A rescheduled date for WVU’s Fan Day will be announced when available

The Free Press WV

Fan Day with the Mountaineer football team set for 12:30 p.m. yesterday will be postponed and rescheduled if a later date becomes available.

Five cases of Hand, Foot and Mouth disease have been identified within the program. Hand, foot and mouth is a mild but highly contagious viral infection that is very common among children but can spread to adults. The virus usually goes away on its own in a period of less than a week, and there is no specific treatment, just steps to ease the symptoms.

Because it is highly contagious, it is in the best interest of the general public to postpone the event. WVU’s medical staff continues to monitor the situation, taking proper steps to control the virus and communicating with the proper campus personnel.

“I know fans who were planning on attending Fan Day will be disappointed, but this is in the best interest of all involved,” Director of Athletics Shane Lyons said. “Our medical staff is doing an excellent job of addressing the matter. However, there is no reason to put the general public at risk.”

A rescheduled date for Fan Day will be announced when available.

Protest playbook

The Free Press WV

While Trump’s attacks on the NFL over anthem demonstrations are not likely to end this year thanks to a muddled response from the league, the WNBA has embraced its players’ activism.

Result: The league is thriving.  Learn More:  Politico

Players continued pre-game protests this weekend as the NFL kicked off preseason games.  Learn More:  The New York Times

WVBOE approves policy to allow schools to play up a class in individual sports

The Free Press WV

West Virginia high schools will be able to play up in classification in individual sports beginning in the fall of 2020 in a new rule approved by the state Board of Education Wednesday.

The proposal, which came from the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission’s Board of Control, changes a policy that required a school to play all sports in a higher classification if the school chose to move up.

“Currently nobody has gone up under that (old) rule,” SSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan told members of the state Board of Education Wednesday. “If you can go up as a single sport I think there will be people who will take that opportunity to move up to that next level to challenge their kids a little more without penalizing the whole school.”

The state School Board adopted the change on a unanimous vote. It also approved more than two dozen other policy changes. Most of those having to do with updating language for 9th graders playing sports.

The rule allowing to play up a class won’t go into effect until the 2020-2021 school year when the next round of classifications kick in. Schools will have to decide by April 2020, Dolan said.

The change will only impact postseason competition. Schools are currently allowed to compete against schools in other classifications in regular season play.

In its June meeting, the state school board members voted down a proposal from the Board of Control to make a separate class for sports for eight private schools. Dolan told the board Wednesday the SSAC’s competitive balance committee dealing with that topic has met once and is scheduled to meet again in September.

The SSAC’s Board of Control is made up of school principals and athletic directors.

~~  Jeff Jenkins ~~

West Virginia doesn’t want to be last in Big 12 facilities race

The Free Press WV

Another phase of renderings foretelling renovations. Another push for massive fundraising. Only the push never takes a timeout.

West Virginia’s climb into a Power Five conference certainly generated piles of new revenue. That also raised the neighborhood standards by which its facilities are measured. Having enviously inspected other Big 12 campuses, WVU athletics director Shane Lyons holds no delusions about the shortfalls in Morgantown.

“To be completely candid, our facilities are probably 10th in the league from a football operations standpoint,” he said. “No one wants to be last.”

More than half of the $100 million master plan Lyons unveiled Thursday targets the Puskar Center complex at the stadium. The new video board and widened concourses of recent years were fan-facing upgrades; now comes the sprucing up of areas most crucial to recruits. Adding 5,000-square feet to a splashy new locker room. Updated meeting spaces for position groups. A larger academic center. Remodeled coaching offices. A hydrotherapy center complete with waterfall.

“These are not wants, these are needs,” Lyons said. “We’re not doing anything exorbitant.”

OK, so the waterfall leans toward exorbitant, but Alabama’s therapy pool actually contains four of them. And Clemson’s football center redefined exorbitant by including a miniature golf course, whiffle ball field and that two-story playground slide — a clincher for recruiting five-star linebackers who get claustrophobic in elevators.

So that’s the context for Lyons saying, “If you look nationally at what’s happening out there, we’re getting way behind.”

Olympic sports will enjoy a modernized weight room. The Shell Building will be remodeled for the first time since opening three decades ago. There’s a new six-hole course for the golf team planned for Exit 146 on I-79, with heated bays for practicing tee shots in the gray dead of winter. The old baby-blue track adjacent to the Coliseum will be replaced by 500 sorely needed parking spaces.

“If we don’t have construction going on and moving forward, then we’re going backward,” Lyons said.

Inside the WVU Coliseum, those plastic seats that make you nostalgic for 1970 and child-sized hips will be replaced, finally. There’s also an updated high-definition video board coming above midcourt to replace the current one that seemingly relies on rabbit ears.

The sequencing of these projects “depends on the wishes of the donors,” Lyons said.

In search of revenue streams, the university is open to selling the naming rights for the WVU Coliseum, Lyons told me. Consultants have evaluated the market value, and it’s foreseeable a company wiling to make the 10- to 15-year commitment could add its name to the building for more than $1 million annually.

