by Maryland.

An ESPN story on Friday quoted unidentified players, former players and former members of Durkin's staff, who contended Court and Durkin created a toxic culture within the program.

"The safety and well-being of our student-athletes is our highest priority," Evans wrote. "These alleged behaviors are not consistent with the values I expect all of our staff to adhere to and we must do better."

Durkin is starting his third season at Maryland. The 40-year-old former Michigan defensive coordinator is 11-15 in two seasons after receiving a five-year, contract worth $12.5 million in December 2015.

Keisha Staples, the mother of junior defensive back Antoine Brooks Jr., told the AP she is close with a group of about eight players' parents who would like to meet with Evans and school officials to voice their "full support" for Durkin.

Brooks was part of Durkin's first recruiting class in 2016.

Staples said her son has never told her of inappropriate behavior by Durkin or Court, and that Durkin has been open and accessible when any issues have come up with Brooks.

"I'm sure not everybody has had the same experience we've had, but we have had a good experience," Staples said.

Staples said she has never had any interactions with Court.

"I don't want the stigma to be at Maryland this is a toxic culture," Staples said. "This is a football culture."

She added "They're already dealing with the death of their teammate. Now they have to deal with the loss of their coach."

Durkin brought Court to Maryland to lead the strength and conditioning staff in 2016. Court had been the head strength coach at Mississippi State since 2014 under coach Dan Mullen. Court also worked with Durkin at Bowling Green in 2005 and '06, when Durkin was an assistant.

Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald expressed support for Court on Saturday. Fitzgerald's first two seasons with the Bulldogs coincided with Court's time leading the strength program at the school.

"He worked us hard," Fitzgerald told the AP. "They were definitely tough workouts, but ultimately he wasn't out to get anybody. He wasn't out to hurt anyone. His job is to make us physically fit and ready for the season and that's exactly what he did. From what I remember, he never really went over the line or did anything crazy like that."

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LNP (Lancaster, PA)

 

In 2016, Michael Rosenberg, the terrific Sports Illustrated writer, did a long feature on the Big Ten's football resurgence.

I dug it up the other day, expecting it to be sodden with retrospective irony.

It delivered.

"If you can surround yourself with greatness, you become a better individual over the long run. That's what the Big Ten is all about and always has been.''

That was from Mark Hollis, the now-retired athletic director at, um, Michigan State.

"You have to sell something you believe in,'' one Big Ten coach told Rosenberg. "And that starts with the facilities, hiring an excellent coaching staff and paying the coaches too. When people say 'commitment,' I'm not sure they know how much it means."

That Big Ten coach was Urban Meyer.

Meyer's job, reputation and hall of fame career now hang in the balance pending a university investigation of his handling of a series of domestic-abuse-related charges and allegations against one of his assistants.

Meanwhile, Maryland coach D.J. Durkin and two athletic department trainers are on administrative leave while that school investigates the culture of the football program in the wake of a player's death on the practice field earlier this summer.

Illinois in 2014 (Tim Beckman) and Indiana in 2016 (Kevin Wilson) have pushed coaches out the door after investigation alleged mistreatment of players. In 2015, Rutgers canned Kyle Flood amid evidence he attempted to influence his players' grades.

And, still lingering, there's the massive bundle of emotions evoked by the name Jerry Sandusky.

This is not to suggest, of course, that the Big Ten has, relative to the rest of college football, sold its soul or lost its way.

Big Ten hard-cores would say the SEC (for example) is just better, and more experienced, at burying the evidence.

That's simplistic, but Indiana and Illinois and Rutgers at least took their messes on, in public, and acted decisively. Penn State's recovery from Sandusky, at least in a football sense, has been all but miraculous.

More than the membership of any other conference, the Big Ten brethren is committed to each other. It's hard-wired into the business model.

They share bowl and TV revenue equally. Gate receipts from league games are also shared, although not quite equally (it's complicated).

The league's agreement with four bowls (Citrus, Holiday, Outback and Foster Farms) requires five different members to appear in them over a six-year period. With the Pinstripe Bowl, it's six out of six.

