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Copyright 2018 The Arizona Daily Star Sep 30, 2018

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

 

The man charged with stealing more than $50,000 from a youth football organization paid his water bill and rent using the Marana Broncos' bank account, police records show.

But Steven Leslie Marshall Jr. didn't stop there: During the Oro Valley Police Department's 16-month investigation, detectives interviewed 15 people associated with the Broncos and found evidence that Marshall also used the association's money to pay for car repairs, vehicle registration, hotel rooms at two local resorts. He also purchased braces for himself and his family, police reports show.

The Broncos are one of several teams affiliated with the Tucson Youth Football and Spirit Federation, a nonprofit organization that caters to thousands of children each year.

Marshall pleaded not guilty in Pima County Superior Court Friday to eight felony charges of theft, forgery and fraudulent schemes. He has a case management conference scheduled for Nov. 1.

The Star has made several attempts to contact Marshall, all of which have gone unanswered. Marshall's girlfriend, Jamie Medina, sent an email last week praising Marshall's impact on kids and families over 30 years of coaching. She did not respond to a request for comment on the charges facing Marshall.

TYFSF has banned Marshall for life.

Marana Broncos board members reported Marshall to police in May 2017, shortly after his sudden departure as the association's president. He had held the position for eight years. The board discovered irregular financial activity dating to his time as president, police reports show.

It wasn't the first time: One year earlier, a parent of two Broncos players hired an attorney specifically to request financial information from Marshall. He never provided the requested information, according to the Oro Valley police report, which the Star obtained through a public records request. The attorney then sent an "intent to sue letter" to Marshall and Broncos executive board members.

Marshall eventually provided a document that he said included the Broncos' financial information. A witness said the document made no sense and didn't answer any of the attorney's questions, the police report said.

Marshall stepped down as president on March 1, 2017. The new president and board members attempted to access the team's bank account the following day, and were told that only Marshall had access to the money, according to the report.

Board members eventually learned that Marshall had closed the bank account the day before he resigned as president. Bank records later showed that Marshall asked for a debit card linked to the account - against TYFSF bylaws - and used it to make personal purchases. Board members told police that they believe Marshall was responsible for roughly $90,000 worth of debit charges, checks and unpaid debts, the report says.

Police also spoke to Marshall's employer, Bolt Athletics, who told police that he recently took on $16,000 in debt from the Marana Broncos. As of June 2017, Marshall had only paid back $1,500 of the debt.

Marshall worked as an independent part-time commission-only salesman with Bolt, but has not been with the company for nearly two years, president and CEO Cedar Rihani told the Star.

"Steve Marshall's actions do not represent Bolt Athletics in any way and we most certainly do not condone them if the allegations against Mr Marshall are found to be true," Rihani said. "Our understanding was that Steve wanted to transfer the debt to him because the organization couldn't afford to pay it off."

Oro Valley detectives served subpoenas at several local banks and businesses, requesting documents and receipts affiliated with purchases made from the Broncos account. They found evidence that he used the Broncos money to pay for a rental car, hotel room and merchandise from Adidas and Foot Locker during a visit with his son to Northern California and made purchases for a basketball organization.

Marshall's ex-wife previously told the Star that he was running a for-profit basketball club called Team Orange.

Board members also told police that they believed Marshall used Broncos funds to finance a 2016 trip to Florida for an all-star game, which was also against TYFSF policy.

Police first contacted Marshall in April and attempted to set up an interview. Following months of unreturned phone calls, police got a warrant to "ping" Marshall's location through his cell phone.

He was arrested Sept. 21 at his father's house.

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The Daily News of Los Angeles

 

An arrest was made in the shooting death of LSU basketball player Wayde Sims.

Baton Rouge police said Saturday that Dyteon Simpson, 20, was charged with second-degree murder and is at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.

Sims was shot early Friday in a street fight caught on video near the Southern University campus.

Baton Police Chief Murphy Paul said at a media conference Saturday that investigators concluded from the video and DNA evidence collected at the scene that a man who could be seen punching a friend of Sims shortly before the shooting was Simpson.

"Wayde stepped in to defend his friend and was shot by Simpson," Paul said.

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

 

The sky is falling.

Mel Narol was 51 when he died in 2002. At the time, what had begun as a side job had sadly "flourished" into a full-time gig.

Narol was an attorney for a Princeton-based law firm. He also was a basketball referee, a college lecturer on sports law and a contributor to Referee magazine. The National Association of Sports Officials, NASO, awards an annual medallion in Narol's name and memory.

In the late 1980s, Narol handled a couple of cases a year in which rec league, Little League, Pop Warner or high school game officials were assaulted by family or coaches of participating kids.

It was mostly aberrational. Couple of cases a year. Front page of the local paper, but shot-in-the-dark stuff.

Then it caught fire. Narol became inundated with requests by game officials to provide advice and counsel or represent them in lawsuits after they were assaulted, some with baseball bats.

But as Narol's niche practice grew, such stories became so common they were relegated deeper into the local newspapers and newscasts.

Last August, this space carried a piece about Bill Henel, a devoted Brick, N.J., Little League umpire who became chief umpire. But after 20 years, Henel had packed it in. The kids and parents, so clearly afflicted by what they saw and heard on TV, had grown insufferable, finally beneath his compromised dignity.

Then a piece arrived from Maine's Bangor Daily News about a shortage of youth-league game officials. Officials could no longer suffer the name-calling, the abusive, threatening treatment from mostly young parents and young coaches.

Doing nice for kids and community just wasn't worth it.

Two weeks ago, the Hartford Courant carried a piece about how the statewide Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference is losing game officials due to the increasing insufferable conduct of parents, coaches and spectators.

Last year, NASO conducted a national survey of 17,000 amateur game officials, male and female. Nearly half the respondents claimed "they felt unsafe or feared for their safety because of administrator, coach, spectator and player behavior."

Sportsmanship - civility - within and around kids' sports, they agreed, is in continuing, rapid decline.

And the adult authorities who hold the most influence over sports - from the folks in the truck who select the replays, to marketing strategists, to see/speak-no-evil game announcers, to pros tweeting boasts and threats, to those who select the network promos for their uncivil content, to the sneaker companies, to cable TV's faux-hip pandering show hosts, to Roger Goodell, who declared that rehearsed immodesty "is natural enthusiasm" that meets with his approval - keep fanning the flames.

Look what they've done. Look what they continue to do. Why?

phil.mushnick@nypost.com

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

 

PITTSBURGH — A shooting at a popular Pittsburgh park injured a youth football coach Friday night.

Details are sketchy, but police said the coach was the target of the shooting at Mellon Park.

There were about a dozen children ages of 7 to 10 at practice when the coach was shot.

"It is very concerning. Bullets don't have names on them and there were multiple shots fired, and by the grace of God, no one else got hit," Pittsburgh police Commander Mike Pilyih said.

According to police, a man went to the practice asking for the coach, then shot him several times.

"It appears to be a personal issue," Pilyih said. "They absolutely did know one another."

The coach was taken to the hospital in stable condition, but the shooter remains at large, police said.

"We have detectives who are working this whole scene and they are going to check video here and along here to see if we can get any evidence from that," Pilyih said.

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Copyright 2018 Journal Register Co.

New Haven Register (Connecticut)

 

Kevin Ollie could be facing a show-cause penalty from the NCAA after being hit with a charge of unethical conduct from college sports' governing body.

A notice of allegations sent by the NCAA to both UConn and Ollie reveals that Ollie faces a Level 1 unethical charge due to false or misleading information about phone calls between former UConn stars Ray Allen and Rudy Gay and a highly-touted recruit. The NCAA also states that Ollie lied when denying he knew of impermissible workouts given to multiple UConn players, both on campus and in Atlanta, by Derek Hamilton, a personal friend.

The news was first reported by ESPN on Friday night.

Ollie was charged with multiple violations — providing unfair recruiting benefits, exceeding limits on recruiting hours, failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance, failing to monitor players' outside workouts — that all fall under a coaching responsibility violation.

Ollie was fired with "just cause" on March 10 after six seasons. UConn has determined that Ollie violated multiple NCAA rules and failed to promote a culture of compliance, and the sides are now battling over the more than $10 million remaining on his contract. That is due to go to arbitration unless a resolution through negotiation can be reached.

UConn's case appeared to become a lot stronger now, however, with the NCAA's notice of allegations. The program isn't out of the woods in terms of receiving any sort of punishment from the NCAA, though that wouldn't figure to be a particularly strict penalty.

For Ollie, the NCAA's charges could effect his future employment, if he wants to continue to coach at the collegiate level. A show-cause penalty is an administrative punishment by the NCAA imposed on a coach found to have committed major rules violations. It can stay in effect for that coach for a specific period of time, and also be transferred to any other school that hires the coach while the sanctions are still in effect.

The penalty would have no effect on Ollie if he took a job in the NBA or another professional league.

UConn released the following statement on Friday night:

"The NCAA's notice of allegations is part of a process we have been expecting. We believe its allegations are consistent with our original, internal findings and our joint investigative work with the enforcement staff. We maintain that the actions we have taken to date remain appropriate and consistent with the type, nature, and severity of the levied allegations.

While the allegations are a disappointment for the university, our student-athletes and coaches, and certainly all of UConn Nation, we believe strongly that we have made difficult yet appropriate decisions intended to protect the accountability, integrity, and success of our athletic program now and well into the future."

UConn will hold its first official practice under new coach Dan Hurley on Saturday morning.

The NCAA alleges the following recruiting infractions under Ollie:

Former player Boo Willingham had impermissible in-person recruiting contacts on at least three occasions — one at a high school and two others on-campus.

In 2016-17, the program provided a free meal to a recruit on an unofficial visit.

In December, 2016, Ollie planned and arranged two separate FaceTime calls between a recruit and both Ray Allen and Rudy Gay.

Former director of student-athlete development Danny Griffin had impermissible recruiting contacts between the fall of 2014 and the 2016-17 academic year.

Ollie provided complimentary admission to an away men's basketball game for Derek Hamilton, the father of a recruitable football prospective student-athlete.

During a 2016-17 unofficial visit, the men's basketball staff provided impermissible meals to two prospective student-athletes and their families. The staff also provided free athletic apparel on an unofficial visit.

During the 2016-17 academic year, the program used 132 recruiting person days, exceeding the 130 annual limit.

During a September, 2017 official visit, Ollie shot free throws with a recruit.

The NCAA also alleges that in the spring and summer of 2016, Hamilton, a professional basketball trainer, provided extra benefits to one men's basketball player and two then-men's basketball players, providing free training services, lodging, meals and local transportation. The NCAA asserts that Ollie knew of this but failed to ensure these actions complied with NCAA rules.

The notice of allegations states that Ollie provided false or misleading information to NCAA enforcement staff regarding both the phone calls from Allen and Gay and the training provided and extra benefits provided by Hamilton.

In a statement released on Friday night, Ollie's attorney, Jacques Parenteau, said: "Coach Kevin Ollie is credited with restoring integrity to the UConn men's basketball program and promoting an atmosphere of compliance with NCAA rules following a period that included the team's suspension from tournament play. Under Ollie's leadership the men's basketball program has had among the highest scores in the nation for academic performance. A complete turn-around."

"Coach Ollie strongly disputes the details of the allegations made in the NCAA's notice and is disappointed that the NCAA has chosen to align itself with the University of Connecticut in the pending arbitration," Parenteau's statement continued. "Coach Ollie denies engaging in any conduct that would constitute non-compliance with NCAA rules and regulations and looks forward to defending himself and restoring his reputation."

david.borges@hearstmediact.com

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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

ST. LOUIS — A woman in Missouri filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday, claiming that high school officials had violated Title IX and age discrimination laws after her son failed to make the varsity soccer team and was not allowed to play on the junior varsity team.

The woman, only identified as "Jane Doe" in court documents, is asking for a restraining order and an injunction so that her son can play on the Ladue High School junior varsity soccer team, the Riverfront Times reported.

The son had previously played on the junior varsity team, but school officials said that once a junior tries out for the varsity team and fails, they can't play again on the junior varsity team. This allows younger students to have the opportunity to hone their skills and prepare for varsity team tryouts. The school said that while official policy doesn't prohibit juniors from being on the junior varsity sports teams, slots can be limited depending on how many students try out for a particular team.

The school's soccer coach, Dave Aronberg, said in court that 40 students were trying out for 24 available spots on the varsity soccer team this year, and that Jane Doe's son was "on the bubble." While he had some strengths, he ultimately lacked the technical skills and game decision-making skills to earn a spot on the varsity team, KTVI reported.

The boy's mother is not seeking monetary compensation with her lawsuit, but is requesting that her son be reinstated to the junior varsity soccer team. The school's soccer season is halfway over, the Riverfront Times reported.

The judge plans to issue a decision in the case Monday, KTVI reported.

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Copyright 2018 The Florida Times-Union

Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)

 

High school sports in the Sunshine State may not be ready to wave goodbye to district tournaments.

But the annual mandatory games against district opponents? In baseball, softball and five other sports, those could be going, going, gone.

The Florida High School Athletic Association is scaling back from the sweeping project that would have overhauled seven sports, retaining both district tournaments and enrollment-based classification in its latest proposal.

However, the FHSAA would no longer require schools to play the other teams in the same district during the regular season.

In general, the new approach seems to be a compromise between the current enrollment-based system, in place since the 1930s, and the more wide-ranging overhaul discussed for most of the past four months.

The latter plan would have installed the power rankings of high school sports information provider MaxPreps as the basis for classification, eliminating both district tournaments and districts themselves.

But coaches expressed concern with the scope of those changes, which would have overturned some eight decades of tradition, during the Sept. 5 meeting of the FHSAA's athletic directors advisory committee.

Instead, the revised plan appears far less radical.

• The biggest adjustment: No more mandatory district games.

In the seven sports affected — boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball and volleyball — all districts would have an equal number of teams. Those teams would no longer have to play each other during the regular season.

Postseason district tournaments would remain, but MaxPreps rankings — not district records — would now determine those seedings.

• Those seven sports would all move to six classifications, in addition to the seventh rural classification. As under the current system, the FHSAA would base classes on student population, not power rankings.

That's welcome news for some coaches, like Christ's Church athletic director Kurt Dugan, who favors using enrollment to determine classes.

"Population, to us, is a big deal... moving us in with some of these 6A, 7A schools isn't really good for us at all," Dugan said.

Moving to six classes is an expansion for soccer, which now uses five classes, and a reduction for the other five sports, which have nine each.

• District tournament winners qualify automatically for each of the four regions in each class, and MaxPreps rankings would determine the fifth through eighth seeds — in effect, a wild-card system much like the arrangement installed for football in 2017.

In all, 32 teams would qualify for the playoffs in each of Classes 2A through 7A, while the rural division would continue as before.

The new proposal hopes to incorporate the ideas that schools generally liked, notably increased scheduling flexibility, while retaining the end-of-season tradition of district tournaments.

"I do like the idea of keeping district tournaments, because it's something for many teams to shoot for, including the ones that aren't going for state championships," Stanton athletic director Chris Crider said.

The measure still requires the approval of the FHSAA's board of directors, which is next scheduled to meet Oct. 28-29 in Gainesville.

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

The University of Utah and our state at-large fails to provide women equal opportunity throughout their college experience. As Frances Geerlings noted in her Sept. 20 commentary, this issue is present in education when women are motivated to stand in line for free panties but not drawn to attend an internship event. The inequality isn't just apparent in education but in our beloved Utes athletics.

According to the State of Utah Auditor, The University of Utah generated more than $12 million during the 2017 athletic year through football ticket sales alone. The women's basketball team generated just over $17,000.

Do we as fans feel that women don't play as hard as men? Is this why game after game the women's basketball team plays in an empty arena? This shows we don't incentivize the support and participation for women in different areas of their college life. We women expect to leave as engineers, doctors and free thinkers, but our culture expects us to leave as wives and well-behaved women.

This cycle of disincentivization of our education will end eventually, but I'm done waiting. We've been conditioned by years of being praised for a ring on our finger, but seriously, celebrate the diploma in my hand first please.

 

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

 

UPDATE @ 10:20 a.m. (Sept. 29): Justin K. Smith resigned from his position at the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities Services July 6, according to Janice Rice, APR Director of Communications for the organization.

FIRST REPORT: A former youth soccer coach supposed to go on trial Monday was indicted today on two more child sex charges.

Justin K. Smith, 41, of Germantown, now faces additional charges of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and sexual battery, according to a Montgomery County grand jury report.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday, said Greg Flannagan, spokesman for the Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office.

His trial is no longer on the docket for next week following his May 18 indictment on two counts each of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, sexual battery, and sexual imposition.

Smith remains free on an own-recognizance bond.

Prosecutors have said the charges involve a 14-year-old girl Smith coached through the Southwest Soccer Club. At the time of his May arrest, Smith acted as club president.

It is not clear whether the new charges involve the same girl.

Smith, an employee of the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities Services, remains on administrative leave from his job, prosecutors said.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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

 

This year's edition of a boys high school basketball tournament carrying the name of Adam Lopez was thrown into limbo Friday when Lincoln Land Community College announced it was rescinding its agreement to host the event amid ongoing questions surrounding Lopez.

"Due to uncertainties surrounding pending investigations of Adam Lopez, Lincoln Land Community College will rescind its tournament hosting agreement with Mr. Lopez and Snap Fitness effective immediately," a statement from the college said. "College administrators will work with Lanphier High School to develop alternate tournament arrangements in support of the eight teams who have been invited to participate."

Jennifer Gill, District 186's superintendent, said Friday the district was working with Lincoln Land to determine if there was a way to still hold the tournament. It would cost about $20,000 to fulfill commitments already made to the teams that had signed up to play, she said.

"We'd rather have the tournament if we're going to have to pay (the teams)," she said.

Gill said the district would seek donors.

"It's not what taxpayer dollars would go to," she said.

LLCC's announcement comes the same week Country Financial confirmed it terminated Lopez and launched an investigation after receiving complaints from Lopez's customers and subsequently finding "irregularities" upon a review of accounts overseen by Lopez. Springfield police also said this week they are investigating a report filed about Lopez but did not elaborate on the allegations in the report.

In a statement issued through his lawyer earlier this week, Lopez said he disagrees with Country Financial's basis for firing him and is exploring his legal options.

"I am issuing this statement now because of the unnecessary and false rumors that have circulated through the community," he wrote. "My family and I are determining our next steps as I explore my options and consider new opportunities for employment."

The fourth edition of the Adam Lopez Thanksgiving Tournament was to take place in November at LLCC's Cass Gymnasium. It was the first year the event was to be held at Lincoln Land. The previous three years were at Lanphier High School, and the event was sponsored each year by Lopez's Country Financial insurance office.

The change in venue came earlier this year amid questions raised by local businessman Frank Vala, who went to a Springfield School Board meeting and questioned Lopez - who is vice president of the school board - about tournament sponsorship fees, insurance and custodial costs, as well as facility rental when the event was held at Lanphier.

When the five-year agreement with LLCC was announced in July, Lopez said a look into Vala's questions revealed Lopez didn't do anything wrong. But it did lead the school board to change some policies.

"To me, it was easier to move the tournament to a new venue because it had become a pain and we knew this was never going to end," Lopez said in July.

As part of the change announced in July, the main tournament sponsor switched from Lopez's Country Financial office to Snap Fitness 24-7. Lopez's wife, Christine, owns local Snap Fitness locations.

Tony DelGiorno, Lopez's attorney, said Friday LLCC's decision to rescind the hosting agreement "may be a breach of contract."

"As far as I know, Snap is able to move forward with their portion of this contract," he said.

DelGiorno said the Lopezes are willing to remove any mention of Adam Lopez from the contract, given the investigation.

"We understand Lincoln Land's hesitancy," he said.

The 2018 field for the tournament is set. Besides Lanphier, the tournament will host Chicago Brooks, Chicago Curie, Chicago Orr, North Chicago, East St. Louis, Peoria Manual and St. Louis Cardinal Ritter.

Gill said that at this point in the year, the teams would be unlikely to be able to enter other tournaments or adjust their schedules.

"The teams the tournament attracted are great competition for each other," she said. "We hope (the tournament) doesn't go away."

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU basketball player Wayde Sims died after he was shot during a fight involving several men early Friday near the campus of another university in his hometown of Baton Rouge.

Sims, 20, was shot around 12:25 a.m. and died from his wounds at a hospital, Baton Rouge police Sgt. Don Coppola Jr. said.

The shooting happened near Southern University's A.W. Mumford Stadium, where homecoming festivities are taking place this weekend.

Police have begun circulating a video of a fight among several men in a street which they believe led to the shooting of Sims. Police did not identify Sims in the video, but Coppola said police are primarily interested in identifying a man seen wearing red pants with a white stripe.

LSU basketball coach Will Wade, speaking alongside Athletic Director Joe Alleva at LSU's Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Friday morning, said the team is "devastated" and "in shock."

Wade described Sims as the "team jokester" who was always smiling and, as one of the few players with a car, would happily shepherd teammates around town on errands or to show off the city where he grew up.

"Everybody on the team loved him," Wade said.

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

 

The Lehigh Senior High School football team will be without three of its players when it faces Fort Myers High School tonight due to six-week suspensions handed down by the Florida High School Athletic Association for their participation in a fight following a game in St. Petersburg last week.

In addition, Lehigh was fined $500 and placed on administrative probation for the rest of the school year because of the brawl which began during the postgame handshake after the undefeated Lightning scored 20 fourth-quarter points to beat St. Petersburg Lakewood 20-17 on Sept. 21, according to the FHSAA report obtained by The News-Press.

Five Lakewood players were handed six-game bans and another must serve a one-game suspension. The suspended players' names from each school were redacted in the report.

The players who were disciplined can return to play in the state playoffs. However, should either team not make the playoffs the suspensions can carry over to the next sport in which the players participate.

Lakewood was fined $1,300 and placed on administrative probation which ends after the current school year. Under FHSAA guidelines, harsher penalties are called for any further violations by either program while on probation.

Members of both teams are required to complete an approved FHSAA Sportsmanship Program.

"Coaches and administrators from Lehigh Senior High School took quick action to protect players and students at the end of last Friday's game," Lee County School District spokesman Rob Spicker said. "They met with the team and with parents first thing on Saturday morning to discuss what happened and worked with the FHSAA during its investigation.

"The school district will be adding postgame handshake etiquette to the Lee County Athletic Conference handbook."

Witness reports stated a few different altercations broke out during the postgame handshakes.

Lehigh principal Jackie Corey and athletic director Nick Dysert were on duty roaming the visitor sideline throughout the game, according to the FHSAA report.

Corey said in the report a scuffle erupted near the home side of the field prompting Lakewood players to run toward the incident. She said she saw a Lehigh player "being pounded numerous by (Lakewood) players" and another one of her students "whaling on the ground because he had been pepper sprayed" by police.

Another player, Corey said, fell to the ground complaining of severe pain and was transported to a local hospital in an ambulance.

Lakewood principal Erin Savage gave few specifics about the altercation in the report other than while coaches attempted to break up the fight on the Lakewood sideline another began at midfield.

A few Lakewood administrators reported an individual from Lehigh on the Lakewood sideline antagonizing Lakewood players during the game that got chippy at times, including an instance where the film shows a Lakewood player punch a Lehigh player following an interception.

Lakewood's film crew was the only one to record incidents that happened during the handshake line. Review of the film showed numerous Lakewood players refusing to shake hands before a Lakewood player stormed through the line and was removed by his coach.

Lehigh coach James Chaney said in the report one of his players was pushed by a Lakewood player. After the Lehigh player put his hands up to avoid conflict, Chaney added several Lakewood players started to punch his player.

There were two instances where Lakewood players tried to use their helmets as weapons, the report said after a review of the film. One Lakewood player threw his helmet at a Lehigh player and another attempted to swing his helmet at Lehigh coach Jelani Murray but was stopped by a Lakewood coach.

Following the incident, Savage said in the report she was met by obscene gestures from Lehigh players.

"As I and one of my assistant principals were walking up to the gym area to allow Lehigh players to retrieve their items, some of the players were giving us the middle finger through the bus windows," Savage said in the report. "And we could see some of them on the back of the bus emulating a fight."

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

 

Jon Palumbo, VCU's deputy director of athletics since October 2012, is set to become the athletics director at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi announced Wednesday that Palumbo is the sole finalist for its athletics director position.

"Islander Athletics is poised for great things, and I am humbled and excited to have the opportunity to join such a dedicated group of people," Palumbo said in a statement.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi competes in the Southland Conference.

During his time at VCU, Palumbo put together the financing plan for and oversaw construction of the Rams' $25 million Basketball Development Center.

He was also a lead negotiator of VCU's 10-year year Learfield Sports multimedia rights deal, which was announced in June 2015 and which guarantees the school $20 million.

Before VCU, Palumbo worked at Maryland, American University and William & Mary.

He earned his master's and bachelor's degrees from La Salle. He also played baseball there and was the team captain in 2001.

According to a release from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Palumbo's appointment is pending approval from the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.

wepps@timesdispatch.com(804) 649-6442@wayneeppsjr

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

 

GREENSBORO — Smith's boys soccer team is expected to forfeit matches because an ineligible player participated, Guilford County Schools officials confirmed Thursday.

The student, who wasn't identified because of privacy laws, was ineligible for athletics because his participation violated the N.C. High School Athletic Association rule that limits students to eight semesters of competition, GCS athletics director Leigh Hebbard wrote in an email.

The violations have been reported to the NCHSAA, which will rule on the forfeits and can levy a fine.

Hebbard said he didn't know how many of the Golden Eagles' 11 matches the player was in uniform for and would have to be forfeited.

Smith was 4-6-1 going into Thursday's match at Parkland, with two wins over Eastern Guilford and one each over Dudley and Western Guilford and a tie with Northeast Guilford.

Another Guilford County high school, Page, is still awaiting a ruling from the NCHSAA after self-reporting that two academically inelgibile players participated in three Pirates victories in August.

All three wins are expected to be ruled forfeits — Page has updated its schedule and results on the MaxPreps website to reflect the forfeits — and the state association is also expected to fine the school for the violations. Such fines typically range from $100 to $1,000.

The forfeit losses to Davie County, Northern Guilford and Dudley would leave the Pirates with a 2-4 record heading into Friday night's home game against East Forsyth (5-0).

Hebbard also said that a review of the eligibility of students participating in all nine fall sports at Page has been completed and no additional ineligible students had been found. He added that, "There is no reason to believe a review is needed at all schools."

Contact Joe Sirera at 336-373-7034, and follow @JoeSireraNR on Twitter.

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Mark Harlan is so impressed with Utah's football fans that he wants to meet them in the MUSS.

He's continuing to study the potential expansion of Rice-Eccles Stadium, intending to make a decision sometime during this season.

At the 90-day mark of his tenure as the Utes' athletic director, Harlan cited the football environment as making the strongest impact on his view of the job. "I had such high expectations of these home football games, but everything had far exceeded anything that I could have hoped for," Harlan said in an interview Thursday. "The energy at the games, it's just been overwhelming."

He's intending to immerse himself in it, joining the Mighty Utah Student Section for an upcoming game. During the Aug. 30 season opener vs. Weber State, Harlan marveled about a full venue for a 6 p.m. weeknight kickoff against an FCS opponent, wondering where else in the country that could happen.

So he's following through with an expansion study that he inherited from Chris Hill's administration and has taken "the lion's share of my time" since his arrival. Harlan is close to reaching a conclusion after extensive meetings with consulting groups that have studied how fans would support it.

"It's a massive project," he said, and he's encouraged by meeting donors. "We have a lot of investors who care a lot about us, and that bodes well for what we're doing."

Having worked at South Florida in a Tampa Bay sports market where the Bulls competed for attention with three professional teams, Harlan now operates an athletic program with a built-in following. Yet he worries about a slight drop in men's basketball attendance. The Utes went from average attendance of 12,000-plus to 11,710 in 2017-18.

"When I see that," he said, "we attack it."

His marketing strategy is based on improving the experience for fans, once they're in the building. "We want to have the best in-game atmosphere that we possibly can have," Harlan said, wanting Utah to be "an elite school when it comes to the experience for our fans."

As of one of three new athletic directors in the conference, Harlan recently was invited to the Pac-12 office in San Francisco for an introduction that included a 90-minute visit with commissioner Larry Scott. Harlan worked at UCLA when Utah came into the league. The session with Scott assured him "how much value Utah brings to the league," academically and athletically.

One of the projects the Utes will join the conference in tackling involves feedback from fans about what brings them to events and keeps them coming back.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

Super Bowl XLI was a watershed moment in NFL history. For the first time, black head coaches had led their teams to the sport's biggest stage: Tony Dungy of the Colts and Lovie Smith of the Bears became the first coaches of color to reach the Super Bowl, and Dungy, following a 29-17 win, was the first to lift the Lombardi Trophy.

For black coaches across all levels of competition, the moment represented a potential turning point for a profession that only within the previous two decades — the Raiders in 1989 made Art Shell the first black head coach of the NFL's modern era — had started to see minority candidates seriously considered for openings on the professional and college ranks.

"There was a sense among coaches, black coaches specifically, that now that you've seen a black coach win a Super Bowl, that would open up more opportunities for others," Penn State coach James Franklin said.

There have been gains made in the past decade. There were three black head coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2008, the fewest since 1993, following the resignation of former Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom. There are now 15, with at least one minority head coach in every conference but the Big 12.

Yet of the 22 coaching changes in major-college football following last season, just three involved a minority hire — and just one of those three, Arizona State and Herm Edwards, involved a black coach who was not already a head coach on the FBS level. And while the number of black head coaches has grown by one since last season, the total still represents just 11 percent of all head coaches at a time when black athletes comprise nearly 56 percent of rosters.

"It's always been that way," Florida State coach Willie Taggart said. "It's changing, probably not as fast as we want it to, but it is."

Even amid slight gains, the relative dearth of black head coaches is a crucial issue in coaching, leading educators and university administrators to grapple with what steps, if any, can be taken to address the disproportionately low number of minority figures in college football's leadership roles.

"Until we get sustained change over a long period of time, I'm not ready to say we've made a lot of progress," said Richard Lapchick, the director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.

Meanwhile, even established and successful head coaches of color come under increased levels of scrutiny, as shown in an anonymous survey of FBS head coaches conducted in August by CBS Sports.

Three of the nine coaches labeled as "overrated" in the survey were black: Franklin, Taggart and Stanford's David Shaw.

One anonymous coach said Franklin's coaching peers "know he's full of it," and that "he's a good marketer."

Another said of Shaw, caustically, "it's like (he's) God's gift to football."

The results of the survey contradict each one's on-field success.

Shaw has led Stanford to 77 wins in 99 games during his eight seasons at Stanford, including three trips to the Rose Bowl.

Franklin had two nine-win seasons at Vanderbilt before taking the job at Penn State. He has overseen the rebuilding of the Nittany Lions back among the national elite.

And Taggart built up programs at Western Kentucky and South Florida before his one season at Oregon that led to being hired as Jimbo Fisher's replacement in Tallahassee.

Shaw and Franklin will be in the spotlight in the two biggest games of the college football weekend when No. 7 Stanford travels to No. 8 Notre Dame and No. 9 Penn State hosts No. 4 Ohio State.

"That's got to be concerning," Franklin said of the survey. "You sit here and you say, 'Well, of all the coaches in the country, these are the coaches that are mentioned?' That seems odd. It seems odd."

The results run deeper than mere coincidence, said Cyrus Mehri, who co-founded the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which promotes diversity in the NFL.

"With every step of progress there's an undercurrent against it. That's how I read that."

There is also unquestionably an equally disproportionate number of minority assistant coaches in positions most likely to lead to an opportunity as a head coach, as either an offensive or defensive coordinator. Just three of the 25 coordinators or co-coordinators in the Big 12 are black, for instance. Each of the eight first-time FBS head coaches hired before this season, all of whom are white, occupied a coordinator position in 2017.

As a result, there is a lack of diversity in the coaching pipeline, as Lapchick put it, of current assistant coaches identified as being part of the next wave of head coaches.

"Unless someone owns this issue and develops what we call a 'ready list' of coaches, the numbers are going to be flat," said Mehri, the co-author of a 2003 paper that heavily influenced the NFL's Rooney Rule, which mandates that organizations must interview at least one minority candidate for a head coach opening.

The under-representation of black coaches is mirrored on the administrative level. Fourteen of the 130 athletics directors were black as of last October, according to Lapchick's College Sport Racial & Gender Report Card for 2017. Athletics directors are "going to generally turn to people they know," Lapchick said.

"It's access to the decision makers," Shaw said. "For those athletics directors, presidents and provosts that are involved in the process, the committees and search firms, it's providing access to those viable candidates."

Some of the NFL's success in promoting minority candidates for open positions is almost certainly a result of the Rooney Rule. The FBS implemented a similar policy in 2008, though it differed in one key respect: While mandating that universities interview a minority candidate for an opening at head coach, it did not include penalties for a failure to comply.

But while the Rooney Rule had teeth, NFL franchises could also see a number of minority head coaches reach the pinnacle of their profession — Dungy and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin won back-to-back Super Bowls in 2006 and 2007, and Smith and former Colts coach Jim Caldwell reached the Super Bowl in 2006 and 2009, respectively.

Barring a shift toward adopting a Rooney Rule-like policy — Lapchick offered up a plan named after former Grambling State coach Eddie Robinson — opportunities for minority candidates might be driven by the current crop of minority head coaches: In terms of coaching diversity, college football's own watershed moment might not come until the first national championship won by a black head coach.

"I will tell you that I do think that guys like David Shaw and myself and (Taggart), I think we do feel like we carry an extra weight," Franklin said.

"And I think there's that same feeling in college football, that a lot of us carry that weight that if we are successful, that's going to create opportunities for others."

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Copyright 2018 Chattanooga Publishing Company
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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

Hamilton County Schools has settled a civil lawsuit with a former Ooltewah High School student who needed emergency surgery after being raped with a pool cue nearly three years ago. But the terms are confidential.

"John Doe's" attorneys reached an agreement with school attorneys after a Sept. 11 mediation, and Chattanooga U.S. District Court Judge Harry "Sandy" Mattice acknowledged the settlement in an order Thursday asking both parties to file certain paperwork to end the case.

Attorney Monica Beck, from the Fierberg National Group, said her client, now 18, and his family pushed through deep humiliation to achieve justice.

"Today, we as a nation are witnessing how difficult it is even for adult survivors of sexual assault to come forward and report how they suffered," she said in a statement. "John Doe must be applauded for his courage and fortitude. We also hope this settlement serves as a strong message to all institutions that high school sexual assault is nothing to be minimized or cynically dismissed as simple, youthful indiscretion."

"John Doe" and "Richard Roe" are two of the four then minors who say older classmates attacked them with pool cues during a December 2015 trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for a basketball tournament. On the night in question, with coaches either gone or not watching, Doe's classmates held him down and penetrated his rectum with a pool cue. Roe, meanwhile, said he was prodded with the pool cue over his clothes and managed to escape being penetrated. They both filed lawsuits in 2016 that Mattice set for trial in December.

School attorneys are still fighting Roe's claim and have previously said he has "no real damages," partly because he didn't have physical injuries like Doe. Eric Oliver, one of Roe's attorneys, said Thursday they have not yet been to mediation with school attorneys. 

School attorneys either could not be reached for comment or declined to comment Thursday on the settlement figures, and whether the district's insurance policy will cover it. Scott Bennett, the district's regular attorney, directed a Times Free Press reporter to lead Jackson, Tennessee, attorney Chuck Purcell, who did not answer or return multiple phone calls and emails. When asked for specifics on the settlement, Bennett also didn't respond.

Throughout Doe and Roe's cases, Bennett and Purcell argued the district wasn't to blame, instead putting the onus on the older, attacking classmates. Three of them were charged, and in 2016, one was convicted of aggravated rape and two others of aggravated assault. They also argued the coaches and district had no real knowledge of the alleged culture of harassment and bullying that an outside investigator ultimately found existed in the school's basketball program in 2016.

Doe and Roe's attorneys, on the other hand, said the district treated their clients' injuries with deliberate indifference before and after the attack. 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.

In a 62-page order from August, Mattice said Doe and Roe could bring two of their arguments to trial: One was a civil rights violation claim that a "failure to train" resulted in their injuries and the other is a Title IX claim for sexual harassment. Mattice, however, said Doe and Roe could only mention "pre-assault" indifference, not any post-assault indifference, since the judge believed the district tried to address the incident with an investigation.

Roe's attorneys have asked Mattice to change his mind on the post-assault indifference, while school attorneys have previously said they want Mattice's permission to appeal his 62-page ruling altogether. Court records show Mattice hasn't ruled on any of these motions yet.

Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at zpeterson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.

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Copyright 2018 Digital First Media
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The Daily News of Los Angeles

 

Occidental College's gay former athletic director is suing the university, alleging she was fired in retaliation for complaining that she was the victim of gender and sexual orientation discrimination.

Occidental College's gay former athletic director is suing the university, alleging she was fired this summer in retaliation for complaining to the school's president that she was the victim of gender and sexual orientation discrimination.

Jaime Hoffman's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit names as defendants the college and Occidental President Jonathan Veitch. Her additional allegations include harassment and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

An Occidental representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the complaint, which was filed Monday and seeks unspecified damages.

"Occidental College, a liberal arts college known for the progressive ideology of its famous former student, President Obama, boasts of equity as one of the four cornerstones of it mission..." the opening paragraph of the 63-page suit reads. "Sadly, the college does not live (up to) this value."

The school's true tradition, according to Hoffman's suit, "is one of silencing outspoken women who use their voices to make the school a safer place and one of integrity. Plaintiff Jaime Hoffman is one of those women."

Hoffman was hired as Occidental's women's head basketball coach in July 2005, named interim athletic director in 2007 and given the permanent job six months later by Veitch's predecessor.

Occidental "flourished" under Hoffman's leadership and she played an important role in the school's fundraising, but she became concerned about Veitch's alleged lack of candor in telling donors about changes in how money would be spent, according to her court papers.

"Plaintiff repeatedly requested that Veitch, for the sake of Oxy's credibility, either keep the promises or inform donors of the change," the suit said. But Veitch refused, despite knowing the adverse effect his decision would have on the school and on Hoffman's reputation, according to the complaint.

Although the decision to fire popular longtime Occidental football coach Dale Widolff in 2012 in the wake of a NCAA investigation into alleged recruiting violations was a joint decision among Hoffman, Veitch and the university's Board of Trustees, Veitch portrayed the action as the plaintiff's, subjecting her to scapegoating and abuse from the football community, the lawsuit alleges.

The plaintiff claims Occidental did nothing when postings on the school website concerning Hoffman called her a "dyke" and a "witch." Veitch, after hearing Hoffman's complaints about sexist and homophobic harassment after the Widolff firing, told the plaintiff, "C'mon, Jaime, let's not Monday-morning quarterback," the suit said.

The school's football program faltered after the Widolff firing, especially in recruiting, and Veitch blamed the problem on Hoffman, according to her suit.

When Hoffman addressed the football team after a decision to cancel a game in September 2017 because of a small number of eligible players, some members of the team began swearing at her and asked her such questions as "What do you know about football?" the suit said.

Concerned about her family's safety in the wake of the meeting with the players and a verbal attack that occurred while she was at home with her partner and babysitter, Hoffman moved her family to a new location more than 30 miles away, the suit said.

Hoffman went on leave because of emotional distress in the fall of 2017 and attempted to return to work in July, the suit said. However, Hoffman was notified by telephone by Occidental human resources management in August that she was being fired and that Veitch made the decision, according to her court papers.

"Following plaintiff's termination, multiple (Occidental) female coaches quit without alternative employment in place rather than remain in the sexist and hostile Occidental Athletic Departmentwork environment allowed to fester under Veitch's reign," the suit said.

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

In an effort to reduce players' risk of brain damage, the NFL is trying to "take the head out of the game."

But who knew they were speaking figuratively, too?

The term became a mantra in 2012 when USA Football and its sugar daddy, the NFL, rolled out "Heads Up Football," a program intended to make the sport safer for youth through new tackling techniques, improved coaching and better-fitting equipment. The effort netted commissioner Roger Goodell the Neurosurgical Society of America's "Medal for Outstanding Service" in 2013.

"We want to take the head out of the game," Goodell said at the time. "The helmet is for protection. It is not a weapon."

And the brain is designed for thinking, not just filling space in a skull.

But the NFL has lost its mind this season in starkly shifting emphasis from protecting players' heads to protecting the offense's head. Roughing-the-passer penalties have more than doubled though three weeks compared to last season (34-16). The controversy is dominating discussions about the league in derogatory fashion.

Meanwhile, at the youth level, where there can't be too much safety talk, participation continues its drop. According to data from the National Federation of State High School Associations, the number of prep players has declined 6.6 percent in the past decade. Locally, at least six area high school teams cancelled their seasons this year due to low turnout.

Football easily remains the top participatory sport for high school boys, with the NFSHSA reporting there were 1,036,842 football players in 2017, compared to 600,097 track & field participants and 551,373 basketball players. But there's no denying the game is trending in the wrong direction.

Goodell & Co. saw the problem developing and responded with Heads Up Football, mostly a joke. It was an unsuccessful attempt to combat the negative stories concussions, suicides and lawsuits that flooded the news cycle and frightened moms who otherwise might've let their sons play.

Now, football officials are faced with a dilemma. The overemphasis on roughing the passer has increased claims that the game is becoming too soft, while researchers argue that tackle football still isn't soft enough for youth.

Safety concerns are eating football from top to bottom. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wants to separate the men from the boys, but many moms will continue to steer their boys away based on what lies ahead.

"It's real important that pro football distinguish itself as a very physical game relative to the game at college, relative to the game at high school and amateur," Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 FM in Dallas. "That's very important. Now, where to find that balance, that's one thing.

"But when it comes to pro football, to use a boxing term, that's when you put the 6-ounce gloves on. That's when you don't want to fight with those 10-ounce gloves or you don't fight with those headgears.... You're paid a lot of money to go out and incur those type situations that have more risks in them."

That includes a defensive back incurring 310-pound offensive linemen barrel-rolling into his leg and snapping his ankle, the perfectly legal play Sunday that sent New Orleans cornerback Patrick Robinson to injured reserve. Like Goodell said at his Super Bowl news conference in 2016, trying to tamp down concerns about a recent spate of young football players dying: "There's risks in life; there's risks in sitting on the couch."

Uh, OK. But to stick with Jones' boxing metaphor, the risk of being knocked out is much greater in the ring than on the couch.

There aren't that many moms who want their kid to box, even with the headgear and big gloves. The prospect of him losing the extra protection if he turns professional provides less incentive. But the NFL wants to make the introduction to tackle football as nonthreatening as possible. Especially with growing calls to give kids flags and keep them out of pads until they're teenagers.

Meanwhile, on Sundays, there are howls from fans, players, coaches and media, all of whom are shocked and dismayed at the penalty flags for basic hits. The game has devolved to the point that Miami Dolphins defensive end Williams Hayes suffered an ACL tear as he tried to avoid a roughing-the-passer penalty on a routine sack.

The NFL's overcompensation on these plays doesn't appeal to followers. And it doesn't assuage fears for parents, either. That's a tough position for a sport to be in. Looks like football is stuck between a pillow and a soft place.

 

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Copyright 2018 Press Enterprise, Inc.
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The Press Enterprise (Riverside, CA)

 

Orange Vista High School now boasts a new football stadium.

School and Perris city officials, students, cheerleaders and others took part Sept. 7 in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the occasion. After a speech by Suzanne Stotlar, president of the Val Verde Unified School District board, the first varsity football game was played on the field.

The Perris campus is the third comprehensive high school for Val Verde and opened in August 2016.

The stadium marks the end of Orange Vista's third phase of construction, which also included a 31-classroom building. The school has 2,266 students and will graduate its first class this school year.

"We are incredibly grateful for the state-of-the-art facilities that will host many memorable student events at Orange Vista," Orange Vista Principal Josh Workman said in a news release.

The stadium has a synthetic turf field, a rubberized track, a snack bar and seating for 5,271.

"This is more than a football stadium, but a symbol of spirit and pride for the community," Val Verde Superintendent Michael McCormick said in the release.

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

 

CHAPEL HILL - In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and devastating flooding across the state, N.C. High School Athletic Association Commissioner Que Tucker and the association's board of directors have requested that member schools designate a contest or contests during the period Oct. 1-19 for hurricane relief efforts.

Schools are asked to participate by collecting money at any home contest during that time and forwarding that money to the association, which will act as a clearinghouse. All money will be divided and sent to counties that have been designated as disaster areas and were federally approved for individual assistance.

The NCHSAA's board of directors has approved matching funds up to $25,000 to add to the money collected during the drive by schools.

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, NCHSAA schools - helped by a matching contribution authorized by the NCHSAA board - donated more than $44,000 to school systems in the affected areas. In the case of Hurricane Floyd, the NCHSAA collected donations at statewide regional meetings and also provided a matching donation.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

The power dynamics of college football have always been ridiculously one-sided. The coach controls the roster, the coach controls the playing time and often, if the player wants to leave, the coach controls when and where they can go.

But Kelly Bryant's decision to leave No. 2 Clemson after losing his starting job to freshman Trevor Lawrence this week was a message that will reverberate across every locker room in the country. Thanks to a more liberal NCAA redshirt rule — one that coaches pushed for in near-unanimity, by the way — the power dynamic has shifted. Just like that, the quarterbacks now hold all the cards.

"I'm not sure if everybody thought about it going into, but immediately when I saw the rule, I knew quarterbacks were going to be in a power position," said Quincy Avery, a private quarterbacks coach out of Atlanta who has worked with high-profile players such as Georgia's Justin Fields and Alabama's Jalen Hurts. "It's something that's never happened before."

When the NCAA announced this year it would allow players to compete in up to four games while retaining that year of eligibility, coaches celebrated. In theory, the rule would allow them the freedom to take a look at some of their freshmen in game situations or be able to backfill for short-term injuries late in the season without burning someone's redshirt.

What never came up in the discussion, however, was the inevitability that all kinds of players, but particularly quarterbacks, would use that four-game mark as a gauge for whether they should transfer.

Since late last week, the point at which most teams were playing their fourth game, around a dozen players announced their intention to transfer and preserve that year of eligibility. Among them were a couple of big names, including Auburn starting receiver Nate Craig-Meyers and Oklahoma State receiver Jalen McCleskey.

Bryant is both the biggest name to use the new rule thus far and the player whose departure could most impact the College Football Playoff race because it leaves Clemson in a precarious position if Lawrence suffers an injury.

"As a coach, sometimes you have to make tough decisions that are in the best interest of your team, and this is one of those decisions and I'd make it all over again because I believe it's what's right for our team," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "I feel like Kelly would have continued to help us win and play a lot, but that's not what he wanted to do."

Swinney did nothing wrong here. Though Lawrence was arguably the most celebrated quarterback recruit ever out of Georgia, it was predictable that Bryant's experience would give him the edge coming out of camp. It was also predictable that Lawrence would eventually surpass him because the ceiling for that offense was much higher when he was in the game. It would have been hard to watch Clemson's win last Saturday at Georgia Tech, when Bryant started slowly and Lawrence moved the offense at will, and disagree with Swinney making the change now.

But it would be a mistake to suggest this situation is a one-off. To the contrary, this will have consequences for how every high-profile program runs its quarterback room.

Think about how this rule might have impacted Ohio State in 2014 when Cardale Jones went from third-stringer to winning a national championship after injuries to Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett. Or last season, when the Buckeyes were stubbornly playing Barrett over a quarterback with more upside in Dwayne Haskins.

Though it appears Jalen Hurts is staying at Alabama to be Tua Tagovailoa's backup for the rest of this season, the possibility he might leave has been the elephant in the room all season. Even at Georgia, where there's no talk of a controversy right now between Jake Fromm and highly rated freshman Justin Fields, it's virtually certain that the situation will come to a head at some point.

While it's nothing new for quarterbacks to transfer if they're not starting, the new redshirt rule could force coaching staffs to change the way they recruit. In the past, the elite programs had no qualms about bringing one five-star quarterback after another, even with the understanding that one of them would probably transfer because they weren't playing. But that was always an offseason problem, not something that could bubble up one-third of the way through the season.

The reality of what happened at Clemson on Wednesday is that Swinney lost his insurance policy. If Lawrence gets hurt, the Tigers' season is probably unsalvageable.

In the past, coaches would say whatever they needed to say, make whatever promises they had to make to ensure if one quarterback got hurt that they had another one ready to play. But as Avery pointed out, that might not be good enough anymore.

"I understand college coaches have a job to do to get the best players there, but a lot of their inability to be frank and straightforward and let them know what's going on up front caused a lot of issues," Avery said. "It's been problematic for quarterbacks for quite some time, and it's really the only position where you only get one guy on the field and it was stressful for all parties involved because if played in one game they were stuck."

Now the NCAA has given them recourse to get unstuck, and with the quarterback position in particular, you can't blame a kid for deciding he'd be better off somewhere else.

Make no mistake, what happened with Bryant is an unintended consequence of coaches pushing for a new rule that would supposedly help them build greater depth. Instead, it's being used against them to put their most important position at risk.

Given how the power dynamic has been stacked against the student-athletes forever in college sports, nobody should shed a tear for this unexpected swing in the opposite direction.

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Copyright 2018 Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Inc.
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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)

 

NORTHBORO — Algonquin Regional High School has received word from Special Olympics Massachusetts that it has been named one of ten schools from across the state to receive national banner recognition.

"I couldn't be more proud to be part of an amazing group of student athletes and their families who support them. We're proud to have a progam that is robust and worthy of recognition by Special Olympics," said Kevin Hausman, an Algonquin High science teacher and head coach of the Tomahawks' Unified Track and Field team.

"We started our unified track and field team seven years ago, and our unified basketball team four years ago," said Mr. Hausman.

A unified team is one in which students with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities train and compete side by side as teammates. Algonquin, as have many schools across the state, has created opportunities for inclusive sports.

The primary activities to be considered for national banner recognition are that the school hosts two or more Special Olympics Unified Sports Teams, develops inclusive youth leadership and whole-school engagement and have sustainable programs.

Mr. Hausman praised the foresight of former Algonquin High Athletic Director Fran Whitten, who introduced unified track and field to the school, first as a co-op team with Westboro High.

The Tomahawks' Unified Track and Field team came close to winning the state championship a few years ago, finishing as runners-up.

The success of Algonquin's unified track and field shows in the participant numbers, now up to 50 students, with partners having passed an application process. "The students selected commit to the whole season and care genuinely about inclusion," Mr. Hausman said. "They are on the team to improve themselves and help their teammates."

Mr. Hausman said that an official unveiling of the national recognition banner is tentatively scheduled for November, perhaps coinciding with the school's annual fall pep rally. The banner may be displayed in the school lobby for a few weeks before the administration finds a permanent place in the gymnasium for it.

"This award recognizes the contributions of dozens of staff members and hundreds of students from now and going back to the last seven years," Mr. Hausman said. "No one person made this happen, it was really the school community which recognizes each individual's gift, talent and ability. With unified sports, the pride of being on a sports team can be realized by any student. Algonquin's dedicated coaches and aides ensure that each of our athletes is included while our teachers and staff create cheer tunnels to make our student-athletes feel like all-stars."

 

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

 

St. John's is closing in on a new athletic director, and the Queens school is picking from one of the nation's most successful athletic departments for that choice.

Mike Cragg, the deputy director of athletics at Duke, who oversaw the powerhouse program as a senior administrator and was in charge of facilities and planning at the school, agreed in principle Tuesday afternoon to become the athletic director at St. John's, sources confirmed to The Post. The final details still had to be hammered out, but an official announcement is expected Wednesday, sources said.

Cragg will replace Anton Goff, who resigned citing "family reasons" in late June after just 19 months on the job. Kathleen Meehan, associate vice president for athletics and senior women's administration, had been serving as the interim AD. St. John's hired the search firm Collegiate Sports Associates and settled on Cragg. He had been with the Blue Devils since 1987, starting in sports information and climbing up the ladder, working directly under Duke AD Kevin White the past nine years.

A high-level administrative St. John's source said Cragg will have full autonomy over every athletic program, including the flagship basketball team, a privilege Goff lacked. An alumnus of the University of Washington, Cragg helped found the Duke Basketball Legacy Fund and is credited in part with raising $115 million for the program. He was also the school's day-to-day contact with Nike, as part of the school's partnership with the sneaker company. St. John's is currently sponsored by Under Armour.

Adding Cragg would be a coup for the basketball program, which last won an NCAA Tournament game in 2000 and has been to the tournament just twice in the past 16 years. He obviously knows what goes into producing a winner, coming from Duke. A school source called the move a "game-changer" for the program.

The Johnnies enter a pivotal season under coach Chris Mullin. They have posted three straight losing seasons, but with the return of leading scorer Shamorie Ponds, fellow returning starters Justin Simon and Marvin Clark II, and several notable additions, expectations are high. St. John's will visit Duke on Feb. 2.

zbraziller@nypost.com

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

 

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -

A youth football team in New Mexico was banned from its league after a parent body slammed a referee, prompting a brawl, KRQE reported.

The fight occurred during a Young America Football League game Saturday between Rio Grande and Atrisco Heritage, the television station reported.

Fans at the game said the fight was sparked after a player confronted an official during the game between 13-year-olds, KRQE reported.

The game was canceled after the incident, the television station reported.

According to some parents, a flag on a play led to a push from a player and a push back from the official. At that point, the father of one of the players grabbed the referee and slammed him to the ground, the television station reported.

"Unfortunately some people get too excited for these events and they decide to go onto the field and take matters into their own hands," Officer Simon Drobik told KRQE.

The YAFL told the television station that since the code of conduct policy was violated, the entire team was banned from further play.

The New Mexico Activities Association, which does not have jurisdiction over the YAFL, said aggressive acts are causing a shortage of officials.

"It's disappointing to see something like that occur at a youth sporting event, and it's one of those things and other sportsmanship issues that are causing the shortage of officials," Dusty Young told KRQE.

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Copyright 2018 Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Inc.
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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)

 

WORCESTER — The final piece of the deal to bring the Pawtucket Red Sox to this city is in place.

The City Council Tuesday night approved a loan authorization of up to $100.8 million for the construction of a 10,000-seat ballpark that will be the new home of the Boston Red Sox top minor league team, beginning with the 2021 season.

The vote was 9-1, with Councilor-at-Large Konstantina B. Lukes casting the lone vote in opposition.

District 5 Councilor Matthew E. Wally recused himself from the vote because of his employment with a company that has financial involvement with the relocation of the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Approval of the loan authorization now enables the Worcester Redevelopment Authority to proceed with hiring a project manager and design services for the ballpark effort, to be constructed on a 6.5-acre site in the Kelley Square area, north of Madison Street.

The ballpark will be owned by the city.

While three parties — the WRA, the city and the ballclub — will be involved in overseeing the stadium project, the redevelopment authority is considered the lead because the project is in an urban renewal district.

The WRA will also have to amend the boundary of its Downtown Urban Revitalization District by expanding it to facilitate land-takings that might become necessary. As part of theballpark project, the city, through the WRA, is looking to acquire seven private properties for an entrance to theballpark off Green Street.

City officials have said consideration is being given to redesigning the Pickett Municipal Parking Lot, located on Green Street near Temple Street, as a pedestrian-friendly plaza and main entrance to the ballpark.

Construction of the stadium, to be called Polar Park, is scheduled to begin in July 2019 and completed by March 2021.

Under state municipal finance laws, approval of loan orders is a two-step process. A simple majority (six votes) is needed to advertise a loan order and a two-thirds majority (eight votes) is needed for final adoption.

The vote on the loan order mirrored the vote taken by the City Council on Sept. 12 when it approved a resolution in support of the deal negotiated by City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. to bring the Pawtucket Red Sox to Worcester and agreeing to advertise the loan order for the ballpark project.

Of the $100.8 million to be borrowed, $70.6 million in general obligation bonds will go toward the cost of the ballpark, land acquisition, culvert work, capitalized interest and borrowing costs. Those bonds will be paid off by new property taxes, lease revenues and other new revenue sources generated by private development associated with the ballpark project.

Another $30.2 million in bonds will be covered by the baseball team's annual rent payment for the stadium. In addition, the team will make a $6 million equity contribution toward construction and equipping of the ballpark.

All of which is intended to make the ballpark project "self-sustaining" and not require the city to utilize existing tax funding or require an increase in property taxes specifically for this project.