What’s not foreseeable?

Building a new football stadium, which would cost $400 million, or constructing a new basketball arena, which would require $230 million.

“It’s just not financially feasible,” insists Lyons, who fully expects rumors of both mega-projects to keep swirling nonetheless. “There are no plans to build a new stadium, but even when I tell people that they say ‘You’re lying to me.’”

There also are no plans for a copying Clemson’s indoor slide. Guess the Mountaineers will have to be content with sledding down Law School Hill.

~~  Allan Taylor ~~

Shepherd Picked To Win MEC Crown

The Free Press WV

The Shepherd Rams have been picked to win a fourth-straight Mountain East Conference football title after a vote conducted by the league’s coaches. Shepherd received 94 points and was picked to finish first on six of the 11 ballots.

The Rams went 10-1 last year and made a third-straight appearance in the NCAA Playoffs. Head coach Ernie McCook, who replaces the legendary Monte Cater, will lead Shepherd in 2018. SU will have to replace the MEC Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year from last year, but still returns several key playmakers including wideout Ryan Feiss (95 receptions, 1,391 yards, 9 TDs), Chrys Lane (33 tackles, 5 TFL) and DeJuan Neal (30 tackles, 2 interceptions).

Fairmont State was picked to finish second earning 88 points and receiving three first-place votes. Notre Dame was third by just a point with 87 points and also receiving a first-place vote. Both teams carried postseason hopes until the final week of the regular season in 2017, but finished just outside of the playoff picture. Fairmont State brings back nine starters on offense and seven more on defense as it looks to make a push for a conference championship. Notre Dame graduated productive quarterback Malik Grove, but running back D.J. Greene and wideout Marvelle Ross provide playmaking ability behind the steady offensive line led by Michael Kyle and Austin Treneff.

The University of Charleston was slotted fourth with 63 points and earning the remaining first-place vote, followed closely by West Virginia State with 61 points. West Liberty was sixth with 45 points, just ahead of UVa-Wise (44) and West Virginia Wesleyan (42). Glenville State (35), Urbana (34) and Concord rounded out the poll.

The 2018 season begins with three games on Thursday, August 31: West Liberty at Urbana, Glenville State at UVa-Wise and West Virginia State at Charleston. The first week of the regular season concludes on Saturday, September 01, with Shepherd at Notre Dame and Concord at West Virginia Wesleyan.

2018 MEC Preseason Poll
1. Shepherd (6)—94
2. Fairmont State (3)—88
3. Notre Dame (1)—87
4. Charleston (1)—63
5. West Virginia State—61
6. West Liberty—45
7. UVa-Wise—44
8. West Virginia Wesleyan—42
9. Glenville State—35
10. Urbana—34
11. Concord—12

() indicates first-place votes
* Coaches not able to vote for own team

NBA to Partner With MGM for Betting

The Free Press WV

All bets are on. The NBA and WNBA have become the first American sports leagues to partner with a gaming operator after a May Supreme Court ruling that overturned a federal sports wagering ban.

Industry insiders said the three-year deal with MGM Resorts was worth at least $25 million.

The Las Vegas-based casino operator will get rights to use highlights and logos as well as a data feed from the NBA to facilitate betting in states that allow it.

Further gaming partnerships with the league and individual teams are expected.

More to Read:  ESPN    Bloomberg

NFL Freezes Anthem Policy

The Free Press WV

The NFL’s two-month old national anthem policy is on hold. Hours after the AP reported that Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the anthem could be suspended for up to four games under a team policy issued this week, the league and the players union issued a joint statement late Thursday night saying the two sides are talking things out. “No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing,“ the statement read. Miami’s discipline document included section on “Proper Anthem Conduct,“ which classified anthem protests under a large list of “conduct detrimental to the club,“ all of which could lead to a paid or unpaid suspension, a fine, or both.

The NFL rule that was passed in May forbid players from sitting or taking a knee if they are on the field or sidelines during anthem but allowed them to stay in the locker room if they wish. The policy said teams would be fined if players didn’t stand during the anthem while on the field. The league left it up to teams on how to punish players. The new league rules were challenged this month in a grievance by the players union. The NFLPA said the NFL policy, which the league imposed without consultation with the players union, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights. Now, the two sides are hoping to reach a solution without litigation.

Sports Teams Dropping Papa John’s Like It’s Hot

The Free Press WV

Papa John’s founder has stepped down as chairman and been kicked out of his office at company headquarters—but the company is still experiencing fallout from John Schnatter’s use of a racial slur. Since the former CEO admitted using the n-word during a conference call, numerous professional and college teams have cut their ties with the pizza chain, reports USA Today. Major League Baseball has ended its “Papa Slam” promotion and at least a dozen teams have suspended their relationships with the company, as have at least two teams each in the NFL and Major League Soccer. The NBA’s Orlando Magic has also ended Papa John’s promotions.