Remarkably, if a conference member fails to sell its allotment of bowl tickets, every member shares the cost.

It's one big family in some ways. Mostly good ones.

But a bigger fraternity, football, trumps it.

In 2009, Meyer was the head coach at Florida. Zach Smith was a grad assistant — an intern — on Meyer's staff. Police were called to Smith's home for a domestic disturbance, leading not to the usual mediating and cooling off police are trained for, but to Smith's arrest.

Everything else in the Meyer/Smith affair has air in it — years of dysfunction, lots of he said/she said, charges and counter-charges. "Duke lacrosse'' whispers in the background.

But there's no denying that once Meyer got the Ohio State job, in 2012, he hired Smith as a full-time assistant.

Meyer was and is an historically great coach. There had to be 200 impeccable resumes on his desk.

Didn't Smith flunk his internship? Didn't he at least fail to ace it? If not, what would it have taken?

These head coaches are sold to us as utter control freaks, absolutely and fanatically committed to excellence in every area.

Did Meyer not think, ''This is a potential existential threat to my program and my career?''

No. Smith played for Meyer. He's a Columbus kid. His grandfather is former Buckeye coach and Meyer mentor Earle Bruce.

It's a "family'' thing. You wouldn't understand.

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

 

The University of Michigan's athletics office is investigating whether any student-athletes violated NCAA rules with regard to shoe resales. North Carolina suspended 13 football players last week after the school found that they committed secondary violations by selling team-issued Nike shoes. Per reports, a retailer who obtained the shoes said it also bought team-issued shoes from Michigan, Cal and Marquette.Michigan athletics spokesman Dave Ablauf told the Free Press via a statement Friday night that the school is aware of the situation and is investigating the matter."We are aware of the report at North Carolina. Our compliance office is looking into this matter and will determine if anything needs to be reported to the NCAA," he wrote.ESPN reported Friday that shoe-marketplace site "StockX" found 23 pairs of Michigan team-issued shoes on its exchange.

This doesn't necessarily mean those shoes were sold by players, Ablauf said, Michigan gives team-issued shoes to executives, celebrities and to charity. Former players who are no longer with the program may also still be in possession of team-issued shoes. Staffers are also issued team shoes.Ablauf told ESPN that players are required to sign forms that outline shoe resales as an NCAA violation. He said the team's equipment staff marks the team-issued shoes with a player's name or uniform number.Michigan's football and basketball programs are outfitted exclusively by Jordan Brand. The rest of the athletic department programs are outfitted by Nike.Michigan athletics signed an 11-year deal with Nike (and Jordan Brand) worth roughly $174 million in 2016.Per NCAA bylaw 16.11.2.4, "an item received for participation in intercollegiate athletics may not be sold or exchanged or assigned for another item of value." This rule applies to student-athletes.North Carolina's football program ultimately suspended 13 players for two to four games after they were found to be in violation of NCAA rule. The school also reportedly disciplined some football staffers after the violations came to light.Michigan football opens its 2018 season Sept. 1 at Notre Dame. The men's basketball program is set to make a nine-day, three-game exhibition tour of Spain starting next Friday.

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

 

NIAGARA FALLS - A group of juveniles is suspected of setting fires Thursday night that damaged the synthetic turf of two Niagara Falls School District softball fields.

Police said that a group of seven juveniles were seen walking to the fields at the Packard Court sports complex around 8:20 p.m. Thursday, moments before a fire was reported. An older juvenile, believed to be between 14 and 16 years of age, was then seen riding a bicycle to an adjoining field and starting a fire near home plate.

The varsity and junior varsity softball fields sustained an estimated $5,000 worth of damage to the artificial turf before the fires were brought under control. The incident remains under investigation.

- Mike Kurilovitch

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

WSU budget analysis

PULLMAN - Pat Chun's first documented success in the fundraising arena came in Columbus, Ohio, at Ohio State, where for a decade-and-a-half he climbed the proverbial ladder from an unpaid intern in the sports information office to an executive athletic director who drove the Buckeyes to some of their most bountiful fundraising years in school history.