Before the vote, District 4 Councilor Sarai Rivera said she was looking for the city administration to solidify plans that set goals for livable wages, hiring preferences and residency for construction-related jobs and jobs that will be created when the ballpark opens.

Among the goals sought is making a majority of the new positions created available to Worcester residents, as well as having a set percentage of new jobs filled by people of color, women and by low- and moderate-income residents.

Assistant City Manager Kathleen G. Johnson said the ballclub has committed to hiring Worcester residents. She added it is premature to discuss the types of jobs that will be created and the wages for them since the club will not be moving to Worcester until the 2021 season.

"This is something we will need to have more conversation with the ballclub about," she said.

Ms. Rivera said she wants to see the club and city do more than just try to meet goals being talked about.

She said if all in the city are going to benefit from the project, then city government has to be committed to seeing to it that all job preference goals are met.

Only one person from the public addressed the City Council on the loan order.

Stephen Gordon, a local lawyer, spoke in opposition to it, describing the deal and the city's willingness to borrow money to build the ballpark as "corporate welfare."

He pointed out that overall minor league baseball attendance is declining across the country, with the Pawtucket Red Sox experiencing one of the bigger drops. He also doubted if the team has the financial capability to pay for cost-overruns for the ballpark project, if any should develop, as called for in the letter of intent it signed with the city.

But Mayor Joseph M. Petty said City Auditor Robert Stearns reviewed the team's financials and did not raise any red flags.

 

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

After a whirlwind of events this month, Jamal Speaks can return to the football field. He has also received the help he needed to keep going.

Speaks, a homeless high school senior in Washington, has raised more than $20,000 in donations after his story of being kept from playing varsity football hit the public. It easily surpassed his goal of $5,000.

Ballou High School principal Willie Robinson prevented Speaks, a senior at the Ballou STAY Opportunity Academy, from playing for Ballou's varsity football team in a Sept. 15 game against rival Anacostia because of "residency concerns."

Speaks became homeless through a series of events that included his father passing away and he started spending nights on friends' couches. Although one D.C. athletic governing body ruled that Speaks was eligible to play, another advised Robinson of the residency concerns, and Robinson made the decision to hold Speaks off the team despite protests from his teammates.

Since then, though, D.C. Public Schools said they were working with the DCSAA to resolve the matter.

"In the meantime, the student is allowed to practice and play with his team," DCPS said in a statement.

Speaks has verbally committed to play football at Temple University in Philadelphia next year. A Temple recruiter came to the Ballou-Anacostia game to watch Speaks, the day he was benched.

In addition to his GoFundMe donations, Speaks was offered housing by the youth shelter Covenant House Greater Washington.

"I had some personal challenges that has landed me on hard times, however I am not letting that stop me because I don't believe in excuses," Speaks wrote on his GoFundMe page. "All I am looking for to show my greatness, and that goes beyond football. I appreciate all the love and support. I will not let you all down, and I want to thank my football team, my community, and others for standing beside me."

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Copyright 2018 Orange County Register
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Orange County Register (California)

 

Fullerton College has suspended football coach Tim Byrnes, who has led the team to back-to-back state and national championships, while the community college investigates two potential violations in the Hornets football program.

According to a Fullerton College press release the school self-reported two potential violations related to CCCAA constitution by-law 2.11 that covers "subsidizing, inducements and special privileges" of student-athletes.

Offensive coordinator Garrett Campbell is the school's interim head coach during the investigation.

"Tim Byrnes is on paid administrative leave until further notice," said Lisa McPheron, Director of Campus Communications at Fullerton College.

Fullerton is ranked No. 1 in California by the California Community College Athletics Association. The Hornets won state and national championships the past two seasons, going 12-1 in 2016 and 13-0 in 2017.

According to the CCAA constitution: "subsidizing" a student-athlete would be the offering of financial aid not available to all other students; "inducements" are offers used to attract and secure the enrollment of a student-athlete. "Special privileges" would be services not available to other students.

Of the 95 players on the Fullerton's roster this season 48 are from outside of California.

Byrnes is in his 11th season as Hornets head coach. He was named Coach of the Year by the CCCAA and by the Southern California Football Association in 2016 and 2017. Byrnes has been SCFA coach of the year seven times.

Fullerton has won 23 games in a row including a 4-0 start this season. The Hornets defeated Southwestern College 19-14 last week and two weeks ago beat Santa Ana College 85-0.

Fullerton plays host to Ventura College on Saturday at Yorba Linda High.

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

 

Longwood University director of athletics Troy Austin is returning to his alma mater, Duke University, as senior associate athletics director for internal operations.

Deputy athletics director Michelle Meadows Shular, a Richmond native, will become the Lancers' interim AD in mid-October.

In a message to the campus community Tuesday, Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV said Austin "has led with integrity, and infused Longwood's citizen-leadership mission throughout the athletics program."

Austin, who played football at Duke, joined Longwood athletics as interim athletics director in 2006 and was elevated to the full-time position in 2008.

The school, located in Farmville, became a Big South Conference member in 2012.

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

 

DETROIT — A former Comerica Park employee who was shown on video spitting on pizza he was preparing was charged with a felony and a misdemeanor on Tuesday.

The man, 20-year-old Jaylon Kerley, was arraigned on Tuesday morning. He has been charged by the Wayne County prosecutor with two different counts of food law violations — a four-year felony and a 90-day misdemeanor.At Kerley's arraignment, a "not guilty" plea was entered on his behalf by the court.

He was given a $100,000 bond and required to undergo testing by the Detroit Health Department for "infectious diseases, including Hepatitis A."Michigan is undergoing a Hepatitis A outbreak and the disease can spread through food contamination.

In a statement, prosecutor Kym Worthy said "The allegation in this case is disturbing on so many levels. Yesterday I literally refused to order food. We all want to make sure all food that we order is clean, safe, germ-free, and unadulterated with any substance that should not be there."

A probable cause conference is scheduled for Oct. 3, and a preliminary examination for Oct. 10. Both hearings are before Judge Lydia Nance-Adams in 36th District Court.Comerica Park is the home of the Detroit Tigers.

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

 

The S.C. High School League executive committee voted unanimously Tuesday to extend its football season a week to offset the impacts of Hurricane Florence.

The threat of the storm affected 50 games last week, eight of them region contests. Those games can now be played on Friday, Nov. 2.

State playoffs will begin the following week, on Nov. 9.

The Class A and AA state championship games will now be played on Dec. 7 at Benedict College, while the AAA, AAAA and AAAAA will be played Dec. 8 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.

"I'm just glad the kids get another chance to compete," Oceanside coach Chad Grier said. "We're only guaranteed 10 games in a season so losing a chance to play is a really big deal for the kids."

Nearly 20 more games could be affected this week as certain areas north of the Lowcountry continue to feel the effects of the storm.

High School League commissioner Jerome Singleton said the committee was reluctant to extend the season more than one week. He added that certain situations, in which more than one game is missed, may call for unique scheduling within the extended regular season to make up the lost games. Others may not be made up at all.

"The devastation that our communities and some of our schools have gone through is truly traumatic and we're hoping this helps to create some form of normalcy," Singleton said. "Right now, the committee has been adamant that we need to be very careful how much longer we extend the season of football. So we're right at one week at this point.

"The committee has pretty much determined that we want to try to get it done with one more week added on at the end. So then we have to find ways to be able to do that without coming back and saying we want to add another week at the end of it. Our challenges are the number of days between competition. We just have to be very careful what we explore with that."

Some schools are being more creative with their rescheduling. Berkeley and Fort Dorchester's highly anticipated showdown will now be played on Oct. 5.

Berkeley was originally scheduled to play Goose Creek that week. That game will be pushed back to Nov. 2. Gray and White Knoll will make up their game on Wednesday - during what was originally a bye week for both schools - to avoid moving it to the end of the season.

The high school football season was similarly extended in 2015 because of historic flooding, and again in 2016 because of Hurricane Matthew.

Other fall seasons will not be extended as games in those sports are more easily made up with less days required in between.

The S.C. Independent School Association is unlikely to make up the lost games. SCISA didn't make the games up in 2015 or 2016 either. Playoff seedings were determined by overall regular-season records.

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

With all the caterwauling and public grandstanding by politicians and some lawmakers over budget cuts in the University of New Mexico's Athletics Department that eliminate men's soccer and three other sports next year, one would think it's the most important issue facing UNM.

That would be flat wrong. Granted, it was a tough call that affected the state's soccer community as a whole and dozens of student athletes.

But this is a university that has seen six straight years of enrollment drops and absorbed more than $25 million in cuts to its Academic Affairs operation over the past decade. To make matters worse, university officials said enrollment dropped by a much larger than projected 7.2 percent for the current year, meaning student tuition and fee revenue will come in $9.7 million lower than expected. Officials had built their budget around a 2.5 percent drop.

Richard Wood, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said UNM will use about $4 million in reserves to help plug the hole. Budget cuts based on a "strategic" approach will help bridge the remaining gap.

Wood said continued investment in areas such as student success - which gets students through school and degreed faster - remain critical despite the financial challenges.

That's smart. In a world where UNM faces competition from schools like Arizona State University and Purdue aggressively marketing online programs, it would be foolish not to keep giving students more bang for their bucks.

There are other reasons for the enrollment trend - down from 29,100 in 2012 to 24,393 this year - including a stagnant state population and improved economy in which UNM officials say potential students can pick work instead.

When given a mandate to come up with a long-term plan to make Athletics fiscally sound, Athletics Director Eddie Nuñez and President Garnett Stokes presented a package to regents they said would include about $1 million in cuts next year and plans to further trim the gap between revenue and spending by another $1 million in the future. UNM had to take steps to stem the consistent flow of red ink in Athletics, which has racked up years of deficits. In fact, it would be unconscionable for the academic side of the university to continue to subsidize athletics deficits.

Unfortunately, men's soccer, skiiing and beach volleyball ended up on the chopping block, followed by an outpouring of criticism with politicians and legislators at the front of the pack, arguing for restoration of sports and saying - sort of - they would find the money. (In prior years requests for more state sports funding fell on deaf ears.)

The controversial proposal by Stokes and Nuñez was based on certain criteria, including continued membership in the Mountain West Conference and compliance with Title IX. Soccer and skiiing are not conference sports, and women's soccer was retained. And UNM offered four more sports than the average MWC school despite being broke. Critics have complained that football - by far the most expensive sport - could have weathered cuts. But that would put it at a disadvantage when competing.

So if lawmakers want to fund all these sports and the additional investment to comply with Title IX. they first need to address that UNM's academic programs have been hit by millions of dollars in cutbacks and are facing more.

That's a lot tougher problem to solve than pledging to put a soccer team on the field or ski team on the slopes. And it's a lot more important to the long-term success of UNM.

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Copyright 2018 The Florida Times-Union

Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)

 

A new NCAA policy that makes it easier to redshirt football players comes with an unintended consequence: Players can now choose to save their eligibility by leaving teams after participating in four games, with plans to transfer and use the saved year at a new school.

Several upperclassmen who would have been out of eligibility had they kept playing this season have already taken this route, including Oklahoma State receiver Jalen McCleskey, a senior with 167 career catches.

The new rule took effect this year and was universally praised by coaches. In the past, playing just one game could cost a player a full year of eligibility. Football players have five years to play four seasons and take one redshirt year.

Minnesota's P.J. Fleck called the change the "greatest rule the NCAA has ever put in in the last 20 years."

It is proving popular with players, who get more opportunities to play -- and, as it turns out, a little more autonomy.

"I just hadn't really thought (about) that being a possibility until it happened," Baylor coach Matt Rhule said of the midseason departures.

McCleskey is the most prominent player to take advantage of the newly created opportunity. He had 15 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns through Oklahoma State's first four games after having 73 receptions in 2016 and 50 in 2017.

"He's been awesome - a great young man, great family," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said Monday. "He just didn't feel like he was getting the ball enough and wants to save his year and sit and transfer to another school."

If McCleskey graduates before next season, he would be immediately eligible at his new school.

McCleskey's situation isn't unique.

Auburn already has had five players transfer since the start of the season. The list includes wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers, a junior who will still have two years of eligibility left, and tight end Jalen Harris, another junior who could be in position to graduate transfer.

"There's a new day in college football with the rule and all that," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said on his radio show.

More transfers could be coming in the coming days as just about every team in the country will have played four games by next week.

Arkansas wide receiver Jonathan Nance, a former junior college transfer who led the Razorbacks in catches last season, tweeted Monday he will transfer and use this as a redshirt season. Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said Ducks running back Taj Griffin, who is in his fourth season, left the team and plans to transfer.

There has been speculation Alabama backup quarterback Jalen Hurts might choose this path, putting himself in position to be a graduate transfer next year with two years of eligibility left.

The NCAA also has some new rules regarding transfers that take effect this year. Starting on Oct. 15, the NCAA will have a database that keeps track of players who notify their coaches of their intent to transfer. Schools will no longer be able to block a transfer nor dictate where a player can go, unless their conferences have specific rules permitting that.

Todd Berry, the executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, downplayed the impact this new redshirt policy has on the transfer market. Berry noted players leaving teams midseason is not new.

"There's no question that there might be a few seniors that have all of sudden said that this was going to be my last year based off eligibility, because I didn't redshirt at another point in time, and so I'm wanting to save that," said Berry, the former head coach at Army and Louisiana-Monroe. "I don't think that that's something we weren't aware of. We just thought that the numbers were going to be so slight in this happening that the total benefit far outweighs a few incidents like this."

Berry said the main benefit will be felt later this season, when injuries mount and coaches can fill those holes by playing underclassmen without worrying about burning redshirts.

Already coaches say they're noticing redshirt candidates feeling more invested because they're getting a chance to play rather than spending the entire season on the sidelines.

"It means the world to them," Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "You see them come back to practice with a different type of swagger, a different air of confidence, which will be huge moving into spring football and the rest of their careers, and still being able to keep that redshirt. So it's been real positive for our program."

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
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Copyright 2018 The Arizona Daily Star Sep 25, 2018

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

 

The former president of a Marana youth football association is facing multiple felony charges after court documents say he embezzled $54,000 from the organization.

Steve Leslie Marshall Jr. was arrested Friday. A Pima County Grand Jury indicted him Sept. 13 on eight felony charges of theft, forgery and fraudulent schemes and artifices, court documents show.

The indictment follows a lengthy investigation by the Arizona Attorney General's Office and the Oro Valley Police Department. Marshall was ousted in February 2017 as president of the Marana Broncos, an association that operates within the nonprofit Tucson Youth Football and Spirit Federation.

He was reported to Marana police a month after his departure, following an outside audit of the Broncos' finances at the request of the association's board members. They had discovered irregular financial activity towards the end of Marshall's tenure as president.

After learning of the accusations against Marshall, TYFSF leadership immediately suspended him from the organization pending the outcome of the investigation.

TYFSF's attorney did not immediately respond to the Star's question about Marshall's status with the league.

While details of the investigation are limited, the indictment says that between January 2014 and December 2016, Marshall forged checks from the Broncos' bank account. He's also accused of stealing from the association from January 2014 through February 2017 and committing fraud through false pretenses between March 2014 and March 2017, according to the indictment.

This isn't the first time Marshall has been accused of stealing money from an association affiliated with TYFSF: In 2005, Marshall was sued for $10,000 that he was accused of stealing from the Oro Valley Dolphins. Marshall acted as president of the association from 2001 until he was removed in 2005.

Prior to that, he acted as president of the Broncos from 1995-98.

The Star reported in May that while Marshall was under investigation for his financial dealings with the Broncos, he was also operating a for-profit football club called Team 520 and charging parents hundreds of dollars a month to participate. Team 520 is not registered with the state as a corporation or LLC and was not listed in the IRS' nonprofit database. The team's status is currently unclear.

Marshall also served as a volunteer coach with Canyon del Oro High School's football team from 2015 through November 2017, when his coaching duties for the school year ended. Marshall was not been offered a coaching position for the 2018-19 school year.

The Attorney General's office declined to comment further on the investigation, calling it an ongoing matter.

The date and time of Marshall's arraignment were not immediately available Monday night.

The Star has made multiple attempts to speak with Marshall over the last several months, but emails, phone calls and messages through social media have gone unreturned.

 

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

 

CHAPEL HILL — For the second time in three years, the N.C. High School Athletic Association will push back the start of its football playoffs because of a hurricane.

"In light of the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence and the resulting aftermath, the NCHSAA Board of Directors approved changes to the playoff schedule and calendar for fall sports," NCHSAA officials wrote in an email to athletics directors.

Among the changes will be the extension of the football regular season and the postponement of the start of the football playoffs.

The final regular-season games can now be played Nov. 9, with seeding taking place Nov. 10.

Each round of the football playoffs will be pushed back by one week. State championships will be played Dec. 14 and Dec. 15, but the sites have yet to be determined.

No area teams had to postpone football games because of the hurricane, so any Guilford or Rockingham county teams that qualify for the playoffs will have a off week before the postseason.

The end of the boys soccer regular season has been pushed back from Oct. 29 to Oct. 31. First-round games will be played Nov. 3, second-round games Nov. 6, third-round games Nov. 8 and fourth-round games Nov. 10. Regional finals will be played Nov. 13, followed by state championships Nov. 17 as originally scheduled.

Volleyball teams in areas affected by Hurricane Florence are permitted to exceed the weekly limitation and can play a maximum of five matches per week. Daily limitations remain unchanged.

Seeding for the volleyball playoffs has been pushed back from Oct. 18 to Oct. 22. First-round matches are Oct. 23, with additional rounds Oct. 25, Oct. 27, Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 and state championships Nov. 3.

The reporting deadline for girls golf has been pushed back from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Oct. 10. Cross country's reporting deadline has been pushed back from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Oct. 19.

There are no changes in state championship or regional dates for girls golf or cross country. The NCHSAA did not make any changes to the girls tennis schedule.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

We all knew what our eyes were telling us.

Clay Matthews did not rough the passer. He simply wrapped up Alex Smith as the quarterback clutched the ball and took him to the ground. Sack.

The Packers linebacker didn't hit the Redskins quarterback high nor low. He didn't hoist Smith into air, upend him and violently plant him into the turf. He drove right through him. Perfect form.

Yet the yellow flag came out, and Matthews found himself the recipient of yet another controversial call as, for the second time in two weeks, he landed on the quarterback with all or most of his body weight.

Unlike in Week 2, when Matthews' illegal hit on Kirk Cousins cost the Packers the win as they settled for a tie with the Vikings, the Smith sack had no impact on the outcome of Green Bay's 31-17 loss.

But the penalty, the byproduct of the NFL's new emphasis on protecting the quarterback, represented yet another frustrating episode and apparent threat to both the purity of the game and credibility of the NFL.

Matthews fumed. Packers coach Mike McCarthy was irate. And everyone from Packers players to opposing players and analysts sympathized.

"I understand the spirit of the rule," Matthews told reporters after the game. "I said that in weeks prior. But when you have a hit like that, that's a football play. I even went up to Alex Smith after the game and asked him, 'What do you think? What can I do differently?' Because that's a football play. Like I said last week, the NFL is going to come back and say I put my body on him. But that's a football play."

His frustrations mounting, Matthews said what many of us have thought, "Unfortunately, this league is going in a direction I think a lot of people don't like. I think they're getting soft. The only thing hard about this league is the fines that they levy down on guys like me that play the game hard."

Where's the lie? Where's the misinterpretation?

According to the NFL, right in front of us. Textbook foul, the NFL says.

"If you were to ask me to show you a video of what the rule prohibits, I would show you that play," retired NFL official Ed Hochuli, who now works as a consultant for the league, told USA TODAY on Monday. "That is the most classic, textbook, exactly, example of the foul of landing on a quarterback with all or most of your body weight."

The backlash from players, coaches and fans will not sway the league. This isn't the murky catch rule, which the NFL agreed needed to be corrected this past offseason. The roughing the passer standards are clear.

According to Rule 12, Section 2, Article 9, "A rushing defender may make direct contact with the passer only up through the rusher's first step after such release (prior to second step hitting the ground); thereafter the rusher must be making an attempt to avoid contact and must not continue to 'drive through' or otherwise forcibly contact the passer; incidental or inadvertent contact by a player who is easing up or being blocked into the passer will not be considered significant."

This language was put into place in 1995.

It's only now that the competition committee has stressed the need to actually enforce this rule.

Why now?

Some single out Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr, who broke Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' collarbone last year on the kind of hit that's now a point of emphasis and wrecked the Packers' season.

Others point to the league's ongoing mission to make the game safer as officials strive to avoid risk of further legal action from players regarding concussions.

Regardless, this point of emphasis is here to stay. Players must adjust their techniques, league officials insist, and all of us must adjust our thinking.

Easier said than done, right?

"It's very hard," Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan told USA TODAY on Monday. "If you slow down to ease up, then you could miss the sack (or give the quarterback) more time to make the pass. It's hard."

But Hochuli disagrees. After he took me through Matthews' play, I'm starting to understand.

"If you watch that play, you will see that the defender is still two steps away from the quarterback when he knows he's got a sack," Hochuli said. "He knows because the ball is still tucked down, and it's not even up in a passing posture. At a step away, there's absolutely no doubt about it and all he's got to do is go to the side. Instead of continuing on straight into the quarterback, he's just got to roll to the side and make it more of an arm tackle instead of a body tackle.

"After he's made contact with the quarterback, he still takes two more steps. After he's made contact before he goes to the ground. Roll off to the side. There were actually many opportunities for Clay to roll to the side. And he is an amazing athlete. These guys are all amazing athletes and the things they're able to do, I may not be able to do, but that's all he's got to do — make that mental adjustment that as he approaches the quarterback."

Slowed down in that fashion, it all makes more sense. But the perception problem remains.

Quarterbacks such as Rodgers and Smith even believe some gray area remains and that the league should clear things up. Other players are under the impression that NFL brass cares only about protecting quarterbacks.

Dolphins coach Adam Gase made a concerning revelation when he suggested that William Hayes suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament Sunday after the pass rusher tried to avoid landing with his body weight on Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.

Responding to that news, 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman tweeted, "(The NFL) don't care about the rest of us getting hurt. Long as the QB is safe."

Others have suggested that these controversial calls — along with Matthews' suggestion that the league is "getting soft" — have threatened the credibility of the game.

But the NFL again disagrees.

"I don't think it's a big problem at all," Hochuli said.

He pointed out that Matthews drawing two such penalties brings greater visibility to the issue because he's a high-profile player. But in 3,342 pass attempts across the league through Sunday's, only 30 such plays have drawn roughing the passer penalties. That number is up, however, from 16 through the first three weeks of the 2017 season and 20 in 2016.

The NFL believes that the outcry over this rule eventually will subside. Hochuli pointed to the strong reaction that the rule changes regarding hits to a defenseless receiver initially drew several years ago. Defensive players wondered how they would operate given the new constraints, but they have adapted. This could indeed happen eventually as players and the public come around on the roughing the passer point of emphasis.

But for now, skepticism and concern remain.

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Copyright 2018 Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Inc.
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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)

 

WORCESTER - The City Council will be taking one final vote Tuesday night - albeit what is expected to be a perfunctory one - on authorizing the city manager to borrow up to $100.8 million for the construction of a ballpark that will be the home of the Boston Red Sox top minor league team beginning with the 2021 season.

On Sept. 12, the council voted 9-1 to advertise the loan order, with Councilor-at-Large Konstantina B. Lukes casting the lone vote in opposition.

District 5 Councilor Matthew E. Wally recused himself from voting and participating in the discussion of the item because of his employment with a company that has a financial involvement with the relocation of the Pawtucket Red Sox to Worcester.

Under the council's rules, loan orders must receive two votes of approval - a simple majority (six) votes to advertise and a two-thirds majority (eight votes) for final adoption.

Given the outcome of the vote nearly two weeks ago, there are already enough votes on the council to meet the two-thirds requirement.

No city councilor has given any indication since the first vote of having a change of heart and most of them even participated in last week's big civic celebration to welcome the PawSox to Worcester.

While Mrs. Lukes voted against advertising the loan order - she did not feel the council had enough information to take a vote at that time - the councilor did leave the door open for possibly supporting the loan order when it comes up for a second vote if she is able to get answers to questions she raised.

She said the fact that the ballpark project also involves the redevelopment of a part of the city that has been ignored for decades is something that appeals to her."I'm more likely to support (the project) than not, but not at this time," Mrs. Lukes said at the last council meeting. "This project still has a lot of questions pending. I feel we're in a rush to put this forward."

Bonds for the ballpark, which will be built by the city, are to be paid off by new property taxes, lease revenues and other new revenue sources generated by the private development. Mr. Augustus said the ballpark project will be "self-sustaining" and will not utilize existing tax funding or require an increase in property taxes.The council will also be taking up for a second and final vote a recommendation to waive the first $2 million of building permit, water connection and sewer connection fees for Madison Downtown Holdings, LLC, the private developer of the proposed $240 million public/private redevelopment project encompassing property on both sides of Madison Street, near Kelley Square.

Madison Downtown Holdings is looking to invest $90 million in construction of two hotels; 225 units of market-rate housing; and some 65,000 square feet of retail/restaurant space on nearly 18 acres of largely vacant and blighted land now owned by Wyman-Gordon Co. on both the north and south sides of Madison Street.

In a related matter, City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. said environmental cleanup costs of the ballpark site has already been included in the project budget. The Worcester Redevelopment Authority will be taking the lead in overseeing the construction of the ballpark.

Mr. Augustus said any environmental cleanup costs related to the private development aspect of the project are the responsibility of Madison Downtown Holdings.

Also, while some city councilors have raised questions as to whether the agreement between the PawSox and the city can mandate that the minor league team playing in Worcester be affiliated with the Boston Red Sox, the manager said such an affiliation is not a matter that can be committed to between the ballclub and city.

He said the affiliation agreement is a contract between the Red Sox and its minor league affiliate, and by the rules of Major League Baseball can have a term of no longer than four years.

Mr. Augustus pointed out, however, that despite the formal limits to the term of the affiliation agreement, the relationship between the Boston Red Sox and the Pawtucket organization has been a strong one for more than 45 years.

"There is no foreseeable reason that the same organization, operating as the Worcester Red Sox, could not maintain that same longevity of affiliation," Mr. Augustus wrote in a report that goes before the City Council Tuesday night.

Pawtucket has been the Red Sox Triple A affiliate since 1973.

Before that, the Red Sox had Triple A affiliates in San Francisco (1956-1957), Minneapolis (1958-1960), Seattle (1961-1964), Toronto (1965-1967) and Louisville (1946-1955 and 1968-1972). With the exception of Louisville, all those cities now have Major League Baseball teams.

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

 

SPRINGFIELD -

Wittenberg University will stop charging admission for regular-season football and men's and women's basketball games, athletic director Gary Williams said Tuesday. The athletic department already had stopped selling tickets for other sporting events.

Fans got in free for a football game Saturday for the first time when Wittenberg played Kenyon at Edwards-Maurer Field.

"Attendance at Wittenberg athletic events was really good for many decades," Williams said, "and in these last 10 years or so, they all saw a steady decline. I'm not sure exactly what it can be attributed to. It can be attributed to many different things. And we're not the lone rangers in this."

» FOOTBALL COVERAGE: Tigers off to 3-0 start | Freshman starting on O-line for first time in long time

Williams cited the increase in the number of events fans can watch live on the Internet as one reason attendance has declined at Wittenberg and other colleges. Wittenberg dropped ticket prices to $5 for football games in recent years to try to draw more fans.

Fifteen years ago, Wittenberg's home opener in football drew 4,023 fans. Ten years ago, a crowd of 3,140 fans watched the opener. Attendance at the 2018 season opener on Sept. 1 was 1,545. With no admission price Saturday, Wittenberg drew 2,504 fans.

"At the end of the day, we did a cost-benefit analysis," Williams said, "and we realized what we might be losing in revenue pales in comparison to the actual cost of what we think we're losing by not having people come see us play. The realization is that we want Springfield to feel like Wittenberg and Wittenberg athletics and any of our events are more accessible to them."

The football team's next home game is at 3 p.m. Oct. 6 against Hiram. Wittenberg also has home games in women's field hockey, women's volleyball, women's golf and men's and women's soccer this fall.

Events will remain free throughout the 2018-19 academic year, and Williams expects the policy to continue in future years. Fans will still have to pay to see conference tournament games or NCAA tournament games held at Wittenberg.

"At the end of the day, there are no strings attached," Williams said "This isn't some marketing ploy. There are no ulterior motives. This is just us literally saying we want more people in town to come see us play, and we'd rather you sit in the stands and have a good experience with Wittenberg because that is worth more than any ticket sales. Being in the stands, having a positive experience on campus, promoting what we're doing here, following our teams and then having people talk about that in a positive way is more important to us than any ticket revenue."

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

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A high school cross country runner from North Carolina died Sunday morning, hours after she collapsed at a meet in Charlotte, Moore County School officials said.

Officials said Samantha Davis died around 12:30 a.m. at Novant Presbyterian Medical Center.

Davis, a senior from Union Pines High School, was competing in the Hare & Hounds Invitational on Saturday morning at McAlpine Park in Charlotte.

Officials said she suffered a seizure and went into cardiac arrest.

Davis also was a popular member of the high school band from Cameron, about two hours east of Charlotte.

"She never put herself before anyone. She always had a smile on her face," friend Victoria Campbell told WSOC-TV. "If something was bothering you and she knew about it, she was right there to give you a hug and give you all of her support and cheer you up. She was smart and beautiful, inside and out."

Campbell said a softball injury led to an epilepsy diagnosis for Davis and that her parents said she became a tissue donor after she was removed from life support Sunday morning.

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

 

A half-dozen speakers urged the state board of education to ban the use of Native American nicknames, logos and mascots for school sports teams, citing negative stereotypes and derogatory images.

Nineteen high schools in the region use Native American-related nicknames such as Braves, Indians and Warriors, most with an accompanying Indian-related logo. Three schools north of Dayton — St. Henry, Fort Loramie and Wapakoneta — use Redskins, which is termed "usually offensive" by Merriam-Webster and "contemptuous" by Dictionary.com.

Ohio Department of Education spokeswoman Brittany Halpin said the decision on nicknames and logos is left to local school boards, but she added, "We encourage districts to be respectful to Native American heritage."

This news organization sought comment from the 19 school districts that use Indian nicknames, getting responses from seven by mid-afternoon Monday.

Clark-Shawnee Superintendent Brian Kuhn said the Springfield-area school district "engaged with members of the Shawnee tribe" about five years ago about the district's "Braves" mascot and logos. The district had used an Indian-head logo in the past, but switched to a Block-S with two feathers attached.

"We adjusted our logo based on the feedback we received, and we also have hosted an assembly where a member of the Shawnee tribe engaged with our students about the tribe's values, heritage and history," Kuhn said. "As a district, we want to respectfully and authentically honor our namesake and we will continue to carefully consider any input we receive."

At Newton Local Schools in Miami County, Superintendent Pat McBride took a harder stance, saying the school's "Indians" nickname is a symbol of school pride and should not be seen as offensive by Native Americans.

"In this country, the PC culture is continuing to fuel conflict where none should exist and in places where common sense prevails," McBride said. "As a person of Irish heritage and with a name of Patrick McBride, I could take offense of Notre Dame's mascot, the "Fighting Irish." I don't because I have better things to do with my time."

Talawanda Schools in Oxford announced last month that they are forming a branding committee to study the district's "Braves" mascot after calls by local residents and a national organization to change the logo.

The American Indian Sports Team Mascots website says despite being the seventh-most populous state, Ohio ranks No. 1 nationally in use of Indian team nicknames and logos, with Ohio public schools using the "Redskins" nickname more than any other state.

More than 20 years ago, Miami University changed its athletic nickname from Redskins to RedHawks, but Ohio High School Athletic Association spokesman Tim Stried said he's not aware of any Ohio K-12 schools that have changed their nickname away from an Indian-related version.

"Schools have complete control of their own mascots, logos, slogans, mottos and school colors," Stried said. "The OHSAA is not involved in those local school decisions."

Six people spoke to the state school board on this topic last week, asking that group to be leaders via a statement or policy. They said using Indians as mascots exploits people's dignity and amounts to the very bullying that schools and the state say they are against.

Kathy McMahon-Klosterman, professor emerita of educational psychology at Miami University, said as educators, those in schools need to model the behavior they want to see from students.

Philip Yenyo, executive director of the American Indian Movement for Ohio, said many of the schools use "derogatory, racist images," while arguing that those images are part of the community's history.

"But you don't realize that your history is steeped in racism. … When you dehumanize people to the level of a cartoon, it affects people's self-esteem," Yenyo said, suggesting that these issues contribute to Native Americans' high rates of substance abuse and suicide.

Mary Pember, a Red Cliff Ojibwe, told the state board she lives near Anderson High School outside Cincinnati, where the Redskins mascot is prominently displayed. She said her middle-school-aged son tells friends he's Mexican because he doesn't want to be teased by classmates about his Indian heritage.

Janice Dutton, mother of two Talawanda High School graduates, suggested use of Indian mascots could put schools in violation of federal civil rights law, by creating a hostile learning environment. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights called for an end to the use of Native American images and team names by non-native schools 17 years ago.

State school board member Pat Bruns, who represents Warren and Hamilton counties, pointed out that Ohio's new strategic plan on education calls equity of education for each child the state's biggest challenge.

"The path to equity begins with a deep understanding of the history of discrimination and bias and how it has come to impact current society," Bruns read from the state plan, then added, "I believe that we share your concerns and that we're going to continue to work forward in this conversation."

The other districts to respond to our questions said their schools have had no conversations about changing their nicknames, and no more than one or two calls or complaints about the issue in recent years.

"I don't think you have to be of Native American heritage or part of any other group to be offended by something you believe to be wrong," Lebanon Superintendent Todd Yohey said. "One of the great things about living in America is that you have a right not to like something or disagree with another's position."

Asked if that meant he found Lebanon's logo offensive, Yohey replied, "I'll let my answer to (the question) stand as is."

Cedarville Superintendent Chad Mason said, "It is definitely not the intent of the district to offend or hurt anyone. I would hope that is not the case."

Tecumseh Superintendent Paula Crew said her district is "proudly named after the Native American Shawnee warrior and chief, Tecumseh." She said she doesn't believe the district has discussed the name with any Native American nation.

Madison Superintendent Lisa Tuttle-Huff, said, "We do not believe that our mascot is offensive in any manner. Our mascot (the Mohawks) is the name of a tribe. There is nothing derogatory about the name of a tribe. We respect our history and want to celebrate it."

Huber Heights City Schools, whose Wayne High School uses a Warrior Indian logo, said they are "closely monitoring how the Ohio Department of Education is handling school districts using Native American mascots." District spokesman Zack Frink said HHCS "will be respectful of all races and cultures as the district gathers more information on the issue."

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

 

If Frontier Central School District voters approve a new multiuse field next year, it would cost the owner of the average house about $3 more a year in taxes.

The $1.8 million construction plan includes the field, but not a concession stand, restrooms or new scoreboard, Superintendent Richard Hughes said in a video on the district website.

"We're just focusing on the field itself," he said.

The tax rate would increase 0.1 percent, and state aid would fund 75 percent of the cost of the new field, he said.

Benefits of a new field would include providing more opportunities for varsity, junior varsity and modified sports teams to practice and play games, particularly in the spring when grass fields can be muddy. While the field would be lined for soccer, football and lacrosse, baseball and softball teams would also be able to use it for practices, he said. Up to three events a day could be held on a turf field, which would give the remaining grass fields a break.

All Section VI playoff games are held on turf fields, and Frontier teams don't get the chance to play on turf unless it's an away game, Hughes said.

"Our teams are at a competitive disadvantage," he said.

He said Frontier's field cannot be used by the community during the summer due to the wear it gets in the spring.

But recovering from an athletic event is not an issue with a turf field, and it could become a hub for local community sports teams, Hughes said.

Turf fields generally last 15 to 20 years, and when the turf needs to be replaced, just the top grass-like layer would be replaced.

The replacement would cost about $600,000, which would cost the district about $150,000 through state aid, he said.

"We could put $15,000 a year away and that would cover any replacement in the future," he said.

He said multipurpose fields generally decrease maintenance costs, and require a "deep grooming" of $2,500 to $3,500 a year.

The track around the Laurens Dietz field on Bayview Road is scheduled to be replaced in 2020, and if the turf is approved, it would take place the same year.

Voters in the Iroquois Central School District dealt a rare defeat in a vote on two synthetic turf fields in February, but those were more expensive than the plan for Frontier.

The vote takes place from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at Hamburg Senior Citizens' Center, 4540 Southwestern Blvd.

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

 

Like a lot of startup businesses, PivotPass has learned to do some pivoting of its own when the marketplace demands it.

The company, founded in December 2015 by fitness enthusiasts April Palmer and Brig Leland II, has a mission to improve wellness.

"We believe that when people are their healthiest selves, they live their most fulfilling lives," Leland said.

The startup's first service offering was to partner with boutique gyms to provide a "pass" that allowed individual customers a simple way to get access to a variety of gyms without having to pay multiple membership fees.

Now, PivotPass has pivoted, shifting its emphasis toward corporate wellness programs by offering technology tools and administrative services that help businesses make it easier and more engaging for employees to participate in fitness programs.

"We are exclusively corporate wellness now, which means we work with employers to help engage their entire workforce in wellness activities," Palmer said. "You have to pick one thing and do it really well."

"What we have learned over the last three years is that we can have a bigger impact by working with companies," Leland said.

PivotPass contracts with businesses to help manage wellness programs. In July, the company introduced an app that allows employees of its client companies to link more than 100 types of wearable fitness tracking devices to the PivotPass app, or to log their activity into the app manually.

Employees also can use the app to participate in social groups and fitness challenges within an organization.

"We have direct feedback we can give them through the app to keep them inspired," Palmer said.

Employees of the corporate customers can get access to fitness activities at a network of gyms that have partnered with PivotPass. For companies that offer a fitness subsidy to employees, PivotPass has a branded debit card that can be provided to employees to offset the cost of those wellness activities.

Through its app, PivotPass also can collect and aggregate anonymous data about fitness activity, which employers can use to help reduce health insurance costs.

"Many companies already have wellness programs," Leland said. "They just aren't getting data back that they can use, either for health care or to know how engaged and healthy their employees are.

"With our app, it is pretty easy to start to measure that."

Local corporate clients include The Martin Agency.

In August, PivotPass announced it had signed up its first national corporate client: Apex Clean Energy, which has about 200 employees in Charlottesville, New York, Texas and Minnesota.

The PivotPass app has helped push participation in the company's wellness program from 45 to 75 percent, said Ali Tankiewicz, human resources associate for Apex.

"Apex is our first national partner, and that means now we can work with companies regardless of location," Leland said. "We can support their employees wherever they are."

Palmer and Leland are life partners as well as business partners. Palmer has a background in nursing and human resources consulting. Leland has a background in operations management. Both are lifelong fitness buffs, and it is what brought them together.

"We had our first date at an obstacle course race, followed by surfing," Leland said. "Since then, our relationship has revolved around adventure and fitness."

They moved PivotPass from Charlottesville to Richmond late in 2017. The startup now has an office in the Startup Virginia business incubator in the 1717 Innovation Center in Richmond's Shockoe Bottom.

"We moved to Richmond because we felt like it was the best place for us to grow our business," Palmer said. "The entrepreneurial community here is so well-supported by local organizations."

PivotPass is seeking more corporate clients, focusing primarily on the Richmond-area market.

"We think that we have found the best way to support employers who want to attract, retain and engage great talent," Palmer said. "We are going to double down on that and make sure we are able to bring it to as many organizations as possible and engage as many of their employees as we can."

jblackwell@timesdispatch.com(804) 775-8123

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

 

MOUNT PLEASANT — As most of the group said their farewells and left the basketball courts off Royall Road, Rich Williams couldn't resist sticking around for one more game of two-on-two.

But the Columbia resident wasn't shooting hoops; he was playing pickleball.

His job as a project manager for a construction company keeps him on the road all the time. But Williams never forgets to bring his odd-shaped paddle.

Apps dedicated to finding pickleball locations in different cities helped Williams find the Mount Pleasant park.

Dripping sweat from the intense match, he said there's a community of pickleball players everywhere he travels, with the local stop being one of his favorites.

"The sport is exploding," Williams said. "Every year, more people are gravitating toward it."

The facts back him up. The USA Pickleball Association estimates there are roughly 3 million players, a huge increase since the USAPA was founded in 2005.

Pickleball combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. Two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated ball, similar to a Wiffle Ball, over a net. A pickleball court would be about half the size of a regulation tennis court.

The growth of the sport in recent years has shown up in Charleston, so much so that players are asking Mount Pleasant to provide official pickleball courts.

Charleston County alone has nearly 500 players, said Mary Kennerty, a professional coach who was recently certified to teach the sport.

Kennerty keeps a mailing list to update players on places where they can play. Pretty much any public basketball or tennis court, ranging from downtown Charleston to Hanahan, is a good option.

Of the 500 players on the list, about 35 of them meet at the Royall Road location every week.

"It's a leisure sport that provides a good workout, and I think that's why people are drawn to it so much," Kennerty said.

The basketball and tennis courts work well, but it would be more ideal if Mount Pleasant and other local municipalities invested in official pickleball courts. That way, each sport can have its own facilities without infringing on others, Kennerty said.

The group is crossing their fingers that a plan announced two years ago will come to fruition. Mount Pleasant is looking to bring a large park to Rifle Range Road that would include about a dozen pickleball courts. There hasn't been any recent movement on that.

However, Kennerty said a separate project that will bring four pickleball courts to Mount Pleasant will likely reach completion by next summer.

That's good news for local players, said Scott Manetta, the creator of pickleSTRONG. A member of the local group, Manetta launched the clothing brand after falling in love with the sport less than two years ago.

He said once he got involved, he wanted the world to know that pickleball knows no age or particular demographics.

We play with everyone from 20 to 90," he said. "I wanted something to reflect what pickleball players are. We're strong, passionate and competitive. And it takes dedication and skill just like any other sport."

Kennerty will begin conducting clinics in October through the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department. For information, call 843-442-7430.

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The New York Post

 

This policy is getting a big Bronx cheer.

Yankee Stadium bans bike helmets from all events, even though every other stadium in the area allows them.

Bike buffs are going ballistic, since their options are to either trash the headgear or stow it in lockers at a sports store across the street for $20.

"It's totally ridiculous!" fumed Paul Steely White, executive director of pro-cyclist group Transportation Alternatives.

The Yankees did not comment.

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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

FAIRFIELD TWP.The House of Health, a new business in the Shoppes of Tylersville West, is about community and giving back — lessons owner Christina Shteiwi said she learned from her parents, who died in a car accident in April 2016.

A team of nearly a dozen people who run the gym facility are helping Shteiwi continue her parents' "giving and loving nature," she said.

"The team I have here is literally an amazing, amazing team. They are literally the House of Health family," said Shteiwi. "We come together to serve the kids, to really to make a difference in their lives."

Her parents, Nazaih and Hala Shteiwi, were killed on April 8, 2016, after the vehicle of a wrong-way driver struck their car on Interstate 75. They made a difference in the lives of many others, and Shteiwi said she wants to do the same. That's why she and her team have designed the House of Health to feel like a home.

"When you come in, we literally have something for everyone," Shteiwi said. "We honestly want to give somewhere for everybody to come."

BUSINESS NEWS: Indoor farming company coming to Hamilton

There are specialized programs and classes for men, women and children, mixed martial arts instruction, Silver Sneakers, mom boot camp, bride and bridal party boot camp, and a "Tucktensity" boot camp. Eventually, the business will offer yoga, as well as host a Halloween party and Thanksgiving give-back event.

The business also has a smoothie shop called Halaville — which has a separate entrance from the gym — named after Shteiwi's mother.

"It's more of a community center. It's not just a gym, it's not just a smoothie shop, it's a community-based facility," Shteiwi said.

House of Health, which its initial development was assisted by Allison Cooper, started out small but has grown because of the team.

"We were able to grow and get new ideas, and we're hearing what the community and the customer wants," Shteiwi said.

Zo Allen, a certified personal trainer at the House of Health, said the facility is a prototype for the future of gym training where "it's taking care of the whole household."

"It's not your typical place to go to," he said, noting the business offers trainers in things from physical fitness to nutrition. "I see this as a pilot to all different types of gyms out here. This is something you can get your nutrition, it's a place where your kids can come. It's always been a problem out there where kids can go and actually have fun while their parents get their workout at the same time."

Mo Abdullah said House of Health "became my second home."

"It's good to have a place I can call home. It's a very good atmosphere, it's community-based and I'm all about giving back to the community," said the boxing and MMA instructor.

The gym and smoothie shop are located in the Shoppes of Tylersville West at the corner of Bypass Ohio 4 and Tylersville Road. It's location, Shteiwi said, is "central of everything."

"It's kind of in the middle of everywhere," she said. "I know it's kind of hidden from the street, but it's central to our hometown."

Though she lives in Sharonville now, Shteiwi is a 2008 graduate of Fairfield High School. It was important for her to have the business here, in the same community her family gave so much, she said.

"We overcame so much tragedy," she said. "My parents were inspired, community-driven people. My dad had many small businesses and he was about giving back and serving to the community. His number one thing was kids. And my mom was pure bliss of love, and everything she did and everybody she met, she made an impeccable impact."

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New Haven Register (Connecticut)

 



MILFORD - A team of young football players and cheerleaders from Milford never got to play Sunday after reported gunfire led to a cancellation of the day's games in Rhode Island.

Tom Dillon, president of the the Milford Eagles Pop Warner, said two adult men were arguing on the stairs in front of a school in Providence where teams of youth were scheduled to play in football when one "took a gun and fired it in the air."

Dillon was not on scene, but he said what was reported to teams is that the dispute had nothing to do with anyone affiliated with Pop Warner.

"Everyone is safe, nobody was injured and certainly none of our kids or the two agitators were injured either to my knowledge," he said.

Dillon said that the reported gunfire took place before the first game of the day, and all games were subsequently canceled and teams headed home.

NBC 10 News in Providence reported that police received multiple reports of gunfire in the area of Hope High School around 10:45 a.m. The field was "very crowded," according to the report.

The news station reported no arrests were made immediately.

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Naples Daily News (Florida)

 

Hertz's plan to coat the home of the Florida Everblades with bright yellow paint doesn't sit well with many Estero residents, including the town's mayor.

The rental car giant announced its plan for a new design on the outside of the arena Wednesday to match its iconic vibrant yellow and black colors as part of its deal to take over the naming rights for what long has been known as Germain Arena in Estero.

Readers of The News-Press and Naples Daily News Facebook pages had plenty of strong opinions about the plan for the hockey arena — from comparing the chosen yellow to Heinz mustard to calling the proposal an eyesore.

One commenter said sarcastically: "That color Hertz my eyes."

Estero Mayor Jim Boesch didn't hold back on his personal feelings either. In a phone interview, he said the yellow definitely doesn't fit the town's preferred warmer Mediterranean or softer Old Florida styles.

"The bottom line is that color doesn't belong in Estero. That would be my position. It's too bold," he said.

Hertz is proud of its plan

Despite the criticism, Hertz is driving ahead with its plan.

In a company statement, Hertz said: "We're proud of the proposed exterior building design because it reflects our iconic Hertz brand and complements our world headquarters in Estero and Southwest Florida. We want to share that pride with the community, those who travel to the area and everyone who attends events at Hertz Arena."

The design will be discussed publicly for the first time at an Estero Design Review Board meeting Wednesday. A vote is not expected for at least another month, though.

Hertz hopes to win approval at the Design Review Board's next meeting Oct. 10.

"We're hopeful this design and paint scheme will be approved and we'll work closely with the Village of Estero to ensure that it meets their standards and requirements," Hertz said in its statement.

Mayor hopes for a compromise

Boesch is hoping for a compromise.

"If they are not willing to compromise, then I don't know what we will do, but certainly we are not going to allow that kind of yellow facing thousands of residents every day," he said.

The Village Council likely won't have a say in the matter, though.

Because it's only a change in the paint color, that's a decision that usually is made solely by the Design Review Board. Mayor Boesch said he hopes the board will make the right decision for Estero.

There are no other buildings in the town that have such a glaring yellow, he said — and he wants to keep it that way.

Color would 'set a new standard'

"It would set a new standard for Estero, and I don't believe the residents would accept that," Boesch said.

The only way the council would get involved in the color choice is if the Design Review Board's decision is appealed. Hertz could file an appeal if the paint color is denied, for example, or an unhappy neighbor could appeal if it's approved.

There's a cost — $1,000 — to file an appeal, and not just anyone could file one.

"You have to prove that you were aggrieved by the decision," said Mary Gibbs, Estero's director of community development. "It couldn't be, 'I just don't like it.' You would have to be like, 'I'm living next door to it and I'm blinded by it. I'm living under the shadow of that thing.' "

Appeals have been few and far between in Estero, and they can take months to resolve, she said.

Board holds off on comment

It's difficult to gauge the feelings of the Design Review Board. Many of the board's members said they preferred not to comment about the color choice ahead of the public meeting.

"It's definitely beneficial that Hertz is stepping up to be a sponsor. It's certainly good for the town to have a national sponsor like that. It can only help the arena," board member Michael Sheeley said.

Deciding on the color choice will take more thought, Sheeley said.

"The design and architecture is a different story we are going to have to evaluate. That's all," he said.

A day after Hertz announced its plans, Design Review board member Thomas Barber said he hadn't seen the proposal so he didn't know any of the details.

"I don't really have a comment on it at this point," he said.

Color change controversial before

This won't be the first time the Estero arena's color scheme has come before the village's Design Review Board.

In May 2017, representatives for the Germain Arena presented plans to repaint the arena in shades of blue, white and grey that didn't go over well the first time.

The initial plans, which included a blue stripe around the middle of the building, didn't match Estero's design standards, board members said at the time.

Arena representatives ended up revising the design, which the board approved at another meeting later in the same month.

"I think the building that got repainted after we had a talk with Germain Arena looked fantastic," said Joe McHarris, the former chairman of Estero's Design Review Board.

McHarris also owns Bonita Springs-based McHarris Planning & Design.

While McHarris no longer serves on the volunteer village board, he said he hopes Estero doesn't allow the entire arena to be painted yellow, as Hertz has proposed.

Bright yellow an 'attention getter'

The bright yellow shown in renderings is an "attention getter" and "great advertising" for Hertz, but is "a little silly," McHarris said.

"I think if they tone down the yellow and do it appropriately, it can be done tastefully," he said.

Al O'Donnell, another former member of the Estero board and president of Estero-based O'Donnell Landscapes, said he thinks there's a compromise that can make the village and Hertz happy.

"I think there's a way for the Hertz people to get their corporate identity, whether it be signage or accents, without painting the whole building yellow," he said.

This isn't the first time Hertz has proposed something that doesn't fit with Estero's usual mold.

Rather than having a Mediterranean look, Hertz's headquarters is modern, sleek and translucent with a mass of windows, rather than a mass of concrete. Estero's Community Planning Panel gave it a stamp of approval in November 2013, though it's like no other building in town, before the village was incorporated. That paved the way for Lee County to approve the project administratively, with a sign-off by staff and without another public hearing.

"If another Hertz comes down here, we will give them the same accommodation," the Estero panel's chairman, Jack Lienesch, said at the time.

Council members: mixed feelings

Flash forward. Estero's council members have mixed feelings about Hertz's plans for a yellow arena today. Some, like the mayor, are clearly against it.

"The color, I think, doesn't fit with the Estero palette that we have here," said Councilman Jon McLain.

McLain said he trusts the judgment of the village's Design Review Board. "I'm sure they'll work with Hertz to tone that down," he said.

While most buildings in Estero feature the village's preferred Mediterranean-style architecture, Councilman Jim Wilson said he recognizes the arena wasn't built with that look in mind.

"It's a sports arena," he said. "It's a question of whether it's appropriate for a sports arena building to be painted in a bright color."

Councilwoman Katy Errington said she's not opposed to the color scheme. She recognizes Hertz is "trying to be a good business partner in Estero," she said.

"That arena brings so many activities into this area," Errington said. "I don't want to get in a squabble over the paint color. Whether we like it or not, it is their color."

It helps that the arena is located off Interstate 75, she said.

"Since it's not right in the heart of Estero, I don't have a problem with it," Errington said. "If it was their headquarters, I would have a problem."

Residents have different views

Estero resident J.J. Basso, who lives in The Club at Grandezza, a gated community to the east of Germain Arena off Ben Hill Griffin Parkway, said he doesn't have a problem with Hertz's choice of yellow either.

"They're paying a lot of money for it," he said of the naming rights and upgrades.

"It's not that they're painting it in chartreuse or pink or black."

Basso, who is also president of Grandezza's homeowners association, said homes in his community don't overlook the arena so it's not a big concern.

"It's a long way to look back there," he said.

In an email, Suzi Bloemker, who lives in the Naples area, said before anyone paints the arena yellow, they should spend money to improve the inside. When she and her husband went to see ventriloquist Jeff Dunham perform at the arena a few months ago they sat in floor seats that were dirty, worn and uncomfortable, she said.

"It's hard to enjoy a show when you have to move around in your seat constantly," she said. "The food areas look like something at a carnival. The whole place could use a makeover."

While Hertz plans changes to the inside of the arena, those changes are still on the drawing board.

They won't be part of the discussions at the upcoming Design Review Board meeting.

Public information meeting

About: Hertz repainting Germain Arena

Who: Estero Design Review Board

When: Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.

Where: 9401 Corkscrew Palms Circle

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Anderson Independent-Mail (South Carolina)

 

According to figures compiled by USA TODAY Sports, South Carolina reported $31.6 million in rights and licensing revenue in 2014. That figure increased to $41.1 million in 2015 and $56.2 million last year.

What is Williams-Brice? It is not field nor stands, nor lights, nor scoreboards, nor any other part. What is in a name? That which we call a stadium by any other name would still sound as loud.

The University of South Carolina would need more than a poignant plea from Juliet to renounce the name its football stadium has held since 1972. But amending a renowned name with another hyphen is not too farfetched.

Typically, college football stadiums are named as:

Tributes to esteemed groups, like Memorial Stadium at Clemson, Nebraska, Illinois and Indiana

Honors for revered individuals, like Sanford at Georgia, Dodd at Georgia Tech and Doak Campbell at Florida State

Designations of the home state or mascot, like Michigan Stadium and Sun Devil Stadium

Tokens of gratitude to benefactors, like Williams-Brice, Florida's Ben Hill Griffin or Oklahoma State's T. Boone Pickens

However, many Division I schools have abandoned the conventional nomenclature. They have answered Juliet's inquiry and found exactly what is in a name.

Revenue.

In April, Colorado State granted its stadium naming rights to Canvas Credit Union in a 15-year, $37.7-million deal. That was added to the $20-million agreement Colorado State secured in 2016 to rename its playing field. Thus, the venue is now officially Sonny Lubick Field at Canvas Stadium.

Washington brokered a 10-year, $41-million deal to rename is venue Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Southern California procured a 15-year, $70-million agreement to rebrand the Los Angeles Coliseum as the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum.

Last year, South Carolina's Southeastern Conference compatriot Kentucky renamed its stadium Kroger Field. In 2007, Clemson's Atlantic Coast Conference colleague Wake Forest rebranded Groves Stadium as BB&T Field. Syracuse has played in the Carrier Dome since 1980.

Pittsburgh plays on Heinz Field. Miami plays in Hard Rock Stadium. But those two venues are shared with National Football League teams. The corporate naming rights model is standard procedure among professional franchises.

"In college, corporate partnership is still evolving," USC executive associate athletics director Jeff Crane said. "It's still a little bit outside the norm for many schools, although it's not for us.

I think at this point everything is on the table. If there's an opportunity to enhance our program through some financial resources, we would look at any and every option. We're actively pursuing partnerships like this on a daily basis."

There may not be an airline, bank or cable company affixed to Williams-Brice any time soon, but South Carolina has secured naming rights deals on two of its most prominent venues.

In 2002, USC completed construction on the Colonial Center to host men's and women's basketball, graduations, concerts and other events. The next year, USC sold the naming rights to the Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company. USC extended its partnership for Colonial Life Arena in 2015 with a 10-year, $6.5-million contract.

In 2009, USC opened Carolina Stadium, an immaculate facility to house its national champion baseball program. In 2015, a 10-year, $7-million deal with Founders Federal Credit Union renamed the stadium Founders Park.