Oregon State University has canceled its sponsor relationship with Papa John’s over what it calls “derogatory and insensitive” comments from Schnatter, and the University of Louisville has dropped Papa John’s name from its football stadium and is now calling it “Cardinal Stadium.“ Schnatter has been removed from all the company’s promotional material but since he is still its largest shareholder, he can’t be removed from the six-person board easily—and probably not before its annual meeting. Sources tell Bloomberg that Schnatter now regrets his resignation as chairman and thinks the company was wrong to oust him without an investigation.

Melanie Goulding Named Lady Pioneer Acrobatics & Tumbling Head Coach

The Free Press WV

Glenville State College is pleased to announce the hiring of Melanie Goulding as the new Head Coach of the Lady Pioneers Acrobatics & Tumbling team.

“I am honored to be named the Head Coach of the Glenville State College Lady Pioneers. I am looking forward to this season and showing the potential that these women have while also building on last season’s accomplishments,“ stated Goulding. “I am truly excited to call myself a Pioneer!“

Goulding, a native of Buffalo, New York and the daughter of Mark Goulding and Diane Wieczorek, has an extensive background in acrobatics and tumbling. She attended Alderson Broaddus University after graduating from Depew High School in New York.

While at AB she was a member of the Battlers Inaugural Acrobatic & Tumbling team in 2013.

She was also a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) from 2013-16, was a student representative for the Acrobatics & Tumbling team, was elected secretary for the organization, and served as a representative for all student-athletes at Alderson Broaddus during the GMAC conference meetings.

In 2014, she received the Thomas Lerario Leadership Award, an award for joy, enthusiasm, and leadership as a teammate and in the community. She also served as a student coach for camps and clinics before graduating from Alderson Broaddus in 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Pre-Law and International Studies.

“We are very excited to welcome Coach Goulding into the Pioneer Family. She is an energetic young coach with a clear plan of where she wants to see the program go. Her vision wants to build upon the strong foundation that Coach Moreno provided through an outstanding 2018 campaign,“ Skiles said. Coach Goulding has a passion and love for the sport, that we feel will be a very positive work atmosphere for the team.“

Additionally, Goulding has been an independent health and fitness coach and, in 2013, won a National Championship in Cheerleading (Level 4).

Frostburg State Set To Join Mountain East Conference

The Free Press WV

The Mountain East Conference announced that Frostburg State University has accepted an offer of membership from the conference following a unanimous vote of approval by the MEC Board of Directors on June 30. Provisional member status for Frostburg State in the MEC is contingent upon acceptance into the NCAA Division II three-year membership process.

If accepted into the NCAA Division II process, Frostburg State would be slated to begin competition in the MEC beginning with the 2019-20 academic year. Full membership in the MEC will ultimately be contingent upon Frostburg State achieving active membership status in NCAA Division II.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Mountain East Conference, we are very pleased to announce our new association with Frostburg State,” said Dr. Kendra Boggess, Concord University President and Chair of the MEC Board of Directors. “Frostburg State will be a great fit for our league in every way, and we are confident that Frostburg is well positioned to meet the rigors of the NCAA Division II membership process as they begin their efforts to transition from NCAA Division III.”

“We are excited that Frostburg State University has accepted our offer of future Mountain East membership as an important step in its pursuit of NCAA Division II membership,” said MEC Commissioner Reid Amos. “Upon visiting their campus and meeting their leadership, their coaches, and many of their student-athletes, it became clear that Frostburg State not only fits within our geographic footprint, but also aligns well with the values, the goals, and the mission of the Mountain East Conference and its members. Additionally, we expect them to be a highly competitive member of the MEC.”

Frostburg State, located in western Maryland just 30 miles from the West Virginia border, is a public, four-year comprehensive university that has 4,725 undergraduate students and over 600 graduate/doctoral students. It is fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and is a member of the University System of Maryland.

“We at Frostburg State believe this opportunity to align with the Mountain East Conference in conjunction with our application to NCAA Division II will allow us to enhance our focus on the student-athlete experience. We were impressed with the quality of competition and attention that would be afforded them in the Mountain East Conference,” said FSU President Ronald Nowaczyk. “We see the MEC and the prospect of a move to Division II as means to ensure that Frostburg State is keeping pace with the changing landscape around us, and it demonstrates our commitment to striking the appropriate level of balance between the student and the athlete.”

The Bobcats currently sponsor 17 of the MEC’s 19 championship sports with eight men’s sports (baseball, basketball, cross country, football, outdoor track and field, soccer, swimming and tennis) and nine women’s sports (basketball, cross country, lacrosse, outdoor track and field, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis and volleyball).

Established in 2013, the Mountain East Conference has quickly established itself as one of the top all-sports conferences in the country. In just five years, MEC institutions have produced two team NCAA Division II champions, seven national finalists and 13 semifinalists. In addition to the athletic success, the MEC recognizes over 1,500 student-athletes annually for their academic success and additionally has had seven “NCAA Elite 90” winners, which honors the individual with the highest cumulative grade-point average at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s 90 championships.

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