So, Chun will credit his alma mater for his start in athletic administration and consequently, his baptism into the business of fundraising.

But the Washington State athletic director, now six months into the job, might say his persuasion skills - especially as they relate to summoning money from others - were honed at a much earlier phase in his life.

Born into a family of blue-collar Korean immigrants who moved to northeast Ohio in pursuit of a better opportunity, Chun was forced to start working in grade school and, back in a more lucrative age of print journalism, he had a daily paper route.

"To be in grade school and to knock on people's door, collect money," Chun said. "When someone new would move on, I'd have to knock on the door, introduce myself to them and say I'm your new carrier. I think growing up, having all those experiences, I would say I've always been learned in a way in which I like people, I like relationships, I like learning about people. I think everyone's a sum of their life experiences, so for whatever reason the sun of my life experiences put me in front of a lot of people and put me in front of a lot of situations where you get to articulate and sell a vision at the purpose of an institution."

Chun is now applying those same traits on a much more macro level to sell a product the athletic director himself is still getting familiar with: Washington State Athletics.

Some might say these are precarious times for an AD in Pullman. On one hand, Chun desires to finish the job his predecessor Bill Moos started, and continue to move the Cougars' athletic facilities into the modern age - no cheap endeavor. On the other, he's dealing with a massive financial shortfall that rivals any in the country.

WSU is close to raising the final dollars that would be necessary for major baseball facility renovations.

"In a baseball term," Chun said, "we're definitely in the ninth inning in terms of getting that thing finished." It would help the Cougars close a widening gap between them and their Pac-12 peers, especially those in the Pacific Northwest.

"In the history of the Pac-12, we've always been in and around the front seat," Chun said. "The greatest baseball player in the history of the Pac-12 is John Olerud - that is not debatable. We need to get our program back to those levels and we have a coach in place we believe in."

WSU needs approximately $9.5 million in private funds to subsidize the baseball clubhouse and donors will have to fork over another $28 million to cover the costs of an indoor football practice facility - the next capital project in the works - that would replace the archaic "bubble" adjacent to Bailey-Brayton Field.

But those agenda items, while pertinent, may not require the same attention from Chun as the department's crater-sized deficit, which is projected to reach $85.1 million by the AD's fifth year in office. WSU has set in motion a plan to balance the budget by 2023, but even containing in it the short-term could be tricky.

To do that, the school is counting on a few non-guaranteed sources of revenue, like increased student fees, which need to be approved by the Associated Students of Washington State University (ASWSU) before granted, and a spike in men's/women's basketball ticket sales. Those programs take a combined NCAA Tournament drought of 27 years - 10 for the men, 17 for the women - into the 2018-19 campaign and to entice students/fans to attend home games at Beasley Coliseum, the school has often fallen back on promotional efforts, rather than a successful on-court product.

Chun was partially responsible for three record fundraising years at Ohio State - the athletic department generated $39 million in 2010, $41 million in 2011 and $42 million in 2012 - but he cautions those also went hand-in-hand with landmark seasons for the Buckeyes' football and men's hoops programs.

"So that is a big piece of it and if you look at those years, the vast majority of the sports weren't winning," Chun said, "but the highest profile sports were competing in Final Fours and national championships so that does matter, that is important."

An external look at the department's current financial status may indicate a bleak reality, but Chun carries a more optimistic outlook - and it's not totally misdirected if you glance at the numbers.

According to USA Today's annual fiscal report of NCAA Division I schools, WSU has increased its overall revenue in ticket sales, from $5,532,126 in 2016 to $7,656,362 in 2017, in addition to contributions, from $7,718,902 to $8,212,785, rights/licensing, from $35,207,583 to $38,045,924, and student fees, from $818,961 to $1,571,828.

When the 2017-18 fiscal year closed, Chun, in a letter, reported record donations to the Cougar Athletic Fund, with annual giving revenue at $7.76 million and overall giving at $15.49 million. He believes WSU is "geared up to do some things in fundraising that we may have not been equipped to do in the past" and expects major movement "in the next 12 to 24 months."