According to figures compiled by USA TODAY Sports, South Carolina reported $31.6 million in rights and licensing revenue in 2014. That figure increased to $41.1 million in 2015 and $56.2 million last year.

The partnerships with Colonial Life and Founders attribute approximately $1.3 million annually to that total. Founders vice president of marketing Nikki Nash asserted that the benefit is equally valuable for Carolina's corporate partners.

"It gives us more credibility in the market and increases our entire brand reputation in the area," Nash said. "They have so many people attending these games, it's really a captive audience."

Nash was pleasantly surprised with how quickly "Founders Park" was ratified into Gamecock vernacular.

"People were so used to calling it something else, I thought it would take a while for people to identify it as Founders Park," Nash said. "But it didn't take any time at all. The University of South Carolina and their network, they're so professional. They really didn't miss a beat."

Crane said, to facilitate enduring brand awareness, naming rights deals are typically at least 10 years long.

"They're a pretty significant investment on the university's part as well as the sponsor's part," Crane said. "From the sponsor's perspective, affiliation and association with the university is important. They want to get some real staying power."

Founders has smaller marketing partnerships with other schools in the state, including Clemson. The Founders logo appeared on the basketball court in Littlejohn Coliseum last season.

According to Clemson deputy athletic director Graham Neff, those marketing deals are negotiated through Clemson's multimedia rights and corporate sponsorship partner JMI Sports, the same company that brokered the Kentucky-Kroger deal.

However, none of Clemson's facilities are named after corporate sponsors. The indoor track complex is the only facility without an honorary name.

Yet, Crane contended that, considering the length of the agreements and the brand association, corporate partnerships should never be entered lightly. In July, the University of Louisville football stadium became a cautionary tale on naming rights deals.

John Schnatter, founder and owner of the Papa John's pizza chain, held the naming rights to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium until 2040. When Schnatter was embroiled in controversy over the use of a racial slur, Louisville sought to distance itself from its benefactor.

Players called for a stadium name change via social media on July 12. The Louisville board of trustees granted their request on July 13.

Louisville was lucky that Schnatter willingly relinquished his naming rights without legal action. The potential branding disaster illustrates the prudence of Crane's meticulous, careful process.

With the rising cost of competition, including perpetually upgrading facilities, nationwide recruiting travel and adjustments to the scholarship model, schools are coerced to dive headfirst into new revenue streams. But Crane warned programs not to hasten into murky water.

"When we form a partnership with a company or accept a gift from a donor, we absolutely have to take into account what's best for the university in all aspects," Crane said. "The donors and the companies involved understand that as well.

"Timing is important. We worked on naming the baseball stadium for a number of years before we found the right one. It's not easy to do. It has to be the right fit. It has to work on both sides."

According to figures compiled by USA

TODAY Sports, South Carolina reported $31.6 million in

rights and licensing

revenue in 2014. That figure increased to $41.1 million in 2015 and $56.2 million

last year.

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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

EVANSVILLE — During the dog days of every summer, the War on Football re-enters the public consciousness and spurs a debate about the sport's dangers.

Like clockwork, a new case study emerges about how concussions suffered while playing football can lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease.

Everyone seems to have an opinion. The dispute over whether it's safe for our children is as divisive as our political climate.

On one side, doctors and parents have called to change how the game is played or outright ban it. A proposal was introduced earlier this year in Illinois to prohibit tackle football for kids under 12.

"Any parent is concerned about the benefits and risks of playing sports," said Amanda Boehleber, a local family physician who has two sons playing football.

On the other side are ardent fans who view the game as an essential part of life. Don't mind that even the NFL acknowledges a link between CTE and football, skeptics will muddy the science.

Yet, boys still want to play, so adults are proactively taking measures to make it safer.

Organizations such as the Evansville Junior Football League are in the middle trying to appease both.

"I feel very comfortable with my child participating in the EJFL, and there are multiple benefits," Boehleber said. "Compared to other sports we participate in the area, EJFL is very progressive."

There are 220 boys on 12 EJFL teams this fall, nearly the same number as last year. The 49-year-old league at one time hosted 20 teams, but most high schools have their own feeder systems now, and that's affected turnout.

Of course, numbers could be lower for a handful of issues — cost, single-sport specialization and general injury concerns — that continue to plague the game. Concussions simply remain at the forefront.

"You can get a concussion walking down the street and taking a fall," said Eric Dockery, the EJFL safety commissioner. "Football is dangerous, but we make sure our coaches understand heads-up tackling, so the kids learn to do things right and keep their heads out of the play."

Every EJFL coach undergoes a background check, completes an online USA Football certification course about proper tackling and then participates in a safety clinic before ever running a practice. You can't walk up on gameday and decide you want to coach that morning.

EMS volunteers and other nurses also are on site during games to recognize and treat injuries. Players are encouraged before the season to take baseline concussion tests, which the EJFL offers for free.

"We want to make sure if a kid does have any slight symptom of a concussion, they're out of the game immediately," said Dockery, who also has been a coach for eight years. "We take that out of the hands of the coaches. We have our volunteers who are trained to make sure they go through the protocol."

That doesn't prevent a pair of 7-year-olds from running full-speed into each other and inflicting otherwise avoidable injury. It's a risk from playing the game, though.

"I don't see kids hitting any harder or being more physical than they were 15-20 years ago," EJFL commissioner Randy Babb said. "I've been coaching for 45 years, and the youth haven't changed other than they don't get out and play as much backyard football like they used to."

This fall, the EJFL features three divisions instead of two, which had been the case since the 1990s. They are split by grade: Junior (second and third), intermediate (fourth and fifth) and senior (sixth and seventh).

Previously, they were second through fourth and fifth through seventh. There was quite the disparity in size, ability and maturity between some.

"My son is a fifth-grader, and if they would not have switched the league to where it is now, my son would not have played," EJFL Patriots coach Ryan Wargel said. "I know several parents that feel that way and have pulled their kids out of football due to that."

Wargel has been a coach for seven years. He's part of a football family and has been around the game nearly his entire life. Although he doesn't like the spotlight on concussions, he understands the outcry.

"I'm 44 and played in a time when it was simply getting your bell rung, and you go to the sideline to get a dose of smelling salts," Wargel said. "They'll then wave some fingers in the air, and any number other than five got you back on the field."

Over 1 million boys played high school football last year, which was down two percent from 2016, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Enrollment has declined 6.6 percent in the past decade, but it remains the most popular sport.

This newfound hyperawareness of the dangers that come along with playing the game has positively and negatively impacted all levels.

If concussions were never brought to the forefront, leagues such as the EJFL probably wouldn't have taken strides to improve safety. Counterpoint: More boys might be playing overall, and football lifers might not feel as under attack had the focus not shifted.

Not all smokers develop lung cancer, just like not all football players will suffer from CTE. Repeated blows to the head, however, make it more likely for anyone to develop long-term brain disorders. That, too, is part of the game.

Boys are still spending their fall on the gridiron, learning the same life lessons as generations before them. It's just a bit safer now.

Contact Courier & Press columnist Chad Lindskog by email chad.lindskog@courierpress.com or on Twitter: @chadlindskog.

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC

Newsday (New York)

 

Nassau County high school football officials are lauding a rule that has stopped coaches from running up scores.

The sportsmanship rule puts football coaches at risk of being suspended for one game if they win by more than 42 points. If that happens, the coach must explain why to a committee of school adminstrators, who then must determine if the coach is suspended or not.

The rule was put into effect last season with the margin of victory being 40 or more points. It was raised to 42 this season to make it a multiple of seven and thus more in line with football scores.

Matt McLees, football coordinator for Section VIII, the governing body for Nassau high school athletics, said the rule "sent shockwaves" through the Nassau football coaching community last season.

The rule resulted in only five varsity games being decided by 40 or more points last year. The previous three-year average was 22.

"Without question, this policy worked," said McLees, the athletic director at Sewanhaka District, which comprises Carey, Elmont, Floral Park, New Hyde Park and Sewanhaka high schools. "Without question this made coaches aware."

McLees said none of the winning coaches in those five games were suspended because each convinced Nassau's "lopsided score committee" that they did everything to keep the margin of victory reasonable.

He said the committee made a junior varsity coach sit a game because his team kept blitzing the quarterback during a blowout. He declined to identify that school or coach.

Nassau's sportsmanship rule came after a decade of lobbying by superintendents who felt there were too many blowouts, according to Jericho superintendent Henry Grishman.

"What is the point of a 57-3 football game," he said. "Does that make any sense?"

McLees said coaches asked to remove the rule for the playoffs; he declined.

Some coaches weren't thrilled by the rule because they say managing a game when the final result has already been decided isn't as easy as people think.

"It has to be a two-way street," Farmingdale coach Buddy Krumenacker said. "The guy who is being blown out has to know how to behave, too. That's where it gets complicated."

Krumenacker said just because teams with significant leads start running the ball in an effort to kill the clock doesn't give the losing team a free ticket to score.

"You've got to know how to surrender," he said. "Seriously, that's what you've got to do. And if the other guy doesn't know how to surrender, then you're subject to a real mess."

There is little precedent for such a rule in which coaches are penalized for winning in a blowout.

Todd Nelson, who is on the sportsmanship committee of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, the governing body of high school sports in New York, said he doesn't believe any sport in the state has ever had a rule that penalizes a coach for a blowout before this one.

McLees said he got the idea for the rule after hearing that Connecticut's high school football rulebook once had something similar in place. Beginning in 2006, Connecticut high school football coaches faced a potential suspension if they won by more than 50 points.

Joel Cookson, spokesman for Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, said they believe fewer than five coaches were suspended until the rule was abolished in 2016. Now when a team is winning by 35 points he said the officials use a running clock- and the coach is no longer in jeopardy of a suspension.

Suffolk football coordinator Tim Horan said Section XI, the governing body, leaves it up to each school to regulate.

"If there's a lopsided score, the athletic directors address it with their coaches," said Horan, the athletic director at West Islip. "For the most part the ADs have been able to control it and make sure that proper sportsmanship is demonstrated and scores aren't getting excessively lopsided."

While Nassau had five games decided by 40 or more points last season, Suffolk had 23.

McLees said the rule has been effective in Nassau because coaches don't want to have to defend their actions before a committee.

"Nobody wants to sit in front of their peers and be questioned about their character and why they ran up the score," said Manhasset athletic director James Amen, who is on the committee. "Because that's what this comes down to - a coach's character."

This season, there were two Week I games in which the margin of victory factored into the play-calling in the second half. Garden City beat Herricks, 44-0, on Sept. 8. Coach Dave Ettinger had to submit a form the next day to McLees explaining why his team eclipsed the 42-point victory margin.

Ettinger said he started subbing his players in the second quarter and, after leading 34-0 at the half, played all of his backups on his nearly 60-player roster in the second half.

McLees cleared Ettinger because coaches won't be penalized if they were using substitutes.

"The guys over there did the right thing," Herricks coach Mike Yoo said. "The score was what it was. Sometimes you can't help it."

In another Sept. 8 game, Massapequa beat Long Beach, 39-0.

Massapequa coach Kevin Shippos said he played his entire roster in the second half, stuck to running plays and instructed his players not to return punts.

In Suffolk County, one game each would have been subject to Nassau's 42-point rule, the largest margin coming Saturday in Floyd's 48-0 win over Commack.

"Last year when this rule got put in, I think coaches got scared," Shippos said. "You'd get to around the 5-yard line and think about taking three knees. Matt clarified that, told us as long as we're doing everything in your power to control the game."

He said he explained to his players the reason behind his conservative play calling in the second half. But being that these were second and third string players in the game, he also told them that if they had an opportunity to score, don't pass it up.

"You want to give your backups their chance to shine," he said, "without completely embarrassing the other team."

McLees said that scenario is fine; what he doesn't want is coaches running up the score as a show of strength, a common practice in big-time college football.

"This is not college football, and it doesn't matter how many touchdowns you win by, as long as you win the game," said Pat Pizzarelli, Section VIII executive director. "We're trying to get that across to our coaches."

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

 

Ryan Day returned to his role as Ohio State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Saturday after leading the Buckeyes to a 3-0 start.

He was filling in for head coach Urban Meyer, who was suspended after a university investigation found he mismanaged the employment of receivers coach Zach Smith.

A 39-year-old already considered a rising star in the profession before this fall, could Day be Meyer's permanent replacement some day?

Citing "a person close to the program," The Athletic reported late Saturday night discussions have taken place regarding making Day the coach-in-waiting at Ohio State.

OSU director of athletics Gene Smith issued a response Sunday morning, but it did not exactly refute the report.

"We obviously are appreciative of Coach Day's great work, and hope he continues to be one of our offensive coordinators for a long time," Smith said, "but we are more than confident Coach Meyer will be our head coach for quite some time."

Meyer has been effusive in his praise of the job Day did in his absence, though Day humbly credited the culture Meyer has put in place for setting him up to succeed.

Day also said more than once he always felt he was merely holding Meyer's spot temporarily.

Day was hired last year along with Kevin Wilson to revamp an offense that went stale after the Buckeyes won the 2014 national championship and Tom Herman left to become head coach at Houston.

Day had no prior connection to Ohio State, but he worked for Meyer at Florida in 2005.

Day received a three-year, $3 million contract (including a $600,000 annual raise) this past offseason after reportedly fielding multiple job offers, including offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans and head coach at Mississippi State.

For six weeks as acting head coach, Day is to receive a one-time lump sum of $487,000 later this month.

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Copyright 2018 Bangor Daily News

Bangor Daily News (Maine)

 

The Husson University men's golf team is one of the most respected NCAA Division III programs in the Northeast.

And now the Eagle men's and women's teams have something most or none of their New England counterparts possess.

Husson recently unveiled a new outdoor practice facility on its Bangor campus.

Husson head coach Mike Dugas, the club pro at J.W. Parks Golf Course in Pittsfield, said the facility has more than 3,000 square feet of putting surface, a chipping surface surrounded by a 2-foot fringe and a bunker that is 18 feet deep by 54 feet long.

Dugas said the bunker can accommodate as many as five golfers at one time.

He believes it is the only artificial turf outdoor facility in the state and one of only a few in the Northeast.

The facility, located across the street from Newman Gym on campus, cost in excess of $30,000. Dugas raised a lot of the money, but the university also chipped in a sizeable amount.

The idea came after Husson players had difficulty finding time to practice consistently at Bangor Municipal Golf Course, their home course, because of their class schedules.

"So I got to thinking, why are the golf teams the only teams that don't have a place to practice on campus," Dugas said.

Dugas and athletic director Frank Pergolizzi began discussing the idea three years ago.

"Everyone knows how important the short game is in golf," Pergolizzi said. "This gives our golfers an opportunity to practice it when they aren't able to get out to the Bangor Muni."

After significant fundraising, including a golf tournament, Southwest Greens International LLC built the facility in approximately two weeks earlier this month.

"It took a lot of fundraising, but the school also stepped up large and gave us an extremely helpful donation," said Gavin Dugas, one of two Dugas brothers on the squad.

The green and the fringe are composed of artificial turf, which means Husson can shovel snow off it, and use it during the winter and early spring months when Bangor Muni is closed.

"It is positioned so that the sun will hit it in the winter time, so I'm quite certain we'll be able to get on it as early as February and March," Mike Dugas said.

Players can chip from the artificial turf fringe to a pin placement as far as 33 yards away. There is also some natural grass beyond it, so golfers can try even longer chips off the grass onto the surface.

"It's awesome," said Eric Dugas, a sophomore who tied for 12th at the NCAA Division III nationals in North Carolina last spring. "This will be huge for us."

Eric Dugas said the artificial surface is pretty realistic, comparing it to the grass on the greens at golf courses.

"The ball rolls smooth on it and there is also some break," he said.

Eric Dugas said the facility will be particularly beneficial in the early spring as they prepare for the national tournament.

Gavin Dugas, Eric's older brother, is a senior on the Husson team, and said developing a chipping touch is critical.

"Getting your short game back in spring is arguably the hardest thing to do. You have to get the feel back," he said.

Mike Dugas and Pergolizzi also said the facility is available for student use when the golf teams aren't using it.

"One of the things I really like is that when the players are there, some of the students will see them and come down and hang out with them and hit some shots with them," the Husson coach said.

It will also serve as a valuable recruiting tool.

Follow BDN Maine Sports on Facebook for the latest in Maine high school and college sports.

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Provo — An energizing season-opening win over Arizona had revitalized a fan base still sagging from last year's disappointing season, so BYU football officials were anticipating a larger-than-normal crowd for their home opener against the Pac-12's California on a beautiful late-summer evening in early September.

It didn't happen.

Announced attendance was just 52,602 for a game the Bears won, 21-18. The attendance count was fewer than in all but two games last season. The late-season contests against San Jose State (46,451) and UMass (51,355) came when the Cougars were just playing out the schedule.

That San Jose State crowd, interestingly, was the smallest crowd to attend a football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium since the stadium was expanded in 1982.

Naturally, officials worried — despite a major two-year effort to improve the fan experience at LES — that this Saturday's game (4 p.m., BYUtv) against relatively unknown McNeese of the Football Championship Subdivision would challenge the SJSU game last October as the least-attended game yet.

Then BYU went out and upset No. 6 Wisconsin 24-21 last Saturday, and nobody is certain what to expect. Nationally ranked for the first time since early in the 2015 season, the No. 25 Cougars (2-1) aren't entirely sure themselves.

"Our fans love us now," said defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga. "I hope they'll show up. I think they'll represent."

Associate Athletic Director for Communications Duff Tittle acknowledged two weeks ago that season ticket sales were down after last year's 4-9 campaign. But he noted that season ticket sales surpassed 54,000 in 2016 (coach Kalani Sitake's first season), the highest they had been since the 2009 season.

Still, BYU's average attendance is slowing falling in its eighth year as a college football independent, despite its home schedule being much better than in the early years of independence. In 2011, BYU drew an average of 60,265 fans for games against Utah, UCF, Utah State, San Jose State, Idaho State, Idaho and New Mexico State.

Last year the Cougars averaged 56,267 for Portland State, Utah, Wisconsin, Boise State, San Jose State and UMass.

Losing those home games hasn't helped. BYU has lost five of its last six home games, the worst stretch since it lost seven of eight from 2003-04 in the Gary Crowton era.

Until this year, which can be explained by last year's 4-9 record and utter ineptitude on offense, the biggest drop was between the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The Cougars went from averaging 61,225 in 2013 to 57,141 in 2014.

Tittle said at the time that fewer students were attending the games — and not just BYU students. The school used to provide a way for students at nearby schools such as Utah Valley University, Snow College, Salt Lake Community College, Provo College and Stevens-Henager College to purchase cheap tickets and sit in the student section, called the ROC (Roar of Cougars).

But BYU went to a new online-only system prior to 2014 where the all-sport passes could only be purchased by those with BYU student ID cards, and it got more difficult — but not impossible — for those other students to get tickets.

BYU isn't alone in seeing declining attendance.

According to figures provided by BYU athletics, the national average for FBS attendance dropped from 45,498 in 2011 to 42,108 in 2017. The Wall Street Journal reported that average student attendance is down 7.1 percent since 2009 after analyzing records from 50 FBS schools nationwide.

"As we've tracked attendance and ticket sales for the past 25 years, the biggest factors are team record from the previous year, ticket price increases, and of course the [strength of the] home schedule," Tittle said. "For the most part, as you can see from the year-to-year numbers, Cougar Nation has been incredibly consistent and supportive of our football program for a long time."

In the West, BYU is still an attendance leader. In 2017, only USC (72,683) and Washington (68,822) outdrew BYU. In 2016, BYU was behind only USC (68,459), UCLA (67,459) and Washington (64,589).

Tittle points out that although this year's home schedule is not as desirable as many would like, future home schedules are loaded with Power Five opponents. The Cougars will host USC, Washington, Utah and Boise State in 2019 and Michigan State, Utah State, Missouri, San Diego State and Houston in 2020.

In 2021, Arizona State, Boise State, Virginia, Utah and South Florida are scheduled to visit LES.

"We are fortunate to have a very large and loyal fan base, which is evident at home and as we've traveled extensively across the country since going independent in 2011," Tittle said. "We certainly keep an eye on the trends and are continually trying to respond to the interests and needs of our fans."

Tittle said BYU surveys its season ticket holders every two or three years on their game-day experiences, and found that four of the six improvements fans wanted most related to mobile connectivity.

In response, the school has installed a state-of-the-art wifi and distributed antenna system (DAS) in the stadium, "similar to the very best NFL stadiums in the country," Tittle said. It has also installed a new social media videoboard above the east stands to allow fans to interact with other fans via social media.

"The home schedule for the next few years are arguably some of the best in school history," Tittle said. "We hope to see improvement in ticket sales and attendance over the next three years, but realize there are other variables."

Like whether the Cougars are coming off a historic upset of Wisconsin or not.

McNeese at No. 25 BYU

At LaVell Edwards Stadium

Kickoff — Saturday, 4 p.m.

TV — BYUtv

Radio — KSL 1160 AM, 102.7 FM

Records — BYU 2-1, McNeese 3-0

Series history — First meeting

About the Cowboys — They are 7-3 all-time vs. Utah schools, having gone 4-2 against Southern Utah and 3-1 vs. Weber State.... An FCS program, they are 8-23-1 vs. FBS programs dating back to the 1982 season. … They have won two of their last three matchups with FBS opponents, having defeated Middle Tennessee State in 2012 and South Florida in 2013. They lost 31-24 to Nebraska in 2014. … They are in the top 10 in both FCS polls after knocking off No. 12 Nicholls 20-10 last week in Lake Charles, La.

About the Cougars — They are 11-0 against FCS teams in the past 30 years and 2-0 in coach Kalani Sitake's era. … Senior LB Sione Takitaki is the College Sports Madness National Player of the Week after posting 13 tackles in the 24-21 win over No. 6 Wisconsin. Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes is the Athlon Sports Coordinator of the Week after the Cougars rushed for 6.8 yards per carry against the Badgers. … They are 112th in total offense in the country, averaging 330 yards per game. They are No. 66 in total defense, giving up 368.7 yards per contest.

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Copyright 2018 Tribune Review Publishing Company
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Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA)

 

Whether teams complete four quarters or only one, a WPIAL football game is official once coaches agree to halt the game.

Whoever's ahead is the winner.

"No contest" isn't an option.

"If you mutually agree to terminate prior to the scheduled conclusion, the score/point differential is final and cannot be revisited at a later date," WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley wrote Friday morning in an email to athletic directors.

It was a well-timed reminder. A number of games were halted early Friday night and a few others were suspended to Saturday as a line of strong thunderstorms swept through Western Pennsylvania.

Among the early finishes, Elizabeth Forward and Quaker Valley halted their nonconference game with 32 seconds left until halftime, awarding EF a lightning-shortened 7-6 win. With New Castle leading West Mifflin, 14-0, their game was halted with 5:17 remaining in third quarter. Seton LaSalle was leading New Brighton, 19-17, with 11:42 left in the third quarter when their game was halted.

All were nonconference games, so the outcome doesn't impact playoff qualifying. Often times, the teams don't want to take another bus ride Saturday morning to finish them.

However, the WPIAL's stance changes for conference games.

"We, the WPIAL, have always mandated that all section games be completed in their entirety," O'Malley wrote, noting those final scores could impact tiebreakers.

Blackhawk and Montour resumed their Northwest Eight game Saturday, as did Burgettstown and South Side Beaver in the Three Rivers Conference.

Unlike baseball, which has a designated inning when rain-out games becomes official, football does not.

According to the National Federation of State High School Association rules, "games interrupted because of events beyond the control of the responsible administrative authority shall be continued from the point of interruption, unless the teams agree to terminate the game with the existing score, or as otherwise provided for by state association adoption."

2. Good week for winless teams

Woodland Hills, Freeport, Highlands and South Park earned their first victories in Week 4, but Central Valley's was the most dramatic.

The Warriors, 0-4 before Friday, stopped a game-winning 2-point conversion late in the fourth quarter to defeat Keystone Oaks, 28-27, in the Tri-County West Conference. KO (4-1, 2-1) was ranked third in WPIAL Class 3A.

Central Valley's Ameer Dudley took the lead with a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth, before Keystone Oaks' Logan Shrubb answered with a 1-yard score. Rather than kick for the tie, Keystone Oaks went for two and the lead.

3. Logjam in Allegheny Eight

Upper St. Clair was alone atop the conference standings before Friday night's 29-21 loss to West Allegheny. Now the Panthers (3-1) and Indians (3-1) are tied for first with Peters Township (2-1) just a half-game behind them.

There would be a three-way tie for the conference title if those three teams won out. Upper St. Clair owns a 16-14 win over Peters Township from Week 1. Peters Township claimed a 42-28 win over West Allegheny in Week 3.

But Bethel Park (1-1) and Moon (1-1), who have just one loss in the conference, could cause the early leaders trouble.

4. Top offense is surprise

After Week 4, it's Charleroi.

The Cougars and first-year coach Lance Getsy are averaging a WPIAL-best 59.3 points after their 69-7 victory Friday at Carmichaels. Charleroi quarterback Geno Pellegrini passed for three touchdowns and ran for another in the win.

Charleroi also owns wins against Washington (64-33), Riverview (48-7) and Frazier (56-7).

The next highest-scoring offenses are Shady Side Academy at 53.3, Thomas Jefferson 48.8, Gateway 45.6, Keystone Oaks 44.4, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart 44.4, McGuffey 44 and Penn Hills 43.4.

Aliquippa, now averaging 42.6, was the top-scoring team before Friday's 39-0 victory over Beaver Falls. With the Quips ahead 33-0 at halftime, the two teams agreed to reduce the second half to eight-minute quarters with a running clock.

5. Don't crown North Catholic quite yet

North Catholic's move up to in Class 3A made the Trojans a trendy favorite in the newly formed Big East Conference, but not so right now. Not after Derry defeated North Catholic, 27-0, on Friday night.

Don't forget, Derry was a conference champion last season as well.

Derry (5-0, 3-0) shared the Class 3A Interstate title with South Park and Elizabeth Forward (4-0, 3-0), who's also undefeated in the new-look Big East.

Justin Flack scored all four of Derry's touchdowns Friday, two rushing and two receiving.

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Copyright 2018 San Angelo Standard-Times
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San Angelo Standard-Times (Texas)

 

High school football teams around the region are moving their games to Thursday due to storms that have been forecast for Friday.

Six games involving Concho Valley schools — Wall at Sonora, Mason at Jim Ned, Dublin at Brady, Cross Plains at Christoval, Bronte at Santa Anna, and Rochelle at Eden — have all been bumped up to Thursday to try and get ahead of the rain.

Dublin-Brady and Cross Plains-Christoval are set for 7 p.m., while Wall-Sonora, Mason-Jim Ned and Bronte-Santa Anna are still scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Rochelle-Eden's varsity game will start 30 minutes after the conclusion of the junior varsity game, which is scheduled for 5 p.m.

Chris Daniels, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Angelo, said an upper level storm system moving in from the west combined with abundant moisture and a weak cold front will produce thunderstorms, and possibly some local flooding.

Rain is expected over "all of West Central Texas, including the Big Country and Concho Valley," he said.

The main threat is locally heavy rainfall flooding streets and low-lying areas, he added.

Though there will be some rain Thursday, the bulk of the storms will be Friday and should move to the east by Saturday, Daniels said.

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

SEATTLE — "I just want to say something to our fans: We apologize for these late games. And I'd also like to reiterate it has nothing to do with us or the administration. We want to play at 1 o'clock. It hurts us tremendously in terms of national exposure. No one wants to watch our game on the East Coast that late, and we all know it." — Chris Petersen, Oct. 2, 2017

Chris Petersen's tone was even-tempered, his words composed, when he delivered the comments that sparked a war with ESPN.

This was nearly a year ago, at the Washington coach's weekly Monday news conference with the local media, as the Huskies were preparing to play back-to-back games scheduled to start at 7:45 p.m.

A week later, Petersen's demeanor had changed. This was after ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit said on "College GameDay" that the Huskies "should be thanking" ESPN for broadcasting their games, after ESPN's sideline reporter placed three cupcakes on the Husky Stadium sideline during a game broadcast, after ESPN play-by-play man Mark Jones called Petersen "irascible and somewhat cantankerous" on air.

Petersen was irate, according to two people close him, and he was preparing to fire back publicly at ESPN. Ultimately, he was convinced that that would further escalate the situation, and by the time he sat down for his next Monday news conference his words were again measured and composed. "We just need to move on," he said then.

An ESPN crew will be back on the UW campus this week as it prepares to broadcast Washington-Arizona State for another late kickoff — 7:30 p.m. — at Husky Stadium on Saturday. Hold the cupcakes, please.

Behind the scenes, UW athletic director Jennifer Cohen and ESPN executives have worked over the past year to repair the relationship, to better understand each sides' needs. They are "in a better place" now, Cohen said.

Yes, there was a puzzling setback earlier this month when Jones seemed to gloat on Twitter about the Huskies' season-opening loss to Auburn. "Where's Montana?" he tweeted, setting off a small firestorm from UW fans.

During the cupcake broadcast of the UW-Cal game last October, Jones and ESPN analyst Rod Gilmore sounded personally insulted that Petersen declined to meet with them face-to-face the day before the game, as is fairly common practices for coaches and broadcasters. "He didn't have much time for us this week," Jones said during the game's broadcast.

Even after Jones' tweet, Cohen said she is encouraged with the state of the relationship with ESPN. And ESPN, for its part, has acknowledged mistakes and apologized to Cohen. (Washington has been assured Jones will not be assigned to any UW games for the foreseeable future.)

"The unfortunate tweet we saw can get all of us discouraged, and we can react to that," she said. "I love that our fans are so protective and passionate about our program and also our brand. But that was one person. And several people within (ESPN) were very responsive in their desire to move forward from that and they don't expect those types of things to happen again.

"And anytime you're in a partnership with folks, you just have to trust and believe that that's the direction we're going."

Former UW quarterback Brock Huard is part of the ESPN broadcast team for UW-Arizona State on Saturday night. In May, ESPN sent Huard and Herbstreit to speak at the Pac-12's annual coaches' and athletic directors' meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona. Cohen saw that as evidence of ESPN's commitment to improve the relationship with the conference overall.

"We've been really pleased with the conference's collaborative efforts ? and with the leadership at ESPN," Cohen said. "We have a lot of friends in this industry and for the most part all the folks we work with are completely professional and on board to try to learn from each other and make things better. ?

"I thought the meeting we had with all 12 football coaches and athletic directors with ESPN leadership and Herbstreit and Brock Huard — who felt very comfortable and honest with all of us about ways we can improve as well — that was extremely healthy and productive."

Looking back, the cupcake broadcast at Husky Stadium last October was "an unfortunate confluence of events in one week, which we wish we handled differently," Pete Derzis, ESPN's senior vice president of college programming, said in a statement.

"With that mindset," he added, "we apologized to Washington and the conference, while also committing to further discussions throughout the season and the offseason. Also, we immediately made plans to address the issue internally. In both cases, the conversations took place and were productive."

Cohen and Petersen both reiterated that the coach's comments about late kickoffs were not directed at ESPN. (Late kickoffs are a sensitive subject for the Pac-12 and for ESPN. As broadcast partners — partners that are paying $3 billion to the conference as a part of a 12-year media-rights contract — ESPN and Fox have night-game broadcasting windows to fill, and Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott often points to strong ratings for Pac-12 games in those after-dark time slots.)

"Thank God we have a coach who cares about our fans," Cohen said. "We cannot run this program successfully without our fans. He knows that, I know that, and that was all that was. It was really a comment that, I don't think he intended it to have any legs. ESPN wasn't even mentioned in his comments."

Petersen was asked recently to reflect on the incident with ESPN, and on his approach to broadcast partners' access to him and his program. Is he still upset?

"Whatever that was all about — whatever," he said. "The night-game thing had nothing to do with ESPN."

No, he said, the spat with ESPN did not change his approach to media access. "Not one bit."

But he said he is "always" available for phone interviews with broadcasters, whether from ESPN, Fox or the Pac-12 Network.

"And if they need a little more face-to-face time, and that helps them do their job better, I'll do what I can to help that," he said.

He has made one concession this week and is scheduled to meet with the ESPN crew in person today.

 

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Copyright 2018 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

SABINE PASS, Texas — Officials in a school district hit hard by Tropical Storm Harvey last year have canceled the rest of their high school football season.

Sabine Pass High School head coach Jason Thibodeaux, who also is the Sabine Pass school district athletic director, announced the cancellation in a statement issued Wednesday.

Thibodeaux cited the low number of players out for football and a wave of injuries players already have suffered this season for the decision. In their last game, a 50-0 loss at Hull-Daisetta on Friday, two more players were sent to the hospital, leaving the team to finish the game with 12 healthy players.

Sabine Pass has struggled in recent years with having enough players to field an 11-man football team, a problem aggravated by the dislocation of many students because of Tropical Storm Harvey.

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Copyright 2018 Boston Herald Inc.
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The Boston Herald

 

Saugus football players and their parents say they want Anthony Nalen — the coach suspended and warned he'll be fired for letting a player practice in his boxers — back on the sidelines as the season moves forward.

Saugus High School officials notified Nalen Monday of their intent to fire him. He had already been suspended as coach for four weeks. He has a final hearing today. Also today, he and his lawyer plan to file an injunction in court to save his job.

"We just want our coach back," senior and captain Jake Morgante told the Herald after yesterday's practice.

"We've been asking for answers for four weeks," Morgante said as he and fellow captains James Moise and Dante McGrane spoke to the Herald after yesterday's practice.

"We don't even really know what happened," McGrane said. "You know as much as we do."

Saugus put Nalen on administrative leave Aug. 30 after complaints that a player on the team who lacked proper workout gear was allowed to practice in his underwear.

"At no point did I see a kid practicing in his underwear," Nalen told the Herald last night.

A police investigation cleared Nalen of any criminal wrongdoing, but the school refused to reinstate him — and eventually decided to fire him.

Nalen and his attorney, Michael Castano of Revere, will be in Newburyport District Court tomorrow seeking an injunction to allow Nalen to return to the sidelines.

"I have a coaching resume with no blips on it," said Nalen, who previously coached for Matignon, Blackstone-Millville, Bishop Connolly and Randolph. "Everywhere I have coached, the school has asked me to come back the next year. I have a clean, consistent record throughout my coaching career, both on and off field. Having this on my record is alarming and could affect my future endeavors."

Saugus schools Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi told the Herald last night, "Until the process plays out, it's still a personnel matter and I can't talk about it."

Saugus High School principal Michael Hashem could not be reached for comment.

Michael Mabee, a former middle school coach and Saugus High quarterback, is serving as the head coach now. He to declined comment after yesterday's practice.

Nalen said he found out of the intent to fire him when an official came into his computer-science class and handed him a note saying he was dismissed as football coach at Saugus High School for a failure to supervise.

"It was hard for me to grasp right away because I was teaching. It was tough once I realized fully what happened," Nalen said. "It has been very tough on my players to have to go through this. It's also been tough on my family as well as my assistant coaches, all of them who have stuck with me through the whole thing."

"That was shameful and unprofessional," parent Maritza Martinez told the Herald of the way Nalen said the firing was handled.

Of the manner of firing, DeRousi said, "I will look into that."

Martinez and other parents waiting outside of practice yesterday were outraged at the firing, which they said left the players distraught.

"This is ridiculous," said parent Regiane Auzec. "It's nothing about what happened here on the field."

The joint practice between the freshman and varsity teams yesterday was missing a significant number of players — a trend lately, they said.

"Kids just feel like, what's the point now," said one freshman who didn't want to give his name.

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Copyright 2018 Bangor Daily News

Bangor Daily News (Maine)

 

AUGUSTA, Maine — The number of girls competing in high school wrestling across the country has increased during each of the past 28 years.

That national trend has been perhaps most noticeable over the past six winters, when the roster of schoolgirl wrestlers has grown from 8,235 in 2012 to 14,587 for the 2017-18 season, according to an annual survey compiled by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

The recent girls wrestling boom has not been nearly as robust in Maine, but supporters of the sport hope the first girls-only individual state championship tournament sanctioned by the Maine Principals' Association planned for February 2019 will spur increased interest.

"The hope is more girls will participate," said MPA assistant executive director Mike Bisson.

The proposal has passed through the MPA wrestling committee as well as its Interscholastic Management Committee and needs only an affirmative final vote from the organization's general membership at its fall conference in November to take place for the first time Feb. 20, 2019, at Penobscot Valley High School in Howland.

Wrestling organizers in Maine have staged nonsanctioned state meets for high school girls in the past, but this would be the first official girls-only individual championship meet in state history.

"I'm for it 100 percent," said Gerald Hutchinson, athletic administrator at Penobscot Valley High School and former longtime wrestling coach for the Howlers. "I think it's about time the girls had this chance."

The number of high school female wrestlers in Maine has averaged approximately 70 annually during the past five years, according to state statistics reported to the NFHS, from a low of 59 during the 2013-14 season to a high of 89 two years later.

Last winter, 74 girls from 30 schools participated on varsity wrestling teams statewide, according to the survey.

"I definitely think that once this tournament is out there and the girls see that they can compete for a championship without the boys that there's going to be a big jump [in participation]," said Hutchinson, who also is a member of the MPA wrestling committee.

No Maine girl has won an MPA-sanctioned high school wrestling individual state championship wrestling against boys, though several have come close.

Kristi Pearse of Camden Hills of Rockport and Deanna Rix of Marshwood of South Berwick took state-title matches to overtime before each settled for second place, Rix in 2005 and Pearse in 2006.

Pearse was a two-time state finalist (2006, 2007) at 103 pounds, as was Kayleigh Longley of Noble of North Berwick (2008, 2011).

Other girls to threaten for a state championship on the mat include two other Camden Hills athletes. Logan Rich placed third at 103 pounds in 2009 while Hilary Merrifield (106 pounds) finished third at states in 2015.

"They've come close," Bisson said, "but it would really be nice to crown girls wrestling state champions every year."

Six states — Alaska, California, Hawaii, Tennessee, Texas and Washington — sanctioned girls-only wrestling championship meets at the end of the 2016-2017 season, and other states, including Arizona, reportedly are joining Maine in working toward doing so this winter.

"The [wrestling committee] just ran with this because they've seen girls wrestling right along, and it seems like they should have this opportunity," Bisson said. "They saw that other states have started it and that momentum is growing nationally, so they wanted to get involved."

Bisson said one member of the wrestling committee offered to donate medals for the event for the first five years while another member (Hutchinson) offered to host the championship meet and donate the facility, site director and meet director fees for the inaugural event.

"Every committee member was immediately supportive of it," Bisson said. "They just want it to happen."

Maine's first MPA girls wrestling state championship will not include a team competition due to lack of numbers but, similar to Alaska, is expected to feature eight weight classes. Alaska's weight classes last winter were 106 pounds, 113, 120, 132, 145, 160, 182 and 220.

The meet will be contested on two mats, with at least four wrestlers required to crown a champion in each class.

The date of the planned girls wrestling state championships during Wednesday of February vacation week will allow participants to compete in both that meet and the the overall state team championships set for the previous Saturday, Feb. 16.

Zoe Buteau of Oak High School in Wales and Hannah Workman of Lincoln Academy in Newcastle were the only girls who qualified for last winter's MPA team state championship meets.

The MPA wrestling committee is scheduled to meet next week to firm up plans for a potential first girls-only state meet, Hutchinson said.

Follow BDN Maine Sports on Facebook for the latest in Maine high school and college sports.

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Copyright 2018 The Florida Times-Union

Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)

 

TALLAHASSEE — Nearly three years after Christian schools from Tampa and Jacksonville squared off in a high-school football championship, a federal appeals court is poised to hear arguments about the constitutionality of a decision that prevented the schools from offering a prayer over the stadium loudspeaker before kickoff.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments next Wednesday in a case filed by Tampa's Cambridge Christian School against the Florida High School Athletic Association.

A federal judge last year upheld a decision by the association to prevent a prayer over the loudspeaker at Orlando's Camping World Stadium before a December 2015 championship game between Cambridge Christian and Jacksonville's University Christian School. Cambridge Christian appealed, arguing the decision violated First Amendment rights.

"The facts are clear and undisputed: Communal prayer is integral to Cambridge Christian's religious mission, and the Cambridge Christian community was unable to engage in its tradition of communal pre-game prayer due to the FHSAA's denial of its request to use the loudspeaker to express a religious viewpoint," attorneys for the school wrote in a brief appealing the district judge's ruling. "That denial substantially burdened and adversely affected Cambridge Christian's freedom of religious exercise."

But the association, which governs high-school sports in Florida, said it is a "state actor" and that the "nature of speech occurring over the public-address system is government speech."

"Cambridge Christian, a parochial school, sought to force FHSAA's unconstitutional help in communicating a sectarian religious message to a captive audience at a state-run championship game," attorneys for the association wrote in a brief. "As the district court recognized, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Florida Constitution, and (a section of Florida law) do not compel the enlistment of state actors, like FHSAA, to engage in proselytization of audience members attending state-sponsored sporting events."

U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell last year said the association has procedures that include allowing a designated public-address announcer to use the loudspeaker for approved announcements. She wrote that it is "clear that if the prayer was offered by the public-address announcer, this would be viewed as an endorsement by the state, which would be impermissible."

The Atlanta-based appeals court agreed early this year to hear oral arguments in the case. The arguments will take place at the federal courthouse in Jacksonville.

After the association denied the use of the loudspeaker, players from the teams prayed on the field before the game. But in its brief, Cambridge Christian said supporters of the schools were not able to participate without the use of the public-address system.

"By prohibiting Cambridge Christian from leading its students and their families and fans in a brief communal prayer, the FHSAA engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination in violation of the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prohibits state actors, like the FHSAA, from basing a decision to allow or disallow the use of state-controlled facilities for private speech based on the viewpoint expressed by the intended private speaker and prohibits such actors from imposing restrictions on private religious speech that are greater than the restrictions imposed on private secular speech," Cambridge Christian's brief said.

But attorneys for the association disputed such arguments.

"FHSAA never denied Cambridge Christian the ability to express itself through prayer prior, during, or following the game," the association's brief said. "But the law does not require — and for good and valid reason does not permit — FHSAA to promote sectarian prayer through its state-run public-address system."

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Copyright 2018 Bangor Daily News

Bangor Daily News (Maine)

 

BLUE HILL, Maine — What began as a supermarket cashiers' exercise room will become a $3.5 million community center serving a dozen towns on the Blue Hill Peninsula.

Owned by Tradewinds Marketplace owners Chuck and Belinda Lawrence, the 13,000-square-foot new building will be managed by the Down East Family YMCA group. It will effectively double the size of the adjacent Blue Hill YMCA on South Street and include a six-lane pool, Belinda Lawrence said.

"This will be another draw for the area," Lawrence said Wednesday. "We've heard from people that others would move here if there were more [amenities]."

The pool will give peninsula residents — including swim team members at George Stevens Academy — a new place to swim, said Blue Hill resident Ciona Ulbrich, a regular Y client. The closest YMCAs, in Ellsworth and Bucksport, are 12 and 21 miles from Blue Hill, respectively.

"This is a community that has a number of residential facilities for older people, and I think that offering them swimming is great," said Ulbrich, who recently opened a coffee shop downtown, Sandy's Blue Hill Cafe. "That's a big change from what's here."

"Just the sheer size of the place will make a big difference," Ulbrich added. "At times, particularly in the summer months, this place gets very crowded."

The new YMCA-managed facility will be built on two acres of wetlands adjacent to the old building, which will become a daycare center, Belinda Lawrence said.

It will feature expanded exercise rooms, offices and dance training space. Construction will start early next month, although trees and other foliage have already been removed from the site, Belinda Lawrence said.

The Lawrences, who have owned their Tradewinds store for 18 years, formed the non-profit Lawrence Family Foundation to administer the construction of the building and other gifts to the community, Belinda Lawrence said.

They donated the former supermarket garage to the YMCA in 2013. The Lawrences created the exercise room for their sales associates, but there wasn't much interest in using it, Lawrence said.

As part of the deal, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection required the Lawrences to offset the loss of the wetlands they are building on. The Lawrences purchased wetlands in Surry and donated them to the Blue Hill Heritage Trust, Lawrence said.

Their own land was the last they looked at. It was surprisingly difficult to find enough acreage off a main road in the area with a sewer hookup that wasn't wetlands but was large enough for the center, Lawrence said.

Construction will likely finish in a year, Lawrence said.

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

 

CHARLOTTE — The North Carolina High School Athletic Association should decide by Oct. 1 what changes to make to its playoffs schedules in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

"We're still giving our schools enough time to access damages to let us know what they're dealing with," said Commissioner Que Tucker. "So for us to come out with anything at this point would be premature. We don't know the conditions of the many schools impacted."

Throughout North Carolina, teams missed games because of the hurricane last week, and some schools are closed this week because of flooding. No football games have been canceled in Guilford or Rockingham counties.

Tucker said she's seen a video of water dripping from the ceiling and pooling on a gym floor and another North Carolina high school football field under water. She also spoke with Onslow County's athletics director, who told her that none of the county's schools would be in session this week and maybe not next week, either.

"There are 417 member schools in the association from Manteo to Murphy," Tucker said. "That's a lot to try to access. So we have not begun to formulate any major plans. What we are going to do next week is ask our schools to give us a status report: Are you back in school? And access to see how many games folks are behind. We know many will be at least two games behind."

The NCHSAA pushed back its football playoffs a week in 2016 because of Hurricane Matthew.

This year's state football playoffs are scheduled to start Nov. 9, with state finals set for Dec. 8.

Tucker said the association would look at extending all fall sports playoffs. Asked if she would entertain altering the current football playoff format to shorten it or to extend the season two weeks to allow a state final to be played, Tucker said anything is possible.

"I think you could put everything on the table because of the widespread devastation (because of Florence)," Tucker said.

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

 

Urban Meyer was docked more than $570,000 as part of his three-game suspension handed down by Ohio State for the football coach's handling of domestic violence allegations against a former assistant coach, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY on Tuesday.

Meyer, who is eligible to return to the sideline Saturday when the Buckeyes face Tulane, lost out on $570,507.68, equal to approximately a sixth of his total annual cash compensation.

Ohio State's Board of Trustees announced Meyer was suspended three games - and six weeks total without pay - last month, although his lost salary was not disclosed until Tuesday. Meyer is scheduled to make at least $7.6 million this year, meaning the lost wages equate to about a 7.5 percent hit on his annual gross earnings.

Athletic director Gene Smith, suspended from Aug. 31-Sept. 16, lost out on $60,711, according to another document.

Fired wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who allegedly assaulted his then-wife on multiple occasions, will not receive any additional monies following his termination in July.

Julie D. Vannatta, OSU's senior associate general counsel, wrote in a letter to Zach Smith and his attorney that he was "not owed any severance or buy-out" because he was on a limited term sheet and his full contract extension had not been fully executed.

"Moreover, even if the Employment Agreement had been fully executed, Mr. Smith would have been terminated by the University under the for cause provision in Section 5.1 of the Agreement," Vannatta wrote, citing his contract's termination for cause provision. "To that end, and without waiving any legal defenses or rights, this letter serves as written notice to Mr. Smith that his effective date of termination was July 23, 2018."

Ryan Day, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, served as OSU's acting head coach the first three games this season as the Buckeyes logged victories over Oregon State, Rutgers and TCU.

He is slated to receive a one-time lump sum payment of $487,000 for added duties on Sept. 30, according to a letter Gene Smith sent Day on Monday.

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

 

You've heard the old joke, retold annually around the Chinese New Year.

A few weeks after the cycle changes to the Year of the Dog, the jokester proclaims, "I'm still writing Year of the Rooster on my checks."

It goes to how once we get in a habit, it's hard to break.

Which comes to mind upon hearing the news that Germain Arena in Estero will soon change its name to Hertz Arena in a naming rights deal between the rental car giant and the Florida Everblades.

Companies around the world pay millions of dollars to attach their names to arenas and stadiums for professional sports teams at all levels.

The practice is filtering down to the amateur level as well.

Just this summer, Lee Health purchased the naming rights for the multi-sports stadium at the new Bonita Springs High School for five years for $292,000.

Three-year naming rights to the Estero High School field went for $32,688 to FAST AC. The stadium already is named in honor of former cross country coach and athletic director Jeff Sommer, so home games at Estero will be played on FAST AC Field at Jeff Sommer Stadium. Why do I get the feeling most people will just say, "The game's at Estero."

Naming rights are on the auction block for Collier County's new sports complex to be built along Collier Boulevard near Interstate 75. County commissioners expect to see a report on the potential value of the rights in October.

Companies wouldn't pour money into these deals if they didn't see a benefit, but with so many stadiums and so many deals, one is left to wonder if it's worth it.

Which brings us back to the Year of the Rooster.

Remember the Philharmonic Center in Naples? We all used to call it The Phil. Many still call it The Phil even though it was renamed Artis-Naples in 2013.

There are people who still call the Everblades' home ice TECO Arena, its name from 1999 until 2004, when Germain came into the picture.

If you look hard enough, you'll find some holdovers who still say Everblades Arena, the original name of the place.

So, how long will it take before people get used to saying Hertz?

The fact that Hertz sounds like hurts and we're talking about a hockey arena might make the transition easier.

And then there's the proposed color scheme. The corporate yellow is bound to stand out from Estero's staid Mediterranean tones. Hertz Your Eyes Arena has a ring to it.

Neither Hertz nor Everblades President Craig Brush would disclose the price of the naming rights. Regardless, to maximize their investment and speed up acceptance of the new name, Hertz will want to create as many tie-ins and partnerships as soon as possible.

On Wednesday, Hertz executives rang the closing bell on Wall Street in observance of the company's 100th anniversary. If they were smart, they would have started the cross promotion right away. Instead of the traditional bell, they should have used one of the ubiquitous cowbells on sale at the Germain - make that Hertz - gift shop.

Hertz is mainly known for renting cars. With an ice arena in its marketing mix, how about renting Zambonis too. Who hasn't wanted to drive around on one of those?

Occasionally, the arena hosts a monster truck rally. Hertz could take it one step further and host a demolition derby of used cars being retired from the rental fleet.

The company's most famous, and infamous, spokesman was O.J. Simpson, iconically running through airports and flying into cars in the 1970s. O.J. reportedly has flirted with the idea of moving to Southwest Florida from Nevada, where he is on probation. If he does, O.J. Night at Hertz Arena would be a natural.

Just like our funny friend who has difficulty adjusting to the Year of the Dog, Southwest Florida will take a while to get used to the name Hertz Arena.

There are bound to be mistakes and near misses as people grow accustomed to the change. We'll try to remember Hertz Arena, but it might not always come out right.

The company should not be surprised if at first people get it wrong. It even mentioned it in an ad campaign. "There's Hertz. And there's not exactly."

Connect with Brent Batten at brent.batten@naplesnews.com, on Twitter @NDN_BrentBatten and at facebook.com/ndnbrentbatten.


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Copyright 2018 Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Inc.
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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)

 

WORCESTER — Seamus Wallace and five of his Assumption College football teammates gathered around the TV in his dorm room Saturday afternoon to watch a showdown between Southeastern Conference rivals Louisiana State University and Auburn. They were focused on one player: Former teammate Cole Tracy, the Greyhounds' all-time leader in field goals and points scored, who is now kicking for LSU and is presently Assumption's most popular alumnus.

LSU trailed by two points and drove to the Auburn 24-yard line with two seconds on the clock.

The situation set up perfectly for Tracy.

"I was hoping for it," said Wallace, Assumption's junior punter. "We were all sitting on

the edge of our seats. Then, we were all jumping up and down."

Tracy drilled a 42-yard field goal to lift LSU to a dramatic 22-21 win. Auburn's 87,000-seat Jordan-Hare Stadium went mostly silent. LSU's fans and players went crazy. Tracy's new teammates carried him off the field on their shoulders and into the limelight.

"It was like the final scene in 'Rudy,'" Wallace said. "I talked to Cole Saturday night and I'm like, 'Dude, that's unreal.' It's like living the dream all kids have."

LSU fans think Tracy is pretty great, too, and they've expressed their gratitude to his college alma mater.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 100 donors have given more than $5,000 to Assumption in Tracy's name.

"It's terrific," said Tim Stanton, Assumption's vice president for institutional advancement. "I've never seen anything like this in my almost 20 years of fundraising. We were caught totally off-guard, but knowing LSU has such rabid fans and he's been such a great addition to that team it's not ludicrous that this happened, but we never expected it."

Tracy asked Stanton to be sure the donations go to Assumption's football program. Stanton said he would.

During Assumption's annual fundraising golf outing, the Father Bissonnette Invitational, Monday at Worcester Country Club, Stanton talked about what a proud Saturday it was for Assumption after watching Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, a 1983 AC graduate, guide his team to victory on NBC, then turning the channel to CBS and seeing Tracy make the winning field goal.

"The whole community is proud of this kid," Stanton said. "It's pretty neat."

Also on Saturday, Bob Chesney celebrated his first victory as Holy Cross coach, which came on a field goal in overtime, then went home and celebrated Tracy's winning field goal with family and friends. Chesney was Tracy's coach at Assumption. The scene at his Worcester home was similar to the one in Wallace's dorm room.

"Oh, man, it was awesome," Chesney said. "It was so awesome. Again, it's something we felt like he could do. It's neat that the rest of the world gets to see this."

During national broadcasts of LSU football games, "Assumption" and "Worcester" are now standard words in the script. Assumption assistant director of athletics for communications Ben Stockwell gathered and sent video clips of Tracy kicking at Assumption to ABC to use during its broadcast of LSU's opener against Miami. The Los Angeles Times and Sports Illustrated called Chesney this week. Stanton also talked to SI. Saturday night "Cole Tracy" was trending on Twitter.

"It's nice everyone else gets to experience what made him so great (at Assumption) because he really is unbelievable," Chesney said.

Tracy graduated from Assumption in May after a sensational career for the Greyhounds. In 2017, he led NCAA Division 2 in field goals and field goal percentage, and was the recipient of the Fred Mitchell Award which is given annually to the top place kicker in FCS, Division 2, Division 3 an NJCAA for excellence on the field and in the community. He did not play as a freshman at Assumption, so he had one year of playing eligibility left. With hopes of one day playing in the NFL, Tracy seized the opportunity to play big-time football at LSU as a graduate transfer.

This week, the Tigers are ranked No. 6 in the country.

In his first game, he tied an LSU record with a 54-yard field goal against Miami. The next week, against Southeastern Louisiana and in front of 96,883 fans at LSU's Tiger Stadium, Tracy nailed a 50-yarder as well as all four of his extra-point attempts.

His journey, from his home in Camarillo, California, all the way across the country to Division 2 Assumption, to a major college football program, where this week he gained hero status, has garnered national intrigue and set off Cole Tracy mania on Assumption's campus and around the city.

"There is such a buzz around campus," Assumption field hockey coach Annie Lahey said. "Everywhere you go. Everywhere you go. There is barely a conversation that occurs where you don't overhear, 'Oh my God! Did you see it?' Or you walk into the office and everyone says, 'Did you see it?' Coaches are texting each other during the game, 'Did you see it?' I teared up when I saw him make this week's field goal. It's just so great."

The attention has not changed Tracy one bit. He's still the humble, gracious, genial and all-around great kid everyone loved at Assumption.

"You can see in the (TV) interviews he's the same exact kid," Lahey said. "We could not be happier for him."

Lahey, assistant supervisor of Assumption's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) got to know Tracy well when he served as SAAC vice president last year.

Director of athletics Jamie Marcoux began at Assumption in early June. She wasn't here for Tracy's Assumption playing career, but she knows all about it and is also thrilled about his success on the big stage.

"His success is of no surprise to anyone here," Marcoux said. "He was an amazing student-athlete for Assumption and now he is accomplishing amazing things at LSU. We are all watching and cheering him on."

Long before Tracy lined up to attempt a kick for LSU, Wallace changed his favorite athlete to Cole Tracy in his Assumption bio.

"For me coming in and having him as an older player made me the player I am today," Wallace said. "He brought me under his wing and taught me how to keep cool in tense situations."

Wallace and Tracy communicate regularly.

"I'll text him or he'll send me a Snapchat and he's wearing an Assumption specialist shirt sitting in the middle of the LSU campus saying, 'Go Hounds!'" Wallace said. "So many people are tuning into LSU games to see him do what he did here. He's making Assumption proud for sure."

Contact Jennifer Toland at jennifer.toland@telegram.com Follow her on Twitter @JenTandG.

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Copyright 2018 The Buffalo News
All Rights Reserved

The Buffalo News (New York)

 

Results of a seven-month investigation of the Dallas Mavericks organization released on Wednesday confirm "numerous instances of sexual harassment and other improper workplace conduct" spanning more than 20 years.

Allegations came to light in an explosive Feb. 20 Sports Illustrated story and were further detailed through reporting by The Dallas Morning News.

The investigation cited no wrongdoing by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, but Cuban, due to what the investigation and the NBA termed "institutional and other failures," agreed to contribute $10 million to organizations committed to supporting the leadership and development of women in the sports industry and combating domestic violence.

There will be no basketball-related penalties as a result of the investigation.

During an at-times tearful interview that aired Wednesday on ESPN, Cuban apologized to the women who had been victimized during his 18-year ownership tenure.

"To the women involved, and the women who were in a couple of case assaulted," Cuban said. "Not just to them, but to their families. Because this is not just something that's an incident and then it's over. It stays with people and it stays with families.

"I'm just sorry I didn't see it. I'm sorry I didn't recognize it. I just hope that out of this we'll be better and we can avoid it and we can help make everybody just smarter about the whole thing."

The investigation, conducted by Mavericks-hired investigators Anne Milgram and Evan Krutoy and Krutoy Law, reached these conclusions, among others:

· Improper workplace conduct toward 15 female employees by former Mavericks president Terdema Ussery. Those incidents, the report stated, included "inappropriate comments, touching, and forcible kissing."

· Improper workplace conduct by former Mavericks ticket sales executive Chris Hyde.

The report concluded that Hyde made "inappropriate comments to women of a sexual nature," viewed and shared pornographic images and videos and made unwanted sexual advances and violent and threatening outbursts toward co-workers.

· Confirmed two acts of domestic violence by former Mavs.com reporter Earl Sneed, including one against a team employee.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver commended the Mavericks organization for the sweeping cultural and structural changes that have been made during the past seven months under CEO Cynthia Marshall, but Silver also called the investigations findings "disturbing and heartbreaking."

"No employee in the NBA, or any workplace for that matter, should be subject to the type of working environment described in the report," Silver said.

Butler wants out

A week before the start of training camp, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler reportedly has requested a trade. The four-time All-Star informed coach Tom Thibodeau of his wishes on Tuesday, according to a report on Wednesday from The Athletic.

The Athletic's sources said that Butler, 29, gave the Timberwolves a list of teams he'd consider signing with for the long term.

According to ESPN, those teams are the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers.

Butler joined Minnesota in a trade with the Chicago Bulls in June 2017. He played in 59 games for the Timberwolves last season, averaging 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

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Copyright 2018 Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
All Rights Reserved

Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

The ball went up, never making it between the goalposts. Then, the goalposts came down.

After the 1998 overtime victory against Florida, Phillip Fulmer was asked if the win was the biggest in Tennessee history.

"It's the biggest win in a long time," he replied.

Although a long time has passed since the victory, fans still consider it one of the greatest Vols moments - a moment they can relive this Friday.

Tailgate games and vendors will be on hand Friday night at World's Fair Park during a big-screen showing of the 1998 UT vs. Florida game ahead of Saturday's matchup against the Gators at Neyland Stadium.

The lawn party

Doors will open at 5 p.m., allowing people to stake out a spot for the screening or party prior to the game, according to the Facebook event page.

The World's Fair Park lawn will be filled with local vendors, tailgate games and food trucks. Hops and Hollers will also be at the event serving up beer.

People are encouraged to dress in their "oldest, most rad '90s Vols apparel" for the party and the screening. Vintage Vols gear can be purchased from nwiththeold.com.

The screening

The game will be shown on a three-story inflatable projector. The screening is expected to start at 7:30 p.m.

No seating will be available at the event, so people are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets. The game lasted about 2.5 hours without commercial breaks, and the event is expected to end around 10 p.m.

According to the Facebook page, the screening is being hosted by local car dealerships, news stations, In With The Old, Hops and Hollers, Nothing Too Fancy and Knox Area Rescue Ministries.

Admission and commemorative shirts

The event is free, but a $5 donation to Knox Area Rescue Ministries is encouraged.

Giving a $5 donation in advance on the Facebook page lets you pre-order a commemorative "Pandemonium Reigns" T-shirt designed by Nothing Too Fancy. To order, just click "additional items" on the checkout page and then select the T-shirt.

Pre-ordered T-shirts will be available at any of the In With The Old tents on the lawn.

VIP experience

For $80, Tennessee fans can relive the game in VIP fashion. The VIP pass includes front-row seating for the screening, a private bar, two free drink tickets and a bag filled with "Vols nostalgia."

Also in the bag will be the official "Pandemonium Reigns" T-Shirt.

A percentage of proceeds will be given to Knox Area Rescue Ministries. Additional VIP perks will be announced closer to the event, according to the event page.

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Copyright 2018 Orange County Register
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Orange County Register (California)

 

When businesses look to expand, they typically do it in stages.

Potential sites are evaluated, customer demographics are explored and a growth strategy is carefully developed. Then there's capital. They need plenty of that to finance the growth they envision. For many businesses, the process is slow and can take years to complete.

Not so with The Camp Transformation Center.

The Chino Hills-based fitness chain launched franchising in late 2016, growing quickly to 106 locations, with an additional 25 in development. They can be found throughout Southern California, other U.S. states and Mexico. Locally, Camp centers are in Santa Clarita, Lancaster, Van Nuys, Woodland Hills, West Covina, Fontana, Chino, Long Beach, Anaheim and Irvine.

Alejandra Font, who co-founded The Camp along with her husband, Louis and business partner Saman Bakhtiar, is as surprised as anyone by the company's rapid trajectory.

"It's been surreal," Font said. "But we've always been focused on our client experience and delivering great results. We believe if you do that, everything else will take care of itself. That's the culture we try to instill in our franchisees."

The investment

The cost of opening a Camp Transformation Center runs between $167,000 and $326,500. That covers expenses such as the lease deposit, initial franchise fee, construction costs, training and travel expenses, signs, and plans, permits and licenses, among other costs.

Those costs vary, depending upon location, real estate rates and construction costs.

Stepping into the industry

The Fonts' entry into the fitness industry wasn't exactly planned.

"We had a Subway franchise and ended up selling that to open up a different type of business in the housewares industry," Font said. "We were forced to close that in late 2009 because of the recession. At that point, we had kids, a mortgage … and nothing coming in."

The couple found comfort and community in a small, local gym in Chino, and they forged a connection with an especially inspiring trainer, Sam Bakhtiar. They lost weight, got in better shape and began to get back on their feet financially.

Seeing how successful their own physical transformations were, they asked Bakhtiar to join them in launching The Camp Transformation Center in 2010.

Clients turned franchisees …

"It's been an amazing ride," Font said. "Our initial growth came from our own client base. They saw what we were doing and wanted to be part of it. A lot of our clients who came in saw their own physical transformation and thought, 'My God, this is great.' They wanted to help others as well."

Each fitness center employs the company's signature Challenge, a six-week program designed to help members shed 20 pounds. It includes a nutrition plan, check-ins and the posting of before-and-after photos to show the physical transformation.

Testimonials

"The Camp was exactly what I needed to gear me into a healthier lifestyle," Client Mandy Oliver said in a testimonial on the company's website. "I have signed up for my first Spartan Race in December and will conquer that, too! I'm incredibly thankful to The Camp and all staff."

Client Kelly Murphy Marshall is equally happy.

"I just completed my first Challenge and lost a whopping 24 pounds in six weeks!" Marshall said. "This is the same 24 pounds I have been trying to lose for 10 years with diet pills, starvation diets and every crazy tactic out there."

The Camp's basic regimen consists of circuit training, according to Font.

"It's a combination of cardio and strength training," she said. "It's set up in stations and each one typically lasts about a minute. But there is flexibility within those parameters to design your own workout."

Getting in shape is big business. The global health club industry generates more than $80 billion a year in revenue with nearly $28 billion of that coming from the U.S., according to figures from Statistica.

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

 

COLUMBIA — It seemed good graduation fodder, what's known in wrestling as a "pop" to get the audience to applaud. But South Carolina President Harris Pastides has always been passionate about USC's athletics, so it was known that there was serious intent behind his words.

The Campus Art Advisory Committee made that intent official Wednesday. Pending final Board of Trustees approval once a design is created, there will be a sculpture of former USC basketball player A'ja Wilson outside Colonial Life Arena one day.

"It's moving," athletics director Ray Tanner said. "We're going to do it as soon as possible."

The committee approved a permanent reminder of the school's most decorated athlete and easily the best women's basketball player. A consensus National Player of the Year, the WNBA's No. 1 draft pick and the unanimous WNBA Rookie of the Year, Wilson's 6-foot-5 visage — hopefully including her wide smile and ever-present string of pearls — would be the latest sculpture at USC.

A $275,000 statue of 1980 Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers was unveiled at Williams-Brice Stadium in 2015. A $995,000 giant Gamecock was supposed to be placed nearby before the 2017 football season, but will not be installed until after this season ends (the artist is taking his time). An $85,000 statue of school mascot Cocky was constructed on campus a year ago.

There is no firm date for the Wilson statue's completion or placement, as there are still several avenues to cross. But it is in motion, and would likely be built between the front entrance to CLA and the fountain at the street corner.

Tanner projected an unveiling before the 2020-21 basketball season. The sculpture is expected to come with a price tag of around $300,000.

Coach Dawn Staley offered to pay $100,000 toward the statue when Pastides first brought it up, during Wilson's graduation ceremony in May. Tanner said that the pledge brought forth other givers, which will pay for the near majority of the total cost.

"We accepted her offer," he said of Staley's donation. "I think that her leadership in doing this initiative created an opportunity to get two additional large donors very quickly."

USC has to pick an artist to design the monument and then get Wilson to pose for it. Immediate timing for the pose may be difficult, as Wilson is currently in the Canary Islands with Staley and the rest of Team USA preparing for the FIBA Women's World Cup.

Wilson made the team and will participate in the World Cup from Sept. 22-30. Then she is set to join her professional team in China the first week of October.

Williams-Brice Stadium projects

Once the Long Family Football Operations Center is complete in December, USC's football coaches will move from the Floyd Football Building at the north end of Williams-Brice Stadium into the new building. The BOT also approved Phase I renovations to parts of Williams-Brice and Phase II renovations to the Floyd building on Wednesday.

The Floyd building will be turned into a gameday club with windows stretching around the building, allowing fans to watch the game in an air-conditioned lounge with beverages and concessions available for purchase. The cost is $750,000 and the area is expected to be finished by the 2019 season.

Williams-Brice will refurbish existing club levels and add new ones, including a 152-seat loge level at the southwest corner of the stadium. The existing Crews building, housing USC's weight room and football meeting rooms, will be converted into a recruiting lounge area.

The loge will have seats directly above a "2001 Club," meant for luxury guests who can watch the Gamecocks enter the field. The Phase I approval, for architectural plans and design, will cost $420,000. All of the new features are expected in time for the 2020 season.

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2018 Journal - Gazette Sep 19, 2018

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

 

Jarrod Parker discovered a new outlet for his unrelenting athletic drive. As usual, he's attacking his passion full-speed ahead.

Parker, a former Major League Baseball pitcher out of Norwell High School, will open Parker Sports Performance, a 7,000-square foot training facility in Nashville, Tennessee, this Sunday.

After injuries ended his career, Parker took time to figure out his next step. He considered real estate but ultimately gravitated back to baseball and began studying athletic training through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

The idea of opening and running his own facility excited him and drove him to action.

"I don't like to tell everyone I'm coming up on 30, but I've kind of faced a little bit of everything and being able to do that has made me a stronger person," Parker said. "And it's kind of pushed me out of my comfort zone to get in the business and be able to interact with people more and just give back."

Parker, drafted ninth overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks as a senior at Norwell in the 2007 MLB draft, reached the top of the baseball world for the Oakland A's in 2012 and 2013. He compiled a 25-16 career record with a 3.68 ERA and 275 strikeouts. He set a franchise record with 19 consecutive starts without a loss and won a game in the 2013 American League Division Series against Detroit.

Parker underwent his second Tommy John surgery in 2014, then suffered a fractured elbow upon returning to the mound in 2015 and another fractured elbow in 2016. He retired from the game this year.

"When you're done, you're supposed to flip the switch and jump into the real world," Parker said. "It's a slow period. I took a good two years off to come to the realization I'm done playing baseball. I took some time away from the game to better myself mentally and bounce back from some of the things and get ready to move forward with my life.

"My wife and I are here in Nashville, set up to grow a family here, I'm in my home now and ready to start Chapter 2. Or Chapter 3, 4, 5 or 6, whatever chapter I'm on."

Parker met his wife, Lauren, during a spring training in Arizona and they married last October. Because he had spent rehab time in Nashville and enjoyed the city, he suggested looking into moving there. Lauren, a dentist, fell in love with Nashville and the couple moved.

Parker's training facility, which is on Nashville's southeast side at 516 Ligon Drive, will be for youth and adults of all skill levels. Parker has been hands-on in the project, including helping install about 15 turf rolls, at 450 pounds apiece, in the indoor facility, where the temperature reaches 80 degrees.

Not surprisingly, Parker Sports Performance will put substantial focus on baseball training, but that's not its only purpose. He plans to hire softball and strength coaches. Other athletic-training classes for adults will eventually be included, Parker said. Parker will give personal pitching and hitting instruction and also wants to provide guidance in the mental side of the game. He offers special attention for players recovering from injury.

One of Parker's primary traits as an athlete was his single-minded focus to the task at hand. That was evident when he led Norwell to a 35-0 record and a Class 3A state title as a senior in 2007. He carried that trait with him to the big leagues, where he pitched briefly with Arizona before he was traded to Oakland.

He hopes to carry his sports focus into the next phase of his career.

"I don't ever want to get out of that mindset," Parker said. "It's who I am, and the effort and ambition helped me be successful. It's about not putting too much into competition, not looking at somebody on TV and being bitter, wishing woulda, coulda, shoulda. There was a grieving period for me because of the trials and tribulations of sports injuries and success."

With time and acceptance of the end of his pitching career, Parker said he has gradually come to appreciate the good times.

"Sometimes I'm the hardest one on myself," he said. "I overlook that. 'There's so much bad, look at this scar.' I won 25 games in two years and I'm reminded of that. To say it out loud is kind of weird to me, but I take it for what it is."

Parker remains friends with another former A's pitcher, Barry Zito, who also lives in Nashville and is forging a second career as a musician.

Parker said he understands pro athletes rarely get the chance to decide for themselves when their playing days end.

"The good terms don't happen to too many," he said. "I had that decision taken out of my hands. I feel fortunate in that I didn't have to make the decision to hang around and grind until it was obvious."

As Parker puts the finishing touches on his new facility, he talks with enthusiasm about his next phase.

"I searched for five months and walked into this place and I kind of knew," he said. "I thought it'd be sweet to have cages here, I walked around the place and visualized it.

"It's coming together almost exactly how I pictured it. I'm excited about the whole thing."

CAPTION: Courtesy: Former Norwell pitcher Jarrod Parker, who played professionally for the Oakland A's, shows off his new sports performance facility in Nashville, Tennessee, which is set to open Sunday.

 

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

 

COLUMBUSHow much is navigating a top five team through preseason and to a 3-0 start worth?

Nearly half a million dollars.

According to a letter released by the university Wednesday, Ohio State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day will be paid $487,000 for serving as interim head coach in Urban Meyer's absence.

The letter, dated Sept. 17 and signed by Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith, says Day is to receive a one-time lump sum payment of $487,000 in his Sept. 30 paycheck.

Meyer, who will be allowed to coach his first game of the season on Saturday, thanked Day on Monday for keeping the team together since the beginning of August.

"I knew Coach Day was a difference-maker when we hired him," Meyer said. "I followed his career. He was with me in Florida. His professionalism and what he's done has been phenomenal and the rest of our staff, with Coach (Greg) Schiano, Kevin Wilson, the other coaches, have been tremendous."

Day came to Ohio State in 2017 on a $400,000 annual salary.

In February, the school announced Day had received a new three-year contract worth $1 million annually after reportedly turning down other job opportunities, reportedly including an offer to be the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans.

Meyer was placed on leave August 1 after media reports accused him of mishandling allegations then-assistant coach Zach Smith abused his then-wife, Courtney.

A subsequent investigation found Meyer did not try to cover up the allegation but did mismanage the employment of Zach Smith, who was found to have committed a variety of misdeeds over a period of years, some of which Meyer knew about and some he did not.

Zach Smith was fired July 23.

Gene Smith was also suspended without pay for two weeks. The investigation concluded that while neither he nor Meyer tried to cover up the existence of a police investigation involving Zach and Courtney Smith, they also did not follow all protocols related to reporting it to other school officials.

Meyer was allowed to return to the team Sept. 3 but could not coach the team's first three games.

The fourth-ranked Buckeyes play host to Tulane on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal


Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

Both of New Mexico's gubernatorial candidates are blasting the University of New Mexico's decision to cut four sports next school year, with one going so far as to pledge that those sports will be reinstated.

The UNM Board of Regents this summer voted to discontinue men's soccer, women's beach volleyball and the men's and women's ski programs — a move that sparked backlash among students, the local community and some lawmakers.

Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham said the sports will be reinstated if she's elected.

"It's outrageous," Lujan Grisham said at Friday's gubernatorial forum hosted by the NAACP. "I will work immediately with the Legislature to provide whatever oversight and investment we need to immediately restore those programs and to hold universities like the University of New Mexico accountable."

Republican Steve Pearce, during the forum, harshly criticized UNM's budgeting practices that led to the sports cuts. UNM's Athletics Department had been operating at a loss for most of the past 10 years.

On Tuesday, he reiterated that position.

"I am extremely disappointed that UNM would get to a place where cutting sports programs is an answer to bad management decisions," Pearce told the Journal in an email. "UNM must demonstrate it can manage its budget and ensure it can function at the highest level while protecting Title IX mandates."

The Journal asked both candidates in emailed questions whether they intended to reinstate the sports.

Pearce did not directly answer that question.

Lujan Grisham responded: "Absolutely, I will work with administration, the Regents, the business community and the Legislature to ensure we have funding for all of our sports programs at New Mexico universities and that we are always in compliance with Title IX."

She did not explain specifically where the extra funding would come from, or how the university would become compliant with Title IX.

University officials have said one of the reasons for the cuts is to comply with Title IX as there are currently too many male athletes compared to female athletes in the department, according to a recent report that has come under increased fire. The school had also been under strong pressure from the state Higher Education Department to get its sports spending under control.

Appointing regents

University regents are on staggered terms, but the state Senate has not held confirmation hearings for Gov. Susana Martinez's UNM regent nominees either of the last two years. That has led Martinez to make short-term recess appointments, meaning five of UNM's seven regents' terms will expire by year's end and a new governor can immediately change the board's complexion.

Lujan Grisham has specifically mentioned the governor's role in appointing regents when saying she will reinstate sports.

"I believe we need regents who are independent, transparent about budgets, and will work without political goals seeing students as their constituents and customers," she said Tuesday.

The governor's involvement in the management of New Mexico universities and colleges has long been an issue.

State Sen. John Arthur Smith, a Deming Democrat and chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has been a vocal critic of gubernatorial influence at universities — an issue he said spans multiple administrations and political parties. Smith said the concern about political interference in university management is what prompted the Senate to not hold confirmation hearings for Martinez's regent nominees in recent years.

Some legislators have sharply criticized UNM for cutting sports, even after they asked the regents to postpone that action until the coming legislative session. At that time, lawmakers will have an influx of oil and gas money to allocate. It's unclear whether a majority of lawmakers would support increased funding for UNM athletics given a host of other funding issues — ranging from education, to early childhood services to funding the pension plan.

Smith disagreed with his legislative colleagues' attempts to have UNM delay its athletics decision. He said the university handled the matter appropriately by letting the administration — President Garnett Stokes and Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez — send a recommendation to the regents for approval. Whether he agreed with the outcome, he said "I think the process was right."

And Smith said — despite any promises made now — it's too soon to know how either gubernatorial candidate would handle the UNM sports matter once in office.

"What's promised and committed to on the campaign trail is oftentimes... reined in somewhat once they become governor," he said.

'Set the tone'

Asked whether voters could expect her "direct intervention in other UNM matters," Lujan Grisham made clear the governor's job is to "set the tone."

Rumblings of discontent about direct influence on a university's day-to-day management isn't new. The complaints started ramping up during Gov. Bill Richardson's administration and have continued under Martinez.

In April 2017, as UNM was hiring a new men's basketball coach, the Journal asked then-athletic director Paul Krebs in an email about the political influence on the hiring process: "Are you making this hire? If not you, who all is in on the decision?"

Krebs forwarded the reporter's email to Jay McCleskey, Martinez's political adviser, and asked: "Thoughts on a response. I am tempting to say I will address at a press conference. (sic)"

Stokes said she was not surprised to hear Lujan Grisham's take on sports given that it was an unpopular decision and candidates are likely hearing complaints from constituents.

She said she is willing to explain the rationale to New Mexico's next leader.

"One of the things I know is that until you're on the inside of the university — as new regents who come in will (be) — it's hard to understand the complexity of the organization and the difficulty of some of the decisions that have to be made," she said.

Journal Staff Writer Jessica Dyer contributed to this article.

Online Video of candidate's comments from NAACP forum ABQJournal.com

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

CARBONDALE — The Saluki Athletic Scholarship Fund (SASF) is excited to announce the fourth-largest gift in Saluki Athletics history, which was given by Charles Helleny (Class of '57). Helleny is a proud Saluki season-ticket holder and donor, and a top contributor to the program for more than 60 years. "Charles has been loyal to SIU since the day he walked into this place, he never misses a game, he supports every program, he's a special person," said SIU Director of Athletics Jerry Kill. "I don't know if I've ever met a more giving guy than Charles.

I appreciate the tremendous gift, because not many people are willing to step up and do that, and the more who can, the more we can solve problems." In honor of Helleny's gift, the first Division I men's basketball home game each year will henceforth be known as the Charles Helleny Tip-Off Classic game. This year's matchup will take place versus Buffalo on Nov. 12 at SIU Arena.

"I don't want to take anything away from the game itself," Helleny said. "I am embarrassed, but honestly this is a great honor, as I love SIU. We have had our ups and downs and we have always remained competitive. This year we are primed for top-two finishes in all sports in the conference." Helleny said his history with Saluki Basketball goes all the way back to the Walt Frazier era, and he gets excited recalling the many exciting home wins, such as the 2001 victory over eventual National runner-up Indiana and the thrilling battles with arch-rival Creighton.

Those memories help fuel his desire to give back to SIU. "Giving to the SASF is a commitment — not just a one-time donation — but a lifetime commitment," he explained. "Donors help offset the budget for the department and help secure funding for scholarships, trips and recruiting."

The Charles Helleny gift will continue to help support the SASF and the scholarship costs for 350 student-athletes in 17 intercollegiate sports, and will also help toward the Forever SIU campaign. "The Charles Helleny Tip-Off Classic is a great way to honor Charles — a special and unique partnership created by Saluki Athletics and the Helleny family," SIU Associate Athletic Director Jason Fairfield said.

"Charles has a long history with SIU and we wanted to be able to honor his legacy with something that will live on forever." Faifield said Saluki Athletics will have more announcements to come from the Charles Helleny gift in the coming months. "Charles is very passionate about lifetime giving and is a big reason why we have been successful over the years," Fairfield added. "Supporters like Charles have helped us not only support the lives and scholarships of ourstudent-athletesbut help us continue to build the rich traditions of SIU athletics."

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

A former Wheaton College football player who says he was injured in a 2016 hazing that came to light last fall has settled his lawsuit against the college and four of the five former teammates accused of attacking him. College officials announced the confidential settlement involving the former player, Charles Nagy, in an email released Tuesday morning. Nagy's attorney, Terry Ekl, confirmed the "very strongly negotiated" settlement but said he is prohibited from commenting further.

"Consistent with its commitment to ensure that all members of the community are treated with dignity and respect, Wheaton College regrets that this incident occurred and is saddened by any harm suffered by Charles Nagy," the joint statement issued by the college and Nagy reads. "The college continues to proactively review and enhance its policies, training and disciplinary measures to prevent incidents like this from happening in the future. Mr. Nagy commends and supports the college's ongoing efforts."

Nagy was seeking damages in excess of $50,000 and the cost of his filing the lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed in March, alleged that hazings were a common practice in the Wheaton College football program and that coaches and other officials ignored it. Three of Nagy's former teammates — Kyler Kregal from Grand Rapids, Michigan; Noah Spielman from Columbus, Ohio; and Samuel TeBos from Allendale, Michigan — all pleaded guilty earlier this year to misdemeanor battery.

They were sentenced to one year of conditional discharge, requiring them to each pay a $250 anti-crime fee and complete 100 hours of public service — including 25 hours of speaking to youths about the dangers of hazing. Another former teammate, James Cooksey of Jacksonville, Florida, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of attempted unlawful restraint and was sentenced to one month of court supervision.

A fifth player, Ben Pettway from Lookout Mountain, Georgia, has declined plea offers and insisted on a trial. All are accused of abducting Nagy from his dorm, putting a pillowcase over his head, binding him with duct tape, repeatedly punching and kicking him, and then leaving him partially nude on a baseball field near Hawthorne Elementary School in Wheaton.

The lawsuit alleged the five played Middle Eastern music, spoke with Middle Eastern accents and told Nagy he would be sexually violated. The complaint alleged hazing was an open secret within the Wheaton College football program that was handed down from class to class while coaches, trainers and officials looked the other way.

The suit also claimed head coach Michael Swider met with the five players the day after the hazing to concoct and coordinate a narrative to blame the victim, claiming Nagy was a voluntary participant and that no one intended to hurt him. The suit included several texts and phone calls from Swider and assistant coaches and teammates urging Nagy to return to campus "to resolve this" after Nagy withdrew from school.

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

 

After a week off due to the threat of Hurricane Florence, area high school football teams will be back on the field Friday night.

The South Carolina High School League's Executive Committee on Tuesday voted 18-0 in favor of pushing back the regular season by one week in an effort to allow teams to make up at least one game at the end of the schedule.

The decision also pushes the start of the state playoffs back a week, thus moving the state championship games to Dec. 7-8. Class A and AA will play their title games at Benedict College on Dec. 7, while Williams-Brice Stadium is slated to host AAA, AAAA and AAAAA games on Dec. 8.

SCHSL commissioner Jerome Singleton indicated he still has to confirm the availability of both sites on the new dates.

The playoffs would begin Nov. 9.

Games will proceed as originally scheduled this week, while local schools are afforded the opportunity to play last week's games in the added week before the playoffs begin.

While the Lowcountry was spared the devastation of heavy rains and flooding, residents up the coast along the grand strand and in the Pee Dee were not so fortunate. Several schools in those areas are likely to miss games Friday in addition to the games last week.

The most affected areas include Horry, Chesterfield, Marion, Darlington and Marlboro counties.

"It goes without saying the aftermath for many of our counties is one of tremendous damage," Singleton said. "Loss of homes, vehicles and other personal properties, not to mention the schools and athletic facilities. Working as a team has and will always be the strongest characteristic the SCHSL membership displays year after year."

Most of the 50 games that were postponed last week around the Lower State and Midlands were non-region games (eight were region contests) and do not necessarily have to be made up since they have no bearing on state playoff qualifying. There are 18 possible games affected this Friday, with half being region games.

Region 7-AA, which includes Andrews, was to begin region play last Friday. If a second region game is postponed on Friday, teams could chose to play Monday or Tuesday and Saturday next week, with the week at the end of the season to allow for the other missed region game to be played. Andrews is scheduled to play Johnsonville on Friday.

This is the third time in four years the league has been forced to alter the football schedule due to weather. In 2015, the "flood of the century" forced a one week extension. Hurricane Matthew in 2016 forced a two-week extension with state championship games played on the same day as the Shrine Bowl all-star game.

One of the highlighted games this Friday will be the 65th meeting between Berkeley and Summerville at John McKissick Field in Summerville. Both teams are ranked in the state's top 10 of Class AAAAA.

"We're ready to get back to work and continue the improvement that we have made over the last few weeks," Summerville coach Joe Call said. "We are obviously very thankful that Florence spared us, and we realize others were not so lucky. But we are very excited to be playing again, and having Berkeley this week is a huge challenge. To be a non-region game between two top-10 teams brings a little extra motivation to a long rivalry."

In the biggest game of the regular season in SCISA, First Baptist will host perennial power Hammond in a Class AAA contest of undefeated teams.

First Baptist moved to AAA this fall after winning back-to-back state titles in Class AA. Hammond has won two consecutive titles in AAA and has won nine state championships under head coach Erik Kimrey.

 

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Michael Jordan grew up playing high school basketball in Wilmington, North Carolina. So when the former NBA star watched the destruction caused by Hurricane Florence to his hometown and surrounding area, he acted quickly to help.

The six-time NBA champion and Charlotte Hornets owner donated $2 million on Tuesday to assist residents of the Carolinas - $1 million each to the American Red Cross and the Foundation For The Carolinas' Hurricane Florence Response Fund.

"It just hits home," Jordan told the Associated Press in a telephone interview. "I know all of those places: Wilmington, Fayetteville, Myrtle Beach, New Bern, and Wallace, which is where my father is from. So quite naturally it hits home, and I felt like I had to act in a sense that this is my home."

The 55-year-old Jordan said he still has an aunt, cousins and several buddies who live in coastal North Carolina. He also has a nephew who attends UNC Wilmington, which remains closed while recovering from the damage.

He watched television with extra concern last week when the hurricane pounded the area, causing 34 known deaths - including 26 in North Carolina - and leaving behind damaged homes, power outages and extensive flooding.

Jordan spent the days after trying to get in touch with family and friends to make sure they were safe. He was relieved upon learning they were uninjured.

"At the end of the day, it makes you think about the path that you have taken, and where your life has taken you," Jordan said. "And I just feel like, well, maybe if I can help in some sort of way all of the people, and all of the places, that have helped me along the road."

 

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Copyright 2018 SCRIPPS Howard Publications
All Rights Reserved

Corpus Christi Caller-Times

 

The road back for the Premont football program was filled with smooth patches and bumps each day as it worked its way back to the varsity level, and with homecoming this Friday, the school and community are close to feeling whole again.

Seven years ago the school dropped its football program as the district's academic rating was so low there was talk of the state shutting the district down completely. As the school focused on academics, the football program and other athletics were sacrificed.

It was a statewide story because a small-town high school football team is how communities are tied together in every corner of the state.

Junior high football returned two years ago and this is the school's first varsity season since 2011, and with it comes homecoming. There have been other homecoming celebrations at the school during basketball season but doing it during football season is the one everybody wanted to see.

"We've done (homecoming) in basketball the last six years but homecoming is supposed to be during football season," said Premont head football coach Ruben Cantu. "Getting that back is huge. The alumni and the people from the community that are from here, that's how everybody wants to have it."

Cantu said this week has had the stress of a homecoming as parades are planned along with pep rallies, and daily dress-up days at the school. But it is a good stress because the feeling of homecoming around football has not been felt in seven years.

The school district invested in new athletic facilities, including a new turf field that was used last week as a neutral site for a rescheduled game, and it is shining academically as it makes its way back.

Superintendent Steve Van Matre filled his Facebook page with photos of the construction this summer of the new football stadium but he also highlighted the school district being part of a unique rural school district initiative that is helping students receive college credit during high school.

He said that of the 153 students in the high school, 120 are attending an early college program such as the medical academy in Freer or welding in Hebbronville.

Van Matre said homecoming this week has shown a community pride and spirit that has him excited.

"I've done this a long time and been involved in some successful schools and been associated with a lot of winning football teams whether as a coach, principal or superintendent but I've never enjoyed anything as much as what I'm enjoying now," Van Matre said. "The faces that will be ingrained in my memory forever of those kids playing in that first game. We had a community pep rally (the day before) and there were fathers with their 5-year old sons and daughters on the field and you can only imagine what they were talking about. It gave me chills."

The Cowboys are 0-2 this season and coming off a week where their game was canceled because of travel concerns, but the outcome of this week's game against Harlingen Marine Military Academy is not as important as what a return to homecoming represents for the community.

"I want them to coach the kids hard, do it the right way and build this for the long term versus sacrificing community standards and ethics," Van Matre said. "As much as I like to win, what our win-loss record we will be this year this is something bigger than the 2018 season."

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Copyright 2018 The Post and Courier
All Rights Reserved

Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

The impending threat of Hurricane Florence significantly altered the local sports schedule last week, forcing several games to be rescheduled or postponed.

The entire preps slate was washed out alongside the closings of the respective high schools. The S.C. High School League voted Tuesday to make up the missed football games on Nov. 2, marking the third time in four years the regular season has been extended due to weather. The S.C. Independent School Association has no plans to make up the football games missed in its league, despite potential region and playoff implications. There are currently no plans to extend the seasons of other fall sports.

The football game between The Citadel and Charleston Southern scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday has been postponed. The teams have agreed to reschedule Saturday's postponed game until Nov. 29 at Johnson Hagood Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. The game is contingent on neither team qualifying for the FCS playoffs.

"First off, this is a very unfortunate situation," said The Citadel director of athletics Mike Capaccio. "After the governor issued the mandatory evacuation of the coast, The Citadel reviewed options to relocate the game for this weekend. However, it was appropriate to keep the main focus on ensuring the safety of all parties that would be involved with trying to play the game this weekend.

"We are very thankful for the administration over at Charleston Southern for working with us to come up with a suitable make-up date. We both feel that it is very important to play the game."

"The CSU vs. Citadel game is a very important game for both schools and I'm grateful that a suitable date could be found," said CSU director of athletics Jeff Barber. "Playing this game on a Thursday night will be special and we appreciate the spirit of camaraderie that allowed this to occur."

The game is the first of a four-game series between the two schools.

The Citadel women's soccer game and cross country meet will not be made up, but the volleyball match at Winthrop will be made up at a later date, although a date and time have not been determined. The alumni soccer game that was originally scheduled in conjunction with the home soccer game against Jacksonville is also postponed and may be made up at a later date.

The Charleston Battery's match against the Charlotte Independence has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 19. The game was originally scheduled to be played Saturday, Sept. 15.

Tickets for the originally scheduled match day can be redeemed at any of the Battery's final three regular season home games: Sept. 19 vs. Charlotte Independence, Sept. 26 vs. North Carolina FC, or Sept. 29 vs. Toronto FC II.

 

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

 

Construction of a new regional recreation center in the town of Andrews is underway after a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 4.

According to Georgetown County Public Information Officer Jackie Broach, the total cost of the 24,000-square-foot structure is estimated at $5.5 million. It is the last of the regional recreation centers scheduled for replacement or new construction being funded through the Georgetown County Capital Improvement Plan. She said construction is expected to be complete in early September 2019.

Town officials, including Mayor Frank McClary and Administrator Mauretta Dorsey; Georgetown County officials, including County Council Vice-chairman Austin Beard and Council members Lillie Jean Johnson, Everett Carolina and John Thomas met with S.C. Rep. Carl Anderson for the ceremony. The new center will be located at the site of the former Andrews High School, with the main entrance being at the intersection of Cedar and Martin Luther King avenues.

"We are looking forward to this new recreation center opening in about a year," Beard said after the event. "We think it will be a real benefit to the county."

The new center will house a sport court, rock climbing wall, flexible programming space, meeting room, aerobics room, cardio/weight room, and locker rooms with showers, Broach said. The traditional Lowcountry design will be nearly identical to the regional recreation facilities completed in Choppee and Pawleys Island. The facility was designed by SGA Architecture in Pawleys Island and the general contractor is Hanco of South Carolina Inc., Broach said.

"I think this is one of those types of facilities that really brings the community together for recreation,"McClary said, adding that he is excited about it. "It will offer programs for middle and high school kids to an aging program that will be run out of this facility."

He said with this new center and new industries in the area, including Safe Rack and Agru America, as well as new businesses like O'Reilly Auto Parts, it shows Andrews is changing for the better. He said like any small town, people leaving in search of better opportunities is always a concern.

"Things popping up now give us confidence that people are interested in coming back to Andrews," McClary said. "It gives people hope of things moving in the right direction."

Anderson agreed that the new recreation center will be important for the citizens of Andrews and surrounding areas. He said as a member of the state legislature who represents District 103, he has pushed for Georgetown County to receive Capital Gains funding for its Capital Improvement Plan.

"Over the years, we have always made sure that Georgetown County gets its fair share of dollars from the state so capital projects like this can be funded," he said. "As we have seen with other recreational facilities in the county, it gives people a place to go to exercise and have different functions. The community uses them."

Broach said the schedule for programming is still in the works and Georgetown County Parks and Recreation is always looking for new programs and class instructors. Call 843-545-3275 for information.

 

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Seattle — Washington state's King County Council has approved $135 million in public funding for improvements at Safeco Field where the Seattle Mariners play.

The funding package narrowly passed in a 5-4 vote on Monday.

The Mariners initially asked for $180 million in funding to fix wear and tear at the 19-year-old stadium as part of a long-term, 25-year extension with the Public Facilities District that oversees the ballpark.

Funding package opponents argued that the billion-dollar company could pay for its own needs.

The funding package was lowered to $135 million after dozens of housing advocates argued that the funds would be better used on much-needed affordable housing.

Woman shot serving eviction notice

Renton, Wash. — Authorities said a woman who was serving an eviction notice in the Seattle suburb of Renton was shot.

The Renton Police Department said Tuesday afternoon on Twitter that officers responded to a shooting near Highlands Elementary School.

Renton Fire officials said the 40-year-old woman was at an apartment complex serving an eviction notice when the home's occupant began firing at her.

The woman was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in critical condition.

Officers were searching for the suspect.

The school was placed on lockdown.

 

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

The resignation Tuesday of WSU assistant athletic director Jason Gesser derailed the career of an iconic Cougar quarterback who had returned home to raise money for his alma mater. But that future soured in a flurry of sexual misconduct accusations.

Gesser, 39, resigned after publication of a story last week by the WSU student newspaper, The Daily Evergreen, uncovered a litany of allegations. Those reports prompted Gesser's former nanny to go public Monday with what she described as unwanted sexual advances toward her in 2015.

"I am deeply saddened that recent circumstances in my private life have created a distraction for the department and university," Gesser wrote in a statement. "While I certainly never intended to hurt anyone, I believe it is best for all involved for me to move on."

WSU officials quickly accepted Gesser's resignation after his statement.

Gesser, who set records as a quarterback for the Cougars from 1999-2002, thanked former athletic director Bill Moos and late university President Elson Floyd for giving him the chance in 2013 to return to WSU.

"I apologize to each of you for creating a situation that reflected negatively on WSU in any way," Gesser wrote.

His resignation follows WSU's decision to place Gesser on administrative leave after former WSU athlete Alyssa Bodeau, 27, filed a formal complaint Monday detailing her interactions with Gesser after she moved away from Pullman. While a WSU student, Bodeau, whose maiden name is Wold, had worked for a year and a half babysitting and as a nanny for Gesser's children.

In June 2015, Gesser invited Bodeau to a fundraising event. She joined Gesser, Moos and others for drinks after the event in Tumwater. Once in her car, she told The Spokesman-Review in a story published Tuesday that Gesser made several unwanted advances, including grabbing her thigh, groping her and trying to kiss her. She later described the torment of withholding her story for three years because she thought she was Gesser's only victim.

"I'm extremely happy to see that Jason has resigned his position of influence and power at WSU. It's a relief to know that no other young women will be subjected to Mr. Gesser's actions and abuse of power," Bodeau wrote in a statement. "I pray he gets the help he needs and that his family can move forward."

Gesser did not directly mention Bodeau in his statement, but appeared to make a reference to her.

"To the young woman that I made feel uncomfortable, I respectfully have a different recollection of the situation you've described," Gesser wrote, "but acknowledge that I should never have been in the situation in the first place, and I apologize. I truly never meant to cause you harm."

WSU football coach Mike Leach seemed to know very little about Gesser's situation after practice Tuesday.

"I didn't know he resigned, so that's news to me," Leach said. "I overheard some of the stuff reported but from what I know, it's just word of mouth, so I don't know. Hopefully, none of it's true."

Gesser, who was making $84,000 this year in his job raising money for the Cougar Athletic Fund, issued a statement last week denying any allegations of sexual misconduct. He took a softer tone in his resignation letter and said he remains a proud supporter of WSU and the local community.

"This is a very difficult time for me and my family," he wrote, "and I truly appreciate our friends, including the incredible colleagues and alumni I have met through my time at WSU. With this personal matter being made so public, it is taking a toll on my family in this close-knit community. I appreciate your understanding for the impact this has on them."

Gesser resigned 34 minutes after The Spokesman-Review informed him Tuesday the newspaper intended to run another article in which a woman would detail a separate sexual encounter with him in 2015 in Moscow, Idaho.

Lindsey Streets, 34, who now lives in North Carolina, said Tuesday she was working in Moscow three years ago as a masseuse and Gesser was one of her clients.

Streets said Gesser called her one day and asked if she could work him into her schedule, which she did.

"It was towards the end of the massage. He had complained of groin pain, which isn't unusual," Streets said. "But when I was working on the upper portion of his leg, he moved the blanket" and exposed himself. "And he tried, with his eyes still closed, to reach for my hand. I just stopped. I was petrified."

Streets covered Gesser back up and left the room. "I was very afraid," she said. "I didn't confront him about it. I let him leave, and I called the cops."

Streets said Moscow police officers took her statement and later told her they spoke to Gesser, who said the $40 tip he left behind wasn't hush money but a gift to Streets for working him into her busy schedule.

The officers later explained it was his word against hers, and they never pursued charges. However, Streets said they gave the business a placard that stipulated Gesser was not allowed inside the business for one year.

On Monday, a friend sent her a link to the story about Bodeau's allegations stemming from the fundraiser in Tumwater.

"When I found out that she was his nanny at a similar time that he had this behavior with me, it really just validated my experience that this was going on at that time," Streets said.

"It's terrifying. Especially up there. It's a small town," she continued. "The circles are very close and it's very difficult to have things attached to your name in a place like that."

And Gesser was not just an average customer.

"He's Mr. WSU coach. Nobody is going to take him down," Streets said. "Knowing that there are others gives me the confidence to support (Bodeau) and other women to come forward."

Then Streets learned later Tuesday that Gesser had resigned.

"There are consequences for your actions, especially in this time when it's critical in our society and political culture to be able to call out sexual offenders" she said. "It's not 'He said, she said.' It's about the truth. His reaction is a response to the truth."

Bodeau, in her statement, thanked the "Coug nation" for showing support to her for her willingness to publicly attach her name to the allegation.

"Staying silent is no longer an option," she wrote. "Bring it to light so that we all - as a community - can begin the healing process."

Staff writer Theo Lawson contributed to this report.

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Copyright 2018 Orange County Register
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Orange County Register (California)

 

INGLEWOOD — Amid steel beams and concrete columns and towering cranes, spread over 300 acres of Inglewood landscape, the grand vision of Los Angeles as the capital of the football world is beginning to take shape, and Rams president Kevin Demoff is standing at the center of it all, near what will someday be the 50-yard-line of the NFL's most state-of-the-art venue, marveling at the progress that has been made. "Truly now, you can look up and say this looks like a football stadium," Demoff says.

Two seasons remain until the Rams and Chargers will actually move in, but the construction of L.A.'s new football utopia is now over 50 percent finished. Risers for bleacher seats have been set. Some luxury boxes have been built. The unique roof canopy that will encircle the stadium is now being constructed. The progress here is plain to see.

"You can really picture what it will actually be like, being here on a Sunday," Chargers president of football operations John Spanos says.

There will be plenty of Sundays before that vision becomes a reality, but this week, as the Rams and Chargers meet for the first time since both moved to Los Angeles — and the last time before both move to the new stadium — L.A.'s two NFL teams stand at a crucial juncture in the construction of their respective franchises on the field. At 2-0, the Rams appear to belong among the league's elite, but are walking a tightrope in terms of roster construction. The Chargers have more than enough promise to make the playoffs, but still need to put their snakebitten ways behind them. The progress both have made, while not as quantifiable as stadium construction, is just as obvious to anyone who has been paying attention.

At the very least, they're building toward something. For decades, Los Angeles was the land the NFL had forgotten, long haunted by the spectre of failed stadium plans. The city was used and abused as leverage for franchises seeking a new stadium in their own locales. When both the Rams and Chargers finally did move here, they were either ridiculed or ignored, and in some cases, both.

But as building of their shared stadium progresses, as the physical vision of their shared dream comes into view, it's becoming far easier to imagine a world in which both the Rams and Chargers stand atop the league together when their Inglewood NFL wonderland opens in the summer of 2020.

By then, the Rams may very well have won a Super Bowl. They made it abundantly clear last offseason that they planned to swing for the fences this season. Through two weeks, Sean McVay and Co. have looked like the juggernaut their roster suggested.

But more than that, they appear to be a juggernaut built to last. General Manager Les Snead took special care to protect that future this offseason, locking up Todd Gurley, Aaron Donald, Brandin Cooks, and Rob Havenstein through at least 2021. Marcus Peters and Lamarcus Joyner could sign long-term deals in the near future. And with that nucleus intact, there's no reason to think that the Rams won't remain among the league's elite far beyond the stadium's opening.

"We always felt if we could do our job correctly, with the stadium and the team, we'd be able to captivate," Demoff said. "I think we're just scratching the surface of what we can become."

The only question in that unquestionably bright future is how starkly things might change when the Rams find themselves paying what's likely to be one of the largest contracts in league history for Jared Goff. Right now, they're in the fortunate position of paying their young quarterback just $7.6 million in 2018, leaving salary cap room for the likes of Aqib Talib ($11 million) and Ndamukong Suh ($14 million). Assuming Goff continues his ascension as a quarterback, that price will surely near $30 million, just as the Rams prepare for their first season in the new stadium.

Philip Rivers' contract, meanwhile, expires just before that 2020 season. He'll turn 38, the December before it opens, and in an interview with Sports Illustrated earlier this offseason, he expressed uncertainty about whether he'd last into his 40's. (Though, Rivers did say he'd "like to get in that new stadium.")

The decision on his future is crucial to the direction of the franchise he's quarterbacked so faithfully over the past 12 seasons, but elsewhere, the Chargers have a growing fleet of young weapons and a handful of Pro Bowl players under entirely reasonable contracts. They will need to decide whether to do long-term deals with Joey Bosa (probably) and Melvin Gordon (probably not), but otherwise, the Chargers, like the Rams, are built to last. Assuming, of course, they aren't left without a quarterback just as the rest of their roster is clicking.

For now, the construction of that shared vision for L.A. football is continuing as scheduled. Both teams have been built with an eye towards 2020, with most of their major stars locked up through then. Their respective championship windows should be open when the stadium's doors open to the public.

Then, with its state-of-the-art stadium constructed and Super Bowl-caliber rosters intact, Los Angeles, the city once left behind by the NFL, could very well stand atop it, with designs on dominating football's foreseeable future.

rkartje@scng.com

@Ryan_Kartje on Twitter

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Gurnee residents and local youth sports leaders will have a chance Thursday to give feedback directly to the consultants studying whether the village would be a good place for a new youth sports complex. The consultants, from Florida-based Sports Facilities Advisory, have been meeting with a wide variety of potential stakeholders since they were given the job last month, according to Mayor Kristina Kovarik. "They have been doing a lot of data gathering," Kovarik said.

The meeting for Gurnee residents will begin at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, the meeting for representatives of turf and court sports will begin at 3:30 p.m. and the meeting for representatives of ice sports will begin at 4:30 p.m. All meetings will be held at Gurnee village hall and each will be open to the public. Kovarik said it is a good opportunity for residents to have their voices heard. "I always hear people buzzing on social media saying 'I wish we had this' or 'I wish we had that,'" Kovarik said. "Well this is your opportunity to have a say in it."

The comments consultants hear Thursday will be included, along with other information, in a detailed report. In addition to interviewing experts, organizations and residents, the consultants will produce a detailed financial forecast that includes how much developing the 35-acre triangular plot of land just south of Six Flags Great America might cost and what form it should take.

If the consultants' report concludes that a youth sports complex is feasible, then village staff can use it to entice private developers. Sports Facilities Advisory is being paid $48,000 to conduct the study. "We're trying to determine what is the demand in northern Lake, which sports are the most profitable to host in a venue and what kind of venue would it require," Kovarik said. "It's a big gamble for developers. We want to find what would have the most market appeal."

Based on comments from several leaders in local youth hockey made at a village board meeting last month, there is a need for more practice ice in the area. Lindenhurst resident Walter Delaney, of the Lakers Hockey Club, said youth hockey has grown exponentially and the demand for ice time has grown with it, leading to a shortage. He said if a new sports complex ended up being built with ice rinks, he thought fewer local teams would have to travel to southern Wisconsin.

"This is exactly why we're hiring a consultant, to validate that and bear it out," Kovarik told Delaney at the August meeting. "Is it truly sustainable (for) five years, 10 years, 15 years? The worst thing we could do is go down this path and then the next board and the next mayor is like, 'What were they thinking of?'"

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Copyright 2018 Ventura County Star
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Ventura County Star (California)

 

There's no better place for children to get out some of their boundless energy than on a playground.

Fortunately for students in Camarillo and Thousand Oaks, there's brand new equipment to run, jump and play all over. The new equipment is also compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, so students of all ability levels have something to enjoy while at recess.

"The original code compliance was that 20 percent of the playground (needed to be ADA) compliant, and that was a great step forward at the time when playgrounds weren't ADA compliant at all," said Chris Johnston, assistant superintendent of business services for the Pleasant Valley School District. "But then it's still not all ADA compliant, so kids are being left out of 80 percent of the activities. The idea of this playground is to open it up as much as possible to kids of all physical abilities."

The new playground at the Pleasant Valley School of Engineering and Arts Early Education Center in Camarillo was created with all students in mind but particularly the students of the Preschool Early Education Program or PEEP. The program is for kids ages 3 to 5 who have identified special needs and also those who don't.

"I am proud of our district for living its values by choosing to install a playground where students with mobility impairments can freely play on the same playground as their peers," said Angelica Ramsey, superintendent of the Pleasant Valley district. "Our vision is 'excellence for all' and we are one step closer with this beautiful accessible playground."

The playground is about 80 percent accessible, Johnston said, between the Navy-style ship all kids can play in and the boat that students can rock back-and-forth, to the fun games on the side of the play equipment — there's something for every student to engage with.

In Thousand Oaks, several schools saw playground upgrades over the summer and into the new school year. Conejo Valley Elementary was one of them and the kindergarten playground was the first to go up, with the play equipment for the older kids following close behind.

The kindergarten playground is about as "Conejo Valley" as it gets, complete with steps in the shape of tree trunks. The play equipment itself, from swings to slides, is different hues of greens and browns that blend in perfectly for a school in Thousand Oaks.

"It was the one that fit our campus the best," said Kari Taketa, principal at the school.

She said she got to pick the equipment out of a catalog.

The playground itself sits atop a rubber material, which is also part of ADA compliance, said Tim McCabe, director of planning and construction for the Conejo Valley Unified School District.

"We use it so the equipment is ADA accessible for kids in wheelchairs," McCabe said. "Aside from that, it offers really good fall protection."

The Conejo Elementary playground wasn't the first in the Conejo Valley to get an upgrade. Lang Ranch and Westlake Hills schools got new equipment before. Now, the district just broke ground at Madrona for a new playground and butterfly garden and is entering the design phase for Weathersfield and University Preschool schools.

"They are becoming very popular," McCabe said. "As the other principals of schools see them, then they request them."

Each playground costs $150,000 on average, McCabe said. Some a little more, some a little less depending on if the area surrounding the play equipment needs to be re-designed to be more accessible to all students.

Taketa said seeing the reactions of the students when they got to play on the new equipment and seeing the excitement of parents at back-to-school night made it all worth it.

"I had parents coming up to me at back-to-school night saying, 'We're so excited because you got us a new playground for our kids to play on,'" Taketa said. "You know, it's updated and before ours was so old that it started falling apart, so just having that newness and them feeling like they are valued, I think that's the best part. I also feel like it's a lot safer and age-appropriate."

In Pleasant Valley, the story is similar. The old equipment was aging and needed to be replaced when the school converted to the early childhood education center this year.

"No kid of different ability levels is missing something fun to do," Johnston said. "It's something you can do in every playground in every school. It doesn't have to be limited to one site, that's the neat thing.... This is really proof that you can do an any-ability playground for everybody, that there doesn't have to be those barriers."

Looking at the faces of the kids as they ran excitedly to the new Pleasant Valley playground letting out little gasps of awe as they went, Ramsey smiled.

"That right there is what it's all about," she said.

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Copyright 2018 Star Tribune
All Rights Reserved

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

Instead of celebrating their new, 2,400-seat track and field stadium Monday with a ceremonial first lap, the Gophers could have staged a full marathon.

That would have symbolized the long, grueling path the University of Minnesota took to building the glistening $13 million facility.

After demolishing their old track to build the Athletes Village, after a gender-equity complaint and subsequent investigation, and after three years spent shuttling to practices at Hamline and St. Thomas, the Gophers finally have a new on-campus home.

"My first impression was overwhelmed, emotional and humble," junior All-American Rachel Schow said. "This facility is first class."

The university renovated the former Bierman track for the 1990 U.S. Olympic Festival, then gradually let the facility fall into disrepair. The facility was deemed unfit to host college events following the 2004 outdoor track season.

The gender-equity complaint, filed in January 2015 by anonymous Gophers track supporters, noted that the women's track and cross-country rosters - comprising 45 percent of all female athletes at the school - help keep the U in compliance with Title IX, the law banning sexual discrimination at institutions that receive federal funding

Yet the original Athletes Village blueprints, designed under former athletic director Norwood Teague, had no plans for a new track.

"I was not a happy guy, and I told people that," said Gary Wilson, former longtime coach of the Gophers women's track and cross-country teams.

The university delayed construction plans for the Village before securing a spot for the new track. That spot is tucked east of the Gophers baseball and softball stadiums, just north of 5th Street.

"The best part about it is it's here on this campus," Wilson said. "They could have easily - around the country, you could end up cutting a track program or saying, 'We're just not going to mess with it.' "

The new track has nine lanes and features fully enclosed, heated warm-up and cool down areas beneath the grandstand.

"I think it puts us up in the top one or two in the conference in terms of facilities," said Matt Bingle, who oversees the men's and women's teams as newly appointed director of Gophers track and field/cross-country.

Even without a home facility, Bingle led the Gophers women to Big Ten indoor and outdoor track and field titles last season. The Gophers men also swept the indoor and outdoor track titles as recently as 2010, under Steve Plasencia.

Last season, the Gophers won two NCAA individual titles - with Obsa Ali in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and Kaitlin Long in the weight throw.

"I think the thing that stands out to me is we haven't hosted an event in [14] years," said Gophers AD Mark Coyle. "And the fact we have a program that is winning championships regularly, it's awesome just to give that advantage to our student-athletes."

The track's $13 million cost got folded into the overall $190 million athletic facilities renovation project, which includes the Village. So far, the Gophers have fundraised $123 million of that total.

They will host their first track meet in the new stadium - the Minnesota Spring Open - on April 12-13. Coyle said the facility was built with an eye toward hosting "regional and national" meets.

Several men's and women's athletes joined Goldy Gopher for Monday's ceremonial first lap at the new track's grand opening.

First, the starter fired a pistol, the same one used for the 1990 U.S. Olympic Festival.

"As my mother used to say, good things happen to those who wait," Plasencia said. "And boy, have we waited."

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Copyright 2018 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

OCEANPORT, N.J. — It's early in a college basketball game and Team A, playing methodically and using up most of the 30-second shot clock, falls behind 10-6. Scattered around the bleachers, several fans staring at their smartphones celebrate silently: they have bet on Team B to be the first to reach 10 points and even promised two Team A starters a cut of the winnings.

With dozens of states rushing to capitalize on the U.S. Supreme Court lifting a federal ban on sports gambling, will fixed scenarios like the one above become more common?

The four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA think so, and have argued for years that expanding legal betting will lead to more game-fixing. The pro leagues have sought, unsuccessfully so far, a cut of state gambling revenues to increase monitoring.