Since Chun inherited his job six months ago, he's spent ample time shaking hands, forging relationships and immersing himself into the school's culture. And there have been more than a few lessons in "Becoming a Coug 101" along the way.

One of those came at a mid-February "Night with Cougar Football" function held in the Tri-Cities. At the door, attendees were given lanyards to hold name badges and two drink tickets.

"My name badge kind of got flipped over and you could see my drink tickets were still in there," Chun said. "I just hadn't used them yet and this kind, older woman comes up to me, kind of grabs my arm, puts her arm around me and says, 'Hey new AD, I've got some advice for you.' I'm like, 'What's that ma'am?' And she says, 'A real Coug uses all their drink tickets.'"

So, Chun's still learning in some ways, but it didn't take him long to sense the devotion and spirit WSU alums carry - "not a four-year proposition at our institution," he described, "it's a 40-year proposition."

"And as we get more people to invest in our cause," Chun said, "I believe we're going to be able to do some special things and make the next chapter in the history of our athletic program one of the greatest ever."

Contact the writer:

(509)939-5928

theol@spokesman.com

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Copyright 2018 SCRIPPS Howard Publications
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Corpus Christi Caller-Times

 

Each year the University Interscholastic League and its Medical Advisory Committee evaluate the rules for early season practices for football, and this season football coaches were faced with more changes than in recent years.

The acclimation period was still a part of workouts while traditional two-a-days have gone away as teams can no longer do two practices a day on consecutive days. This season, though, the UIL allowed teams to don shoulder pads on the third day with padded girdles but no player to player contact.

The fifth day, contact is allowed and on the sixth day, teams can wear full pads.

Some coaches did seek clarification from the UIL on some of the changes, which was a change from previous years.

Also, many coaches across the state attended a tackling clinic at the Texas High School Coaches Association annual convention as the UIL works to make the game safer at their level.

It is too early to tell whether the changes will result in a different look to the game on Friday nights but coaches are taking the changes seriously and passing that onto their players.

Midnight Madness

Banquete and Hebbronville both decided to burn the "Midnight" oil when practices began last Monday. Banquete was on the field shortly after midnight, while Hebbronville came onto the field at about 12:15 a.m. on Aug. 6.

Alice will also start its first workout after midnight on Aug. 13, which is the first day their varsity players can begin workouts.

Big Board

It is hard to miss the newly installed video board at Buc Stadium that matches the one installed at Cabaniss Stadium. They are the biggest video boards in the area and will catch eyes during the first scrimmages hosted by CCISD next week and during Week 1 matchups later this month.

Both district stadiums - and video boards - will be in use on Thursday, Aug. 30, the first day of the season as Veterans Memorial hosts Edcouch-Elsa at Cabaniss and Carroll hosts Gregory-Portland in the Battle of the Bridge at Buc Stadium.

High Hopes for Miller's Receivers

Second-year Miller head coach Justen Evans has much to be excited about with a very experienced team returning this season and his receivers are one of them. The Bucs have size with 6-foot-4 Bubba Lloyd and Cassius Clay, but also will debut Bubba's younger brother Adrean Lloyd and their replacement for the dynamic Laz Franco, Ralph Rodriguez. Rodriguez made a highlight-reel pick-six last season in a loss at Alice and Evans has high hopes that he can be just as effective as Franco was in 2017.

Breckenridge is Back

Ray's offensive drills were as crisp as you'd expect with a three-year starting quarterback, even on the first day. Brad Breckenridge's timing with receivers looked sharp and the Texans have reason to believe that this year, with an experienced offensive front, receivers and a running back, the offense can be as good, or better than it has been.

There is no doubting the drive that Breckenridge and the Texans have after losing InterZone playoff games the last two seasons, including missing the postseason despite a 7-3 season in 2016.

Early Start

Alice, Flour Bluff, Carroll and Veterans Memorial all conducted spring practice but all four teams had players on the field during the first week but they were not varsity players.

The UIL has allowed teams that conducted spring drills to have practices for their freshman in the first week, while varsity players cannot report until the traditional second Monday of scheduled workouts.

It is a change that was welcomed