Meanwhile, architects of New Jersey's successful legal challenge to the sports gambling ban say those fears are overstated and that bringing sports betting out of the shadows will make it easier to detect illegal activity. They point to the Arizona State basketball point-shaving scandal in the 1990s, which was uncovered after legal bookmakers in Las Vegas noticed unusually large sums being wagered on Sun Devils games.

Yet the prospect of easy, legal access to sports gambling for athletes and others has many in sports concerned.

"They're going to create a bigger pool for more kids and for more money to get involved, said Jamall Anderson, a running back on the 1996 Boston College football team whose players were found to have bet against their own team. "It's really going to create a big mess, I think.

TARGETING COLLEGE ATHLETES

College athletes are generally considered easier to convince than pros to influence games. Two reasons: they are younger and aren't paid directly to play.

They also aren't strangers to wagering.

A 2016 NCAA survey of more than 22,000 college athletes found nearly one-fourth of male athletes had violated NCAA rules by gambling on sports within the previous year. When the survey was done, sports betting was available only in Nevada or illegally through offshore operators.

It was another number that surprised the authors: 13 percent of the male athletes who had gambled on sports had wagered on in-game bets, things like whether the next football play will be a run or a pass or of a basketball player will hit the next free throw.

"We continue to have concerns that wagering enhancements such as live in-game betting could present increased opportunities to profit from spot fixing' a contest as has been uncovered recently in a number of international sports leagues, the study concluded.

NCAA rules prohibit athletes, coaches and other athletic department employees from gambling on sports.

Individual schools make sure athletes know the rules against gambling, sometimes bringing in law enforcement officials or former players to get the message across.

Will it be enough as laws change?

Legal sports gambling was the No. 1 topic for every conference meeting this spring, said Bob Vecchione, head of the National Association of College Directors of Athletics.

"Do you remember back when you were 18 to 20 years of age? said Vecchione, the Minnesota athletic director. "When people told you something, how much did it sink in? That's what causes some sleepless nights.

NCAA officials have said they may consider adjusting rules to account for legal gambling but haven't specified how.

INSIDER BETS

Anderson recounted his experiences in the Boston College football scandal in a 2016 book, "The Best Bet. In a recent interview, he described a culture in which gambling was part of the daily routine.

"You went to practice and you got your spreadsheet in the locker room, he said. "It was nothing to sit there on the sidelines and say, Who you got this week?' That's what you do. You're playing football, watching ESPN, seeing other teams and you're totally engaged. It was too easy.

While no players were alleged to have compromised their performances in games, Anderson — who was injured and did not play during the 1996 season — and other players incurred debts betting on other sports and tried to recoup their losses. Some bet against BC against Syracuse and star quarterback Donovan McNabb. Thirteen players were suspended.

Rutgers athletic director Patrick Hobbs had a front-row seat to New Jersey's successful challenge to the 1992 federal sports betting ban. Now, New Jersey sports books are prohibited from taking wagers on college games played in the state or involving schools from the state.

With inside information being so key to betting markets, any tidbit — say, a student telling friends that his roommate, the star quarterback, just had a fight with his girlfriend — can take on greater significance.

That highlights the need for more education, Hobbs said.

"We'll educate on a variety of scenarios and hypotheticals, and say, Hey look, this may have sounded like an innocent question in the past, but now you have to be careful with that information,' Hobbs said.

CURRENT ENFORCEMENT

Proponents of legal sports gambling often point to Nevada as a model for effective monitoring. Sports betting has been legal in Las Vegas in some form since the 1930s.

If regulators there are notified of suspicious betting activity, agents from the Nevada Gaming Control Board can open an investigation or work with federal and local authorities if it involves multiple jurisdictions.

Karl Bennison, the board's chief of enforcement, said board agents also meet and work with professional leagues, teams, the NCAA, conferences, universities and sports associations, including the International Olympic Committee, to discuss and educate athletes, coaches and others on integrity matters and illegal activity.

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Copyright 2018 The Commercial Appeal, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

On the afternoon of Sept. 6, the Lakeland Middle Preparatory School Lions waited and eagerly checked the weather.

Others in Lakeland also worried about the possibility of rain, hoping it wouldn't ruin plans for the town's first ever home football game.

"It brings the community together," said Hayden Kee, 13, the team's starting quarterback. "It's just a very special time for the Lakeland community to support our first ever football team for a second year."

Until Sept. 6, all Lakeland Middle School's football games were played at other sites. Although the new field was finished a week ago, construction is continuing on a concessions stand, a nearby soccer field and more.

The game ended Sept. 6 with a score of 20-14, with Houston Middle School winning.

Having football at home is a way to bring together a small community, said Susan Kee, Hayden's mother.

Before the game, there was "excitement in the air," she said.

"I think Lakeland as a community right now needs that," she said. "Politics sometimes gets in the way. Hopefully this school and football team and the kids can bring the community together. In the end, that's what it's all about. It's about the kids having fun and building those relationships."

The new field is a step toward eventually having a high school and a high school football team for Lakeland, said Tyler White, the team's coach. There are plans to have the high school attached to the current middle school, sharing the same football field, but those plans stalled when some in the community launched a lawsuit over funding for the new high school.

White said that seeing the hype around a middle school football game was "unreal."

"It really means a lot to the community to have something to really take pride in," White said. "The work the community and the board has done to make this come to fruition, it just shows how much they really are behind the football program here at LMPS, and I think it means really bright things for the future."

Superintendent Ted Horrell also said the football game was a step toward Lakeland's vision for the future.

"It was a thrill watching our students play under the lights on the new field tonight, and it was equally exciting watching the big crowd of parents and community members who came out to support them," Horrell said.

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

News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

GREENSBORO — Page High School has submitted a report to the N.C. High School Athletic Association regarding the two football players who were academically ineligible for the first three games of the season, but those games haven't been officially declared forfeits yet.

That would happen after the NCHSAA's staff reviews the report and issues a ruling, which is expected this week.

Meanwhile, Guilford County Schools is expecting to complete a review of the eligibility of all fall sports athletes at Page by Sept. 28, county athletics director Leigh Hebbard wrote in an email Monday.

"At this time, no other ineligible athletes have been discovered," Hebbard wrote.

And an interim athletics director is expected to be hired by Oct. 1, Hebbard said. Rusty Lee, who has been Page's athletics director since October 1991, said last week that he is retiring effective that day.

Under NCHSAA rules, the penalty for the use of ineligible students is forfeiture of any contests for which they were in uniform, regardless of whether they played. GCS has not released the names of the players because of privacy laws.

The NCHSAA ruling could include a fine. James Alverson, an NCHSAA assistant commissioner, said those fines typically range from $100 to $1,000 per infraction.

"Fines are very case-detail specific," Alverson wrote in an email Monday.

"The school has an opportunity to appeal to the NCHSAA Executive Committee or the full Board of Directors for any part or all of a violation/penalty that was imposed," Alverson added.

Since GCS officials reported the violations, Page is not expected to appeal the forfeiture of victories over Davie County on Aug. 17, Northern Guilford on Aug. 24 and Dudley on Aug. 31. The ineligible players did not dress for the Pirates' 37-22 win over Eastern Guilford on Sept. 7.

The three forfeits would leave Page with a 1-4 record heading into Friday night's game at Southern Guilford (0-4). With a full four-game Metro 4-A Conference schedule to play, as well as two more non-conference games, the Pirates still have a good chance of qualifying for the NCHSAA playoffs, but the forfeits would negatively affect their seeding for the postseason.

Contact Joe Sirera at 336-373-7034, and follow @JoeSireraNR on Twitter.

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

The city of Buford, Ga., is in the process of purchasing land that officials said is being targeted for the future site of a new high school football stadium.

Earlier this month, the city commission provided initial approval to purchase about 16 wooded acres at Robert Bell Parkway and Buford Highway, directly across the highway from the new Buford High School that's still under construction. A copy of the purchase-sale agreement obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution lists the sale price as $1.8 million.

At the recent city commission meeting, longtime chairman Phillip Beard said the property would "be utilized in the future for a new stadium for that new high school." He said the project also would include a parking deck and "a crosswalk across Buford Highway there so people can go back and forth safely when utilizing the parking facility and all that."

"Now that may five years from now," Beard said, "but we've got to buy the land now."

The property's seller was listed as Sunggong Propeties LLC. The city is still in its due diligence period, city attorney Gregory Jay said this week.

Gwinnett County records showed the city already owns a 10-acre site that borders the new property to the northwest.

Buford High School's current football venue, Tom Riden Stadium, is located a short drive away on Sawnee Avenue. It opened about 30 years ago.

Construction on the new high school — which will include more than 200,000 square feet of classroom space in addition to sizable athletic and performing arts facilities — is expected to be completed next year.

The city — which has been rife with turmoil in recent weeks over now-for-mer schools Superintendent Geye Hamby's purported racist tirade — also opened last year the new 5,500-seat, $21 million Buford Arena.

Basketball games and other events are held at that facility.

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Copyright 2018 Union Leader Corp.
All Rights Reserved

The Union Leader (Manchester, NH)

 

CONCORD — Some pretty important people — the governor, a former Supreme Court justice and a hospital CEO, to name a few — were at the State House for Monday's official unveiling of a poster campaign to raise awareness of mental health in the schools.

But it was the students who stole the show.R.E.A.C.T. is a partnership among Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the state Department of Education and the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA). It aims to encourage students who are dealing with emotional suffering and mental illness to get the help they need.Posters will feature local student-athletes with the message: "You're never alone when you have the whole team behind you." They encourage students to recognize the signs of emotional suffering in others, express concern and take action.

The first poster features members of the Athletic Leadership Council (ALC) at Nashua South High School, and four of those students were on hand Monday to explain what they hope to accomplish.Kendall Bush, president of the ALC, called this "a pivotal moment" for her city, state and nation. "We need to be more compassionate and understanding," she said. "We need to be willing to be there for the people who need us most."Andrew Penkala said ALC members plan to speak to classes at their own school and at middle schools.

He said he hopes the posters will encourage others to reach out, "to start a healthy dialogue about mental health.""We know this will not be easy, but... we are willing to take the first steps," he said.

The R.E.A.C.T. campaign evolved from the Change Direction initiative spearheaded by former New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick, who is now an executive at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. For more than two years, Broderick has traveled to schools across the state, telling his family's personal story of mental illness and encouraging students to ask for help if they need it.

Broderick met with the Nashua South students last week at the school. On Monday, he called them "perfect spokespeople for this campaign and, frankly, for your generation."Sara Bresslin from the NHIAA praised the student athletes who have stepped up. "The whole team message is the core of who we are, and it is imperative that our students who are struggling with mental illness know and understand that they are not alone and we have their back," she said.Dr. Joanne Conroy, CEO and president of Dartmouth-Hitchcock, pointed out that half of all mental illness has its onset by age 14. "The time has begun to change the conversation," she said.The state's education commissioner, Frank Edelblut, also praised the students involved in the campaign for "their willingness to speak out and encourage other students."

"They have no idea the long-term impact their courage will have on the lives of so many other students," he said.Gov. Chris Sununu said everyone knows someone who is struggling with a mental health issue. "And it's up to us to... provide a path to wellness for those individuals," he said.

Mental illness is not a choice, said Nashua student Jasmine Sylvester. "And it's not anyone's fault," she said. "We need to stop putting the blame on those struggling with mental illness, but rather spread awareness and provide assurance."

Classmate Tanner Plourde said students know they can't end mental illness. "But we can end the way it's viewed," he said. "We want to start a new conversation about this issue."

"If children think others look down upon this issue, they won't discuss it with others and they won't get the help they need and deserve," he said."We've changed the way we've viewed other topics in the past, and this is just another step forward."

 

Beyond the Stigma, a series exploring solutions to the state's addiction and mental health challenges, is sponsored by the New Hampshire Solutions Journalism Lab at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications and funded by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, NAMI New Hampshire, and private individuals. Contact reporter Shawne K. Wickham at swickham@unionleader.com

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Washington State University placed Jason Gesser, a former quarterback and current athletic department employee, on administrative leave Monday after a former Cougar athlete alleged Gesser tried to force himself on her after a fundraising event in 2015.

The woman, 27-year-old Alyssa Bodeau, told The Spokesman-Review she filed the official complaint Monday with the WSU Office for Equal Opportunity after reading a story on Saturday about other allegations brought against Gesser.

"When other girls came forward, it changed the game," said Bodeau, whose maiden name is Wold. "When I saw that it was a pattern, that's when I decided, 'I'm not going to stay quiet.' If it doesn't stop now... other girls will be in danger."

The original allegations were reported Thursday by the WSU student newspaper The Daily Evergreen. The newspaper documented several allegations of inappropriate advances toward student interns and colleagues that prompted a 2017 investigation by the WSU Office for Equal Opportunity. Officials ultimately cleared Gesser of any wrongdoing.

On Friday, Gesser - who did not respond Monday to a new request for an interview - issued a statement denying he had ever sexually harassed anyone and called the Evergreen report a "non-story."

"I will not allow my name to be unfairly smeared, and I will continue to passionately serve our University as a proud member of Cougar Nation," Gesser wrote in his statement.

A friend of Bodeau sent her a copy of the Evergreen story Saturday while she was attending the Spokane County Interstate Fair.

"I was honestly at a standstill at the fair for 15 minutes staring at it," Bodeau said. "I thought I was the only one that this happened to. Reading the article made me realize that I wasn't the last one, but I also wasn't the first one. That kind of wrecked me right there.

"What I had been telling myself for three years was, 'Just be silent. Don't wreck a family,'" she continued. "But I didn't know he was doing that to other girls."

WSU President Kirk Schulz and Director of Athletics Pat Chun responded to Bodeau's complaint Monday by announcing in a joint statement that a new allegation of sexual misconduct had been reported.

In the statement, WSU leaders said the new report was the first time an alleged victim made a formal complaint against Gesser, who works an assistant athletic director for the Cougar Athletic Fund.

"This is new information and a different set of events than previously reported," said Kimberly Anderson, executive director of the Office for Equal Opportunity. "In accordance with standard WSU practice... Mr. Gesser was placed on home assignment pending a full investigation into the allegations."

Bodeau grew up in Spokane Valley, attended West Valley High School and played volleyball at Lewis-Clark State College before transferring to WSU in 2012.

She played her junior season in 2012, but chose to sit out her senior year because of an injury. About the same time, she started caring for the Gessers' children, she said, to help out Gesser's wife, a former WSU volleyball player who remained active with the team.

"I loved them like my own," Bodeau said of the Gesser children. "They were my life when I was in Pullman," she said.

During that year-and-a-half, Bodeau said she had frequent interactions with Jason Gesser, who had starred as WSU's quarterback from 1998-2002.

In 2013, Gesser returned to Pullman after six years of professional football and several coaching stops, including a stint at the University of Idaho.

Jason Gesser "was really nice. Nothing in that year-and-a-half led me to believe that I could not trust him," Bodeau said.

She graduated from WSU in 2014.

In June 2015, Bodeau said she received a text from Jason Gesser inviting her to attend a fundraiser in Tumwater.

"I knew donors and supporters would be there. Bill Moos, my athletic director, was going to be there," she said. "The event was really great. When it was over, (Gesser) invited me to go have drinks with Bill Moos" other co-workers "and a female intern."

She said Gesser offered to catch her up with how his family was doing and asked her to pick him up from his hotel.

Just a few blocks from her apartment, Bodeau said, Gesser placed his hand on her leg.

"He leaned in and tried to kiss me. I pulled away. I just said, 'No,'" she said. "He asked, 'Why?' I said, 'Because you are a married man and you have a family.'"

Bodeau said she allowed Gesser into her apartment. Once inside, he continued to attempt to kiss her and pushed his hands under her dress.

"I started to get really scared because he was not listening. I was terrified because I didn't know what to do," she said. "The more I kept telling him, 'No' and 'Stop' the more he kept telling me how much he liked me."

She said she again reminded Gesser of his family.

At one point, she said, Gesser put his hand around Bodeau's head and tried to force a kiss.

"I couldn't pull away, so I put my hand in front of his mouth to try to stop him," she said "It didn't stop him. He started kissing my hand. I had no idea what was going on. I absolutely felt powerless."

She said she then asked Gesser to leave.

"He said, 'Everything is OK.' That both confused and terrified me," she said. "Nothing he was doing was OK."

Bodeau said she drove Gesser back to his hotel and just before getting out of the car, "he leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. I didn't expect it. Feeling that kiss on my cheek mostly made me want to vomit."

Bodeau went home after dropping Gesser off at his hotel. "I curled up in the fetal position and cried myself to sleep," she said.

In his statement issued Friday about the earlier misconduct investigation and subsequent news coverage, Gesser wrote: "The only thing I care about more deeply than WSU is my family and integrity. I want to clearly state that the allegations are not true.

"I am categorically opposed to harassment or sexism in the workplace or society, and I am deeply committed to my wife and children."

Bailey Roberts, 26, said she remembered getting a phone call from her older sister about the encounter with Gesser.

"I remember her being very distraught, very emotional and confused about what had just happened," Roberts said. "She kind of didn't want to believe what had just happened."

That same day, Gesser texted Bodeau. "He said, 'We probably shouldn't tell my wife that I saw you.' That sent me into a whirlwind because I didn't know what to think. His wife was my favorite person in the world, and his kids are my favorite people."

Bodeau said she then blocked Gesser from her phone. But thinking it was an isolated incident, Bodeau did not take her concerns any further.

"I repressed it so hard. I wanted to protect (Gesser's wife)," Bodeau said. "I knew if I was honest with her that I could hurt the family."

A year later she received a message from Gesser saying "Don't be a stranger."

Bodeau married Steven Bodeau, 28, in 2017. He said she relayed her encounter with Gesser.

"She told me she felt guilty," Steven Bodeau said. "The whole victim shaming that our society does infuriates me. He's the one who messed up and she has to suffer for it. The only thing I could do is support her and tell her, 'You are the victim here.'"

The former volleyball player said her experiene with Gesser has affected her feelings regarding WSU.

"I chose to go there. I love wearing my alumni letter jacket that I earned," she said as tears streamed down her face. "I bleed crimson for my love of Pullman.

"So it makes me sad that the school I love so much... is making these decisions," Bodeau said about the conclusion of the original investigation. "If this is a money thing, that breaks my heart even more."

As part of her love of her school, Bodeau wants to enjoy the pageantry surrounding football games at Martin Stadium.

"But I don't, because I don't want to run into him, I don't want to hear his voice and I don't want to hear his name," she said.

Roberts, Bodeau's younger sister, said she's glad Bodeau is finally talking about the encounter.

"I'm happy that she's taking the steps," Roberts said. "But I am reserved to see how it will affect her. I'm hoping it won't be a negative impact."

Contact the writer:

(509) 459-5495

tomc@spokesman.com

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

HAMILTONOn Oct. 11, City Manager Joshua Smith hopes there will be three huge signs posted at the former Champion Paper mill, announcing "Spooky Nook at Champion Mill — opening in 2021."

City leaders are closing in on a development agreement with Spooky Nook Sports of Lancaster, Pa., which operates North America's largest indoor sports facility there, what the company calls 14 acres of sports activities under one roof. Some teams drive 3½ hours to compete in large tournaments there.

After three years of discussions and negotiations, the city and company plan to sign a development agreement that puts back into play one of Hamilton's most significant industrial complexes, the Champion mill along North B Street.

A public hearing and first reading of legislation authorizing an agreement with the company are planned for the Sept. 26 Hamilton City Council meeting, with approval of the legislation expected at the Oct. 10 meeting.

"This is something that's going to be very catalytic, in terms of our financial future," Smith said.

He expects some construction work to begin this fall, with heavy-duty movement in the spring.

THE PROJECT'S FINANCING

The Journal-News recently received an exclusive look at more detailed plans for the project's funding. They include:

Under terms of the proposed development agreement, Hamilton will provide a $5.5 million grant to the project, which will go toward financing the proposed convention center in "Mill II" of the Champion site, which is the building closest to the Great Miami River.

Hamilton will pay for $3.7 million in roadway improvements, including along B Street, and a "slip lane" that will allow traffic driving westbound over the High-Main bridge to flow without stopping northward toward B Street and the sports complex. That street spending includes pared-back improvements to sidewalks linking Spooky Nook with the developing Main Street entertainment district. But the sidewalk changes were decreased in a way that they can be easily added to with "minimal disruption" in the future.

The city, which owns its own natural gas, electric, water, sewer and storm-water utilities, will spend $5.92 million to improve utilities in the area to be able to service the project, which will become one of the city's biggest utility consumers.

Hamilton also is to loan $5 million toward the project's bricks and mortar that will be repaid over 20 years from Spooky Nook operations.

The Hamilton Community Foundation has pledged $13 million of its investment assets to help Spooky Nook secure a bank loan. Those fixed-income securities, which will remain the foundation's property, will back the loan while the foundation continues to earn interest on them, said foundation President/CEO John Guidugli.

As part of the Hamilton Community Foundation's loan arrangement, the city will lend the project $2.5 million that will be used to cover the interest expenses on the community foundation's loan during the project's construction. The city's $2.5 million loan will be repaid over 20 years.

Hamilton will make a temporary $3.5 million contribution to temporarily fund New Market Tax Credits, which allow people or corporations to get credits against their federal taxes when they invest in such projects through designated Community Development Entities. Officials are optimistic they will win the tax credits during the next round of funding, around the end of this year, and if the credits are received, the loan will be repaid. If not, they hope to replace that with money from new state tax credits "for transformational mixed-use development" that are proposed under House Bill 469, now pending in the Ohio Senate after passage by the House. If those tax credits don't come to be, the city and Spooky Nook together would make up the $3.5 million loss of credits.

A non-tax-revenue note that was borrowed in August for property acquisition and pollution will be repaid with $3.75 million in tax-increment financing created for the site. Under such a district, the property's tax value during a base year is frozen, and once new facilities are built and put on tax rolls, the amount of increased tax value is dedicated to repaying a debt.

COUNTY CONTRIBUTIONS NOT YET DECIDED

Meanwhile, Butler County government has also been asked to financially help the project, but county Commissioner Donald Dixon told the Journal-News that no decision has been made.

"We're considering it, but we've made no commitments at this point," he said.

Dixon said he expects a county decision by the end of this month.

"Based on what I've heard and read in the paper, if they can get it done it appears that there's some potential for some major stimulus to the city of Hamilton, but it all depends on how they perform in the numbers, and a bunch of other stuff," he said.

MORE: Engineers studied the traffic impact a new sports complex may have in Hamilton. Their results may surprise you.

Guidugli, of the community foundation, said board members traveled twice to the Pennsylvania facility in evaluating it and decided the project could bring significant benefits to Hamilton.

"This was a major discussion among our board," Guidugli said. "We certainly didn't jump into it lightly. We looked at it very strategically, and very carefully, and evaluated the impact on the community and our ability to do it, and what would happen if we weren't able to do it, and concluded that this was something that really would be a big enough game-changer that we felt we could support it in this way."

'COMPLICATED CAPITAL STACK'

Andy Brossart, the city's financial adviser with Bradley Payne Advisors' Sharonville office, said the "capital stack" of money sources involved with the project is quite complicated, partly because of the paper mill's historic value and the variety of funding sources.

"I've been doing this 20-some years, and this is probably the most complicated capital stack I've been involved with, in terms of the number of different pieces of information and the areas that it comes from," said Brossart, a 1991 Badin High School graduate.

People for years have been asking why the project has been taking so long. Smith said it's complicated to take a 19th century paper mill and transform it into a sports complex with hotels, restaurants, a convention center and retail stores, while trying to make use of historic state and federal tax credits, which are competitive. The project also involves traffic studies and improvements.

Meanwhile, Spooky Nook officials have been doing their due diligence, while also meeting with sports teams and leagues, working to develop relationships that will create clients for the project.

While some may wonder about the city's proposed $5.5 million grant to the project, Smith noted that if the city were to tear down the paper mill, which it bought early this decade, it probably would cost about that much to do so.

City staff said demolition costs of other major Hamilton buildings, including their environmental cleanup, were $4.9 million for Mercy Hospital; $3.17 million for Mosler Safe; and $2.6 million at Herring-Hall-Marvin Safe Co.

SPOOKY NOOK ON LEVEL OF LIBERTY CENTER

Brossart, who was finance director of the Butler County Transportation Improvement District while the Butler Regional Highway was being built, and also worked on financing for the Liberty Center development, believes the financial benefits of Spooky Nook can be similar to what the highway link to Interstate 75 has meant for Hamilton and Butler County.

According to an economic analysis performed by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company, Spooky Nook's Pennsylvania complex had $15.5 million in revenues last year, with another $5 million at the Warehouse Hotel within the sports complex. The company last year had about 150 full-time employees and as many as 450 part-time seasonal workers.

More than 1.1 million people (470,000 from outside the immediate area) visited the Pennsylvania site in 2017.

Even more noteworthy to Hamilton officials, the complex last year generated $39.2 million in off-site spending by athletes, their families and spectators, who booked almost 61,000 room nights at local hotels last year, Tourism Economics found.

The economic study found Spooky Nook's total economic impact was $99 million, 1,400 jobs, $32 million labor-income impact, plus an addition of $7 million in state and local taxes.

A few months ago, the project was estimated to cost more than $150 million. By scaling back some aspects, including a decision not to reroute B Street around the facility, officials reduced the cost to about $144 million. The decision not to move the street, including related utility savings of that non-move, sliced perhaps $7 million from project costs, Smith estimated.

Smith said the Spooky Nook project accomplishes three main goals: It leverages significant private investment. Costs of the investment are probably similar to what it would cost merely to tear down the Champion complex, where people have broken in and set fires. Also, Spooky Nook's economic impact in Pennsylvania is $99 million, the consultants found.

The project also can lift Hamilton financially in many ways, Smith said. Aside from the employment that the gigantic sports facility itself can offer, stores and restaurants will be more profitable, hiring more workers, who can find inexpensive housing in the city, he said.

There may even be many other unexpected gains, he said. With a better city economy, Hamilton's utilities may not have to write off as much as $2 million in unpaid utility bills in a year, Smith said.

"I give the city council, Joshua and their staff a lot of credit," Brossart said. "Because when you go around the state, people talk about Hamilton, and they see the difference in what's going on, and it's fun to see people come back to Hamilton who haven't been there in a long time, and they see a major change. Hopefully (the Spooky Nook project) continues on with that whole momentum."

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Copyright 2018 Times-World, LLC
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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

Before perhaps the smallest crowd ever to see Virginia's football team play, the Cavaliers improved their record to 2-1 with a 45-31 triumph over Ohio University at Vanderbilt Stadium.

Here are five takeaways from Saturday's game:

1. Was it worth the money?

Virginia was contractually obligated to shell out $650,000 to Ohio, wherever the game was played. It was originally scheduled for Charlottesville, but was moved to Vanderbilt out of concerns over the threat posed by Hurricane Florence.

All told, Virginia had to pay well over $1 million, considering travel expenses, etc. The Cavaliers could have gotten out of the game because there was a natural disaster clause in the contract. North Carolina and North Carolina State elected not to play, but UVa felt Ohio was one of the more beatable teams on its schedule.

If Virginia gets to a bowl, particularly if the Cavaliers go 6-6, you'd have to say it was worth it.

2. So much for the questions about Bryce Perkins' accuracy

Perkins, the junior-college transfer who was slated to be the Cavaliers' starting quarterback from the time of his arrival in January, had completed an underwhelming 52.1 percent of his passes in the first two games.

He was 25 of 30 for 379 yards and three touchdowns against the Bobcats and was not intercepted. He didn't run as successfully as he had in back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, but that also meant he wasn't hit as much. He was sacked three times.

3. Record-and-rock breaker

Olamide Zaccheaus was an overwhelming choice to take out the sledgehammer and smash the "rock" that Virginia brings to games at home and on the road.

Zaccheaus, a 5-foot-8 senior, had nine receptions for 247 yards and two touchdowns, breaking a 44-year-old UVa record for receiving yardage in a game.

Most of his yardage on 86- and 77-yard touchdown receptions came after the catch. Not to be overlooked are his consistency and durability: Zaccheaus has had at least one reception in 32 consecutive games.

4. Ellis not to be overlooked

Senior tailback Jordan Ellis moved up eight places on UVa's all-time rushing list with a career-high 171 yards on 19 carries, none of them for loss. It was the first time since 2011 that a Virginia back scored three rushing touchdowns in a game.

With 1,351 rushing yards for his career, Ellis has a chance to become Virginia's 20th career 2,000-yard rusher.

5. Does place-kicking need to be evaluated?

After Ohio had rallied from a 35-7 deficit to cut Virginia's lead to 38-28, place-kicker A.J. Mejia had a 30-yard attempt clang off the left upright on fourth-and-1 from the Ohio 13 with 10:36 left.

It remained a two-score game, but the Cavaliers would have been better served to go for a first down. Mejia had converted a 32-yarder with two seconds left in the first half, but has struggled since the last month of the 2017 season.

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Copyright 2018 The Evansville Courier Co.
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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

INDIANAPOLIS - Even as USA Gymnastics fought to contain a broadening sex abuse scandal last year, it allowed an official accused of misconduct to sit on a committee judging his own accuser's performance, IndyStar has learned.

When it came time to vote on who would attend the World Championships, that official cast his ballot for another athlete. One with a lower score.

Even after USA Gymnastics was confronted about the official's apparent conflict of interest, a hearing panel upheld the selection.

And the system that failed to detect and prevent that conflict remains in place today - raising questions about the potential for retaliation and the silencing of abuse survivors.

Two years after Indy-Star revealed the first public allegations of sexual abuse against longtime USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, the Indianapolis-based national governing body is still struggling to overhaul the culture that many say enabled Nassar to sexually assault as many as 330 women and girls under the guise of medical treatment.

Some wonder if it can ever regain the trust of the athletes it serves.

And the case of former coach George Drew and gymnast Kristle Lowell offers one narrow glimpse into the complexities of changing a culture that has been a stunning success in competition, yet a miserable failure when it comes to athlete protection.

Allegations of sexual misconduct

In a 2017 complaint to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, Lowell claimed Drew, her former coach who also is a doctor, conducted an unwanted and unnecessary breast exam.

Drew, who retired last year as USA Gymnastics' director of the trampoline and tumbling program, has denied wrongdoing. His USA Gymnastics membership is suspended pending a hearing, gymnastics records show. It's unclear when a decision will be made.

Less than two months after Lowell filed her complaint, Drew served on the selection committee that decided whether Lowell made the World Championships team. How was that possible?

For its part, USA Gymnastics claimed ignorance. The complaint went to SafeSport, an independent organization that has been cited as the solution to the sexual abuse reporting problems uncovered in USA Gymnastics.

USA Gymnastics said it was unaware of Drew's complaint when the selection committee was formed, according to a USA Gymnastics position statement obtained by IndyStar.

Still, it's not as if USA Gymnastics was unaware of personal friction between the two. Lowell had filed an earlier complaint against Drew in 2015, claiming he improperly prescribed her drugs from 2012 to late 2014. He was also her landlord, and she said he was exerting extreme control over her as her coach, doctor and landlord. The organization dismissed that complaint for lack of sufficient evidence, records show.

Despite that history, Drew remained on the judging panel.

Drew's lawyer, Doug Van Essen, said Drew did not recuse himself because he felt he could be impartial despite the 2015 complaint Lowell filed against him. He said Drew was not aware of the 2017 complaint at the time he served on the selection committee.

Essen dismissed Lowell as a person who complains excessively, claiming that if everyone she had complained about was disqualified from serving on the committee, no one could serve. Lowell and her father disputed that claim, indicating she had filed multiple complaints, but they were only directed at three people, one of whom was Drew.

So, why wasn't USA Gymnastics notified? SafeSport would not comment specifically on the case, but a spokesperson said its policy is to notify a national governing body of a complaint "as soon as the Center decides on a sanction against an individual." When asked how SafeSport ensures that a potential victim is safe while it deliberates, the organization replied: "Provided the Center has sufficient notice of a potential interaction between a reporting and responding party it will engage in safety planning measures, which can include full time supervision, no contact order, etc."

Lowell, a world champion in double mini who had made the national team six years in a row, did not make the team in 2017 - despite earning the second-highest overall score over four competitions.

She also competed in the World Championships for four years before being passed over in 2017.

"Words can't even describe how disappointed I was in the entire process," her father, Stephen Lowell, told IndyStar. "I can't even tell you the anger, the rage that I felt. And I felt like somebody took a beer bottle and smashed it over my face. That's how I felt. Totally incapacitated."

It was a unanimous vote of the five-member committee. Members decided Lowell's personality would "adversely affect" others on the team.

Lowell filed an "opportunity to participate" complaint with USA Gymnastics.

In a document obtained by IndyStar, USA Gymnastics justified the selection committee's decision by saying Lowell had "a demonstrated history of unacceptable and disruptive behavior." The organization also pointed out that Lowell had signed a document before the competition that indicated Drew would be one of the committee members.

A hearing panel upheld the selection committee's decision, and Lowell did not pursue it further. Earlier this year, Lowell earned a spot on the national team.

But the sexual nature of the complaint, and the fact that Drew was allowed to vote after the complaint was received, highlight questions that have plagued gymnastics for years.

The dynamics of team selection

One of the reforms called for in the wake of Larry Nassar's arrest in 2016 is an overhaul of the way USA Gymnastics chooses teams.

For example, the women's artistic program does not simply take the five highest-scoring athletes to make up the Olympic team, as it once did. Today, only the top all-round finisher at team trials is guaranteed a spot.

USA Gymnastics allows a selection committee to determine the remaining athletes best able to compete in all of the events needed to win a team gold medal, including floor exercise, vault, balance beam and uneven parallel bars. That's because different athletes excel at different disciplines. The selection committee is allowed the discretion to move lower-scoring athletes ahead to fill a need, citing something called "team dynamics."

In Lowell's case, team dynamics meant her presence was believed to have an effect on the other athletes.

Both Bela and Martha Karolyi, the former national team coordinators who are widely credited with the Olympic success of USA Gymnastics, believe the selection committees should continue to enjoy such discretion, according to a statement from their lawyer, David Berg of Berg & Androphy in New York.

"Relying solely on individual results often is detrimental as a particular person's consistency or specialty is needed to achieve the highest team score," Berg wrote. To bring home the gold, they and others argue, leaders need to make some hard choices.

Most associated with gymnastics agree there has to be some give-and-take in selection of teams to represent the U.S. in international events. After all, the system also protects top athletes from losing a spot on the team simply because they have a bad day at trials. And even if you change the team selection process, you could never remove all subjectivity from a judged sport.

How subjective is too subjective?

Still, some are concerned the process has become too subjective - and can be used to retaliate against athletes and coaches who challenge the status quo or speak about concerns, including sexual abuse.

"USA Gymnastics created a monster when they included a team dynamic," said Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a former Olympic swimmer and sports law attorney who heads the nonprofit advocacy group Champion Women.

Hogshead-Makar said the system "makes athletes be more obedient and compliant. But the unexpected consequence of this is that... it is perfectly acceptable to kick somebody off a team if they're not popular, if nobody likes them."

In an interview earlier this year, gymnast Tracee Talavera, who served on the committee that selected the 2000 Olympic team, saw the subjective process as the root of many of the problems USA Gymnastics is still grappling with today.

Because the selection committees face "no rules to be accountable for," she said, an athlete has little power to influence the outcome. Mastering a difficult routine or improving consistency is no guarantee one will make the team.

The focus can shift to who the athlete needs to please. And that can foster fear, silence dissent, encourage bullying and create opportunity for "nice-guy" predators such as Nassar.

"I think the whole selection process is very much the beginning of what allowed this all to get where it got," Talavera said, referring to revelations of widespread sexual abuse in the sport.

Team selection, of course, is subjective in many sports.

But, in a report on sexual abuse in gymnastics, former federal prosecutor Deborah Daniels pointed out that, unlike athletes in other sports, the girls who participate in elite gymnastics typically have an extremely narrow window of time in which they can compete. Most have only one shot at making it to the Olympics.

That can heighten the tension. "And the subjectivity of it, while in some ways fully understandable, adds to the likelihood that an abused athlete will not report the abuse for fear of being seen as a 'troublemaker' and kept off the team," Daniels wrote.

USA Gymnastics said it plans to "fully review the athlete selection process with experts" and is in the process of drafting a "detailed policy that defines conflicts of interest within the team selection process, what constitutes a conflict, and what actions must be taken when a conflict arises."

Conflicts are not limited to team selection, either. In one case this year, a Maryland acrobatics team faced a judge who was married to a competing team's coach. USA Gymnastics told IndyStar it revised the conflict policy for the acrobatics program.

But USA Gymnastics has not yet addressed the potential for bias in some of its other programs.

Daniels recommended the team selection system be reviewed. She recommended the removal of the athlete representative from the selection committee, because that person also plays the duel role of being an athlete advocate in abuse cases.

"It is highly unlikely that any athlete under consideration for inclusion in the team will confide in the Athlete Representative, thus reducing the potential for the reporting of abuse," she wrote. USA Gymnastics said it has separated those roles.

Daniels walked a fine line in her recommendations, acknowledging the possible benefits of coach discretion in team selection, while emphasizing the need to remove systemic bias that might discourage the reporting of abuse.

But Talavera, a former Olympian and member of the U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame, puts the emphasis squarely on the need for USA Gymnastics to take bold steps to win back athletes' trust. With big money and television rights involved, she fears selection committee discretion allows things that have nothing to do with gymnastics - such as a girl's looks or attitude - to be considered.

And Talavera remembers her 2000 service on the team selection committee as "one of the worst experiences I had in gymnastics."

'There's the team we want'

She said she believes Bela Karolyi tried to influence the selection of specific gymnasts for the 2000 Olympic team by criticizing various girls for things such as chewing gum, listening to music on headphones or looking heavy.

"They would find any excuse to offer a reason why this girl shouldn't be on the team," she said.

After team trials ended, Talavera said, the selection committee was preparing to retreat to a back room at the Fleet Center in Boston to select the team members.

Karolyi, then the national team coordinator, approached.

Talavera said Karolyi circled one athlete's name, drew an arrow, then crossed out gymnast Vanessa Atler's name. It eliminated Atler, the sixth-place athlete. The eighth- and ninth-place athletes would leapfrog her, winning a ticket to the Olympics.

" 'There's the team we want,' " Talavera remembers Karolyi saying.

The other two committee members went along with Karolyi's choices. But Talavera, the athlete representative on the selection committee, didn't like what was happening.

"And I said, 'I just can't do it. I won't sign off on that.' "

Berg, the Karolyis' attorney, said some of Talavera's recollections were incorrect, but did not specify. He said the selection committee "named a team that included all of the top five finishers at that 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials, and exercised its discretion to name the eighth-place finisher, Alyssa Beckerman, as an alternate. The seventh- and ninth-place finishers, Dominique Dawes and Tasha Schwikert, comprised the final team."

Talavera said she refused to go along.

With television cameras focused on the door that separated the committee from gymnasts, coaches and fans, commentators noted deliberations were taking much longer than expected. It was supposed to last less than five minutes. And at least 12 minutes passed.

Finally, the door opened.

With thousands of fans waiting in the arena, and confetti ready to be released, the athletes were about to hear whether the dream many of them had worked for years to achieve would come true, a dream they may never have a second chance to fulfill.

Officials announced the team members alphabetically. Atler told IndyStar she knew immediately her Olympic hopes had been snuffed.

Then 18, she bit at her lip. She didn't cry. At least not with the TV cameras pointed at her. It was only later, in the locker room, that she allowed the tears to flow.

After all her hard work, the U.S. women's team went on without her. She was so disappointed, she retired from the sport. After a hiatus, she is now coaching.

"I'm the head coach of a girls competitive team. We don't do elite or anything like that," she said. "My main focus is more about having fun and the good stuff about gymnastics. I do love it, but I think there's things that need fixed."

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Copyright 2018 Richmond Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

When Ganesh Krishnasamy was weighing a move from Iowa to the Richmond area, his research didn't start with housing prices or crime rates.

"The first thing I Googled is whether or not there is cricket," Krishnasamy said. "I would have changed my mind if the cricket wasn't here."

His passion for the sport — a game the uninitiated see as an odd cousin of baseball — led him to Henrico County, and competitive play at an elementary school pitch that is now closing after 25 years of use.

That's big news for a growing community of foreign-born people in the region from cricket-playing countries and regions; a population that nearly doubled — to 20,818 — between 2006 and 2016, according to estimates from the Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia.

Henrico officials have committed to replacing the facilities at Holladay Elementary School — claimed by a school replacement intended to address overcrowding — with a superior pitch at Deep Run Park, paid for with part of $4 million in bonds voters approved in 2016.

That move would affect one of three soccer fields at the park and provide a new permanent home for Central Virginia Cricket Association matches, in an embrace of the diversity that has increasingly defined what was once a mostly white, rural county.

Zulfi Khan, president of the Mid-Atlantic Cricket Conference and chairman of the Central Virginia Cricket Association, wants to continue developing the local league, which has expanded from three teams to 10 since its inception

"Cricket is a game that brings people together," Khan said. "In Virginia, people play for the love of cricket."

Henrico officials are on board and have renovated county parks to include space for the game, which bears resemblance to baseball but is a vastly different sport played in a large oval-shaped field with a rectangular pitch in the center.

The Richmond Strikers also recently launched a new cricket camp at Capital Park so children can be introduced to the game.

Jay Howell, executive director of the Strikers, said several adult cricket players approached him recently about starting a youth league. The campers played on a new concrete cricket pitch the county built this year at the park next to Wilder Middle School.

"It became clear there was no opportunity at the youth level in an organized way," Howell said. "It fit in well with the model of our programming. We wanted to create an opportunity to expose children to the game and learn from good coaches."

Even when there were fewer cricket players in Richmond 25 years ago, Khan said, local politicians and officials like former Henrico Manager Virgil Hazelett were instrumental in bringing cricket "to the next level" locally.

Cricket is popular across many countries and regions from which Henrico residents have immigrated, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, India, South Central Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Caribbean.

Henrico Manager John Vithoulkas said the ongoing development of cricket is a reflection of that diversity.

"When your schools get to where 84 languages are spoken, we're going to see sports and activities we haven't seen before," Vithoulkas said. "We have an opportunity to accommodate that, and I think that's incredibly exciting."

The Central Virginia Cricket Association has organized competitive play at Holladay Elementary since 1994, turning an open space near the school into a relatively large cricket field with a real clay pitch.

Over time, association organizers worked with county officials to improve the grounds and make it more than a makeshift playing field.

The replacement for that pitch will meet International Cricket Council standards, but the changes to the space will not prevent soccer and other field sports from being played in the natural turf outfield surrounding the clay pitch, officials said.

Although a new concrete cricket pitch at Capital Park could house some of the Central Virginia Cricket Association's teams displaced by Holladay's replacement, adult players say the clay pitch is preferred for traditional cricket played with a hard leather ball.

Three Chopt District Supervisor Thomas M. Branin has advocated for the creation of a new cricket field in his district, where approximately 10,000 people from Asian cricket-playing countries live, for the past six years. He promised constituents he would see the project through after he was elected to the board in 2015.

When voters approved the 2016 bond referendum, he said, the International Cricket Council called him to request that the new field meet their standards. Because that required an area roughly the size of three football fields, Deep Run Park was a perfect location, Branin said.

"The three fields in the far back weren't really being utilized to their full potential and they weren't in the best of shape," he said.

County officials saw the potential, said Neil Luther, director of the county's Recreation and Parks department.

"[Those fields] tend to wear out and are susceptible to damage from getting saturated and not drained properly," Luther said. "This is an opportunity to rework that whole field area and open it to multiple uses."

Khan said the new cricket field at Deep Run could be a boon for a county looking to increase its foothold in the sports tourism market.

Cricket leagues and clubs in big metropolitan areas with a large population from cricket-playing countries, such as Washington, D.C., and New York City, are able to hold exhibition games and events that can bring lots of spectators, Khan said.

"Because we're getting an international standard cricket ground, we'll have an opportunity to attract well-known players and teams to come and play," he said.

"This will probably be a start for cricket's participation in local sports tourism revenue. There's an economic input in there."

Branin said the site will include amphitheater-style seating and could host other sports competitions, concerts and events.

"I thought it was a pretty cool idea to put together a multiuse design and find a way to utilize it for something that western Henrico doesn't have," he said. "I think it'll be a great asset to Henrico and its many communities."

The Central Virginia Cricket Association's 10 teams make up more than half of the teams in the Mid-Atlantic Cricket Conference.

The local Richmond teams are about evenly divided to home fields with clay pitches at Henrico's Holladay Elementary and Beulah Elementary School in Chesterfield County.

The regional conference used to include teams from North Carolina and South Carolina, but they split from the organization about a decade ago due to disagreements over travel and scheduling.

With fewer teams in the conference, Zulfi and other league organizers sought to expand the game in Richmond and elsewhere in Virginia to boost participation.

A new team has been formed in the Richmond about every other year since then, and the statewide conference now boasts 17 teams.

Harris Khan (no relation to Zulfi Khan), of the Virginia Tech Cricket Club, said job opportunities in Virginia made moving here a compelling option for skilled workers, which has contributed to the growth of the Virginia cricket scene in the last decade.

"Virginia has a good health care and banking system and new tech companies as well," he said. "There's a mix of people you get from other countries, particularly a lot of white-collar people who immigrate here."

Krishnasamy, who plays with the Greater Richmond Cricket Club, said he feels fortunate to have found a community that has supported cricket.

"Having a field as good as this has been a boon for us. Not many leagues have facilities like these," he said.

Krishnasamy said he will miss playing at Holladay Elementary but is excited by the prospect of playing at a new field that meets international cricket standards within the next two years.

"I'm eager to see how that's going to turn out," he said.

csuarez@timesdispatch.com(804) 649-6178

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Copyright 2018 South Bend Tribune Corporation
All Rights Reserved

South Bend Tribune (Indiana)

 

SOUTH BEND — Word of a big decision by the South Bend Community School Corp. had barely started to spread when Washington High School athletic director Garland Hudson received a text message.

WE'RE GOING TO SCHOOL FROM 9 TO 4.

The all-caps statement on an August evening was sent by Riley High School's athletic director, Dan Kyle, who attended a school board meeting where everything he thought he knew about this school year changed. Hudson scanned the message once, twice, three times. It still didn't register. It was only 10 days from the start of classes and the school corporation had decided to make a big change at its high schools.

A school day that started and ended 30 minutes later — now running from 9a.m. to 4p.m. — suddenly loomed as part of the district's Focus 2018 plan. Hudson wondered how athletics would work.

Contracts for the fall sports season already were signed. Start times cemented. Play was scheduled to start around 4:30p.m. Some contests could be pushed to 4:45 or maybe even 5.

But given that the school day for the city's four public high schools — Adams on the east side, Clay to the north, Riley down south and Washington out west — would run until 4, Hudson knew everything that he and his fellow athletic directors had finalized for fall would be fruitless.

Instead of working season-to-season or even month-to-month, the athletic directors would operate week-to-week to make sure their schedules were in sync.

Sometimes, it has been day-to-day, or even hour-by-hour. The problems are aggravated by the school district's shortage of bus drivers, which has made the daily scramble for athletics even more hectic. Few sporting events have been outright canceled, but late starts or close calls are routine. There aren't enough drivers to get all the kids home from school, and then get the kids from school to athletic events.

Every week brings a new set of logistical challenges for athletic directors. Is there enough time to get to this school or that school on time? Will the junior varsity match have to be sliced to playing only one half or scrapped entirely? Do they have to reschedule?

"It's a big challenge," Hudson said recently while studying the week's calendar to make all the pieces to his athletics puzzle fit. "It puts a strain on us. We have to be in constant communication with other schools to say that we might not be there on time."

Earlier this season, Hudson contacted Culver Academy athletic director Louise Ericson about a weekday volleyball match scheduled to start at 6p.m. The time was key because Culver Academy was live-streaming the match. If an alum wanted to tune in from, say, New York at 6, they'd want to see their school, not a blank screen. They saw a blank screen.

The school's later dismissal meant another late bus at Washington. Drivers that double up on routes — afternoon drop-offs of students before heading back to school to transport athletic teams — rarely are ready to go before 5p.m. The Panthers' traveling party was late on the 40-mile trip to Culver. The volleyball match finally started close to 6:30, after an abbreviated warm-up.

"We rushed into it," Hudson said. "It makes everything harder to get done. It's doable, but it's tough."

Last week, a boys' tennis match between Marian High School and Clay was scheduled for 4:30p.m. Clay's bus pulled in at 5:45. A girls' soccer match between Riley and Mishawaka at Baker Park was scheduled to begin at 5. Riley's bus arrived at 5:07. Across the way at Baker Park, the tennis match between Mishawaka and Clay was set for 4:30. Clay arrived at 5:40.

Earlier this month, the Washington boys' soccer team didn't return from a weeknight game at Elkhart Central until 11p.m.

At Clay, Al Hartman staggered through a two-week stretch where every athletic event had to be rescheduled.

"That's been a problem," Hartman said. "I'm calling Mishawaka every week saying we have something scheduled for 4:30, but we can't get there until 5. We have something scheduled at 5, but can't get there until 6."

Pushing everything back puts a strain on everyone — ticket-takers, concession stand workers and officials who show up only to find an empty venue.

"It's a hassle," said Kyle, of Riley High School. "But we're working to do what we can to make it work."

When he announced the later start times in August, South Bend schools Superintendent Kenneth Spells said the change was necessary to assure the district had enough drivers to cover bus routes. Spells at the time acknowledged that the changed schedule could affect team sports and other extracurricular activities but said, "We don't think it's going to be too drastic."

In an interview last week, Spells said "we're trying to get to the bottom" of late starts for athletic events and that he was no longer hearing complaints from parents about children returning home too late.

"We knew there would be some impact to athletics before we made the changes," Spells said. "I knew it was going to be tight. We've worked through that."

Other schools affected

South Bend's decision to push back its start time also affects schools outside the system. South Bend Saint Joseph High School uses the same buses as the city high schools for its athletic teams.

The day after South Bend announced the 4p.m. dismissal time, Saint Joseph athletic director Deb Brown called Concord's Dave Preheim. Their schools were scheduled to open the football season Aug. 17 with a 7p.m. game at Concord. Brown asked to have kickoff pushed back 30 minutes. No way could a South Bend bus make its afternoon rounds, get to Saint Joseph to pick up the Indians and then get to Elkhart County in time for the game.

"It's been challenging, but we're working through," Brown said.

That often means finding its own way to go play. Brown has called Elkhart schools. She's called Jimtown. She's tried Niles. She's talked with Notre Dame. She's contacted private charter buses. When all options are exhausted, Saint Joseph will put its two 14-passenger mini-buses into service.

"We're kind of looking everywhere," Brown said. "We've used all our contacts."

Preheim in Concord is sympathetic to South Bend's situation. He's seen athletic event busing problems arise for many schools around Northern Indiana. It's been more pronounced for South Bend because the dismissal time is later. The four South Bend public high schools belong to the 13-team Northern Indiana Conference. Dismissal times for other schools range from 2:40 (Elkhart Central) to 3:17 (Penn). New Prairie, which is located in the Central Time Zone, still is out 40 minutes earlier (3:20 EST) than South Bend.

Preheim once operated with the idea that all varsity athletic events during the week, save for the occasional basketball game, finish before 9p.m. That way, coaches and administrators could spend time with their families before the day ended. Now that seldom happens. Late nights against South Bend schools are the norm for Concord, which starts school at 7:50a.m.

Preheim wonders what the scheduling future holds for South Bend schools — especially during the week- given that almost every contest starts later and thus runs longer than anticipated. Would he schedule a different school if it meant getting home at a better hour?

"It's too early to say," Preheim said. "Long term, that's something to think about."

Moving forward?

Bill Groves, now in his 11th year as athletic director at Adams and 29th in the school system, says the combination of late dismissals and athletics "has been a nightmare with the schedules and busing conflicts. It consumes our day."

Groves currently has a race discrimination lawsuit pending against the South Bend School Corp. He's critical about the busing issue, but that's because he may have the most challenging job trying to balance it all. Adams is the largest city high school (enrollment 1,952) with the most teams. Almost all of the Eagles' sports teams carry a junior varsity.

Groves can set his phone alarm every day for 5p.m. That's when his cell rings with another of his coaches wondering where their athletic bus is to their event. His next move is to call another school's AD to say that Adams is running late.

The buses were so late on Aug. 24 that the Adams football team had to carpool the mile between the high school and TCU School Field.

"I'm more than willing to work with and help our students," Groves said. "But this isn't conducive to a healthy athletic program."

For at least this school year, the late dismissal time for South Bend high schools is here. Does that mean it's also here to stay?

"I can't answer that question," Spells said. "I''m always looking to improve the South Bend school corporation. I believe athletics are important. I didn't make this decision lightly."

The district's athletic director, Seabe Gavin, isn't concerned. Yes, the fall's been a challenge, he says, but it's one he believes the schools and their ADs have met.

"We'll be good before basketball season. We'll be in tip-top shape," Gavin said. "It's a temporary problem with a solution in sight."

Tribune staff writer Margaret Fosmoe contributed to this report.

tnoie@ndinsider.com

(574) 235-6153

Twitter: @tnoieNDI

 

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

Sandia High School's recently fired varsity girls soccer coach expressed sorrow over the way his dismissal played out for the program and for himself.

Troy Wheeler sat down with the Journal on Friday and offered his first in-depth comments on the events that led to him being fired on Aug. 24, three days before what would have been his first game as the Matadors' coach.

The 39-year-old La Cueva High graduate was nearly $2,500 behind on child support payments, and in July, a bench warrant, citing contempt of court, was issued for Wheeler on behalf of the Child Support Enforcement Division.

Wheeler was arrested on the evening of Aug. 21 on the Sandia campus, according to his Metropolitan Detention Center booking sheet. The Journal learned he was at practice that day, took a phone call, walked out of practice and didn't return.

Three days later, Albuquerque Public Schools fired Wheeler, who was a contract coach for the Matadors and not a teacher.

"The minute we became aware of it," APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta said, "we responded by releasing him of his duties."

Sandia, which promoted Jay Sheraden to head coach upon Wheeler's dismissal, is off to a 3-3 start that includes a 2-1 win Saturday over Hobbs at the APS Soccer Complex.

Wheeler said he understood why APS had to take such action.

"I mean, it was something I didn't take care of, which I should have taken care of, and I take responsibility for it," Wheeler said. "And I really apologize to the people at Sandia that I let down."

In September of last year, Wheeler was ordered to begin making monthly payments of $319 to catch up on nearly $30,000 of child support payments.

By July, he was supposed to have paid just over $4,200, but had paid only $1,730, according to the bench warrant issued through district court in Albuquerque. He was ordered held until he paid a bond covering the $2,471 he still owed. That payment was made, but not before Wheeler had to spend several days behind bars.

He had spent the previous four years as a varsity assistant with the La Cueva High girls before being hired to take over Sandia's program.

Wheeler said he had "no idea" there was an outstanding bench warrant for his arrest.

"I wish I would have known about it, and I would have taken care of it," he said. "It's really been a bad thing, but I'm going to take care of this so it'll never happen again and keep pushing forward, because I love coaching kids."

His future as a high school coach is uncertain; Wheeler told the Journal that APS would review his case in a year.

He also works as a coach and, he said, as the director of coaching, for Athletico New Mexico, a local club soccer program. Wheeler said he was suspended for a couple of weeks but has been reinstated. The Journal could not independently confirm that with club officials.

"I definitely want to continue coaching; that is my goal in life," Wheeler said.

An APS background check didn't flag Wheeler despite past legal trouble that included two DWI arrests, both of which were dismissed, and a domestic abuse case that was dismissed and never prosecuted a decade ago.

"He passed it," Armenta said. "There was never any reason to question him."

The DWIs occurred in August 2009 and March 2011. The domestic abuse case occurred in December 2008 but was dismissed for lack of prosecution in September 2009. Those are all misdemeanor charges, and because they took place more than five years ago, had no bearing on his ability to be employed by APS.

APS' background checks on potential employees are done through APS Police, Armenta said. It was formerly conducted by APS' human resources department, but was switched to APS Police several years ago.

"APS has one of the most, or the most, thorough background systems of any district in the state," she said.

Wheeler also has to appear in a Hidalgo County court for an April 10, 2015, speeding ticket he was given near Lordsburg for driving 105 mph on an interstate. At the time, his license was suspended, and the report cites child support as a reason for the suspension of his driving privileges.

For now, Wheeler said, he simply wants to repair his damaged image.

"I feel worse for the kids that I've let down," Wheeler said through tears. He added, "I know I made a mistake. I let it go and let it go, and I shouldn't have."

Journal Staff Writer Katy Barnitz contributed to this story.

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Finns are known for their ancient sauna habit, which dates back 10,000 years to the use of earthen pits. Nowadays their tradition is to toast themselves in a tent or small wooden cabinet, often followed by a jump in a frigid lake.

Apparently, they're on to something: New research indicates that regular saunas could be as healthful as regular exercise. Bonus: You don't really have to do that frosty dip.
 
The Study: The Mayo Clinic Proceedings recently published a paper titled "Cardiovascular and Other Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing: A Review of the Evidence. The researchers conclude: "Emerging evidence suggests that sauna bathing may be linked to several health benefits, which include reduction in the risk of vascular diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and neurocognitive diseases; nonvascular conditions such as pulmonary diseases; mortality; and amelioration of conditions such as arthritis, headache, and flu. Methods and results:A team of researchers (yes, from Finland) reviewed all existing studies on sauna bathing through February of this year. The studies typically included subjects who spent five to 20 minutes in a sauna heated to 175 to 210 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a swim, shower or return to room temperature.
 
Sauna exposure raised subjects' heart rates to 120 beats to 150 beats per minute and increased blood flow to the skin, much as moderate exercise does.
 
Several large sauna studies have determined that the practice is linked to lower blood pressure and decreased artery stiffness. In addition, subjects who visit a sauna four to seven times a week have 60 percent lower rates of heart disease and stroke than those who visit just once a week.
 
"Sauna may be a new way to reduce cardiovascular risk, says lead researcher Jari Laukkanen, a cardiologist and professor at the University of Eastern Finland. "It is a kind of third factor in addition to diet and exercise.
 
Laukkanen himself enjoys a sauna six or seven times a week, often after exercising, combining two practices that have independent heart benefits, according to his research.
 
Next steps: Be aware of the risks. Saunas are superheated, and you don't want to brush up against whatever device is providing the heat. Drinking water is fine but not alcohol; consumption of alcohol has led to sauna and post-sauna accidents. Lastly, while there's little evidence associating a chilly plunge or shower with heart attack or arrhythmia, experts generally advise against a cold shock.
 
As with any exercise routine, start slow, with maybe just a few minutes of heat exposure for your first sauna. Increase sauna time gradually. In Finland, there are roughly as many saunas as there are homes. In the United States, saunas are far less common, but many gyms and YMCAs have them.
 
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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
All Rights Reserved

The Salt Lake Tribune

 

It's a Monday morning at Ogden High School, and, once again, Erik Thompson believes he can win. He's thought this before, but he's come up short each time. Thompson has no playbook in hand, no whistle; he's certainly not on the sidelines. No, he's on a Pickleball court facing one of the school's best athletes, a star on the Tigers baseball team, in a game of one-on-one.

Each showdown usually has the same stakes If Thompson wins, the student-athlete will give football a chance next season. If he loses, he'll have to wait until their schedules align once more, because the second-year head football coach at Ogden is persistent like that. He has to be. When there's a rare bit of free time, Thompson is scouting the halls of the high school, wondering who could play, and yet somehow more important, who might want to play?

Thompson comes up short. The friendly wager, he says, will live on.

"Maybe tomorrow," he said, "I'll play him again."

At a program that needed a 36-game losing skid snapped a year ago, Thompson has been able to reverse course. Participation numbers were at an all-time low before he arrived, dwindling to as low as the 40s. In 2017, all of Ogden's football teams combined hit 115. The excitement skyrocketed; kids who'd never thought about giving football a shot did. Some stuck with it; others didn't. In 2018, the Tigers are around 80 players — still a world of a difference compared with the state of the program just a few years ago.

"To me," Thompson said, "the sport will sell itself."

On a national scale, the game itself is in limbo. Participation numbers at the youth and high school level are dropping fast. In some states, they're in a free fall; in others, they're holding strong. In Utah, it's complicated. Numbers are steady at the high school level, comparable to where they have been in recent years. At the youth level, they're down, but those who vouch for the game believe it's a short-term dip instead of a cliff dive.

The Salt Lake Tribune asked coaches, administrators and parents from around Utah to weigh in on the factors working for and against the future of football.

According to data supplied by the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA), high school football dropped from 9,170 players in 2017 to 8,944 in 2018. That's just 226 fewer players. But the most recent data from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHS) revealed that more than 55,000 boys and girls stopped playing football nationwide within the past five years. In 2017, it's reported that prep football is down another 20,000 across the country.

"It's dying," said Riley Jensen, a former Utah State University quarterback who runs Mountain West Elite, a football training company. "I'd be really surprised if football, in its current state today, is here in 10 to 15 years."

Truth is, to understand the current state of football in the Beehive State is to dive deeper than numbers and percentages or declarations. There are layers to the conversation, and those associated with the game here vow to keep it alive.

Youth football

If there is a theoretical panic button, Jeff Gorringe hasn't come close to glancing at it, let alone pressing it. The executive director of Ute Conference Football — Utah's largest youth football organization with more than 7,000 athletes and 350 teams — said the association is in a battle to keep the sport moving forward.

"We love the game," he said, "but do we feel like there could be a couple tough years? Absolutely. I think the whole climate with the NFL is having its impact all the way down to little league. It's being talked about."

In 2018, Ute Conference numbers are down 800 kids and 38 teams from 64 regions across the state. Each Ute Conference team has about 18 to 22 players on it. This is the first year, Gorringe said, the organization has seen a real difference in numbers. Every Saturday, Ute Conference has approximately 11,300 snaps, and every Saturday an average of 25 helmets are taken away from players, who range from 7 to 15 years old, due to various injuries.

To preserve the game, you must be prepared, Gorringe said. Ute Conference did studies to see where the majority of concussions in youth football occur. The results showed that most happen within 7 yards of the sideline, and they're rarely helmet-to-helmet hits, he said. Most are helmet-to-ground contact. They've since tried to force the flow of the game through the middle of the field to prevent head injuries, which is among the chief concerns for parents.

While most helmet companies try to recertify helmets for 10 years, Ute Conference doesn't keep a helmet longer than six years. It also invested in Shadowman, a company that teaches young players to tackle a dummy with proper technique head out of the way, rugby-style tackling.

"We want the head out of the way as much as we can get it out of the way in a football game," Gorringe said.

Cameron Flint, a father of two teenage players in Davis County, said without the evolution in coaching and tackling in the past decade, he wouldn't hav

e allowed his two sons, who played in the Wasatch Front Football League program, to play football. But Flint himself is a former player and little league football coach.

"That's made us more at ease as things progressed with studies, for sure," he said.

A study from the Sports and Fitness Industry Association in September 2017 put the participation drop nationally at nearly 30 percent for kids ages 6 to 12 between 2008 and 2016. Dave Stireman, president of the Wasatch Front Football League, which stretches from Farmington to the Idaho border, said the league was at 270 teams in 2008. In 2018, it's down to 182.

"A third of the league is gone," he said. "We're way, way down in terms of numbers."

Open enrollment

Bart Bowen has to remind his players to not read into the disparity on the opposing sidelines. It's hard, however, to not let it sink in — seeing the other team with as many as 100 players suited up. The Cottonwood Colts, a onetime powerhouse Class 5A school, have about 30 varsity players in 2018. Part of that is by design. Bowen, in his second year as head coach, doesn't suit up players who don't have a chance to play, who aren't physically ready to contribute at the varsity level.

"The hardest thing is keeping kids healthy enough to continue throughout the season," Bowen said, "because sometimes they're getting as many as three times the reps as other kids at other schools. It just increases the amount of contact, increases the amount of injury potential."

Cottonwood is one of several Salt Lake Valley schools in this awkward stage enough kids to field a team in a higher classification, but not enough to compete the way they'd like or to field a junior varsity team. Without a JV team, there are going to be juniors who will be counted upon as seniors next year who haven't received many minutes in 2018.

"I kind of knew the numbers were going to be a struggle," Bowen said. "It's bigger than I ever thought it would be, I guess."

The open-enrollment factor in Utah high schools remains a hot-button issue, especially when it comes to the state of football participation. Cottonwood is just one of several larger schools that have had to nix a JV or sophomore team this season.

"Which is concerning, but at the same time, it's optimistic that the numbers are staying the same," UHSAA Executive Director Rob Cuff said. "Right now, we've been able to maintain, and I think a lot of that credit goes to the good coaching we have in Utah, the excitement we have with football starting out everybody's school year."

American Fork coach Aaron Behm understands what some of these programs are going through. When he arrived in 2010, numbers were drastically low compared with now — in the triple digits. Open enrollment is part of the equation when it comes to respective high schools rising or dropping in numbers each year, because student-athletes can, for the most part, choose where they want to go to school and play.

"If your program is up, you're going to get some of those kids, and if your program is down, you're going to lose some of those kids," Behm said. "I think it makes it difficult on some of those programs in trying to get things going, when you have good kids going other places."

Kearns coach Matt Rickards is in his sixth year leading the program. He said every Region 2 team in Class 6A except his has had to cancel its JV schedule this season due to lack of players and scheduling difficulties. Rickards, whose JV team is now playing an independent schedule, says coaches on the west side of the valley often see players who came up in their youth leagues playing for other high schools, which leaves them wondering what might have been. This isn't a new development.

Powerhouse programs such as Bingham, East, Herriman, Lone Peak and others benefit due to an established winning culture that players and parents want to be a part of.

"There's little to no parity in high school football or any sport for that matter," Rickards said. "If you have a parent [who] says, 'Well, I have a choice to either take my kid to Bingham or I can have them go to Kearns. And I want my kid to win a state championship, so I'm going to have them go to Bingham.'"

As Thompson has done in Ogden, Bowen and his staff have to spend free time looking for potential players on school grounds.

"All of the areas that have low socioeconomic status, they seem to be suffering with numbers," Bowen said. "It almost feels as if the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. If you're a winning program, you just keep pulling in kids. If you're a losing program, it's hard. You're just plucking kids out of the hallway [who] have never even heard of football before and trying to get them game-ready against some pretty legit schools in our division."

Commitment

Another reason numbers continue to decline, coaches say, is due to, well, too many things going on.

"We're finding kids don't participate in extracurricular activities as much anymore, for whatever reason," Rickards said. "People just don't value it. Parents don't value it, kids don't value it or see the hard work."

Kearns had 27 players join the team but quit a year ago. This year, there were 21 who started but walked away. This is a ballooning trend, according to football coaches in Utah. A lot of Cottonwood's junior class lost interest in the sport, according to Bowen. He's heard students say they have to focus on school but has ironically heard that excuse in the summertime.

"Kids need to understand it's hard," Bowen said. "It's not something you can show up and do. You have to work extremely hard all year round. A lot of kids want instant gratification."

Fear of concussions and head or neck injuries is a concern Stireman hears from parents. But above all else, he hears parents not wanting to commit their young children to joining a team that encompasses weekly practices and games come Saturday morning. The Wasatch Front Football League is down nearly 20 teams in its youngest youth division, most of which he attributes to lack of overall commitment.

Tyler Hughes is in his first year as Bountiful's head coach. The former Snow College head coach and quality control assistant at Ohio State University said now, more than ever, football is a 365-day endeavor for student-athletes. If there's no existing passion for the game, he said, it's harder to show up for weightlifting sessions, put money toward camps, go through practices and then wait for the four-month stretch of the season.

"It's harder to do more now than you ever have before," Hughes said, "because you're expected to do so much."

To Thompson, part of it is the rise of students sticking to one sport instead of venturing out and becoming multisport athletes. Ogden has a cross-country runner on its team this year who Thompson said trains twice a week with the runners and twice a week with the football team.

"I think kids are misguided," he said. "I think they're being told by someone that they need to go focus on just one sport so they could go play college, but the truth is they're not good enough to play college. They need to play every sport possible and make memories. I think there's a lot of kids that are going to get done with high school and have regrets they focused on one sport."

Maintaining the game

The man in his 70s walked up to Tyler Hughes last week and wanted to get the scoop on this year's Bountiful Braves. The two friends got to talking and Hughes asked if he played football growing up. He didn't. He wasn't allowed to. His parents were afraid of injuries.

"The issue of concerned parents with the welfares of their children is nothing new," Hughes said. "I think it's been going on forever."

There is no escaping the violence associated with football. It's the definition of a contact sport. But coaches who've been around it for decades vouch it's the safest it's ever been, that the days of three-a-day practices don't exist anymore.

All of this is for the betterment of the gridiron. To ensure it lasts. Numbers nationwide are telling another story, but, in Utah, they hold out hope. As the state's population boom continues, more high schools are popping up throughout the state. Next year, there will be three new football programs.

"It's not just the same number of teams and more kids are playing," Cuff said, "it might just be the fact that there's more opportunities because there's more schools. I think we're seeing that a little bit in Utah."

Jensen, the former USU quarterback who is also an assistant coach at Alta, said he cannot ignore the data he's seen in recent years. It's an issue that won't go away, and it will eventually hit Utah the way it has in other states, he believes. To help turn the tide, Jensen said those associated with the game have to defend it now more than ever.

"There's a community feel in football that's different than other sports," he said. "As violent as people think football is, a lot of us enjoy that. There's not thousands of people lining up in South Jordan to see the flag football championship this year. I don't think it's as violent as a lot of people make it out to be."

The Tribune recently asked readers and parents to fill out a survey regarding youth and high school football participation. Overwhelmingly, those who responded said they allow their kids to play the game, and nearly every submission mentioned experiences such as winning, losing, playing hurt, helping out a friend and responding to failure as key components to why.

"Just roots of the tree," Thompson said. "Gotta water it. We'll just keep at it."

The bell rang Monday morning, and the Ogden High coach was off into the halls again, to see if he could find a future Tiger.

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Copyright 2018 The Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

The village will have a pair of public-input meetings to give residents a say on planned changes at two parks.

The meetings are part of the process as Wellington applies for two $50,000 grants -- one for Village Park and one for Greenbriar Park, said Finance Director Tanya Quickel.

Wellington in the past has successfully applied for grants through the Florida Recreational Development Assistance Program, Quickel said. Most recently, the village received $50,000 through the program for work at Scott's Place Playground.

The back-to-back meetings will be at 2 and 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in rooms 1E and 1F at Village Hall, 12300 Forest Hill Blvd. The Village Park grant application will be discussed first, followed by Greenbriar Park.

The grant would be used to build new shade structures and baseball dugouts at Village Park, Quickel said.

At Greenbriar Park, the money would be used to revamp the existing volleyball courts as the village eyes a larger-scale, $8 million project to add fields and facilities next to the dog park.

Lawmakers would approve or deny the grant requests during next year's legislative session, Quickel said.

kwebb@pbpost.com

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Copyright 2018 The E.W. Scripps Company
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Abilene Reporter-News (Texas)

 

Diversity is something we deal with on a regular basis, whether it's at school, at work or even when you go out to eat.

One of the places that have stayed relatively segregated is sports.

American athletes who play sports such as hockey, tennis or golf have been predominately Caucasian, while sports such as basketball and football increasingly have had more African-American athletes.

This trend is especially true in the NCAA. However, McMurry's volleyball team this season may be the opposite of what most people would picture as the typical volleyball team.

Of the 18 players listed on the team's roster, 12 can be identified as being black or at least partially black. That ratio represents two-thirds of the team.

Nationally, across the NCAA's three divisions, only 10 percent of all women's volleyball players are African-American.

Only 8 percent of that number are competing at predominantly white institutions (also known as PWIs).

That makes McMurry's roster especially noticeable.

Is club volleyball a barrier?

One of the best and easiest way to improve your skills as a volleyball player and be seen by hundreds of college coaches is to join a club program.

Many coaches believe that the earlier an athlete is exposed to a sport and taught the fundamentals of the game the better they become at a young age.

This fact also is true for sports such as basketball, baseball and many other sports because many college coaches do most of their recruiting during the summer when schools are out.

However, one of the drawbacks of playing club volleyball is that it can be extremely expensive, sometimes costing upward of $4,000 per season. That doesn't include travel to games and practices.

The increasing cost of participation is also a likely reason more African-American girls are not playing volleyball.

"If you really want to talk about getting blacks in volleyball, I don't think you've got enough time in the day," Robert Brown, Dallas Premier 18 volleyball coach, said in a 2014 interview with the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. "(Club ball) is a predominately white league where we don't see a lot of diversity,"

For many African-American girls who live in low-income neighborhoods, the idea of playing club volleyball just isn't an option when their parents can't afford to pay.

However, the McMurry Lady War Hawks volleyball team has six African-American women who played club volleyball. The other six did not.

Through my eyes

My youngest sister, Danielle, has played volleyball since she was 11 and on most of her teams, she's been one of two African-American players if not the only one. That's something I couldn't relate to as a basketball player because racial lines are essentially the opposite in that sport.

Most of the teams I played on rarely had a Caucasian player. In fact, I never played with more than one Caucasian teammate until I came to Texas to play at St. Edward's University, a Catholic private school in Austin.

My sister said the hardest thing for her to get used to was some of the cultural differences, such as teammates asking about her hair, or where she lived, or the social lingo she often used.

Danielle said she noticed at a young age, that if volleyball teams had just one African-American girl on its roster, she almost always played middle blocker (something Danielle did until she was 14).

For most teams, the middle blocker is a position played by a strong, aggressive and defensive-minded player. However, the position, to some, doesn't require a lot of intellect or volleyball IQ.

That notion is somewhat like the lack of African-American quarterbacks in the NFL.

It's viewpoint that is being challenged.

Lady War Hawks soaring

The Lady War Hawks team has gone against the grain in the volleyball world and have had an excellent season at 9-0 entering Friday's match against Sul Ross in Alpine.

While coach Cammie Petree, who is Caucasian, acknowledges the racial difference in her team compared most teams that McMurry faces, she says she personally loves all her girls as if they were her own.

"I didn't go out specifically recruiting black girls, but I do recruit certain skill sets and certain characteristics," Petree said. "I've been here a long time, and sometimes we have more black players and sometimes we don't. But I love the idea that we have so much diversity on our campus and on our team."

Petree also said her players often joke with her saying she loves black people more than whites, but Petree simply laughs and says, "God loves us all the same, so why should I be any different."

"What's important to me isn't what our players look like, it's how they treat people, and how they play together," Petree said.

While racial inequality has become a hot-button topic that most people try to avoid, it's nice to see a team able to look beyond the racial norms of their sport and be successful anyway.

Quinton D. Lilley

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

 

Before his return to full-time duties as head coach of the Ohio State football team, Urban Meyer talked to ESPN about the circumstances that led to his six-week, three-game suspension.

Part one of what the network says is a two-part interview aired Sunday morning during SportsCenter:

"I'm very clear on my view of life, on my view of people, and domestic violence is at the forefront," Meyer told the network. "I can't stand when I see it. I can't stand when I hear it. For anyone at this university to believe that Urban Meyer would turn his back on domestic violence, I need to leave.

"It's very clear, my stance on domestic violence. I was not suspended for that. I was suspended because I mismanaged a very troubled employee and I went too far to help him."

That "troubled employee" was Zach Smith, a long-time member of Meyer's staff and the grandson of Earle Bruce, Meyer's late mentor.

Smith was fired in July after he was hit with a restraining order from his ex-wife, Courtney. Allegations Zach Smith physically abused her during their marriage were reported at that time.

Meyer acknowledged he and his wife, Shelley, counseled the Smith's through an incident in 2009 (when Urban Meyer was head coach at Florida and Zach Smith worked for him there) that resulted in domestic violence charges being pressed but later dropped.

He also said at Big Ten media days in Chicago an alleged incident between the Smiths in 2015 in Dublin, Ohio, did not happen, raising suspicions about how he handled the situation when it was later reported his wife, Shelly, had been in contact with Courtney Smith about that incident and even received pictures of alleged abuse.

Urban Meyer told ESPN in the interview airing Sunday his wife had not shared that knowledge with him, though Shelley Meyer had expressed concern about the tenor of the Smiths' divorce and the wellbeing of their two children.

Urban Meyer's sullen demeanor at a press conference held to announce the findings of the investigative report - which found he had not acted to cover up domestic violence allegations but uncovered numerous acts of misconduct by Zach Smith during his time on Meyer's staff, resulting in the discipline from the university - led to widespread criticism and ultimately a Twitter apology to "Courtney Smith and her children for what they have gone through."

Although the firing of Zach Smith in 2018 was the result of "an accumulation of factors," Meyer told ESPN on Sunday he had kept Smith on staff previously in hopes of creating a better situation for the Smith family.

"My intent was to try to help all involved," Meyer said. "The only way that I knew how at the time, and I had two choices: fire a man and really put a family in upheaval financially, etc., or try to stabilize someone so you can go up and be a good father."

He also acknowledged he did not tell Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith (no relation to Zach or Courtney Smith) about the 2009 incident when he decided to hire Zach Smith at Ohio State in late 2011.

"In hindsight, I should have," said Meyer, who could not recall why he didn't tell Gene Smith at the time.

Meyer also said he did a background check on Zach Smith in 2011, including speaking to those he had worked for in the interim, and "it came back very high marks."

Asked how he views that decision now, Meyer said, "Bad decision."

At the conclusion of part one of the interview, Meyer was asked, "Who protected Courtney Smith?" in the wake of her allegations.

After a long pause, Meyer replied:

"That's a tough question. Now that all the information is out, now that I've learned more, if I fire him at the time, sever that relationship that I see with these two young kids, it's, and that's the way I've always thought. How do you help stabilize something? At the time, I thought I was doing the right thing."

Meyer was allowed to return to coaching Sept. 3 - with the exception of game day.

Ohio State went 3-0 in his absence, including a 40-28 come-from-behind victory against TCU in Texas on Saturday night.

The fourth-ranked Buckeyes face Tulane at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Columbus.

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Copyright 2018 Orange County Register
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Orange County Register (California)

 

A Trabuco Canyon man was charged with 18 counts of embezzlement for allegedly embezzling more than $87,000 from a Rancho Santa Margarita youth sports league, authorities said Friday.

Joshua Paul Nowack, 42, was the treasurer of the Tijeras Creek Little League organization in Rancho Santa Margarita when the offenses took place, prosecutors said.

From January 2014 to September 2017, Nowack is accused of embezzling $87,500 from the organization by transferring funds from the league to personal bank accounts.

The activity was reported to the Orange County Sheriff's Department in October 2017, when Nowack's successor reviewed financial records for the league and noticed suspicious withdrawals and deposits, prosecutors said.

Following an investigation, Nowack was arrested by the Orange County Sheriff's Department on Thursday.

Nowack is scheduled to appear in Central Jail Court on Oct. 5, according to court records.

The charges include a sentencing enhancement for property damage over $65,000. Details about the damage were not immediately available.

Nowack could face more than 15 years in Orange County jail if convicted on all counts.

 

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

 

Mark Vasta has a passion for the indoors — but you won't find him couch surfing for hours watching television. Vasta's love is the thrill and challenge of indoor climbing. Vasta is the general manager of Concord based EVO Rock and Fitness. The indoor climbing gym encompasses 16,000 square feet and up to 45-foot walls hosting dozens of routes and varying degrees of difficulty.Indoor climbing walls have been around for decades.

What started as a way for rock climbers to train and stay in shape during the colder months by constructing creative setups in their garage or basement has advanced into expansive hubs like EVO that draw large numbers to the vertical year-round.

"It's much easier to access the sport through a climbing gym," Vasta said. "It's a controlled environment, and most people start out here top roping. With top roping, the ropes are already up and fixed, and once you learn to tie the appropriate knot and belay you're on your way."

Like many climbing gyms, EVO offers classes on belaying and basic climbing techniques, and also more advanced options that introduce technical movements and techniques. The cost of a basic course includes the use of climbing-specific shoes and a harness, which students can then use if they choose to stay after the class to climb and practice what they've learned. "Auto-belayers" allow someone who doesn't have a belay partner to safely climb alone, but Vasta said "most who come to the gym are looking for a shared climbing experience and camaraderie."

Thegym also has lead climbing and bouldering options. Lead climbing requires the climber to "clip in" to protection along the route while being belayed from below. Bouldering, which is an effective way to develop skills and strength, requires no rope because the climber is low to the ground and protected by mats or other cushioning on the floor.

While EVO is active on a year-round basis, the nicer weather does draw more people to outdoor climbing areas such as Rumney, North Conway and Pawtuckaway State Park. But Vasta said this summer in particular was busy for the climbinggym.

"With the high humidity at the end of July and through August, people wanted to get inside out of the heat," he said. "It's a sport driven by weather, and thegym allows for people to climb and train whenever they want to."

In addition to climbing, EVO offers yoga and spin classes, and has treadmills and free weights on site. It offers punch cards and monthly and annual memberships, and members have the benefit of additional access to the facility outside of normal operating hours.EVO Rock andFitness is located on 10 Langdon Ave. in Concord.

For hours and pricing, visitwww.evorock.com/concord-nh or call 715-9171.

Ty Gagne lives, works and climbs (not often enough) in New Hampshire. He is the author of "Where You'll Find Me: Risk, Decisions, and the Last Climb of Kate Matrosova" (TMC Books, 2017), and a contributor to the AMC's journal, Appalachia.

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

 

To find a new athletic director, The Citadel paid an executive search firm to conduct a nationwide hunt, reviewed more than 100 candidates — and hired a guy who already was on campus.

Mike Capaccio, who had been executive vice president for athletic development at The Citadel Foundation, was named The Citadel's 13th athletic director on Aug. 15. He succeeded Jim Senter, who left to become AD at Texas-El Paso in November 2017 after three years at The Citadel.

Capaccio is 6-foot-5, 60 years old and the father of two. A a native of the Chicago area, he played Division II basketball at the University of Mary in North Dakota, and coached Indian Hills (Iowa) Community College to three straight junior college national championships.

At UNC Wilmington, Capaccio rose in the athletic department ranks from director of basketball operations to athletic director in just five years, and served as AD from 2004 to 2007. Prior to coming to The Citadel, Capaccio was CEO of the Brunswick (N.C.) Community College Foundation.

In his first extensive interview since becoming The Citadel's AD, Capaccio talked about how he was hired; the delayed renovation of Johnson Hagood Stadium; scheduling Lowcountry rivals College of Charleston and Charleston Southern; and other issues facing the military school's athletic department.

The search

Capaccio had been serving as The Citadel's interim AD since mid-July, but says he had not put his hat in the ring for the full-time gig until he was asked to.

"I was encouraged to apply by some people in administration, and it was not something I was anticipating," he said. "I was happy in the role I was in. It happened very quickly; it was under a three-week deal from when I applied until I was named AD.

"What I was told is that I was the guy who could come in and get this thing going, because I already knew the inner workings of the organization. The Citadel is a different school, and it takes time to get accustomed to it."

The stadium

The Citadel announced last month that it would delay renovation of the east side of Johnson Hagood Stadium by at least a year, due to fundraising and logistical concerns.

A new artificial turf field, costing about $1 million, will go in after the 2018 season. But a plan to put in 3,000 permanent seats on the east side, at a cost of about $4 million, won't happen until at least the 2020 season.

"That is our top priority, and we will make it happen," Capaccio said. "We still start on the turf as soon as the season's over, and go from there."

The Citadel Foundation's recent six-year fundraising drive totaled some $250 million, but Capaccio said most of that money is already ear-marked for other projects.

"Most of that money is designated to certain areas," he said. "Even the athletic part of it — we raised $41 million on the athletic side — is designated for certain areas, like scholarships. There is very little unrestricted money that could go toward a project like this, for $4 million or $5 million."

Construction logistics also were a factor in the delay, Capaccio said.

"It would have been almost impossible to get the new carpet down and the new seats in during that time period, which would have been eight or nine months," he said.

The artificial turf will allow The Citadel to let local high schools play more often at the stadium, and to open the facility to concerts and other money-making events, Capaccio said.

The schedules

The Citadel resumes its football rivalry with Charleston Southern this week, starting a four-game series with all four games at Johnson Hagood Stadium. The Citadel has not played CSU or city rival College of Charleston in basketball in several years.

"Those games are important to us," he said. "I want to get back to playing College of Charleston and Charleston Southern in basketball and other sports. I think it's very important for the local teams to play each other and I would really like to look at playing teams that are right down the road, like Coastal Carolina."

At the same time, Capaccio said, he will not order coaches to schedule certain teams.

"I would never tell coaches what to do," he said. "I'm here to support them, not to run their programs. But I would encourage them to try to do that."

On the football front, The Citadel has "money games" scheduled with FBS foes Alabama for this season, Georgia Tech in 2019, Clemson in 2020 and 2024 and Ole Miss in 2025. Capaccio is trying to add to that list, but says those games could go away fairly soon.

"I really think down the road, the Power 5 conferences will take their ball and go play at a different level," he said. "And that will provide a real challenge for schools like us. We have a very difficult model to maintain financially, and that's one of my big concerns."

The Citadel recently scheduled a home-and-home football series with Campbell, like Charleston Southern a member of the Big South Conference. Would The Citadel agree to play at CSU?

"We'd probably consider it," Capaccio said. "I'm not sure of that right now. Those decisions were made before I came in, and I'd like to re-evaluate that before I said yes or no."

The scholarships

Capaccio said The Citadel has raised about $19 million toward a goal of $50 million for an athletic department endowment. Most of the annual cash flow eventually produced by the endowment would go toward the scholarship bill, which is up to almost $6 million per year.

"Our future is the endowment," he said. "Our goal for (the last) campaign was $15 million, and we are at about $19 million. We need to get to $50 million and that's what I'm working on now. The good news is that our foundation board is putting more emphasis on athletic fundraising.

"Our scholarship bill goes up every year as tuition and fees increase, and we've got to keep up with that. The endowment is a long-term investment, but it will always be there."

 

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Copyright 2018 LNP Media Group, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

LNP (Lancaster, PA)

 

Elizabethtown College on Tuesday was awarded a $1 million grant as part of a state initiative that funds projects with the potential for significant local impact.

The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant will support a $2 million effort to improve infrastructure associated with the construction of a new, 78,000-square-foot fitness center that's slated to open next fall.

The $24.5 million Bowers Center for Sports, Fitness and Well-being — most of which will be covered by Elizabethtown's "Be Inspired" fundraising campaign, which seeks to raise $60 million by June 30, 2020 — is the college's largest construction project in the past two decades.

College President Carl Strikwerda in a statement said the facility will benefit the college community and Elizabethtown area as a whole.

"Elizabethtown College is committed to providing our students with the facilities they need to maintain a healthy body and mind," he said. "This project, which has been in the works for several years, will also have an economic multiplier effect, generating and helping sustain economic activity in our region."

The state support will go toward improving the college's tennis courts, parking and pedestrian pathways associated with the Bowers Center, site improvements, mechanical and electrical utilities, and the relocation of a practice field.

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Copyright 2018 Times-World, LLC
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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

The University of Virginia Board of Visitors approved of three topics relating to UVa athletics in their Wednesday, Sept. 12 meeting. The topics are related to UVa's new golf facility at Birdwood Golf Course, the new softball stadium, as well as a long-term Athletics Master Plan.

CHARLOTTESVILLE - The University of Virginia Board of Visitors approved three proposals relating to UVa athletics in their Wednesday meeting - involving the new golf facility at Birdwood Golf Course, the new softball stadium, as well as a long-term Athletics Master Plan.

The timelines for completion and cost breakdowns for each project were not included in the presentation.

The cost to bring down University Hall was previously estimated to be between $12 million to $14 million, per a UVa report.

It was initially stated in a UVa report that the U-Hall demolition would be completed by 2020.

U-Hall's demolition is critical to the infrastructure of the entire short-term and long-term plan.

Here's a breakdown of the new facilities and other issues discussed at the board meeting.

Golf

The Virginia golf program has long discussed its new performance facility at Birdwood, the purpose of which is to have a home base, a place to practice indoors, and to provide facilities for player improvement.

The visitors decided Wednesday that the name of the facility would be the Dean Family Golf Performance Center. It is named after Thompson Dean, a UVa alumnus and a longtime financial supporter of the university.

Softball

The new softball facility will be at the corner of Copeley Road and Massie Road, the site of a practice field for lacrosse. It will be adjacent to both Lannigan Field (track & field) and Klockner Stadium (lacrosse and soccer).

The facility will include a player development center, according to its design plan, that will be located beyond left field.

Beyond the center field wall there will be a grass lawn. There also will be grass seating down the right field lawn.

The entrance to the stadium will be from beyond right field, and there will be seating behind home plate.

Renderings show blue blocks that could be perceived as seating extending beyond both first base and third base - but it is unclear from the drawing whether those features in fact represent additional seating.

Renderings show suite-like facilities elevated behind the seating at home plate.

It is unclear exactly when the project will be completed, though head coach Joanna Hardin estimated in April that the hope was it would be ready for the 2020 season.

Athletics master plan

The cost is $180 million and will be funded through private gifts.

University Hall, Onesty Hall and the cage will be demolished and replaced with two natural grass fields, meaning there are a total of five practice fields on the facilities.

There are currently 2,327 parking spaces. The long-term proposal includes adding an additional 611 parking spaces. The near-term renovations mean only 226 increased parking sports.

A parking lot, as well as the outdoor turf practice field, will be taken away and will be replaced with a "Football Facility" and an "Olympic Sports" facility. Currently, the offices and many locker rooms for Olympic sports are in University Hall.

These facilities will include a student development center, a strength and conditioning center, team areas, coaches offices, sports medicine and nutrition areas, locker rooms and a flexible indoor practice facility.

Beneath the adjoining football and Olympic sports facilities will be a promenade going to the athletic complex. On the Emmett Street side of the complex will be a plaza that connects to Goodwin Bridge.

The two natural grass fields that will be added where U-Hall was will both be football fields. They will be adjacent to the George Welsh indoor football field, and are connected to the newly created "Football Facility."

The area that is currently a parking lot across the street from Lannigan Field will eventually become a practice field for both soccer and lacrosse.

Other parking lots next to that field will eventually become "Mixed Use" facilities, with one also serving as a parking garage.

The parking lot next to John Paul Jones Arena will be split in half. One-half will remain a parking lot, and another will become a "Mixed Use" facility with a parking garage included.

The facilities renovations will total 260,000 Gross Square Feet. It will be handled by ZGF Architects of Washington, D.C.

Sam Blum is The Daily Progress' University of Virginia sports reporter. Contact him at (434) 978-7250, sblum@dailyprogress.com, or on Twitter @SamBlum3.

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Washington State University officials announced Thursday that they found "no violation of university policy" regarding an investigation into alleged inappropriate sexual conduct by former quarterback and current athletic staff member Jason Gesser.

The statement follows a story published Thursday by the Daily Evergreen, the student newspaper at WSU, which cited hundreds of pages of investigative files that indicate Gesser made "multiple advances... on both student interns and co-workers, including allegations of sexual relations and attempting to kiss a co-worker after having dinner with a donor, as recently as 2017."

According to the story in the Daily Evergreen, the university launched an investigation in December 2017 into myriad allegations regarding Gesser. It concluded that probe in February finding no apparent policy violations.

The university issued a statement by President Kirk Schulz and Athletic Director Pat Chun at 12:10 p.m.

"We take any allegation of sexual misconduct extremely seriously. A thorough review was launched by the University's Office for Equal Opportunity once university administrators became aware of allegations against Mr. Gesser in December 2017," the statement reads. "On multiple occasions, investigators interviewed or attempted to interview all those allegedly involved. Following a comprehensive evaluation of the information available, the Office for Equal Opportunity found no violation of university policy."

Gesser starred for the Cougars from 1998 to 2002 and set the record for the most wins by a WSU quarterback. After a six-year professional career and several coaching stops, including a stint at Idaho, Gesser returned to Washington State in 2013. He currently helps raise funds for the school as the assistant director of athletics for the Cougar Athletic Fund. He did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Bill Stevens, associate athletic director for communications, confirmed that Gesser remains employed by the university but would not answer questions regarding the investigation or the allegations.

"We are going to stand behind the statement" from Schulz and Chun, Stevens said.

According to a search of state databases, Gesser earned $78,500 in his job at WSU in 2016. His 2017 salary jumped to $88,600. Stevens said Gesser's current salary is $84,000.

For the past four football seasons, Gesser worked in the radio booth as an analyst for home and away football broadcasts. But the IMG Sports Network, which contracts with WSU, replaced Gesser in August with another former Cougar quarterback, Alex Brink.

At the time, Stevens said the change was done to allow Gesser to allocate more time to his job with the Cougar Athletic Fund. He was promoted to that position in August 2017 after serving three years as the CAF's director of development/major gifts.

Asked whether that change of radio analysts had anything to do with the sexual misconduct allegations, Stevens directed the question to IMG. Mike Scanlan, of IMG, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Among the allegations in the documents obtained by the Daily Evergreen were reports that Gesser had sexual relations with an intern who worked for him.

Investigators also interviewed a former WSU employee who worked for the athletic department with Gesser. According to the records obtained by the student newspaper, Gesser made unsolicited advances toward his female colleague during a dinner in Pullman.

"I don't remember exactly all the exchange, but there was an advancement to kiss me, which caught me off guard, nor did I lean in or encourage that," she said in the records. "It was purely one-sided."

The former employee also said Gesser sent her several "suggestive" texts, including once inviting her to his hotel room while on the road.

"They were suggestive of sexual things," she told investigators according to the Daily Evergreen. "I can say confidently suggestive."

The former employee, who said she worked in a job below Gesser in the athletics hierarchy, also told investigators that she "never felt harassed or assaulted" by her interactions with Gesser.

Schulz and Chun said in the statement that the university followed "its established procedures to review the matter and found no violation of Washington State University policy. The allegations were taken seriously and addressed at the appropriate level."

The records also show that Matt Almond, general manager at WSU IMG, said he went to Gesser as a "friend and a neighbor" to inform him of the allegations he had heard, according to the Daily Evergreen's story. Gesser later learned that Almond had turned those allegations in to human resources.

"He texted me and asked to meet with me," Almond said in the records. "He aggressively came into his office, accused me of ruining his life, his marriage and his kids' lives."

Almond also said he was told to "shut my mouth and stay in my lane," but he did not identify who relayed that directive to him, according to the records.

The public documents reviewed by the Daily Evergreen included a complaint made by a donor that Gesser used university funds in 2016 to fly a woman, who had no connection to the school, to a Cougar Legends golf event in Cle Elum, Washington. The woman was the subject of an auction as a celebrity caddy.

While not directly addressing that allegation, the Schulz and Chun statement noted that the school audited Gesser's travel receipts in his role as a fundraiser. "A $39.78 overcharge was identified," the statement said. "Mr. Gesser has since reimbursed the University for the full amount."

Cris Nielsen, a 1991 WSU graduate who now lives in Seattle, said he was in the foursome that won the bid to have the woman caddy for their golfing group. The winning bid was either $6,000 or $9,000, which was more than enough to cover the cost of her transportation.

"I spend a fair amount of time with Jason in these type of situations and never once have seen him act or do anything inappropriate as friend or representative of the university," Nielsen said.

The booster said he was glad to learn that the university has retained Gesser and compared his effectiveness to the work that Jack Thompson did to promote WSU decades ago.

"Jason Gesser has done that for our era," Nielsen said. "To lose him would leave a pretty big vacuum for the college. I can't even begin to imagine who would fill that role."

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

New Mexico State has yet to make its first trip to the mecca of college football, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Meanwhile, the Aggies already are planning for their second.

NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia confirmed Wednesday an agreement to play Alabama on Nov. 13, 2021, for a $1.9 million guarantee. The two Crimson & White schools first are scheduled to meet for the first time next Sept. 7 with Alabama paying NMSU $1.7 million.

The return date to Alabama is the first "buy" game the Aggies have agreed to for 2021.

There likely will be a second for that season, as reluctant as Moccia is to do it. In an ideal world, the Aggies by then would be in a league that gave them eight conference games a year. NMSU's non-conference schedule could include one buy game, a home game against a Football Championship Subdivision (example: Incarnate Word at New Mexico) opponent, and the annual contests against rivals UNM and UTEP.

Alas, the Aggies are playing as an independent after getting booted from the Sun Belt Conference after last football season; buy games are "how we've balanced our budget eight of the last 10 years and are paying down our deficit (to main campus)," he said.

As of the fiscal year that ended June 30, NMSU athletics owed $3.167 million to the main campus, Moccia said, and has a payment schedule to eliminate the obligation over the better part of the next decade.

In their 2019 schedule, the Aggies even have a third buy game - at Alabama and Ole Miss ($1.5 million, per the Las Cruces Sun-News) to pay down debt, and an Aug. 31 opener at Washington State ($600,000) just because it needed another game.

In 2020, New Mexico State will get paid to pay at UCLA and Florida. Moccia said that season's 12-game schedule is finalized, pending the return of contracts. Moccia said NMSU has nine games set for 2021.

This year, the 0-3 Aggies received $800,000 for the 48-10 loss at Minnesota on Aug. 30 and will get $700,000 more to go to BYU on Nov. 17.

Alabama has won five (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017) of the past nine national championships and is 3-0 and the top-ranked team heading into its Saturday SEC contest at Ole Miss.

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Perhaps it's just because I vividly remember those early days of Title IX. Or maybe it's because I grew up listening to stories about how girls basketball was more popular than the boys game when my mother was growing up in Iowa.

Mostly, I am certain, it's because I wholeheartedly believe that kids of either gender benefit from learning how to play a sport.

And definitely because I have, at last count, two wonderful granddaughters.

No matter how you stack it, I find that I enjoy women's sports as much, if not more, than the male version of the game.

I wasn't around in the early days of men's basketball, those days when peach baskets were used for goals and Bobby Knight was still learning how to work referees.

But I was around to watch the changes brought by Title IX.

I am still troubled by the fact that, when I was a high school student, the only music the girls basketball team would hear from its own pep band was when we tuned up before playing the National Anthem for the boys game that followed.

It took a while for girls sports to find its footing. Those early State B girls basketball tournaments were tough to watch at times, but the improvement curve was steep and it's turned the game into an exciting brand of the basketball.

I remember being thrilled to watch Nancy Lieberman and Anne Donovan and the Lady Monarchs of Old Dominion.

And I remember getting into arguments over who was the better player, Dave Meyers, who was an All-American at UCLA who played for the Milwaukee Bucks, or his sister, Ann Meyers. I sided with Ann then, and I'm still there now.

If you're a World Cup soccer fan, you share my passion for the United States Women's National Team.

I got the chance to meet Michelle Akers in the days before the women captured their first World Cup and set the world on its ear celebrating with Brandy Chastain on her cup-winning penalty kick.

Akers played her high school soccer at Seattle's Shorecrest High, and I chatted with her over the course of her career. Her play in the midfield, I think, is a major reason why the teams she captained were so successful - and she's a major reason why Mia Hamm was able to be so effective scoring goals.

I want my granddaughters to know about these women and so many more like them - Chris Evert, Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova. Cheryl Miller, Lauren Jackson and Lisa Leslie.

I want them to know about NCAA women's basketball coach Jennifer Mountain, about how she was integral in the rise of women's basketball at Gonzaga and, before that, was the boys basketball coach at St. George's.

I want them to understand the importance of the time when San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon became the first woman to be a head coach in the NBA.

I want them to watch and appreciate the greatness of a player like Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird, who is having a playoff run for the ages at 37.

What I want them to glean from this knowledge is simple: The only limitations that truly apply to you in life are the ones you, yourself, allow to be placed on yourself. You can rise to meet whatever challenge comes your way. You will win more than your share of such challenges, and when you don't, treat losing with a sense of grace and dignity and honor in knowing that you met it with your very best effort.

But I also want them to realize that there will be attempts to limit them that they cannot control. That there are people who will assume that, because of their gender, they are less capable than their male counterparts.

There is a long way to go before such assumptions are eliminated.

We saw just how much this last weekend, when Serena Williams had a heated clash with an official during her finals match at the U.S. Open.

I believe what happened in the match was as much about the official's overheated sense of machismo as it was about how a highly competitive tennis champion reacted to petty injustice.

What I disagree with are the reports about how "Serena had a meltdown." Having watched John McEnroe, Ilie Nastase, Jimmy Connors and Andre Agassi display worse conduct that was deemed by the same press as a "temper flare." None such displays will be condoned when it comes to the next generation, but part of stoking the fire of competition is the occasional spill of temper.

What I want my granddaughters to take away from this episode happened after the dust settled.

When the U.S. Open crowd showed their displeasure by booing during the awards ceremony, Serena Williams took the mic and asked them to please stop. She told them they were diminishing the great accomplishment of her opponent, Naomi Osaka. They needed to respect that, celebrate that.

That, in a nutshell, is what I believe we all can learn from sport: sportsmanship.

He no longer has the mic on college football Saturdays, and I find that a personal loss as well as a loss for the next generation that will come to know Washington State Cougars football without the voice of Bob Robertson.

We should all remember Bob's closing words on every broadcast. Every day.

"Always be a good sport; be a good sport all ways."

Contact the writer:

steve.christilaw@gmail.com

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Copyright 2018 The Commercial Appeal, Inc.
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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

William Anderson, a football player at Houston High School, died Monday night after collapsing during a JV football game.

Anderson, a freshman offensive lineman, was taken off the field by an ambulance and transported to a hospital in Tupelo where he complained of "severe chest pain," Lee County coroner Carolyn Green said.

Green said Anderson arrived at the hospital's emergency room around 8 p.m. He was pronounced dead about three hours later.

"The thoughts and prayers of the entire Houston School District go out to the Anderson family," Houston School District superintendent Tony Cook said.

"William was a wonderful young man who was known for his contagious smile. He will be greatly missed by the entire Houston School District family, especially his friends and teammates."

Grief counselors came to Houston High School and Houston Middle School on Tuesday to "help students, teammates, and friends deal with the tragic loss of William," Cook said.

Cook could not be reached for further comment.

Anderson had been diagnosed with high blood pressure, Green said, and was controlling his blood pressure with his diet. A cause of death has not been determined.

Green said an autopsy may be performed this week.

Anderson is the second high school football player in Mississippi to die this season.

Dennis Mitchell, an offensive lineman at Byhalia High School, died after he collapsed during a game on Aug. 24.

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

 

Vanderbilt is looking for a new athletics director after David Williams announced his resignation Tuesday.

The job has its ups and downs. A new AD must balance academics and athletics while figuring out how to renovate the football stadium and compete in the SEC. But it pays about $1.1 million per year, according to Williams' portion of Vanderbilt's most recent tax returns.

Numerous names could surface during the search. But here are some candidates from varied backgrounds that Vanderbilt might consider (in alphabetical order):

Brad Bates: Former Boston College AD and Vanderbilt administrator now works for search firm under former Vanderbilt AD Todd Turner.

David Blackburn: Former Chattanooga AD is now MTSU senior associate AD. He was thought to be the front-runner for the UT job in 2017.

Greg Christopher: Xavier AD and former Purdue associate AD has been coveted for numerous jobs. Xavier's profile fits Vanderbilt.

Sean Frazier: Former Alabama football player and Wisconsin deputy AD is now Northern Illinois AD.

Rick George: Colorado AD was a Vanderbilt associate AD in the 1990s. He's from the past, but he understands the landscape.

Derrick Gragg: Tulsa AD was Vanderbilt football player and administrator in the 1990s.

Mark Jackson: Villanova AD is a strong fundraiser and has been mentioned in searches from Virginia to Southern Cal. He is among the hottest names in recent AD searches.

Joe Karlgaard: Rice AD is a rising star. He was a candidate for the Virginia job, and he fits Vanderbilt. The Stanford alum values high academics and athletics success.

Pat Kraft: Former Indiana football player and Temple AD was a finalist for Maryland AD job.

Doug Knuth: Nevada AD has a good fundraising track record and has been mentioned in numerous searches on the West Coast.

Candice Storey Lee: Former Vanderbilt basketball player, three-time graduate and senior women's administrator serves as deputy AD under Williams.

Chris Massaro: MTSU AD knows the Midstate well and has deep SEC roots as a South Carolina administrator for 20 years.

Rob Mullens: Oregon AD has SEC ties as a former Kentucky deputy AD. He was a finalist for the Auburn AD job.

Joe Parker: Colorado State AD struck a $37.7 million naming rights deal for a new 41,000-seat football stadium, which opened in 2017 on time and on budget. Vanderbilt could use such help with its stadium.

DeWayne Peevy: Veteran Kentucky deputy AD oversees Wildcats men's basketball with a heavy hand in fundraising.

Julie Cromer Peoples: Arkansas senior associate AD has worked at Indiana and in an academics-focused role in the NCAA office. She was among first women in the Big Ten to supervise football operations.

Derek Schiller: Perhaps a curveball, but the Atlanta Braves president of business is a Vanderbilt alum.

Reach Adam Sparks at asparks@tennessean.com and on Twitter @AdamSparks.

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC


Newsday (New York)

 

A former U.S. Merchant Marine Academy soccer player says former teammates verbally and physically abused him, including by a sexual assault, and their conduct was unchecked and sometimes encouraged by coaches, according to a federal lawsuit.

The suit, filed on behalf of a former midshipman, seeks $5 million plus punitive damages and interest, and names as defendants seven then-seniors on the men's soccer team and three former soccer team coaches. The federal service academy, based in Kings Point, is not named as a defendant in the case but faces similar claims in a separate civil action by the same plaintiff that also seeks $5 million in damages.

The new suit, filed Aug. 31 in Central Islip, alleges a pattern of emotional abuse, willful misconduct and gross negligence by the named students and coaches during the summer and fall of 2016. The freshman student, referred to in the suit as "John Doe," said the abuse culminated on a bus trip to Baltimore when he said he was held down and sexually battered by several players.

"This is about accountability," said Thomas Grasso, the plaintiff's New Jersey-based attorney. "The coaching staff and senior members of the team need to be held accountable for what happened. This is a federal institution that is expected to graduate individuals of exemplary character. And this demonstrates exactly the opposite."

A U.S. Maritime Administration spokeswoman declined to comment on the suit, noting that the school was not named in the action and the matter remains under criminal investigation by the U.S. attorney's office. The administration, known as MARAD, is the U.S. Department of Transportation agency that oversees the academy.

"The United States Merchant Marine Academy remains committed to providing a safe and secure living and learning environment for its students," the spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

Newsday reported in January 2017 that sexual harassment, bullying and coercion had persisted at the academy for nearly a decade, despite the government's own records of complaints and corrective efforts. Students there are trained to serve on U.S.-flagged cargo ships and work in the commercial shipping industry, and graduates are eligible for an officer's commission in the U.S. armed services.

The new lawsuit provides the most detailed picture to date of alleged campus hazing, verbal abuse and sexual misconduct by senior members of the soccer team.

And for the first time, the suit contends that members of the coaching staff were aware of the alleged abuse. Michael Smolens of Great Neck, then the head coach, is accused of participating in the public ridicule of the student.

The suit claims Smolens, the winningest coach in USMMA soccer history, frequently ridiculed the student, who was raised in West Virginia, as an "inbred," accused him of having sex with family members and joked that his family lived in a trailer.

Messages left with Smolens were not returned. He no longer is the soccer coach, the MARAD spokeswoman said. The academy's website gives his title as associate athletic director for physical education.

Smolens' comments "opened the door" for members of the team to make similar derogatory statements against the freshman on a near-daily basis, the suit says.

The complaint contends that members of the team, often influenced by excessive alcohol, drew sexually offensive pictures on the student's desk, super-glued his sandals to the floor and threatened to urinate on his physics book if he brought it on soccer team trips.

"The Academy's men's soccer team culture was pervasively hostile and abusive, encouraging hazing, humiliation, and subjugation of plebes to the lewd whims of first class soccer players, encouraged, unchecked and unreported by the coaching staff," the suit states.

Grasso alleges that two assistant coaches, John Fitzgerald and Geoff Cochrane, turned a blind eye to the alleged abuse and failed to report the behavior to school administrators.

Messages left with Fitzgerald and Cochrane were not returned. Fitzgerald is no longer with the school while Cochrane is a member of the athletic staff.

The seven former students named in the suit are Connor Culiver of Scottsdale, Arizona; David Burkhardt of Cutchogue; Michael Heckmuller of Cypress, California; Gavin Yingling of Salisbury, Maryland; Cory Maier of Hampton, Virginia; Brennan Becker of Weston, Florida, and Timothy Hughes of upstate Ballston Lake.

Shaun Hogan, a Jericho-based attorney who represented Culiver, Burkhardt, Heckmuller, Yingling and Maier in a previous action against the school, said he has not been retained by the men in the civil suit. Attorneys for Becker and Hughes did not respond to requests for comment.

The suit provides new details on the alleged sexual assault that occurred Sept. 2, 2016, as the soccer team was traveling to Maryland to play Johns Hopkins University.

The student claims Maier and Yingling forcibly held him down near the back of the bus and sexually assaulted him. During the assault, the suit claims, Heckmuller poured a "foul-smelling liquid, possibly urine" onto the student's head.

The sexual battery occurred in full view of the named defendants, the suit contends. Maier and Yingling later dismissed the attack, telling the student this "happens to every plebe," the suit says.

The student declined to report the attack to authorities for fear of retribution, the suit said. He eventually quit the team, resigned from the academy and moved back to West Virginia where he is attending college, Grasso said. He continues to suffer severe psychological and emotional distress, the suit said.

In February 2017, the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General opened a probe into the alleged assault. The case was later forwarded to the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District for potential criminal prosecution, according to public statements by retired Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, head of the Maritime Administration. John Marzulli, a spokesman for the Eastern District, declined to comment.

Rear Adm. James A. Helis, the academy's superintendent, placed the seven soccer players on deferred graduate status shortly before the June 2017 commencement and suspended the NCAA Division III soccer program.

Those seven seniors filed suit in federal court against the academy, Helis, the Transportation Department and MARAD, saying their constitutional right to due process had been violated.

U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Wexler, now deceased, allowed the students to walk in the graduation ceremony. They later received their degrees and other documents after participating in individual, closed administrative hearings at the academy. It is not known if any of the seven were offered commissions in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

Helis reinstated the soccer program in mid-February.

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Copyright 2018 Ventura County Star
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Ventura County Star (California)

 

The Moorpark High football team has zero transfers on its varsity squad this season, which might be one reason the school issued a strong response to a recent CIF-Southern Section survey request.

"Our first choice is that transfers sit out one year," said athletic director Rob Dearborn. "Our second choice is that the sit-out period occurs at the end of the season."

Ventura High's best wishes are not quite as stringent.

"We prefer the first-time freshman transfer option," said athletic director Dave Hess. "We don't think its unreasonable to think that a freshman enrolls at a school, then for whatever reason, thinks it's best for him or her to go elsewhere."

The CIF-Southern Section, at the behest of Commissioner Rob Wigod, sent out a survey to its entire membership on Aug. 1 requesting input regarding its current transfer rules and regulations. The purpose? To see whether change is desired by the majority of schools.

The response was indeed overwhelming. Of the sections' 570 schools, 544 completed the survey and 71 percent said, yes, change is needed.

The CIF-SS does not wield the legal clout to unilaterally impose change. But if its membership decisively prefers change, then, yep, change is likely coming.

"What we know about Rob Wigod is that things happen once he starts the process," said Hess. "He's not going to send out a survey and sit on it. He doesn't have the power to change things on his own, but action will happen. Committees will have discussions, and proposals will follow."

Hess, in fact, is a member of the CIF-SS's Public/Private Committee.

"We're going to meet at the end of the month and I guarantee this subject is going to come up," he said.

Dearborn, too, thinks change is inevitable.

"This is a good thing," he said. "We're starting to talk about it."

Wigod, in his own statement, said the next step will be to involve the CIF-State office.

"This feedback is very helpful in allowing us to see how our membership truly feels about such an important part of what we do," he said.

"The next step will be for me to take this information to this week's CIF Section Commissioner's meeting in Sacramento."

In the survey to Southern Section membership, two favorites for transfer revisions emerged.

Like Ventura's first choice, 46.2 percent of the schools favor the first-time freshman transfer option.

What this entails is that freshman student-athletes will be guaranteed Unlimited Eligibility at their next school provided they complete their transfer and enrollment before the first day of their sophomore year.

By a 40.8 percent tally, members prefer Limited Eligibility option, or the choice favored by Moorpark.

In lieu of a valid change of residence or approved Hardship Waiver, student-athletes electing to transfer would have Limited Eligibility in all sports played at their former school for one calendar year, or 12 months.

Limited Eligibility mostly restricts transfers to playing on JV teams for one year.

Their was a third option chosen by 18.4 percent of membership.

This would move the Sit Out Period (SOP) to the last half of their sport's regular season. Currently, the SOP is invoked for the first half of the regular season.

Dearborn said change to transfer rules is needed, and apparently most schools agree.

"It's getting out of hand across the board," he said.

Feeling change

Change of another kind is occurring most dramatically in the Pacific View and Citrus Coast leagues, where the newest Northern Area releaguing plans have created circuits that are either completely new, or just feel that way.

The Pacific View League has added Ventura and Buena for the first time.

Longtime Ventura girls volleyball coach Debbie Litten saw her team's league opener on Sept. 6 vs. Channel Islands already produce a milestone.

"I've been coaching at the school for 25 years and we had never played Channel Islands in all those years," she said. "It was fun. I think both schools really enjoyed it." The new-look Tri-Valley League includes Foothill Tech, La Reina, Grace Brethren, St. Bonaventure and Laguna Blanca. It produced its own history Tuesday night, when Foothill Tech ended La Reina's 48-match winning streak in league.

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


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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

ATHENS--The Georgia Bulldogs' opponent in Sanford Stadium on Saturday night won't come cheaply.

Reflecting the fast-escalating price Georgia and other major-college football programs must pay to secure opponents for one-time nonconference home games, the UGA Athletic Association will pay Middle Tennessee $1.7 million to make the trip from Murfreesboro.

That will be the most Georgia has paid an opponent to this point to play between the hedges, a record soon to be broken. And it will match the second largest payout to an opponent by any school in the nation this season.

But it reflects the remarkable inflation in what teams in the Power Five conferences pay to entice visits from teams in FBS leagues.

It was only six years ago that Georgia paid a visiting team $1 million for the first time, that seven-figure payment to Florida Atlantic drawing sticker shock in 2012. And just last year, Georgia got Appalachian State to come to Athens for $1.25 million.

But now the going rate for such "buy games" moves inexorably toward $2 million.

Georgia's payment to Middle Tennessee, a member of Conference USA, will be topped next year when UGA will pay Arkansas State, of the Sun Belt Conference, $1.8 million for a game in Sanford Stadium.

And that will be topped in 2022 when Georgia will pay Kent State, of the Mid-American Conference, $1.9 million for a visit.

The price has risen so far so fast because of demand by Power Five teams for nonconference home games against FBS-level opponents that don't require a reciprocal visit to their campus in a subsequent season.The demand for such opponents for specific dates gives leverage to the visitors.

Still, the arrangement works for both parties. The games remain profitable for the home teams because ticket and concession revenue far exceeds the payouts, even after allowing for other game-day expenses. And the payouts can help the visitors make their athletic department budgets.

"I think games like these, a lot of times, are an opportunity for their programs to survive and stay alive," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said this week. "... I'm a big advocate for football in general, and I think that they need these games to survive financially."

Middle Tennessee has three games this season against SEC East teams -- the first a season-opening 35-7 loss at Vanderbilt and the third a late-season game at Kentucky. The Vanderbilt game paid only $150,000 because it was part of a four-year deal that included two home games for each side. But the Georgia and Kentucky games will generate combined payouts of almost $3 million, representing about 9 percent of MTSU's athletics budget.

Georgia also is paying handsomely to two other nonconference opponents this year -- $500,000 to FCS team Austin Peay and $1.5 million to FBS team Massachusetts, the latter as part of a deal that also included a home-and-home basketball series.

The only school making a larger payout to an opponent this season than the $1.7 million Georgia will pay Middle Tennessee is Florida, which will pay Colorado State $2 million for Saturday's game at The Swamp. That fee was negotiated as part of the settlement of the buyout that coach Jim McElwain owed Colorado State when he left to become Florida's coach after the 2014 season. (McElwain and the Gators parted ways last year.)

Georgia's payment to Middle Tennessee is the same amount Ohio State paid Oregon State, Alabama paid Arkansas State and Auburn will pay Southern Miss for games this season, according to an analysis of contracts by USA Today.

On five occasions under coach Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee has beaten Power Five teams. The Blue Raiders scored a 30-23 win at Syracuse last season for which they also collected $950,000, a 51-45 win at Missouri in 2016, a 49-28 win at Georgia Tech in 2012 and wins over Maryland in a home-and-home series in 2008 and 2009. But they are 0-15 against ranked teams since moving to the FBS level in 1999 and are a 32½ point underdog against No. 3 Georgia.

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Copyright 2018 Times-World, LLC
All Rights Reserved

The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

You can't win a game that you don't play.

That's one of the motives behind Virginia's decision to move its scheduled home football game with Ohio University to Nashville, Tennessee, as Hurricane Florence set its sights on the Mid-Atlantic.

Three other ACC teams - Virginia Tech, North Carolina and N.C. State - have canceled games, the Hokies after scheduled guest East Carolina declined to come to Blacksburg.

Virginia was alone in finding itself a neutral site. The Cavaliers probably could have arranged to play at Ohio, but UVa is at a stage of its program where a win under any circumstances is important. Ohio, theoretically, would be more dangerous at home.

Virginia went 6-6 in the regular season last year and was invited to a bowl. Anything less than a .500 record and the Cavaliers would have stayed home.

"If there was no option to play, then it would have been, 'What possibly can we do; is anyone available to play on our bye week?" UVa coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "Not only do we want to grow and improve, [but] part of the way you do that is to keep playing at the end of the season."

Todd Turner, a former athletic director at Vanderbilt, said he wasn't sure the agreement could have been reached if not for the relationship between UVa athletic director Carla Williams and long-time Vandy administrator and friend Candice Lee.

Turner said it was likely that other schools might have shied away from such an arrangement because of the costs.

"There's got to be a loss of revenue," he said. "Somebody's still got to pay Ohio their guarantee."

Turner pointed to the expenses of flying UVa's team and support staff to Nashville and putting them up in hotels for two nights.

"I've never heard of this being done before," Turner said. "Maybe somebody has moved a game to a neutral site that was a public arena. It's bold and it's encouraging because it's not so much about the money."

Vanderbilt's football team will be playing at Notre Dame on Saturday.

"Vandy probably will have some costs [from UVa's game] that will be transferred over to UVa," Turner said. "Financially, it's a question mark but it says something about institutional relationships and the respect people have for one another."

On its website, Virginia has indicated it will make restitution to season ticket-holders and supporters who purchased tickets through the UVa ticket office.

Around the ACC

Despite cancellations of Saturday games at three of its closest ACC rivals - North Carolina, N.C. State and Virginia Tech - there seemed to be little question that Wake Forest would hold its home game against Boston College on Thursday night, with the start time now pushed up to to 5:30 p.m.

"First of all, football coaches aren't responsible for making those decisions," Wake coach Dave Clawson said. "We shouldn't be. Those are game operations and travel considerations. It was very apparent that BC wanted to travel down here.... They did not express any hesitation in doing that.

"Then, it was just a matter of 'Is it prudent and is it safe?' It was just a matter of kind of delaying the decision until we learned more about the storm track and... make sure it was safe for BC to get here and get out.... I guess the weather moved in a way that they felt it was still good to play."

View from Morgantown

West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, previously an ACC administrator, was adamant about not rescheduling the Mountaineers' game at N.C. State for Oct. 20, an open Saturday prior to an Oct. 25 date with Baylor.

"I'm trying to help our coaching staff and our student-athletes be prepared each and every week. And that would not allow them to do that [for Baylor], especially with the opponent having a week and a half to prepare," Lyons said at a news conference Tuesday at WVU.

Lyons was then asked about the idea of N.C. State coming to WVU.

"You're trying to sell 60,000 tickets [in a three-day window]," he said. "You don't have food for the concessions areas. You don't have emergency-response people on the books ready to go. It's a lot more difficult than it sounds logistically to make things happen that way. There were some schools... that talked about... 'We'll play the game without fans.' I'm not playing the game without fans.'"

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

With the team's official sellout streak possibly in jeopardy, the Redskins have a new idea how to win lure fans to FedEx Field: Cheetos.

Washington, which makes its home debut Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, will now have "Cheetos stands" at the stadium with food items "inspired" by the snack. The change is just one of the new additions the Redskins announced Tuesday, months after team COO Brian Lafemina declared the franchise needed to " grab back" home field advantage.

Other fixes include a new mobile ticketing app, craft beer and cocktail stands, increased food options, a new fan zone and "enhanced" team intros with smoke and pyrotechnic displays. The latter will, presumably, make it feel like there's a football game being played at FedEx Field.

"We want to have the best home-field advantage in the National Football League," Lafemina said in May. "And what that means is having Redskins fans, rabid Redskins fans sitting at FedEx Field every single week."

The Redskins have gone on a marketing blitz to sell tickets for Sunday's opener against the Colts. Others, though, have pointed out how many seats are still available well ahead of time:

So...the Redskins aren't kidding. There are seats still available for the home opener against Indy.... pic.twitter.com/j2DDBuaeIj

michael phillips (@michaelpRTD) September 6, 2018

The Redskins really want me to know that tickets for the home opener are still available pic.twitter.com/jeM23Kzrf7

Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) September 4, 2018

The Redskins, according to the Washington Post, have "sold out" every home game since 1967, but the franchise has dealt with many no-shows over the years and fans of opposing teams invading the stadium. The franchise has also scaled back the number of seats available at FedEx Field numerous times.

Washington has also been open in its desire for a new stadium, with its current lease set to expire in 2027. Last month, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser urged the Redskins to " bring it home."

But until then, the Redskins hope these latest changes get you to Landover sometime this season.

If you're planning on attending the game this week, bring a raincoat.

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Pittsburgh Tribune Review

 

Penn Hills School District has canceled all sports games against Connellsville Area School District amid reports that Connellsville students, fans and players slung racial slurs at Penn Hills players during a varsity boys soccer game.

Nancy Hines, Penn Hills superintendent, said the school will not travel to Connellsville or host the school until the Sept. 6 incident is investigated and resolved by the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League.

"It was so disturbing that it warranted our position and immediate involvement of WPIAL," Hines said.

Connellsville Superintendent Joseph Bradley said his district is taking the allegations seriously and will not condone unsportsmanlike conduct from spectators or athletes.

"Let alone ones of the disgusting nature and or gravity of this type," Bradley wrote in a statement. "At this point, CASD is fully cooperating with Penn Hills School District and the WPIAL as we seek to fully investigate, apply appropriate consequences or programmatic changes, and ultimately provide a teachable moment to all involved."

WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said the organization has requested a written report from Connellsville's administration that details the allegations and the school's planned response. The league's board of directors meets Sept. 17 for a regular meeting.

"Our board will review that on Monday, and either issue an acceptance of the action taken or bring them in (for a hearing)," O'Malley said. "Any time that something is brought to our attention, we try to make sure that the schools are held responsible. If they're not going to take the steps necessary to make sure that the people who play against them are treated with dignity and respect, then we'll impose some sanctions on them. But that's their responsibility."

Hines, O'Malley and Bradley did not offer specifics about the incident, but Lisa Silverman, a parent of Penn Hills athletes and a Woodland Hills English teacher, criticized officials at the game for not "addressing the racial hatred directed at our players," she wrote in a letter provided to the Tribune-Review.

The referees "continued to ignore what was happening in the stands and on the field," the letter stated.

Silverman, who is white, did not offer specifics about the incident in her letter, but wrote that the Connellsville student section harassed a black player during a throw-in on the sideline.

"Frustrated, (the Penn Hills player) turned around and told them to 'shut up,' " the letter stated.

The official, however, reprimanded the Penn Hills player instead of the student section, Silverman wrote.

"This 'hands off' officiating can lead to players taking things into their own hands," the letter stated.

Silverman's son, Jonah, said he and his teammates got very frustrated by the Connellsville players, students and fans when they hurled slurs at several black Penn Hills players. He said the outcome of the game would have been different if the officials got involved.

"They were supposed to absolutely destroy us," Jonah Silverman, a sophomore, said. Connellsville topped Penn Hills 6-1. "So when we scored first, I think they were surprised."

He said it started with Connellsville players calling one of the black Penn Hills players slurs shortly after the first goal was scored 15 minutes into the game, but he claimed that racial slurs were directed at all of the team's black players during the game.

"It was affecting our players," he said.

Jonah Silverman, who is white, said his teammates made the three white officials aware of the name-calling multiple times throughout the game, to no avail. Jonah Silverman recalls one of the officials responding to a complaint with "I'll watch for it."

"They did warn us about our language," he said. "Like when players were using profanity... so it's not like (the officials) couldn't hear them."

Jonah Silverman said he was surprised the referees did nothing about the racially charged remarks.

"Usually, if we say something to the refs, they at least say something to everyone about it and the players will stop," he said.

But it didn't stop until the Penn Hills team boarded the bus to go home, according to Jonah Silverman. He said a Connellsville player directed a racial slur at a Penn Hills player as the team made its way to the bus.

"We felt helpless," the 15-year-old said, adding that taunting is normal during competition. "But I don't remember it being this bad."

In her letter, Silverman referenced two WPIAL policies that allow officials to intervene when a "student athlete or spectator uses race, gender, ethnicity, religion or disability to bait, intimidate or denigrate."

"Unless racism is one of the qualities of 'sportsmanship, citizenship and lifelong values' (WPIAL) promotes, they must eliminate it wherever and whenever they see it," Silverman wrote.

In an interview, Lisa Silverman said the officials at the Sept. 6 game should receive some sort of discipline.

"It seems like refs are just looking at officiating the game, they're not looking at the sportsmanship, which is a huge part of the game," she said, adding that WPIAL should do a better job at training its official to watch out for racially charged language and actions exchanged between players.

Ron Coursey, athletic director at Woodland Hills School District, said similar incidents at high school sporting events are getting out of hand.

"The fact that my kids had to endure that and the fact that now Penn Hills kids had to endure the very same treatment to me just speaks to a trend," Coursey said.

He referenced an incident Aug. 31 where young students standing by Bethel Park stadium's concession stand made racially charged comments and actions directed at the Woodland Hills High School marching band.

Coursey, who is black and in his second year at Woodland Hills, said he is pleased with Bethel Park's response and emphasized its administration handled the situation quickly and professionally. Bethel Park school officials apologized and said they would investigate the matter.

"It's just ridiculous that in 2018 we can't send minority athletes to games without receiving the threat of receiving backlash about the color of their skin," he said.

Coursey said he has heard of similar racial incidents happening in certain areas. He did not name other schools, but he said those areas "are lacking in diversity and overwhelmingly Caucasian."

Coursey said although some blame can be placed on officials who don't intervene when racially charged comments are exchanged, schools must do better jobs at placing security and administration within crowds at games to monitor behavior.

"When they hear these things... it's on them to remove fans," Coursey said.

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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

 


EVANSVILLE - Evansville native and Olympic medalist Lilly King spoke in support of Evansville's new pool facility Monday night.

She was one of many to speak in support of the Deaconess Aquatic Center during Monday night's City Council meeting where they discussed the relocation and renaming of aged Lloyd Pool.

After a nearly two-hour meeting, the construction of the Deaconess Aquatic Center is one step closer to reality. The City Council unanimously approved the issuance of no more than $25 million in bonds to finance the project.

"It's about time," King said after Council voted to approve the project. "It's just incredible knowing that the kids in this community are going to be able to grow up in a better swimming community than I had a chance to. I'm just really happy for them."

The maximum term of the bond is 20 years with an interest rate not to exceed 6 percent, according to city documents.

Prior to the meeting, rumors surfaced about King's involvement in the new aquatic center with some saying the 50-meter competition pool will be named after King, who won two gold medals at the 2016 Olympics and four at the 2017 World Championships, where she set four world records.

Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said King was a huge motivation for the project and would be recognized for her success at a later date but declined to say the pool was being named for the Olympian.

"We certainly respect Lily's remaining collegiate career," Winnecke said. "We certainly don't want to do anything to jeopardize that.. There will be a way to honor Lilly's contribution to the sport in a very appropriate way."

According to the 2017-18 Indiana University Student athlete handbook, all athletes who accept an extra benefit or booster could render themselves ineligible for athletic competition. Athletes cannot accept cash, gifts or honorariums for a speaking engagement or appearance.

King said information regarding her participation would become available sometime in March, when she finishes her collegiate career.

The overall objectives of Winnecke's proposal is to build a "state-of-the-art" swim facility at Garvin Park and name the new facility Deaconess Aquatic Center.

Winnecke told the City Council the conditions at Lloyd Pool were insufficient for competitive and recreational swimming.

Reitz High School junior and swimmer Forrest Wade said the city's current pool conditions are "failing."

"Lloyd Pool is on its last leg, with its final years of use being stretched out in an attempt to suit the demand for swimming facilities," Wade said.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Missy Mosby said she understood the need for the pool and asked about the proposed site's location.

"I know the need for this," she said. "My niece and nephew took swim lessons there last year and it, as Lilly King said, is an embarrassment to Evansville. It's time we need to do something about that."

The Deaconess Aquatic Center will cost $28.4 million, according to Winnecke. Casino proceeds, Deaconess Hospital, the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. and Jacobsville TIF District will fund the project. Deaconess Hospital plans to contribute $2.5 million over the course of 15 years, Winnecke said last week. The EVSC plans to contribute $700,000 for construction. In addition to its contribution, the school district will make payments to use the facility once it is constructed.

The YMCA may also partner with the new facility for swim programming, Winnecke said.

The next step for the project is to for the city to seek approval from the Redevelopment Commission to release $4 million from the Jacobsville TIF fund. The final step is going back to Council in November to request an additional $5 million from casino funds to pay for the project's $10.2 million down payment.

With the City Council's approval, the mayor hopes to break ground in the spring of 2019. The new facility is scheduled to open in August 2020.

"It's about time. It's just incredible knowing that the kids in this community are going to be able to grow up in a better swimming community than I had a chance to. I'm just really happy for them."

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Alaska Dispatch News

 

Anchorage police said Wednesday they had completed their investigation into sexual assault allegations involving Dimond High School students.

Police had made no arrests, and sent the case to state prosecutors at the Office of Special Prosecutions, said MJ Thim, Anchorage Police Department spokesman. Prosecutors will make a decision on any charges, he said.

The Office of Special Prosecutions is under the Alaska Department of Law. Police sent the case to the office because it involved two jurisdictions - the alleged incident happened in Fairbanks, but it involves Anchorage students, Thim said.

Wednesday's statement from police was the first time authorities have publicly described the Dimond High allegations as involving sexual assault.

Officials have said the reported incident happened during the Dimond High football team's trip to Fairbanks for an away game against Lathrop High School on Aug. 18. The Dimond team stayed at the high school overnight, according to the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.

Anchorage School District Superintendent Deena Bishop has described the reported misconduct as "serious inappropriate behavior," and declined to go into detail, citing the police investigation and a federal student privacy law.

Thim said he could not discuss what police found in their investigation because the case involves juveniles. He said he also couldn't say how many students it involved or whether they were on the football team.

In a statement Wednesday, Bishop said the school district had cooperated with police. As a result of the district's own investigation, three Dimond High football coaches, including the head coach, were fired and students were disciplined, she said.

Bishop has declined to say how many students were disciplined and how they were disciplined, including whether they were expelled. She said the students were no longer on the football team.

Bishop had also suspended the Dimond High football team for just over a week last month. She lifted the suspension on Aug. 31.

Safety is the district's top priority, Bishop said in Wednesday's statement.

"We look forward to a safe school year and are glad that our student athletes at Dimond High School are back on the football field doing what they love," she said.

[Related: 3 Dimond High football coaches fired and students disciplined in the wake of misconduct allegations]

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LNP (Lancaster, PA)

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The Ohio State University team doctor accused of groping scores of young men decades ago also had an off-campus men's clinic that was marketed in the campus newspaper with a series of ads promising prompt treatment of genital problems, plus a student discount, according to two former employees.

The ads published in the fall of 1996 labeled it as a "Men's Clinics of America" and didn't mention the now-deceased physician, Richard Strauss, but the connection was confirmed by two former nursing students who say they did appointment-booking and other clerical work for Strauss. One of the former students said he was touched inappropriately by Strauss during an exam at the clinic, and he wonders if others were abused there.

The ex-employees describe a bare-bones clinic set up in an office building roughly a mile from campus: Strauss was the only doctor, contrary to the ads. He conducted some exams with no one else present and without wearing gloves. Information on the medical charts was minimal. Ohio State athletes occasionally dropped by for exams. All patients were directed from a waiting area to an exam room that had very little medical equipment, and then to a different exit so they wouldn't see anyone else afterward, the ex-employees said. One recalls using a cash box to hold payments.

It seemed then to be a real but oddly run part-time business, and it was understandable that patients with potentially embarrassing problems might appreciate privacy and discretion, but the allegations recently raised against Strauss cast it all in a much more suspicious light, the ex-employees said.

"It wasn't like any doctor's office I've ever seen, and I've been in a lot," said Brian Garrett, who said he briefly worked for Strauss but quit immediately after both witnessing and experiencing sexual abuse by the doctor during exams at the clinic one day. Garrett said he was embarrassed and repressed what happened, keeping it to himself until this year.

The second ex-employee, a former nursing student who works in health care, said Strauss sometimes mentioned that an athlete would be visiting the office at night and told the employee to head home.

That worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he doesn't want to be associated with Strauss, said he wasn't abused by Strauss and never witnessed misconduct or heard or saw any signs of distress from patients during the few months he worked there, starting in late 1996.

Strauss' behavior at his private medical office is now part of the ongoing investigation by an outside law firm that also is examining allegations involving the student health center and Ohio State male athletes from at least 16 sports, including some plaintiffs in three related lawsuits against the school.

Garrett is among the 145 former students who have given the investigators firsthand accounts of alleged sexual misconduct by Strauss between 1979 and 1997.

Strauss killed himself in 2005. His relatives have said they were shocked by the allegations.

The school has urged anyone with information about him to contact the investigators from Seattle-based Perkins Coie, which isn't proactively contacting possible victims because of concern for potentially re-traumatizing them.

Some of Strauss' accusers claim Ohio State officials didn't properly respond to concerns raised throughout his two decades there. The university has said that is a key part of the investigation and the school is committed to uncovering the truth.

It documented at least one complaint before Strauss retired from the university in 1998. A student health center director said a student's report about being inappropriately touched by Strauss during an exam in 1995 was the first such complaint he'd received.

That was a year before Strauss launched his off-campus clinic, which was open for less than two years.

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September 12, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

The University of New Mexico Board of Regents voted Tuesday to approve a proposal asking the state for an additional $1.5 million for its beleaguered Athletics Department during the next legislative session.

And none of it will be used to try and reverse the recent decision to cut four sports, including men's soccer.

While some state lawmakers have been vocal in recent months about the possibility of more state money being available to help reinstate those sports, Athletics Director Eddie Nuñez confirmed comments that appeared in Sunday's Journal that without the new money, additional sports could be on the chopping block soon.

That didn't sit well with Regent Suzanne Quillen.

"I was surprised to read that (in Sunday's Journal), and disappointed," Quillen said of comments Nuñez made at last week's Regent Facilities and Finance Committee meeting.

At that meeting, Regent Marron Lee directly asked the athletics director if sports, baseball in particular, would be eliminated if lawmakers didn't grant UNM's new request in a pre-emptive strike to warn legislators who have said they can find the money to save soccer.

The notion that any new sports are potentially on the chopping block didn't appear in paperwork explaining how the new money would be spent and was never mentioned in the past year while the university, very publicly, contemplated sports cuts at multiple regents meetings.

"We've already gone through the cuts... to stabilize your department and not have any worry about further cuts," Quillen said. "... I was really surprised to see that - that this $4 million (is necessary to avoid future program cuts), because that is not what was presented, Eddie. That's not what was presented."

The Athletics proposal to ask for additional money would bring the department's total request for state appropriation to $4.1 million - $2.6 million to match the amount the state appropriated for the current fiscal year and an additional $1.5 million that Nuñez said would be for such matters as improving student welfare, paying for more full-time trainers and to catch up to travel cost increases in a department that hasn't increased its proposed travel budget in eight years.

Lee reiterated her comments from last week's committee meeting that this new money should not be viewed by lawmakers as something they can tell UNM how to spend.

"That's been my concern, and it's still my concern, is that we give false hope," Lee said. "But we can't leave the money on the table. We're boxed in. We need to ask for it.... I hope that we're smart in our ask. And we're honest in our ask. And we don't make commitments in our ask that we can never keep."

UNM Foundation

Regent President Rob Doughty on Tuesday pressed the UNM Foundation President and CEO Henry Nemcik about the organization's athletic fundraising efforts. He noted that much of the Lobo Club's annual yield is tied to a fee assessed on basketball and football season ticket sales, and that the foundation should hire a staffer specifically to pursue large gifts for athletics.

He and Nemcik clashed on that point, with Doughty saying the position should be in addition to existing Lobo Club positions and Nemcik saying the foundation could not afford it.

Nemcik said he would "defer" to the report coming from a committee Stokes created to explore Lobo Club restructuring.

"That's what the committee recommended and you guys rejected that," Doughty responded. The committee has not issued its final recommendation.

Nemcik said he could not "assume a negative budget," but said he would work with Stokes on coming up with a solution.

Journal staff writer Jessica Dyer contributed to this report.

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

Anderson County Schools officials have suspended four coaches after an altercation that took place following Anderson County's 55-21 rout of rival Clinton on Thursday night.

Anderson County athleticdirector Gary Terry was suspended two games, Clinton football coach Randy McKamey and Anderson County assistant Russ Gillum were each suspended one game. Anderson County assistant Teddy Phillips has been suspended indefinitely from games.

The high school athletic association will not take any additional action toward either school, TSSAA assistant director Matthew Gillespie said.

A TSSAA officials report submitted to the high school association stated that opposing head coaches became involved in a physical altercation at midfield. Numerous assistants "began to yell at each other, and had to be separated as well."

"It was a verbal altercation between coaches," Anderson County principal Ben Downs told the USA Today Network - Tennessee. "There were no punches thrown."

Downs said coaches had to be separated and there were some pushing and shoving.

The two schools are separated by about five miles.

The report also stated that Clinton's Josh Breeden was ejected in the fourth quarter for flagrant targeting. When the referees reported it to McKamey his response was, "That's what happens when you leave your starters in the game."

Along with a two-game suspension, Terry will no longer be a game administrator at Anderson County's football games, according to a report submitted by Anderson County to the TSSAA.

Anderson County officials said Terry "crossed from one side of the line through players to the other to get to (McKamey) to shake his hand. Words were exchanged, (McKamey) originally did not shake hands and Gary continued to follow him toward our head coach (Davey Gillum) and both were in a verbal altercation before being separated by an Anderson County Sheriff officer & Russ Gillum."

Anderson County's report said Russ Gillum put his hands on (McKamey), which upset him. The two got into a "very intense verbal altercation."

Phillips originally came to separate Russ Gillum and McCamey, Anderson County's report said. But he then pushed McKamey, began a verbal altercation and continued forcing his way with McKamey before being separated.

Clinton's submitted report to the TSSAA stated that McKamey will serve his suspension Friday when Clinton hosts Powell.

The report said Clinton will work with Anderson County Schools' district office and Anderson County High to coordinate development activities focused on sportsmanship and community service.

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

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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

CHARLOTTESVILLE - Virginia hasn't played a football game at Vanderbilt since 1975. Hurricane Florence is changing that.

U.Va. confirmed Tuesday that its home game Saturday against Ohio is moving to Vanderbilt Stadium, a 40,550-seat on-campus venue in Nashville, Tenn.

The game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

"Our top priority is the safety of everyone involved, and I appreciate the understanding of our fans," Virginia athletics director Carla Williams said in a statement. "We're extremely grateful to Vanderbilt University and vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletics director David Williams for graciously supporting our efforts. We look forward to returning to Scott Stadium for the Louisville game on Sept. 22."

Nashville is about 550 miles from Charlottesville and about 420 miles from Athens, Ohio.

U.Va. is scheduled to take a charter flight to Nashville on Thursday.

Admission to the game will be free.

The forecast calls for heavy rain in Virginia on Saturday but state resources - including state troopers and EMT normally on call at a home football game - would be needed elsewhere in the commonwealth.

With Hurricane Florence threatening college football games all over Virginia and North Carolina this weekend, ACC teams have been scrambling to adjust their schedules.

North Carolina has canceled its game with UCF. North Carolina State canceled its game with West Virginia, though the two schools are still working to find a makeup date. Wake Forest's Thursday night game against Boston College has been moved up to a 5:30 p.m. kickoff.

East Carolina announced Tuesday it would not be traveling to Blacksburg to play No. 13 Virginia Tech on Saturday.

The Cavaliers' last game in Nashville came when quarterback Marques Hagans led them to a Music City Bowl victory over Minnesota, 34-31, in 2005. Hagans is now the team's wide receivers coach.

Ohio already had its open date, not playing last weekend after starting the season with a win over Howard. Virginia's open date is Oct. 6.

Vanderbilt plays at Notre Dame this weekend.

mbarber@timesdispatch.com

@RTD_MikeBarber

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Copyright 2018 Times-World, LLC
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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

BLACKSBURG — East Carolina has announced it won't make the trip to Blacksburg this weekend for its scheduled game at Lane Stadium against Virginia Tech at noon Saturday citing significant imminent safety concerns.

Hurricane Florence is likely to make U.S. landfall on the coast Thursday or Friday and could bring heavy rain and winds to Blacksburg on Saturday.

"The safety and welfare for everyone in the path of this storm is the University's main priority and decisions regarding athletics events are made in the best interest of ensuring the safety of student-athletes, coaches, staff and their families," a release said. "In fact, all ECU athletics teams are prohibited from traveling for competition purposes this weekend. This is also consistent with the NCAA's requirement that member institutions protect the health of and provide a safe environment for student-athletes."

East Carolina canceled classes for the week as of noon Tuesday. The school plans to evacuate residence halls for the rest of the week by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

According to multiple sources, the schools never had any discussion of moving the game to another location.

Both schools left the door open for rescheduling the game for later this season, but the teams don't have the same bye week. Virginia Tech is off the week of Oct. 20 while ECU has a bye week the following weekend.

"Tech officials had planned on waiting until Wednesday before making a determination on the status of Saturday's game in hopes that the contest could still be safely played as scheduled once more definitive information on the storm's projected track and anticipated impact on Southwest Virginia became available," Virginia Tech said in a statement.

The ACC football manual leaves discretion on scheduling for non-conference teams to "home team management," but East Carolina informed Virginia Tech it wouldn't travel to the game on Tuesday afternoon.

"We will do what's best for Virginia Tech moving forward as it relates to ECU and to the game," Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock said in a statement. "We certainly understand the need for safety, of course, we just felt that tomorrow, making the decision then, would've been more responsible and accurate. We informed ECU of this multiple times."

Virginia Tech still has six games left in the series against East Carolina, alternating home and away going through 2024 (with a year off in 2021). The series was extended by four games in 2016. The contract calls for the home team to receive $250,000.

The contract has a damages clause that requires a payment of $500,000 if one party cancels a scheduled date, but there is a separate force majeure clause — a provision that relieves the parties from performing contractual obligations — that states, "the contract should be void in respect to any of the game if it becomes impossible to play such game(s) by reason of unforeseen catastrophe or disaster such as fire, flood, earthquake, war, confiscation as order of government, military or public authority or prohibitory or injunctive orders of any competent or other judicial authority."

A cancellation of one game "shall not be considered a breach or cancellation of all games."

The last Virginia Tech game canceled was the opener against Georgia Tech in 2000.

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Copyright 2018 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

OGDEN - Weber State University is hosting what it hopes will be a world-record groundbreaking ceremony for its new athletic complex by asking every fan at Saturday's season-opening football game to participate.

Each fan who enters Stewart Stadium for the game against South Dakota will have a chance to turn some dirt to celebrate the start of construction for the new complex, which will be located at the north end of the stadium.

Gates open at 4:30 p.m. The official groundbreaking ceremony begins at 5 p.m. and kickoff is at 6 p.m. Everyone who enters the stadium during that time will get a turn with a shovel.

The facility will include a new plaza, ticket office and souvenir shop and will serve as the main entrance to the stadium. Housed inside will be a state-of-the-art strength and conditioning facility for all Wildcat student athletes.

From ABFacility Friday: Kentucky Baseball Stadium, Weber State Athletics Complex

Additionally, the building will include new football team locker rooms, equipment room, meeting rooms and offices for the football coaches.

The facility will be ready for the start of the 2019 football season.

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USA TODAY

 

SPRINGFIELD, Va. - Kendrick Ashton and Craig Dixon met as college underclassmen 24 years ago. Ashton would go on to make his fortune in finance. Dixon would make his in law. Then, about six years ago, these old friends got a new idea. And it's fair to say they think big.

This week they'll open a sports and wellness complex so outsized that just about the only thing bigger is their ambition to take the concept national.

The St. James, a 450,000-square-foot behemoth in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, is set to open Saturday. It'll house a wide-ranging array of sports, wellness and active-entertainment options all under one roof. Oh, and that roof offers clearances of as much as 65 feet in the field house.

"The St. James is not big for the sake of being big," Dixon says. "It's large because we had to build the venues necessary to fit and accommodate the requirements of the sports we're serving."

FIFA regulation-size field in the field house? Check. Two NHL regulation-size rinks? Check. Eight squash courts, seven golf simulators and six batting cages? Check, check -- and check.

There's a 50-meter Olympic regulation-length pool, indoor water park, gymnastics center, climbing and bouldering spaces, e-sports gaming theater, four full-length basketball courts that are convertible to nine volleyball courts. Did we mention the 50,000-square-foot health club? Or the sports medicine center? How about the restaurant set to open in November? And even that's not everything.

Ashton and Dixon, co-founders and co-CEOs, decline to say what the high-end construction cost other than that it's "a meaningful investment." Cain International, a diversified international real estate investment firm, is a financial partner. The campus sits on 20 acres near a confluence of well-traveled highways within 10 miles of more than 1.2 million people.

So, is it a matter of: If you build it, they will come? Dixon seems slightly offended at the notion it's that simple.

"We did a tremendous amount of work in order to develop a business thesis," he says, including studying sports participation by ZIP code in some of the nation's most affluent counties as well as "studying businesses in this space more broadly across the country in order to convince ourselves that this was an idea worth pursuing."

Ashton compares one-stop sporting to the one-stop shopping of the original suburban shopping malls. "People have been buying stuff since we came out of the primordial ooze," he says. "The mall was a new format" for people to shop "and The St. James is a new format for people to consume active endeavors and wellness endeavors."

The old friends hope having so many options under one roof will make the place attractive in this traffic-clogged region. "You are not driving all over town to pursue these passions," Dixon says. "You are coming to one place where you can spend all day -- and we hope you do."

"Families don't just want to do one thing," Ashton says. "The ability for Mom to go to the health club while the daughter is in swim practice. The ability for Dad to hit a golf ball while the son is in lacrosse practice.... A big part of the scale is the synergy created by having all these uses in one place."

That means their own families too. Dixon has daughters ages 13, 11 and 6. Ashton has 7-year-old twins, a boy and a girl.

So what about that name -- St. James? Sounds a bit regal for a place where most users will come to sweat.

"It's derived from the Court of St. James's, which is the place where all the ambassadors to and from the United Kingdom are posted," Ashton says. "The Court of St. James's for a very long time was the center of much of the activity that was happening globally," making it a metaphor for center of the universe. That's what they hope their creation will be for active families.

Ashton, 42, and Dixon, 43, say they've purchased land in Chicago with plans to open a facility there in early 2021. They say they're looking for land in Los Angeles and someday hope to have versions of their palatial gyms in many other cities.

That's the other part of the St. James name: They say it is meant to evoke a sense of timelessness as the brand evolves. And then there's the fact Ashton and Dixon met at the College of William & Mary, which received its charter from the Crown.

"We are alums of the College," Dixon says, "and we have an affinity for all things British."

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Copyright 2018 LNP Media Group, Inc.
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LNP (Lancaster, PA)

 

NEW YORK (AP) — In a way, Don Mattingly was about as far from the hustle and bustle of downtown New York City as an ex-ballplayer could be on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

The former New York Yankees captain was cleaning out stalls on his horse farm in Indiana when he heard the horrible news on the radio: Two planes had crashed into the Twin Towers in Manhattan, destroying the World Trade Center landmarks and undoubtedly killing thousands of people.

So he went inside.

"I felt like I watched TV for like three weeks straight," Mattingly said. "Just couldn't take my eyes off the TV."

Within a month, he returned to New York for a visit.

"Unbelievable," he recalled. "Devastating."

Mattingly, now managing the Miami Marlins, was back in New York on Tuesday as Major League Baseball once again commemorated the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks with ceremonies at ballparks all across the country.

A moment of silence to honor victims and first responders was held before every game. Players, coaches and umpires wore caps with a "We Shall Not Forget" ribbon patch, and MLB planned to donate all royalties from the sales of those hats to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, the Pentagon Memorial Fund and the Flight 93 National Memorial.

At Citi Field, where the Mets hosted the Marlins, more than 100 representatives from the New York Police Department, Fire Department of New York, Port Authority Police Department, New York City Office of Emergency Management and the City of New York Department of Sanitation lined up in full uniform along the warning track and baselines.

Players and coaches from both teams stood alongside, interspersed between them, and shook hands before the national anthem was performed by NYPD police officer Makiah Brown.

Colors were presented by the Port Authority Police Department Honor Guard in center field, and children whose parents or grandparents have fought illnesses related to the Sept. 11 attacks took the field with Mets players.

"Obviously, a tough day for a lot of people. Obviously, a lot going on in the city," Mattingly said. "It feels good to be a small part of that."

Fire Department of New York Commissioner Daniel Nigro threw out the ceremonial first pitch to former Mets captain John Franco, who grew up in Brooklyn and wore an FDNY cap. FDNY Firefighter Regina Wilson sang "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch.

Before the game, Mattingly and Mets manager Mickey Callaway wore NYPD hats as they conducted interviews.

"It's a day that needs to be remembered and I'm proud to be a New Yorker and have this hat on," Callaway said. "I don't think it'll ever be forgotten. I'm glad that baseball recognizes it every year."

At Target Field in Minnesota, the Twins honored family members of the late Tom Burnett, a Minnesota native who was one of the passengers on Flight 93 who helped crash the plane into the ground in Pennsylvania and avert a presumed attack on Washington.

As players from the Twins and New York Yankees lined up on the field for the national anthem, local police, fire and emergency personnel stood between them during the song.

The Kansas City Royals had several former stars, including George Brett, Mike Sweeney, Bret Saberhagen and Reggie Sanders, in the Middle East this week, with Fox Sports Kansas City set to air its annual "This One's For You" telecast during Tuesday night's home game against the Chicago White Sox.

"It means a lot to be able to say thank you," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

The former Royals planned to watch the game on Armed Forces Network, alongside members of the Missouri National Guard's 35th Combat Aviation Brigade.

"Just a difficult day for everybody. And the lives that were lost," White Sox manager Rick Renteria recalled. "It impacted us, but it didn't stop us. I thought we came together very well."

 

AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell in Minneapolis and AP freelance writer David Smale in Kansas City, Missouri, contributed to this report.

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

 

Hurricane Florence has forced the cancellation of several Top 25 games this weekend, including No. 13 Virginia Tech's home game against East Carolina, No. 14 West Virginia's trip to North Carolina State and No. 18 UCF's game at North Carolina.

The Category 4 storm's approach led to a series of schedule adjustments Tuesday for teams in the Carolinas and Virginia. The University of Virginia's scheduled home game Saturday against Ohio was relocated to Nashville, Tennessee and the start time for Wake Forest's Atlantic Coast Conference home game Thursday against Boston College was moved up. The decisions were made as Florence appears set to come ashore along the Carolinas' coastline late Thursday or early Friday with strong winds and heavy rain.

Several of the schools appeared to be publicly in agreement on the need for schedule changes due to Florence, though East Carolina's decision not to travel to Blacksburg nixed Saturday's game. ECU - which has already called off the rest of the week's classes - cited "significant imminent safety concerns" that included "the high probability of a catastrophic impact on the region and perilous travel conditions before, during and after the storm."

East Carolina's announcement also noted the Greenville campus' history with serious flooding issues from Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

"It is ECU's hope the game can be rescheduled at a later date this season," the school said.

In its own release, Virginia Tech officials had planned to wait until Wednesday to determine the status of the game based on updated storm projections.

"We will do what's best for Virginia Tech moving forward as it relates to East Carolina and to the game," Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock said in a Tuesday statement. "We certainly understand the need for safety, of course, we just felt that tomorrow, making the decision then, would've been more responsible and accurate. We informed ECU of this multiple times."

In North Carolina, the Tar Heels were set to play their first home game in Chapel Hill after two road losses. But the schools announced the change around midday while saying they could continue discussions on whether to play the game later this season.

"Hosting a major college football game is a massive undertaking that on a good day involves fans and thousands of state, local and campus personnel, including public safety officials, traveling from all over the area," UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said in a statement. "The current forecast for both the impact and aftermath of the hurricane would require those officials to divert critical resources from what could be much more significant duties. We can't know for certain the amount of damage the storm will inflict, but the sensible decision at this time is to not play the game."

The West Virginia-North Carolina State game was scheduled to start a few hours later in Raleigh, located about 30 miles east of Chapel Hill. But the schools called off their game while citing the "increasing likelihood of severe and unsafe conditions" after discussions from West Virginia, the ACC and emergency management officials. It's unclear if the game will be rescheduled.

Later Tuesday afternoon, Virginia announced that its Saturday home game against Ohio would be relocated to Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, citing the ability to "provide emergency personnel with the ability to focus on the needs of the region's citizens." Admission to the game in Nashville will be free.

The ACC also announced that Wake Forest's game against BC in Winston-Salem will now start at 5:30 p.m. to get done earlier with Florence's expected arrival. And Duke coach David Cutcliffe said his team would leave a day earlier than usual for its Saturday game at Baylor.

Cutcliffe said the Blue Devils opted for the Thursday departure because it's "our best opportunity to get out." From there, the Blue Devils will find a high school near Waco to hold a final practice and walk-through before the game.

 

AP Sports Writers Hank Kurz in Richmond, Virginia; Joedy McCreary in Durham, North Carolina; and Steve Megargee in Nashville, Tennessee; contributed to this report.

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

 

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Copyright 2018 Orange County Register
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Orange County Register (California)

 

Aliso Niguel High School's administration worked Monday to quell a controversy over alleged racist and provocative signs and comments aimed at the Santa Ana High football team and its fans during Friday's game at Aliso Niguel High's on-campus stadium.

Santa Ana High principal Jeff Bishop stated in a Facebook post late Friday night after Aliso Niguel's 42-21 victory that he was proud of how Santa Ana's team and its coaches handled "the racist welcome the 'Saints' received as they walked into the stadium and read the posters referencing - Trump, 'We love White,' 'Build the Wall' and various other politically and racially charged statements." He added that the students were "disrespectful and out of control" during the game.

The controversy has attracted local and national media attention to both schools and has been a topic widely discussed on social media since Saturday morning.

Aliso Niguel principal Deni Christensen on Monday sent an email to Aliso Niguel parents about the matter, pushing back on some of what Bishop alleged, and she explained why Aliso Niguel's students were dressed in red, white and blue at the game and why the students chanted "USA... USA" after Aliso Niguel scored its first touchdown, which had upset Bishop.

"They're chanting 'USA' like it's a game against another country, like it's against Germany or against Mexico," Bishop told the Register on Saturday afternoon.

Bishop said he told Christensen at halftime of Friday's game that " 'I don't understand the USA pride thing when you score. And if I hear it one more time, I am walking off the field with the team.' "

Santa Ana High's student population is more than 90 percent Hispanic. Aliso Niguel's student population is more than 50 percent white with a mixture of other racial and ethnic groups.

In her email Christensen explained that "Friday's football game was our 'red, white and blue' game, where students traditionally dress patriotically in USA colors for a home football game that falls in close proximity to September 11th.... This type of game is intended as a patriotic celebration and is common in Orange County."

She also acknowledged that "Two signs were posted which were political in nature. One referenced former President Obama, and one referenced President Trump. When assistant principals and I arrived to the stadium before the game, we learned of the above potentially controversial signs and assistant principals removed the signs."

Bishop said in his Facebook post Friday that he felt several signs were racially insensitive, including "Build the Wall" and "We love White," and others commented on Facebook that they were also at the game and saw signs or heard comments with similar wording. As of Monday afternoon, the Register had not seen any photos from the game that showed those signs in the crowd or inside the stadium.

Bishop on Monday did not respond to requests seeking an update on what the school plans to do next about the situation or to comment on Aliso Niguel's email to parents.

Christensen's email added that in talking to Bishop during and after the game that " … (Bishop) felt that the entire atmosphere was inhospitable to his school and community... I expressed sadness and regret that members of his community had in any way been hurt and again explained that the 'red, white, and blue' game was a patriotic observance in reference to 9/11 and in no way intended as an affront to Santa Ana High School.... At no time did (Aliso Niguel administration) witness any overt racism, or any additional political signs other than a 'Trump 2020' satin banner that emerged briefly and was quickly removed from display."

Christensen's email concluded, "Going forward, I will be meeting with our student leaders and staff, and we will consider how we might have communicated more in advance about the purpose of our 'red, white and blue' game to avoid misunderstanding. However, I am deeply saddened that anyone could categorize our students or community as 'racist' and I have made that very clear. We have nothing but respect for Santa Ana High School, and all schools.... I understand that our country is very divided right now and that this can understandably affect perceptions, and that we all need to work harder to develop greater understanding."

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Copyright 2018 Star Tribune
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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

The former treasurer of the Coon Rapids High School hockey team's booster club allegedly stole more than $36,000 from the club over two years, putting some of the team's early season programs at risk, according to a police report filed by the club's president.

The treasurer, a 34-year-old woman from Anoka, used the club's debit card like it was her personal checking account, said Brian Knapp, president of the Redline Booster Club. He said she used it at gas stations, grocery stores and shops, and to withdraw thousands in cash from ATMs dating back to December 2016.

The booster club will try to raise money to recoup the money with fundraisers throughout the season, Knapp said.

"She cleaned us out," he said. "It's one of those things, too, where she's somebody who has been around us for years, as our kids played together. You have a lot of trust. Trust isn't enough."

An investigation is ongoing, but charges have not been filed, said Coon Rapids Police Capt. Jon Urquhart.

The theft won't jeopardize the season, Knapp said. The high school pays for ice time during the season and hires the coaches, but the booster club helps pay some of the costs of running the hockey program, including renting rinks for captain's practices before the start of the season and for summer training sessions.

The club also pays for lodging and buses so the team can play in an out-of-town tournament every year. The team had been planning a trip to Duluth for a tournament in mid-November.

The club typically operates on about $25,000 a year, Knapp said.

"We hope she'll be ordered to pay restitution, but we have to be realistic that that could take a long time," he said.

The first red flag that something was wrong came shortly after Knapp took over as president in 2016, he said.

The former treasurer was the sole keeper of the club's bank account. Nobody else had access to it or records of how money was being spent, Knapp said.

He said he thought it best to have a second set of eyes on the money and asked other board members if they wanted to volunteer to become co-treasurer.

When the club tried to get the treasurer to go to the bank to add a second name to the account, the excuses kept piling up, Knapp said.

"There was always a reason why she couldn't go, and it kept getting kicked down the road," he said.

Finally, in mid-July, Knapp went to the bank himself. After proving that he was president of the club, he was added to the account. He said he expected to find thousands of dollars in reserves, but instead discovered that the account was overdrawn.

"There were charges for makeup and at various retail outlets," he said. "She was spending it anywhere it could have been spent like it was her own personal account."

The club has since gone through spending records and found that $16,000 worth of bills have never been paid. "So really we were sitting in a $16,000 hole," Knapp said.

After Knapp froze the account and filed a police report, the club changed its leadership structure. It now has two co-treasurers and has given the president access to the bank account. All board members can view the club's finances online.

"If we had another set of eyes on it, this couldn't have happened," Knapp said. "From here on out that won't happen again."

Details on the club's fundraisers this fall are posted on the group's Facebook page.

Greg Stanley · 612-673-4882

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

 

By the end of the fall, Medaille College soccer teams will be playing on a brand-new field in an industrial area near South Buffalo.

But college leaders say their new athletic facility is about much more than just the school's needs. The goal is to benefit the entire community, they say, including surrounding neighborhoods, area soccer clubs, nearby schools and even businesses.

"We need it. Our city needs it," said Medaille President Kenneth Macur. "We're trying to figure out how to make this space an asset to the community as well as for Medaille College."

The small four-year college and developer Jon M. Williams will formally break ground today on the Medaille Sports Complex at Buffalo Color Park, designed to create a new home for four of Medaille's sports teams as well as host local high schools and adult sports leagues. The college signed a 15-year lease as the anchor tenant.

The fields will be used by the school's soccer and lacrosse teams, but Medaille also will rent it out for use by other organizations when the college doesn't need it.

Officials hope to have the outdoor fields done before winter, followed by the indoor facility next year.

"The highest priority is getting that field ready, as soon as we can, so we can sneak in a couple of games by the end of this soccer season," Macur said.

The new athletic complex is part of a larger project by Williams' South Buffalo Development LLC, which is seeking to convert the 21-acre former Schoellkopf and Buffalo Color buildings at Elk and Lee streets into a commercial, residential and retail development. That will include the new headquarters for Williams' primary demolition company, Ontario Specialty Contracting.

Officials didn't initially have a plan for the grassy part of the property on the other side of Lee until a sports promoter — who is no longer affiliated with the project — came along with Medaille.

"We're so excited to partner with Medaille, and there's a need in the city for turf space," said Tess Williams, Jon Williams' daughter and the project manager for South Buffalo Development.

Plans for the $4 million complex envision a multisport and multiuse facility, on a 5-acre portion of the larger property. It will feature 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.

Besides a sheltered practice field, the indoor facility will include a 5,000-square-foot weight room, a 40-person classroom for the teams, two 40-person locker rooms for the Medaille lacrosse teams and two 20-person locker rooms for visiting teams. It also will have locker rooms for the referees.

There also will be some offices, restrooms and storage space. And plans include a scoreboard on the south end of the field, facing the Niagara Thruway.

A concessions operation is under consideration as well, but is not yet final, and Macur would not say if it might include alcohol sales. "Until it's set, it's not," he said. "Everything's in flux."

Medaille will largely use the facilities in the evenings, "because we like our student athletes to practice from 6 at night until 10, after classes are done," Macur said. That makes the school "an ideal master tenant," he said, because "it really gives an opportunity for high schools or other after-school use of the facility."

Additionally, he noted, the facility would be available for "the entire summer" and most weekends. Neighborhood schools could use it for physical education classes. And the college also will look for other opportunities to maximize the capacity, including possibly offering business or other classes at the site for employees of nearby companies.

"We're looking at this with a wider lens than just: What do we need?" Macur said. "It is: How can we talk about this being a community asset?"

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC

Newsday (New York)

 

The Northport girls soccer team played in eight games decided by six goals or greater last season, and with changes in Suffolk league alignments, that should no longer be the case this year.

After years of forming leagues based strictly on student population, Suffolk will use a "power ranking" system, as coaches ranked and voted on each team before the season. The new system will include "power points" assigned to each team, determining the schedule and postseason seedings.

"Last year when we played against not-so-great teams and we were beating them by a lot of goals, it was not really exciting," said Northport defender Izzy Yeomans, a three-year varsity player. "But this year, each game is going to be really close and we're all really excited about that because those are the best games."

Last fall, Suffolk featured seven leagues, but this year, there will be two divisions. Division I will be comprised of 27 Class AA schools, with Division II consisting of 26 teams in Class A, B, C and D (18 Class A, six Class B, one Class C, one Class D).

Suffolk's new system is similar to what has been done for the past several years in Nassau, which has based its league alignment on preseason rankings.

Northport, the two-time defending Suffolk AA champions, is pleased with the change and thinks the more competitive games will help the team in the postseason. The Tigers — the top seed in Division I — will play the No. 2 through No. 15-ranked teams in Suffolk AA this season.

"I'm definitely a big supporter of it," Northport coach Aija Gipp said. "I think it's going to make our association a lot stronger in the long run. It will take some getting used to, but I think in the long run it will better prepare whatever team is the county champ because we're playing only the top teams.

"I don't think it did anybody any good to beat teams 8-0," Gipp added. "It's not helping us, so it's going to be a different year for us, but I think it's definitely good."

The new alignment not only is beneficial to the top-end teams, but also to the teams on the other side of the lopsided scores.

Adrian Gilmore, coach of Division II No. 2 ranked and defending Suffolk A champion Shoreham-Wading River, is in favor of the Wildcats playing top-level competition every game, but also sees the change as a positive for schools trying to build and improve a program.

"No one wants to play a game and lose 8-0," Gilmore said. "That's no fun, and I don't think it's even fun for the team winning. We've had heart-to-heart talks with the teams we've played and we feel bad. Do you keep passing the ball around? So for teams like them, they'll get to play competitive soccer and hopefully they'll get to build their program and attract more kids."

The Suffolk coaches agreed to a two-year commitment for the two-division format with power rankings, with the hope of close, more competitive games increasing interest for student-athletes in the sport.

"All these girls that are playing in Suffolk County are putting in a lot of time and effort if they're playing a varsity sport and to go out there and be defeated every game is hard," Gilmore said. "So I think you'll attract hopefully more kids that will come out and play, but I think they'll enjoy the game much better."

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

 

The message on the marquee at Henrico High School gives a nod to the havoc Hurricane Florence already is creating with athletic events: "Games this week: Check with Florence!"

It adds the website capitaldistrictva.org to visit for the school's changes.

A lot of area high schools have moved up, shifted or postponed events in football, volleyball, field hockey, golf or cross country in anticipation of the arrival of Florence. The Category 4 storm is expected to hit the North Carolina coast Thursday and bring gusty winds and heavy rain to the Richmond area between late Thursday and the weekend.

At least 16 area football games have been moved to Wednesday from Friday as teams scramble to beat the hurricane.

"It's affected not just football. It's affected all sports," said Rob Welch, Henrico's activities director.

It likely will impact the football schedules of Henrico, Deep Run and others, down the line. They were scheduled to play each other Monday after being postponed this past Friday by a storm.

They won't be able to play again on Wednesday.

Henrico's game on Friday is against J.R. Tucker. Deep Run is supposed to take on Patrick Henry.

If Henrico and Tucker can't play on Friday, Welch said they'd try to reschedule it for Monday or another Monday.

The top football game this week, No. 9 Monacan (3-0) at No. 2 Manchester (2-0), has been moved to Wednesday.

Manchester coach Tom Hall said the compressed preparation time is something with which they'll have to deal.

"They're also going to have two days to prepare," he said. "We can't control officials, and we can't control the weather. It's one of those things hopefully with a veteran group of kids, they're going to come in, and they're going to know the mindset has to be pretty sharp, pretty strong. We've got to get in and get whatever reps we can get. I know Monacan is doing the same thing.

"I've been really pleased so far with our team. We've been dealing with the heat and practices have been limited. It's been like that the last three weeks. This is just another obstacle you have to meet head on and get around."

Hall said he doesn't really have any concerns with a shorter recovery time for players because the Lancers haven't had to tax anybody in two blowouts.

"It'll probably limit us on what we were going to put in this week," he said. "Every coach has a different wrinkle every week. We'll pretty much be basic and do that to the best of our ability."

Wednesday's rescheduled prep football games

Fork Union at Benedictine, 4 p.m.

Churchland at Armstrong, 6

Hermitage at Varina, 6

Monacan at Manchester, 6

Goochland at Nottoway, 6

Matoaca at Massaponax, 6

James River at L.C. Bird, 6:30

James Monroe at Petersburg, 6:30

Glen Allen at Lee-Davis, 7

Douglas Freeman at Atlee, 7

Mills Godwin at Hanover, 7

John Marshall at Prince George, 7

George Wythe at Clover Hill, 7

Highland Springs at Riverbend, 7

Thomas Jefferson at Caroline, 7:15

Huguenot at Cosby, 7:30

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

 

As Hurricane Florence rapidly intensifies, officials are monitoring the storm's path for potential changes in this week's college football schedule.

According to the National Hurricane Center's 5 p.m. advisory, Florence had strengthened to a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph. Florence, which could become a Category 5 hurricane by today, is expected to make landfall along the Carolinas coast on Thursday.

That could put Wake Forest's home football game against Boston College at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in jeopardy, as well as home games Saturday for North Carolina (Central Florida, noon) and N.C. State (West Virginia, 3:30 p.m.). Duke is scheduled to travel to Waco, Texas, to meet Baylor at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Other games scheduled for Saturday include East Carolina at Virginia Tech (12:20 p.m.), Southern Mississippi at Appalachian State (3:30 p.m.), Elon at William & Mary (6 p.m.) and Guilford at Davidson (7 p.m.).

A&T has the week off after moving to 3-0 with a victory over Gardner-Webb. Greensboro College also has an open date.

Several schools have issued statements:

North Carolina

"University of North Carolina Department of Athletics staff will be closely monitoring developments with Hurricane Florence and will make decisions about the September 15th home football game against Central Florida and other athletic events based on consultation with the appropriate state, local and campus authorities. Decisions will be based on the safety of the teams, officials, fans and others traveling to attend the game."

As of now, no decisions have been made regarding changes in the athletics schedule for the week. Several meetings were to take place on Monday, with updates as necessary.

N.C. State

"N.C. State Athletics is closely monitoring the forecast for Hurricane Florence related to potential impacts on upcoming home events, as well as away travel for its teams and student-athletes.

"Specific to the N.C. State vs. West Virginia football game on Sat., Sept. 15, N.C. State Athletics is in regular communication with representatives of West Virginia Athletics, the ACC, meteorologists, and regional emergency management services. The Mountaineers' ability to safely travel to Raleigh on Friday as planned will be one of a number of considerations this week."

Wake Forest

"Wake Forest university and the Atlantic Coast Conference office continue to monitor the progress of all weather-related issues as they pertain to athletic events this week. Our top priority is the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, fans and the lives of those in the path of this storm. Please monitor all Wake Forest social media accounts for updates and future notifications."

Contact Brant Wilkerson-New at 336-373-7008.

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Copyright 2018 The Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

The Dolphins, Tennessee Titans and football fans endured four hours of lightning delays even though there was only one strike within a mile of Hard Rock Stadium during Sunday's marathon.

Which doesn't mean the league should be flagged for delay of game.

Meteorologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday that a sizzling 92 strikes were recorded within 5 miles of the stadium between the 1:02 p.m. kickoff and 8:10 p.m., when the clock hit 0:00 and the Dolphins had recorded a 27-20 season-opening victory.

So with lightning striking around — but not at the stadium — the longest game in the modern era of the NFL was delayed twice because of weather. There was a second-quarter postponement of 1 hour, 57 minutes and a third-quarter delay of 2:02. Fans were instructed to seek shelter in the concourses even though there were periods of sunshine beating down on the field.

It was the correct call, according to James Thomas, a meteorologist at NOAA, who said despite advancements in forecasting, tools to predict lightning strikes "are not as reliable as we'd like."

Thomas added, "It's important for those in the public to understand that when you hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. It's important to get out of the open and get away from metal structures. Rain does not necessarily have to be on top of you to experience lightning."

The NFL did not rely on the NOAA office in Miami on Sunday. Instead, the league contracts a third-party meteorological service that specifically monitors conditions at every game.

Saying that safety at the stadium "is the top priority," the league's game operations manual lays out steps taken for inclement weather and "specifically lightning."

The league's Game Day Operations Center (GDOC) in New York communicates with the game referee and on-site football operations representative if trouble is on the horizon. With 1:11 left in the second quarter Sunday, referee Jerome Boger turned on his field microphone and informed everyone this was the case. He suspended play.

Boger and the GDOC remained in contact, receiving delay estimates from forecasters.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins were responsible for addressing the safety of fans and employees.

As Boger was sorting out when it would be appropriate to resume play, he checked with Dolphins coach Adam Gase and Titans coach Mike Vrabel to discuss the length of warmups. Ten minutes are usually allotted, but if delays go beyond a half-hour, 15 minutes are permissible. Sunday's warmups were about 10 minutes.

Only NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is authorized to cancel, postpone, terminate or alter the normal timing of a game. He presumably made the decision to play the final 1:11 of the second quarter, then keep the teams on the field at "halftime" and start the third quarter after a 3 1/2-minute commercial break for Fox.

The Dolphins spent the delays in their locker room. Some players watched other games on TVs tuned to the Red Zone. Some studied playbooks, ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or changed uniforms. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill napped for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, former Dolphins expressed curiosity.

"Delay of game for weather??" Hall of Fame fullback Larry Csonka tweeted. "Shula didn't even cancel PRACTICE for lightning!"

Ex-cornerback Sam Madison said coach Jimmy Johnson wouldn't have put up with all this, although it was unclear if Madison was joking that J.J. wouldn't allow delays for lightning or wouldn't permit lightning to interrupt his games, period.

Hard Rock Stadium is in its second season with a canopy to shield fans from the elements. Spires extend 357 feet in the air from all four corners of the stadium, but they are not giant lightning rods. They are not safety features.

"It doesn't always strike the highest spot and doesn't always strike metal," the NOAA's Thomas said of lightning.

Nor should anyone ever see sunshine and assume it's safe to be outside. Lightning occurs when ice particles and electrical charge build up.

"If thunderstorms are around, even five or 10 miles away, you can have a lightning strike that leaves the cloud," Thomas said. "It leaves the rain shaft and hits an area that's unsuspecting. That's why we have rules in place."

hhabib@pbpost.com Twitter: @gunnerhal

Baseball

Braves vs. Mets — July 4, 1985

The locals around Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium were calling 911 to say their city was under attack. The War of the Worlds, this wasn't. The Braves had promised fans a postgame fireworks display. They just didn't know that the game would go 19 innings and wouldn't end until 3:55 a.m. Included were two hours of rain delays — something the Dolphins and Titans sneer at today. The Mets won 16-13.

Pawtucket Red Sox vs. Rochester Red Wings — 1981

The host Paw Sox needed 33 innings to win baseball's longest game 3-2. It began on April 18, 1981, but was mercifully stopped at 4:09 a.m. by the league. "When we walked off the field at 4 o'clock in the morning, it was like, 'You mean we're not done with the game yet?' " Pawtucket catcher Rich Gedman told MLB.com. They decided to resume the action on June 23, by which time a big crowd of 5,800 turned out to see history. What they saw was just 18 minutes of play. Trivia: In the 33rd inning, the Red Sox's Bob Ojeda allowed a single to Cal Ripken Jr. before getting out of the jam.

Table tennis

Alex Ehrlich vs. Paneth Farcas — 1936

Legend has it these guys went at it for 59 hours, which happens when two defensive players meet. One account says their opening rally lasted two hours. There apparently was no winner because the match referee's neck locked up after looking left, looking right, looking left... too darn many times.

Wrestling

Alfred Asikainen vs. Martin Klein — 1912 Olympic semifinals

Klein, representing Russia, defeated Asikainen, of Finland, but it took 11 hours, 40 minutes. The actual victor is open to debate. Klein was so tired he forfeited the final the next day. When Asikainen returned home, he was hailed as a hero.

Tennis

John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut — 2010

It took Isner more than 11 hours over three days to finally put away Mahut 70-68 in the final set at Wimbledon. The last set alone took 8:11. The match set records for aces (216), points (980) and consecutive services games held (168). Isner's racket ended up in the Smithsonian and Isner himself landed on David Letterman's show. On the top 10 list of things that went through his head during the match: "No. 9: We've been playing so long I've forgotten — am I Isner or Mahut?" Isner later told The Palm Beach Post, "I was just glad to be a part of it. I know my name will obviously be in the record books forever."

Football

Dolphins vs. Chiefs — 1971

What is it about the Dolphins and marathons, anyway? Their first-ever playoff victory came on Christmas Day 1971, beating the host Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 after 82:40 in what remains the NFL's longest game (in terms of actual playing time). One Chiefs player was so tired he showered in full uniform. Amid bedlam at the Miami airport when the Dolphins landed, coach Don Shula discovered his car wouldn't start, so he and son David hitchhiked home. "Some fans recognized me so I got a ride right away," Shula told The Miami News. "I invited the people who brought me home in for a drink."

Hockey

Detroit Red Wings vs. Montreal Maroons — 1936

Sixty scoreless minutes of regulation sent this playoff game into overtime... but five more 20-minute periods later, it still was 0-0. Leave it to the Wings' Modere "Mud" Bruneteau, two weeks into his pro career, to score 16 minutes into OT No. 6. It was 2:25 a.m. Perhaps it was a just result since the Maroons were sipping coffee and brandy between periods.

Marathon

Shiso Kanakuri — 1912-1967

You're probably wondering what's up with the typo in the year Kanakuri ran his marathon. It's no typo. The Japanese runner began the marathon in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics but got tired and went missing. In 1967, Swedish Olympic officials issued an invitation to Kanakuri, then 75, to participate in celebrations marking the 55th anniversary of the Olympics. This explains why Kanakuri needed 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes and 20.3 seconds to finish the race. He was a tad shy of a podium finish.

Boxing

Harry Sharpe vs. Frank Crosby — Feb. 2, 1892

Any bettors who had Sharpe winning in the 77th round were in luck. The bout lasted more than five hours, highlighted by the ref passing out in Round 65. No matter. These guys kept pounding each other with no officiating. Time magazine reported that Sharpe's rewards were: "1) the Missouri lightweight championship, 2) a side bet of $500, 3) 11 months in jail for violating an anti-prizefight law."

- Hal Habib

The Dolphins, Titans and fans at Hard Rock Stadium are shaking off cobwebs after that seven-hour marathon marred by two lightning delays Sunday. It was the longest game in league history since at least the AFL-NFL merger and takes its rightful place among other epic marathons in sports history.

 

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Copyright 2018 Crain Communications
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Investment News

 

A FINANCIAL ADVISER involved in a wide-ranging college basketball corruption and bribery scandal pleaded guilty to three charges related to his efforts to bribe coaches who were then supposed to steer student-athletes toward his firm.

Last September, the college basketball world was turned on its head when the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York laid out findings from an F.B.I. investigation that uncovered mass corruption, bribery and wire fraud involving some of the sport's top programs.

Four assistant coaches and six other individuals were charged, including the financial adviser, Munish Sood. His firm, Princeton Advisory Group, had $236 million in client assets, according to its Form ADV.

Mr. Sood did not return a call last Wednesday for comment.

The three counts, which were connected to events in 2016 and 2017, were conspiracy to commit bribery, payments of bribes to an agent of a federally funded organization and wire fraud conspiracy. Mr. Sood "agreed with others to offer and pay bribes to multiple [National Collegiate Athletic Association] men's college basketball coaches, intending to influence and reward those coaches in connection with the business of their universities," according to a formal criminal charge known as a criminal information, which was filed Aug. 27.

Under a criminal information, the defendant skips the process of an indictment and instead pleads guilty to the charges.

FUTURE CLIENTS

Mr. Sood wanted college basketball players to become clients down the road, according to the Justice Department. He paid "bribes to the NCAA men's college basketball coaches, in exchange for which these coaches agreed to and did exercise their influence as coaches for their respective universities to persuade and pressure student-athletes to retain the services of Sood, among others," according to the information.

In March 2016 in South Carolina, Mr. Sood met with a former agent, an assistant basketball coach and a cooperating witness to discuss whether the coach could "direct and influence" certain student-athletes at the University of South Carolina to hire Mr. Sood, according to the information.

Twitter: @bdnewsguy

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Copyright 2018 Chattanooga Publishing Company
All Rights Reserved

Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

A Nashville watchdog group has its bristles raised over political donations made last year to seven Hamilton County commissioners and the county mayor by a Chattanooga Lookouts owner and his business partners.

The Beacon Center, a nonpartisan, free-market research group, believes the donations in November indicate groundwork laid for special tax breaks for a new Lookouts stadium as part of the redevelopment push in the Southside.

"It is no mystery that the leadership group of the Lookouts is trying to use taxpayer money to fund their new stadium, and these odd maximum donations make it appear that they are trying to secure that money through the County Commission," Beacon Center spokesman Mark Cunningham said in an email.

"If put to a referendum vote of Chattanoogans, we believe a new taxpayer-funded stadium would fail. The Lookouts ownership group knows that too, so that is probably why they are attempting to go through local governments instead."

But several elected officials said no one from the Lookouts has talked to them about the stadium, and they ranged from wary to adamantly against using public money to benefit a private business.

They cite varied reasons for the donations, from personal friendships to their vote last October to rezone property where a stadium owner and his partners wanted to build a landfill.

Lookouts minority owner John Woods, a Chattanoogan who now is a wealth manager in Atlanta, said he has business interests here and donates to lots of people.

In this case, he said, he and his partners in the landfill — Charles Lind, Charles Hunt and Greg Krum — gave when the commissioners were starting their fundraising for the 2018 election.

That was a few weeks after commissioners' controversial 7-2 vote to rezone the partners' property in Birchwood for a construction and demolition landfill next to one that closed.

Lind is the owner of CWL Construction and Krum owns Tennessee Waste Haulers Inc. Hunt is with Mashburn Outdoors, whose owner Richard Mashburn is another minority owner of the Lookouts.

Woods said the donations had nothing to do with the Lookouts stadium.

"We're not trying to leverage a new stadium," he said. "I think it's unfair what some people have said we're trying to do for the Lookouts."

At the same time, he said, tax money invested in the Southside will be repaid in multiples from increased property and sales taxes in the redeveloped area.

A redevelopment plan adopted by Chattanooga and Hamilton County governments calls for a massive makeover with upgraded infrastructure to support extensive new residential, business and commercial development and includes the possibility of a Lookouts stadium.

"We're a long way from a new stadium, but the message has got to be out there: We really need to get that Southside redeveloped," Woods said.

Who got what?

Campaign finance records show seven commissioners and Mayor Jim Coppinger received donations totaling $47,500 from Woods, his partners or their companies.

The donations came in $1,500 chunks and totaled $6,000 each for Coppinger, Randy Fairbanks, Greg Martin, Warren Mackey and Sabrena Smedley, all between Nov. 2 and Nov. 20. Joe Graham got $4,500, while Tim Boyd got those amounts plus an extra $1,000 from Lookouts owner Jason Freier in January. Greg Beck got the $6,000 total but in February.

Chester Bankston and Jim Fields didn't receive any donations from the group. Three commissioners — Fields, Beck and Graham — since have left the commission.

Fairbanks and Smedley both remember the checks coming in not long after the landfill vote on Oct. 18.

Neighbors in the Birchwood area were hotly opposed to the project, gathering 1,500 signatures on a petition. On the day of the vote, they wore green T-shirts proclaiming "Keep Harrison Beautiful" and packed the chairs in the commission room.

Several commissioners said they had toured the site and considered the neighborhood impact as well as the regional need for such a facility.

The site is in Bankston's district and he voted no. Graham voted no as well, saying he wanted to support the commissioner whose district would be affected.

Fairbanks, Fields, Beck, Boyd, Mackey, Martin and Smedley voted yes.

Fairbanks said he was surprised a few weeks later when "all of a sudden I got a call saying, 'Hey, we're going to donate to your campaign.'"

As far as county help for a Lookouts stadium, he said, "Nobody has personally approached me about it and as far as I can remember we've had no talks at the county. The mayor hasn't mentioned it."

He added, "My first inclination would be I'd rather not use public money to build the stadium... unless I get into talks and hear more information that this would be a good investment of our money."

Smedley said she remembered Hunt bringing a donation to her office after the landfill vote.

"He said something like, 'I appreciate your service and the time that was put into it.' I just took it as I was getting a contribution because they appreciated the job I was doing as a commissioner," Smedley said.

And any discussion of the Lookouts?

"If they had something like that in mind they certainly haven't shared it with me," she said.

Some other commissioners said the same. Martin said Woods, Lind and Crum have supported him during his entire time in public service. Martin served a term on the Hamilton County Board of Education before joining the commission.

Graham called Hunt a boyhood friend who offered to help his campaign. He said the question of using public money in the Southside redevelopment "is bigger than nine commissioners."

"If you're going to ask for that kind of money, that should be put on the ballot. Let the public vote," he said.

Bankston said he's heard no request for tax support for a stadium, and if that happens, he'll be opposed.

"I don't see us giving them any money to build a stadium; that's private enterprise. I don't think I could support that," he said.

Boyd said he knows Woods, who graduated from East Ridge High School, and has talked about a new stadium with Freier.

"I was impressed with Jason, he's a sharp guy," Boyd said. "I remember saying, what do you think about a new stadium in Chattanooga? He said, 'Well, that's just going to have to develop over time, [we'll have to] see how the community accepts it, how public officials accept it.'... He is knowledgeable enough to know these things take time, they take a lot of cooperation, a lot of transparency."

If there's an ask, he said, "I'm going to be looking at the numbers really closely. Any kind of incentive programs and stuff like that, I want any discussions to be very, very transparent."

All the commissioners interviewed and Coppinger said the county wouldn't act on any incentive package except in partnership with the city of Chattanooga.

Only Mackey said outright that he fully supports using public money to jump-start development that will repay the investment.

"I would take money from any legal source," Mackey said. "Critics can say what they want; we're here improve the community and move the ball down the field. Would you rather see thriving businesses or a field full of weeds on that site?"

Coppinger said he's talked to the Lookouts owner and management, and he and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke in August 2015 visited a ballpark Freier built in Fort Wayne, Indiana, as the centerpiece of an urban redevelopment project there.

He said conversations so far about moving the stadium are "nothing solid, more of an idealistic approach."

"For me to support any types of tax incentives, what I'm always looking for is the amount of investment that's going to go there, the amount of jobs it's going to create, are those good-paying jobs, and will it enhance the area in terms of economic development.... Until you see the overall picture of what's going to happen, it's hard to say how you're going to feel," Coppinger said.

Freier said the Lookouts spoke with the Chattanooga Design Studio a couple of years ago as the South Broad Plan was under development.

Since then, he said, "there's been zero specific discussion."

"Right now what they are trying to do is figure out what the master plan for this site is going to look like.... Once those plans fall into place, if we're still part of the plan, we will sit down and talk," Freier said.

"We're totally at the mercy of how this process plays out. We only want to be a part of this if we're wanted, if somebody thinks this makes sense to be a part of their process, too."

Contact staff writer Judy Walton at jwalton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416.

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC

Newsday (New York)

 

A park once at the center of a dumping scheme is now a field of dreams for Brentwood soccer players.

The nonprofit Long Island Timberline Fútbol Club is the first and only sports group to play at Roberto Clemente Park since it reopened last year after being covered in nearly 40,000 tons of contaminated debris.

Juan Palacio, a former professional soccer player, said he launched the nonprofit to encourage area kids to exercise and "have a dream" while teaching them soccer skills and discipline. The program charges families whatever they can pay, which, in some cases, is nothing.

"For us, it's been a point of pride because the people come and think they can go" professional, said Palacio, who played for several pro teams in his native Colombia. "You see the future with the little guys."

Palacio, a Brentwood resident who coaches for the academy arm of the New York Cosmos, approached Islip Town officials about using the park during its grand opening in August 2017. The park was closed for three years because of illegal dumping discovered after a church group sought to refurbish the soccer fields there, officials said.

Five men, including two town parks officials, were convicted in the dumping scheme that also affected three other properties.

The soccer club, named for the park's previous name of Timberline Park, launched in February with about 10 families paying what they can. In eight months, it has grown to 60 families, with kids ranging from ages 4 to 15.

"We start from nothing here," said coach Nico Serolini of Central Islip, who used to play for a professional team in his native Uruguay. "You're seeing grass now, but it was dirt. We started from scratch with a few players."

The nonprofit, which has been a "dream" of the Palacio family, aims to be a place for kids to play and "a way out" of "everything going on in the streets," Natalia Ramirez, Palacio's wife and the nonprofit's secretary, said.

The group plays year-round and often practices at Islip Town Hall West in the winter.

At a recent practice, kids smiled as they ran drills. Palacio gave instructions and encouragement in English and Spanish and was not afraid to let loose, including by stuffing a soccer ball under his shirt and hopping around as he told the little ones to run.

Lorena Chauta, a factory worker, said from the sidelines that the group is the only affordable soccer training she knows of for her 6-year-old son.

"He loves soccer and is always asking, 'Mommy, mommy, can I play?' " the Brentwood mom said in Spanish, adding that she appreciates the group's professional coaches.

There is a deficit in the group's finances, Palacio said. Its costs include $100 to the town to use the fields, about $1,200 for insurance and the price of paying referees to work at games.

The club relies on sponsorships and raffles to keep it going, Palacio said. The club uses goals and nets provided by the Cosmos and the town, he said.

"It could be considered symbolic" that the first sport organized at the park is soccer, given the fields' role in the dumping, Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter said.

Seeing kids "running and smiling and laughing and shrieking" at recent practice during the grand reopening of the park's pool "was so affirming of all of our efforts we've put into" Clemente and other town parks, she said.

Carpenter said she expects other sports teams to use the park in the future.

The new soccer season starts Sept. 15.

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

Eddie Nuñez says he's moving forward running University of New Mexico athletics as though they will be four sports lighter one year from now.

The controversial, unanimous Board of Regents vote in August to eliminate men's soccer, men's and women's skiing and women's beach volleyball for the 2019-20 academic year remains. University leadership has no intention of spending time or resources to change that.

But that doesn't mean the battle over the issue, or the political posturing between the regents and lawmakers who have publicly vowed to get the decision reversed, has stopped. An influx of more than $1 billion in new funding could be available in the 2019 Legislative session.

The regents, who meet as a full body on Tuesday, spent a portion of last week's Finance and Facilities committee meeting firing warning shots. Just because UNM athletics will be asking for $1.5 million more this coming legislative session than it received for the current fiscal year - UNM currently receives $2.6 million but will request $4.1 million next year - that doesn't mean lawmakers should expect to say how the money is spent.

In fact, one regent even suggested if the state doesn't give the new money being requested, more sports could be cut soon.

"The concern I have is that I think everybody thinks if we ask for enough money, we can reinstate other sports," said regent Marron Lee, who chairs the Finance and Facilities committee, when questioning Nuñez about what he intends to spend the new money on if it is approved.

Nuñez said the new money would address increased travel expenses of the remaining sports and pay for such NCAA-mandated initiatives as adding full-time trainers for all sports by 2020 rather than using graduate assistants.

"Eddie, let me ask you this," Lee added. "The demographics don't change and these new initiatives keep coming down that are designed to make our student athletes safer and better prepared individuals, in three years will we be talking about cutting another major sport? If we don't get this money in?"

"Absolutely," Nuñez replied. "We're talking baseball?" Lee asked? "I'm talking it might be more than that," Nuñez said. The exchange, summarized in Wednesday's Journal, didn't sit well with at least two state lawmakers.

Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas posted on his Twitter account in response to the Journal's article: "@marron_lee doubles down on the ruse that bringing back men's soccer jeopardizes baseball. We didn't fall for it then so why would anyone fall for it now. @UNMLoboMSoccer #GoLobos."

Rep. Patty Lundstrom, D-Gallup and Chair of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, submitted for publication to the Journal a letter expressing anger, frustration and a concern for a general lack of professionalism from the regents in the process, in particular after she had her microphone cut off by the regents during the August meeting when she reached the 3-minute limit during the public comment portion.

"The offer of help was not only ignored, but was treated with disrespect," Lundstrom wrote. "The Chair rudely and summarily dismissed me, and no acknowledgement, apology or accommodation was forthcoming - despite the expressed willingness of students to give up their allotted time on my behalf."

Citing the Journal article, Lundstrom asked in her letter, "Should more taxpayer money be invested in a program exhibiting a shocking lack of transparency and effective budget management?... Perhaps we should be calling for a different kind of leadership within the UNM Board of Regents - leadership that maintains humility and transparency, embraces diversity of opinion, and remains flexible in the face of uncertainty."

UNM's seven-member Board of Regents is expected to see a massive overhaul once a new governor takes office in January. Both candidates for governor had expressed hope the regents would delay a vote to cut sports until the next legislative session.

While there are staggered terms for the regents,the only two regents who are scheduled to be on the board beyond January are Rob Doughty and Lee.

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

A new variable in the fan experience at Falcons home games will play out on a week-to-week basis this season: Will the stadium's roof be open or closed?

From 1966 through 1991, all Falcons home games were played outdoors at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. From 1992 through 2016, all of the team's home games were played indoors under the fixed roof of the Georgia Dome. In 2017, Mercedes-Benz Stadium's retractable roof remained closed for all but one game.

But this year, with the complex roof finally fully functional, the Falcons will decide as each game approaches whether to open the $1.5 billion stadium to the sky.

To have the roof open for about 60 percent of games, which would be roughly five of eight regular-season games, "is what we are targeting," said Greg Beadles, chief operating officer of Falcons owner Arthur Blank's sports and entertainment properties.

But that depends on another variable: game-day weather.

The Falcons haven't set firm meteorological parameters for when the Mercedes-Benz Stadium roof will be open, but their "general guidelines" will be to consider playing afternoon games with it open if the temperature is "from the 50s up into the 70s" and the precipitation chance is less than 30 percent, Beadles said.

At a night game, the roof could be open even if temperatures are "a little warmer than that," because there won't be an issue of direct sunlight affecting fans, he added.

As for whether the roof will be open for the home opener Sept. 16 against the Carolina Panthers, watch the weather forecasts in the week ahead.

"If the temperature is like it typically is in mid-September for a 1 o'clock game — well into the 80s — then we probably won't have it open for that one," Beadles said. "But from late September or (early)October until mid-November is probably our best time from a weather standpoint. I'd say we feel really good about opening it up for all those games. You could have a good run of four or five Falcons games in a row where it's open."

If the Falcons play as many games with the roof open as they suggest, it will buck the firm trend of the four other NFL teams with retractable-roof stadiums.

The Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts have chosen to play more than twice as many games in their current stadiums with the roofs closed than with them open. They have averaged playing with the roofs open only about 30 percent of the time. None of the four teams had the roof open for more than two games last season.

The Cowboys have opened the roof of 9-year-old AT&T Stadium for just 27 percent of their regular-season and postseason games (20 of 75). The Texans have opened the NRG Stadium roof rarely in recent years — it was kept closed for all games in 2015 and 2016 — after opening it frequently in the 16-yearold stadium's early seasons.

The teams say weather conditions and fan comfort are the driving factors in their open-or-closed decisions.The call can be easy on days of heavy rain or extreme temperature, but controversial in other conditions, such as when direct sun makes certain seats uncomfortable on otherwise pleasant days. Non-meteorological factors also are believed to influence the decision at times, such as a team's desire for louder crowd noise in a closed stadium or a preference for controlled conditions.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn andgeneralmanagerThomas Dimitroff are supportive of opening the Mercedes-Benz Stadium roof, Beadles said.

"They love playing in the outdoors in Atlanta,"he said. "We are all on the same page about wanting to have it open as much as possible."

Throughout the design and construction of the stadium, the Falcons cited two reasons their roof could be open more than others: Atlanta's favorable fall weather and a stadium designed to withstand water.

"You compare it to some of the other retractable-roof stadiums that are out west — it can get really hot there during football season," Beadles said. "Some of the stadiums also were not designed to be able to take on water and drain it out. If there's even a small chance of rain, they pretty much have to keep it closed.We have drainage just like an outdoor field. We wanted to make sure we had the opportunity if it was raining to... keep on playing."

While the Falcons won't open the roof if there's a significant likelihood of rain, they can be more willing than other teams to open it if there's a slight risk of showers, Beadles suggested.

The retractable portion of the roof is at the center of the stadium, over the field, leaving the seats largely covered by the fixed portion.

Whether to open a roof for NFL games is up to the home team. According to the NFL's 2018 policy manual for clubs, the team has until 90 minutes prior to kickoff to inform the referee or highest-ranking league official working at the game whether the roof will be open or closed. The opening or closing must be completed no later than 60 minutes before kickoff.

League policy also permits the home team to change the roof position at halftime based on weather conditions, provided certain procedures are followed. Also, an open roof can be closed at any time during a game by order of the referee "due to the development or anticipation of a hazardous condition that threatens... participants and/or spectators," according to league policy.

Although the final determination won't be made until 90 minutes before kickoff, the Falcons plan to communicate to fans about two days before games if they intend to open the roof.

"That way, if someone is on the side of the stadium where there is going to be more sun, they'll know to bring a hat. Or maybe bring a jacket if it'll be a little colder," Beadles said.

The roof was open for the Falcons' first regular-sea-son game in the stadium last year, but it was closed for the rest of the season because of problems with its operation. Work was finally completed on it this summer.

At a July media event, the eight-piece roof, each piece weighing 500 tons, was opened in eight minutes and 17 seconds, beating the 12-minute maximum architects had long promised.

The roof was open for a Falcons exhibition game Aug. 30, even though the outside temperature — 87 degrees at game time — exceeded the team's guidelines that night. It was basically a trial run of opening the roof just an hour before a game.

Only one Atlanta United match has been played with the roof open this year, mainly because it wasn't fully operable when the weather was favorable early in the season. The soccer team has three remaining regular-season home matches, including two in October.

One person who will be keeping a close eye on the roof in operation at Falcons games this fall is Peter O'Reilly, NFL senior vice president of events, who oversees the Super Bowl. The big game will be played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Feb. 3.

O'Reilly said during an Atlanta visit this summer the NFL would like to play Super Bowl LIII with the roof open if the weather cooperates — a big if for February in Atlanta. An ice storm marred the Super Bowl here in 2000.

"We certainly hope for good weather," O'Reilly said, "and the opportunity to have the roof open."

In addition to the Falcons, four other NFL teams have retractable-roof stadiums. A look at the percentage of home games they have chosen to play with the roof open in those stadiums:

TEAM STADIUM

Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium

Arizona Cardinals State Farm Stadium* Indianapolis Colts Lucas Oil Stadium Houston Texans NRG Stadium 31%**

* Name changed last week from University of Phoenix Stadium

** Excludes 2008 season, when damage from Hurricane Ike forced the roof to be kept open for all games

ROOF OPEN 27% 29% 30%

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

PULLMAN — They opened the day with a memorial walk through one of his favorite outdoor sanctuaries, and finished it atop a metal podium inside of the other.

Tyler Hilinski's parents, Mark and Kym, and brothers Kelly and Ryan took part in an emotionally stirring moment before Washington State's home opener, raising a crimson flag in the east end zone amid a chorus of cheers just minutes before the Cougars kicked off against San Jose State at Martin Stadium.

Earlier Saturday morning, the Hilinski family led a hike through Kamiak Butte County Park, a nearby recreation area Tyler often visited during his leisure time while he was a quarterback and student at Washington State.

From freshly painted blue and purple suicide awareness ribbons on the field at Martin Stadium, to the Hilinski's Hope foundation flag planted behind the west end zone, to T-shirts bearing his No. 3 and rally towels scattered throughout the crowd, there were plenty of symbols reminding people of Hilinski on a day that was clearly dedicated to the QB who took his life in January.

As the Hilinski family acknowledged the applause from 30,000-plus fans in attendance, public address announcer Glenn Johnson read off a statement as the Cougar flag was lifted into the air:

"Washington State University would like to use this opportunity to bring awareness to mental health issues and remind all that if you need help, please ask."

Members of WSU's fraternities and sororities wore T-shirts printed with the slogan "Greek for Tyler" and on the east end zone video board, the school aired a pregame public service announcement addressing suicide prevention and mental health awareness.

WSU football players Nick Begg, Peyton Pelluer, Andre Dillard, Hunter Dale and Trey Tinsley, along with other Cougar student-athletes, took turns delivering the following message in the video:

"Pressure. Expectations. Overwhelmed. Mental health issues are real. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people age 15-24. But it doesn't have to stay that way. If you're going through a difficult time, hope and help is only a phone call away. On the playing field, it is important to lean on your teammates for help. It is important to lean on each other off the field, too. Life isn't always easy, it can sometimes feel overwhelming. You don't' have to face it alone. We are all on the same team when it comes to looking out for each other. There is hope. You matter. We care. Help is just a phone call away."

An ESPN College GameDay segment featuring senior writer Ivan Maisel, who lost his son Max to suicide three years, and the Hilinski family aired on the weekly television program Saturday morning, and No. 3 flags flew through a large crowd stationed behind the GameDay set in College Station, Texas.

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

 

KENNER, LA.— The mayor of Kenner has issued a directive banning booster clubs from buying any Nike athletic apparel or equipment for use at city recreation centers.

Mayor Ben Zahn sent the letter Sept. 5 to Kenner parks and recreation director Chad Pitfield.

"Under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any City of Kenner Recreation Facility," Zahn wrote, WDSU reported.

Nike released an advertisement campaign Sept. 3 featuring embattled former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem during the 2016 season to bring attention to racial injustice. He has not played in the NFL since that season.

Although the company has faced some backlash, online sales for Nike went up 31 percent after the campaign launched.

Zahn never referenced the ad campaign in his letter.

A spokesperson with the city did not comment to WVUE about the directive.

Councilman Gregory Carroll called the letter disturbing.

"I was not made aware of this decision beforehand and it is in direct contradiction of what I stand for," Carroll said in a statement posted on Facebook. "I will meet with the mayor and other council members in an effort to rescind this directive."

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC

Newsday (New York)

 

The prospective investment team behind a developer's proposal to build a 17,500-seat sports arena in Ronkonkoma listed its involvement in four recent projects nationwide as evidence of its ability to fund the $1.1 billion development in Suffolk.

Ronkonkoma Vision Project LLC, led by Ray Bartoszek, Ben Bouma and Kevin Ackles, said in a document submitted to Suffolk County during the bidding process last winter that it is "in the midst of all logistics with design and construction" on another sports arena project outside Seattle.

However, Rachel Bianchi, a spokeswoman for the city of Tukwila — where the Seattle-area arena was to be built — told Newsday "no substantive work" has been done on the project since 2015. The arena was pitched as a home for a potential National Hockey League expansion team that never materialized.

Bartoszek, in a brief telephone interview in April, acknowledged the Seattle-area arena project was "dead." He has not returned calls since. Bouma and Ackles have not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Jones Lang LaSalle, a $7.9 billion Chicago-based real estate development company, submitted the proposal to Suffolk last fall to develop 40 acres "in association with" Ronkonkoma Vision Project LLC and was selected as the master developer in April. However, information detailing the specific roles of the two partnering companies in the development is scant in submission documents obtained by Newsday.

Jones Lang LaSalle is listed as "project lead" — essentially the equivalent of a contractor on a house renovation, experts said — and Ronkonkoma Vision Project LLC is listed as "development partner" with no specified responsibilities laid out in the documents.

Steve D'Iorio, a senior vice president for Jones Lang LaSalle who is listed as the project's contact person with the county, told Newsday in April that Ronkonkoma Vision Project LLC is responsible for providing the funding for the $1.1 billion endeavor.

A Newsday examination into the Ronkonkoma Vision Project LLC's Seattle sports arena project — as well as the three other projects it listed in its bio to the county — raises questions about its characterizations of those developments and whether Suffolk properly vetted Jones Lang LaSalle's investment partner before announcing the winning bid.

Ronkonkoma Vision Project LLC's depiction of the Seattle arena project and the three others comes from a document titled "Ronkonkoma Vision Project Team Identification" that was included in Jones Lang LaSalle's response to the county's request for qualifications in October to develop the Ronkonkoma property.

Newsday obtained this document and several others from the Jones Lang LaSalle group's submission after the county chose it as the winning proposal in April.

Among Newsday's findings regarding the investment group's background: Bianchi, the Tukwila spokeswoman, disputed Ronkonkoma Vision Project LLC's representation to the county that the arena project was ongoing. Bianchi said construction never began because the group stopped communicating with the city during the environmental review process. She said the last meeting with the city and the developers was February 2016.

Emails between Tukwila officials and the arena developers, obtained by Newsday via a public records request, show that the developers ran into funding problems in 2015. The emails also show that the developers tried to salvage the arena project by seeking new funding sources in 2016. The city informed the developers in January 2017 that it was closing the project "due to inactivity."

Bianchi said no discussions have occurred with the developers since then. Ronkonkoma Vision Project LLC cites a "$170 million arena enhancement/development concept," which refers to a sports, retail, hotel and entertainment complex built in 2014 next to the arena for the NHL's Buffalo Sabres. However, Don Heins, a spokesman for Pegula Sports & Entertainment, which developed the complex, said, "the gentlemen mentioned were not part of that project."

Heins said Bouma once worked as a consultant for Sabres owner Terry Pegula. Asked if Bouma might have been involved with the "concept" of the complex, Heins said: "We've found no record that Ben was involved. Some of the initial planning committee remain with our company and none recall his involvement. Those meetings date as far back as 2011." Pegula was unavailable for an interview, Heins said.

Ronkonkoma Vision Project LLC lists a "$103 million arena and program development project at Penn State" — the Pegula Ice Arena, which opened in 2013 for the school's new Division I hockey team. It was funded by Terry and Kim Pegula. Heins said Bouma "was an adviser early in the Penn State project" and referred a question about his specific role to Penn State. Jeff Nelson, spokesman for the university's athletic department, said there are no high-ranking athletic officials from that time still employed who can detail Bouma's involvement. Joe Battista, a former associate athletic director who has since retired, is credited with connecting the Pegulas with Penn State.

In an email, Battista said the university hired Bouma as "a contract employee" for the hockey project. Battista said Bouma was involved with marketing, public relations, building design and ticketing. Ronkonkoma Vision Project LLC also refers to $995 million raised for "a Las Vegas, NV Residence Tower and Film Studio." However, there are no publicly available documents or news reports about a project of that kind. This does not mean such a development doesn't exist.

Newsday contacted representatives for the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson and Clark County to see if any active project fits this description. No municipality was aware of such a project. Developer chosen

Bartoszek, Bouma and Ackles formed a holding company called Ronkonkoma Vision Project LLC in December, registered in Bartoszek's home state of Montana, and they became partners with Jones Lang LaSalle on the Ronkonkoma proposal.

In April, the county selected the Jones Lang LaSalle proposal — which also included a hotel, convention center and retail space — as the winner over three other submissions. Long Island developers RXR Realty and Tritec Real Estate proposed separate retail and residential developments, and Renaissance Downtowns pitched an e-commerce distribution center.

Jones Lang LaSalle is no stranger to this type of large-scale development. The publicly traded real estate investment company, with annual revenue of $7.9 billion last year, was the project manager on the $1 billion renovation of Madison Square Garden. D'Iorio, the county's contact person at Jones Lang LaSalle, also was involved with the Madison Square Garden project.

In June, the Suffolk County Legislature voted to give the Jones Lang LaSalle group eight months to assess its proposal's feasibility and to flesh out its plans. The development team was represented at the legislature by D'Iorio and by John Cameron of Woodbury-based Cameron Engineering & Associates, one of the development's subcontractors.

Cameron told the legislature that JLL could change the size of the arena, or drop it altogether, if financing became an issue or if it decided the space can be better utilized.

The development group is set to return to the legislature in early 2019 with a detailed proposal — including a specific financing plan — that will be voted on before the project proceeds.

Jones Lang LaSalle has declined to comment on Newsday's findings about Ronkonkoma Vision Project LLC's depiction of its past work. D'Iorio has not responded to messages from Newsday since he told Newsday a day after the county selected the proposal that the role of Bartoszek, Bouma and Ackles would be to "fund" the project.

"The team hasn't changed and everyone in the submission continues to be committed," Jones Lang LaSalle managing partner Michael Shenot said. "We are pushing forward full speed."

Suffolk County spokesman Jason Elan also declined to answer questions about the project's investors or the county's background search. Instead, he provided a statement from Lou Bekofsky, deputy commissioner of Suffolk's Economic Development and Planning Department.

"We are confident in the capabilities of JLL's world-class project development team, architects, and engineers to deliver an outstanding project as they progress from concept to a full proposal," said Bekofsky, who was on the county's request for qualifications evaluation committee at Ronkonkoma.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone declined to comment, Elan said.

In its proposal to the county, the Ronkonkoma Vision Project LLC trio said they "each have more than 25 years in the fields of professional sports/collegiate athletics, project creation, project funding and management."

Bartoszek is a graduate of the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point who lives in Big Sky, Montana. A retired investment banker who also has a home in Southampton, Bartoszek bought a minority share of the Yankees in 2011, tried to purchase control of the NHL's Arizona Coyotes in 2013 and expressed interest in bringing an NHL expansion team to the Seattle area in 2015.

"He's flirted with a couple of opportunities but none of them have become substantive to this point," National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman said of Bartoszek in April. But the Ronkonkoma plans, while calling for a hockey team to play at the arena, have been dismissed by both the NHL and the New York Islanders. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in April the league won't consider adding an expansion team to play in Ronkonkoma, and Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky said the team is focusing only on plans to build a new arena at Belmont Park.

Bartozek's partners with Ronkonkoma Vision Project LLC include Bouma, a freelance sports television producer who also has worked in the media relations departments of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Capitals, and Ackles, a principal at a Chicago-based business venture development practice.

Questions raised

Experts said Ronkonkoma Vision Project LLC's representation of their past work raises questions about their ability to finance the project and the county's due diligence process in selecting them.

Irwin Kishner is a prominent New York sports attorney who has worked on 11 stadium financing arrangements, including those for Yankee Stadium, Citi Field and MetLife Stadium. He said it's "extremely critical to be open, honest and direct" in submissions to government entities because in this case the county is basing its decision regarding development of publicly owned land on a group's past work.

"It's the same risks as if you put falsities on a resume, or put falsities in a public offering document," Kishner said. "Decisions are being based upon the facts that are disclosed."

Joel Maxcy, a sports economics professor at Drexel who studies arena deals, said he found it "strange" that the RVP group cited its work in Seattle as a success story, noting how it is choosing to draw attention to an arena that didn't pan out as part of another arena proposal.

Richard Brodsky, a former state assemblyman from Westchester who teaches law at New York University, said "if the county is going to enter into a relationship with them, the legislators have a responsibility to say, 'Who are they and what are their qualifications?'"

Suffolk legislators said they were concerned by Newsday's findings.

"If they're trying to say a project is ongoing when other reports are that it's shut down, that's very concerning," Suffolk Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) said.

Deputy Presiding Officer Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) said the Ronkonkoma Vision Project LLC team's background is an important factor on a project this size. "That does raise a question in terms of the viability of the project," Calarco said, "and how much they would be looking for the county, state or other entities to finance the project."

Calarco said he wants to see a plan to finance the proposal at the end of the eight-month exclusive negotiating window granted by the Suffolk Legislature in May. He said it's "not just 'this is what we want to build,' but 'how we're going to pay for it.' I hope they present us something that shows the financial viability to do that."

Legis. William Lindsay III (D-Bohemia) said he asked Cameron about Newsday's findings and said Cameron assured him Jones Lang LaSalle has alternative methods of financing if Ronkonkoma Vision Project LLC's funding sources do not pan out. He said the development team is moving forward with community meetings scheduled to take place in September.

Legislator Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore), whose district includes the arena site, said he expects the county legislature will conduct its own due diligence on the project's financiers when more detailed information is presented.

"I have significant concerns about the size of the development, particularly as it relates to the road infrastructure that would be necessary, and the sustainability of an arena," he said. He also questions whether the community at large will support this proposal for the same reasons.

"I hear from many Ronkonkoma residents that they learned about the proposal for the first time," he said, "when they saw it on the front page of Newsday."

With David M. Schwartz

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Copyright 2018 Times-World, LLC
All Rights Reserved

The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

Nike's embrace of Colin Kaepernick has Jerry Falwell Jr. rethinking Liberty University's contract with the company, which has signed on to supply the Flames with athletic gear until 2024.

Nike recently inked the former NFL quarterback for an ad campaign. Kaepernick has been out of the NFL since 2016 when he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence against minorities. He also wore socks in practice depicting police officers as pigs.

Falwell said it's that disrespect that concerns him about Nike's alignment with Kaepernick, and he wants to find out where the athletic retailer stands on the issues.

"If the company really has animus toward police officers, or if they're intentionally disrespecting our flag, our veterans, our national anthem, as part of some mission of the company and using their resources to do it, then why deal with them when there are plenty of other good athletic companies out there? On the other hand, if they are just trying to make money off the attention that former quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been receiving, then we understand that that's just marketing and we'll probably overlook it," Falwell said.

He added he has not yet spoken with Liberty's legal department or Nike about the matter. Falwell said he plans to inquire about contract termination clauses, and the athletic department will contact Nike to see "what they are trying to accomplish" through the ad campaign.

If the deal is airtight, Liberty will likely have to continue with the contract, he said.

Nike representatives have not yet replied to a request for comment.

Nike struck a nerve with conservatives Tuesday when it debuted an ad featuring Kaepernick's image with the inscription: "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything," a likely reference to his inability to find a roster spot after his protests.

Social media has lit up with videos of flaming Nikes as conservatives voiced their disapproval. Fox News Host Sean Hannity and other commentators have taken the company to task for the move, and President Donald Trump weighed in, tweeting: "What was Nike thinking?"

If Liberty drops Nike, it won't be the first college to do so. College of the Ozarks, a Christian college in Missouri, announced Wednesday that it planned to remove all Nike uniforms or athletic apparel due to the company's new ad campaign, which features Kaepernick.

"In their new ad campaign, we believe Nike executives are promoting an attitude of division and disrespect toward America," College of the Ozarks President Jerry Davis said in a news release announcing the school's split with the athletic apparel retailer. "If Nike is ashamed of America, we are ashamed of them. We also believe that those who know what sacrifice is all about are more likely to be wearing a military uniform than an athletic uniform."

According to the Flames website, LU has had a long-term contract with Nike since 2009.

"We are honored and blessed to partner with Nike as our athletics footwear and apparel provider for the next seven years," said Liberty Director of Athletics Ian McCaw in a 2017 news release announcing the contract extension through 2024. "This agreement provides significant financial resources to serve our student-athletes and programs by providing the finest equipment and apparel from the leading and most recognized brand in college athletics."

While Falwell isn't pleased with Kaepernick's inclusion in Nike's marketing campaign, he seems indifferent to its product, noting that he doesn't typically pay attention to brand names.

"I might have a pair in the closet, I don't know," Falwell said.

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
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Copyright 2018 The Daily Record Sep 8, 2018

Daily Record; Wooster, Ohio

 

You can add the name Jordan McNair to the list of college, high school and middle school players who might have needlessly died for the love of football.

A simple, well-known procedure - immersing McNair, 19, in a tub of ice water - when he collapsed at an off-season University of Maryland workout in May could well have saved his life. But it didn't happen. This failure drew national attention to how unprepared many football programs are to keep their players safe.

The focus on concussions can obscure the deaths that continue to occur each year. Last year, 13 high school and college players died from incidents that include heat stroke, head injuries and sudden cardiac arrest.

Just two weeks ago in Crowley, Texas, Kyrell McBride-Johnson, 13, collapsed at a middle school practice and died that night. His mother told The Dallas Morning News that he was signaling for water before collapsing. An autopsy has not been completed, but the death of anyone so young raises troubling questions.

The simple truth is that player safety at too many schools and colleges comes in a poor second to winning. Even as the climate warms, colleges, high schools and middle schools are starting football season earlier than they used to.

Five decades ago, Notre Dame and Michigan opened their seasons on the third Saturday of September and Ohio State on the fourth Saturday. This year, spurred by longer seasons and lucrative TV schedules, all three teams played their first game Sept. 1, necessitating practices in midsummer heat. High schools and middle schools mimic the college schedules. (In 1968, the NFL season began on Sept. 14; this year, it kicks off this Thursday.)

Starting the season later could by itself reduce the number of heat stroke deaths. But even with the current schedule, schools know how to prevent potentially fatal incidents and to rescue students if they occur. In 2013, more than a dozen leading sports medicine groups and the National Federation of State High School Associations endorsed a list of best practices to prevent injuries and save lives.

Grading states against that list and other smart practices, the University of Connecticut's Korey Stringer Institute found that 28 states have failed to put in place half the measures to keep students safe. Even the states that scored highest in the 2018 study - New Jersey and North Carolina - have less than 80 percent in place. California and Colorado, with the worst records, employ less than a third of them.

That's inexcusable. If states have the wherewithal to run high school football programs, they have the wherewithal to do more to ensure that students don't die.

Many of the policies are based on common sense and carry minimal costs. Preventing heat stroke, for example, requires players in hot weather to acclimate: no more than one practice a day, and no practice lasting more than three hours. But the majority of states don't require this, according to Douglas Casa, the Stringer Institute's CEO. Nor do all states require cold-water immersion tubs be on hand; a tub costs about $150, can be purchased at a hardware store, and is known to save lives. Many don't have an emergency plan posted on the field and known to all school staff.

And just a handful require an athletic trainer on site for all "collision/​contact" practices. Yes, this costs some money, but if a school can afford to maintain a football field and pay for coaches, insurance, uniforms and travel, the cost of a single staff member with medical training is not too much to ask. More than 110 years ago, after at least 18 college players died during a single season, President Theodore Roosevelt saved the game by pressing for commonsense safety measures.

Today, everyone knows what the solutions are. It's long past time for state athletic officials and lawmakers to act.

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Copyright 2018 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

ELKHORN - Really, you can't miss it.

Drive into Elkhorn from the east and you'll have to loop underneath the overpass and up to a county highway that leads into town. Make a left turn, and before your turn signal stops flashing your eyes lock on to a building that already is one of the gems of the local school district.

The massive white structure covers almost 60,000 square feet and reaches about 60 feet high at its peak. On its side is a message that serves as a symbol of pride to the locals and warning to the rest of the Southern Lakes Conference and beyond.

"Home of the Elks"

"The first time they put 'Home of the Elks' on the side of the Agility Center, everyone was like 'Did you see that, did you see this?'" said Vince Umnus, a senior soccer and basketball player. "When the turf field wasn't down, people who don't play sports were like 'When is that field going to be down... is the weight room open? I want to get there.'"

These are exciting times at Elkhorn High School.

A referendum passed two years ago that addressed a number of upgrades, additions or renovations that were called for in the district's long-range facilities plan. This summer folks in the community started to see their tax dollars in action.

Improvements touch many facets of the school

The arts have a renovated auditorium and specially designed rooms for art class. Culinary arts has a new kitchen. Agricultural science has a new greenhouse. The Career and Technical Education area, the computer science wing and special education area have been renovated.

It is the athletic facility upgrades, however, that will catch the most eyes. Sports draws more visitors to high schools than almost any other activity, and when folks come to Elkhorn, there are plenty of new things to see.

New bleachers for the football stadium were part of the 2015 referendum. The second phase of the project included the addition of a turf surface, which was installed this summer. A new surface for the track is expected to be completed this fall.

As you enter the stadium, there are eights recently resurfaced or relocated tennis courts. Just beyond the football field, two softball fields are being built and scheduled to be done this fall.

The district purchased 56 acres of land east of the school, part of which will be used for multi-purpose athletic fields.

Inside, the gym floor has been sanded and updated with a new design before new stain was applied.

The Agility Center, as Elkhorn calls it, is what sets the project apart. It's so large the varsity football, soccer, gymnastics and cheerleader squads can practice inside at the same time. It is believed to be the fourth facility of its type for a high school in the state. Sussex Hamilton's opened in spring of 2015. Kaukauna's opened in the spring of 2016. Kimberly's opened in last summer.

"In my opinion, it's a well-thought out plan that solves a lot of problems or areas of need that we had," Elks athletic director Dan Kiel said as he watched a football game last week. "This field, if you had one wet night, the field was torn up for the year. You can't get it back."

Upgrades create modest tax hikes

The improvements are the result of referendums passed in 2015 and '16. The 2016 referendum, which included the auditorium and Agility Center, was $23 million. The portion of funds devoted to athletics was $9 million.

According to the district, the estimated additional cost of the project to the average tax payer was $8 per every $100,000 of property value. The increase was modest, in part, because of debt that was coming off the books.

"By waiting for debt to expire to ask for the referendum, it had a minimal impact on taxpayers, so they're willing to say, 'Ok, yeah. It's only going to cost us X more than what we're already paying. We can support that,'" Elkhorn superintendent Jason Tadlock said.

Open enrollment in the state has created competition for students, and Elkhorn is as Tadlock said, "high on the open enrollment end." Open enrollment wasn't a factor in the improvements, though, he said.

Some of the need came from general wear and tear on a building that opened in 1967, Another factor has been the district's growth. Twenty years ago the high school enrollment was about 500. This year it will push 1,000.

"Open enrollment is always sort of competitive," Tadlock said. "I think some of our neighboring districts are nervous or have mentioned we have such big facilities now that that might be a draw, but honestly it's never come up as a conversation point for us. It's just been more of a focus on what we have here available for our kids."

The facility meets many needs

So why does a high school need an indoor facility that some colleges would love to have?

A big advantage is the flexibility of being able to work inside or out. That is a huge issue for in the spring in Wisconsin where the winter-like weather can last into April and sometimes beyond.

At Elkhorn, the grass fields next to the stadium don't drain well, making for a difficult place to practice after a good rain. The school also needed the space. The Elks offer 19 sports and have a no-cut policy for all of them.

Elkhorn's facility, which opened this summer, can be used as one 60-yard field for football or soccer or it can be split into as many as four areas. There are two other areas in the Agility Center. One will be devoted to cheerleading and the other to the gymnastics team, giving each a year-round space they can use.

On the opposite end of the facility is a 5,400-square foot weight room that is more than three times as large as what the school previously had. They've gone from a set up that was designed to hold 25 individuals at one time to one that can handle 54 on the weight racks alone.

In the middle a field equipped with the same fast-track turf used at the stadium.

"I think there are a lot of school districts and communities who could benefit from having something similar-type facilities," Tadlock said. "It's within reach if you as a community want that."

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Copyright 2018 The Pantagraph

The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois)

 

BLOOMINGTON - Like any intercollegiate coach, Callum Fletcher of Illinois Wesleyan University has his eye on his team becoming number one. His pride and determination were obvious Thursday as he showed off the newly opened practice facility and arena where his team will compete.

But this isn't your ordinary college sports team.

Fletcher is the coach for IWU's esports program.

The arena looks more like Mission Control in Houston than Tucci Stadium or Horenberger Field, with 17 Alienware computers and monitors and custom Vertagear chairs. Just outside is a 55-inch screen where the campus community can watch live streaming of the game competition on IWU's Twitch channel.

ValueGamers ranked IWU fifth in the country in its rankings of "Best Colleges for Esports and Gaming." But Fletcher said, "My goal, the goal for the program, is to be number one. … We're not content at number five."

IWU is among 86 programs that are part of the National Association of Esports.

The Esports Arena is located in former conference room space on the second floor of the Hansen Student Center. The practice area, with 12 computer stations, is open to all IWU students when not used for practice. The competition area, with five computer stations, is called the Coliseum and is exclusively for team members.

In the future, the university might host events for high school students or other community members, said Fletcher.

With the popularity of of computer gaming, it made sense to "look at how technology and the liberal arts can come together," Karla Carney-Hall, IWU vice president of students affairs, said at Thursday's ribbon-cutting ceremony.

It has forced her to learn a whole new language, she said, such as "digital athletics."

"It's the steepest learning curve in my career," said Carney-Hall.

President Eric Jensen said, "Esports is a new concept for a lot of people," but adding esports was a good fit at a school that celebrates students who are involved in many different activities.

"It's a technology-driven program," said Jensen. "Even the furniture is cool."

Unlike most intercollegiate teams, this one is co-ed, with two women on the 12-member team. Six players are on varsity.

Competition involves five players and one alternate, each playing a specific position or role in the game "League of Legends," in a multiplayer online battle arena. Each team is trying to demolish their opponent's base in the fantasy world, explained Fletcher.

Team member CJ Savino, a freshman in psychology from New Jersey, said good communication is crucial during the fast-paced competition so team members know what each other is going to do.

"If you don't do it as a team, you're not going to win," he said.

Another team member, freshman Justin Fairchild of North Carolina, said when you win, "you get the same endorphins as in a traditional sport," and when you lose, you want to work to improve.

Fairchild, a computer science major, said team members have "all been growing as players" since they arrived several days before classes began and started playing 9 to 10 hours a day.

"I'm really excited for this year," he said.

Jensen noted that athletes in traditional sports at IWU have better grade-point averages than non-athletes and he expects the same from the new esports team.

The esports program was launched as a registered student organization in spring 2017 under interim coach Andrew Reddington, associate director of financial aid. This is its inaugural varsity season.

"We're building something historic here," said Fletcher, who has 15 years of esports experience and formerly worked at Play Mechanix, creator of the arcade game Big Buck Hunter.

On the web

For more photos, go to www.pantagraph.com.

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