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►  Suspended Cheerleaders Paid Up to $1.5K as Escorts: Report

Details on the mystery suspension of an entire college cheerleading squad are now being filled in, thanks to an FOIA request. The Sun News has acquired a criminal investigation report compiled by South Carolina’s Coastal Carolina University that indicates cheerleaders on its squad were working at strip clubs and also accepting between $100 and $1,500 (as well as shoes, clothes, and designer purses) per date to serve as escorts through a “sugar daddy” dating site. (The report does add the cheerleaders weren’t believed to have provided sexual favors in these escort roles.) Of the 18 squad members, only seven didn’t know anything about the escort service allegedly going on behind the scenes, the report adds.

An anonymous letter received in mid-March by school officials was what spurred the probe; it was signed by a “concerned parent” and said to be sent by a white “heavy-set” man whose identity investigators are still looking into. The letter alleged the cheerleaders were involved in boozing it up and using drugs, stripping, prostitution, and getting other people to do their homework for them. But an attorney for five of the cheerleaders calls the accusations “outlandish” and their suspension (due to a conduct investigation) “unprecedented,“ calling the girls “teal-bleeding” (teal is one of the school colors) athletes who are “victims of … baseless claims from an anonymous source,“ per the Sun News.

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►  Entire Cheer Squad Shut Down for Mysterious Reasons

An entire college cheer squad has been shut down, apparently after allegations of prostitution and more. Deadspin reports Coastal Carolina University has indefinitely suspended its entire cheer squad pending an investigation. The suspension comes just days before a cheer event—now canceled—at the university and weeks before a national cheer competition the squad had already raised money to compete in but will no longer attend. The CCU cheer squad website now redirects to the school spirit team’s site. The university is not commenting on the reason for the suspension or the nature of the investigation.

However, an unnamed cheerleader tells WMBF the university received an anonymous letter earlier this month accusing team members of prostitution, buying alcohol for minors, paying people to do their homework, and more. The cheerleader says on Wednesday night members of the team were taken in for questioning by police, who searched their phones before releasing them. Police say they are not investigating the cheer squad. In a statement released Friday and obtained by WPDE, the cheer squad says the allegations against its members are false and have “led to harassment on campus as well as through social media.“ They’re waiting for their names to be cleared and the suspension lifted.

►  Monday’s Title Game Should Be a Brawl

Their pedigrees are different, but both teams are loaded with veterans. Both have some heft in the middle. When Gonzaga meets North Carolina for the NCAA national championship on Monday night, it could be quite a brawl, reports the AP. “They’re big just like us and they match up with us pretty well,“ North Carolina’s Theo Pinson said. The centers are beastly. Gonzaga (37-1) brings 7-foot-1, 300-pound Przemek Karnowski. He will have 3 inches and 40 pounds on the Tar Heels’ 6-10, 260-pound Kennedy Meeks, who may have had the best game of his career in Saturday night’s 77-76 win over Oregon. “Kennedy, I thought, was awesome,“ Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. “I thought he controlled everything inside—25 points, 14 rebounds, 11 of 13 (shooting).“ Karnowski was one of the main reasons that Gonzaga regrouped after blowing a 14-point second half lead to beat South Carolina 77-73.

But the Zags also have 7-foot, 230-pound Zach Collins, whose 3-pointer gave Gonzaga the lead. Collins had 14 points, 13 rebounds, and six blocked shots to help propel Gonzaga—in its first Final Four—into the title game. North Carolina (32-7), the No. 1 seed in the South, will be seeking its fifth national title. Gonzaga, the No. 1 seed in the West, finally has made it after knocking on the door so many times under coach Mark Few. “I’ve had some really, really tough teams,“ Few said. “I’ve had some really close teams. I’ve had some teams that have been crazy efficient on the offensive end and ones that have been pretty darned good on the defensive end that probably didn’t get credit for it. These guys are all of that. All of it.“ “The journey we’ve been on has just been unreal, and we just never stopped believing ... the entire season long,“ says Gonzaga guard Nigel Williams-Goss.

GCHS Student Recognition

Gilmer County High School honored senior athletes playing in their last home game on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 in the Damon West Gymnasium.

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Front: Tiffany Copeland; (L-R): Cole Haley, Carter Springer, Trey Shuff, Lukas Sirbaugh and Noah Aviles

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Tiffany Copeland, daughter of Lori Carter and David Copeland, cheered in her last home game for the Titans.

Boys varsity basketball players honored were:
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Noah Aviles, son of Felix and Nancy Aviles of Glenville

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Cole Haley, son of Mike and Monica Haley of Glenville

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Lukas Sirbaugh, son of Jessica Jenkins and TJ Sirbaugh of Glenville

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Carter Springer, son of Richard and Amy Springer of Glenville

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Trey Shuff, son of Steve and Jessica Shuff of Glenville

This group of athletes have finished their career (grades 7-12) record of 101-25, making it the most successful class of basketball athletes in the last 20 years.

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In Sports….

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►  Big 12 official: Joseph’s hit vs. Sooners should have been targeting

DALLAS, Texas — Karl Joseph’s crunching sideline hit on Oklahoma receiver Dede Westbrook, a play deemed legal at the time, should have been flagged for targeting, Big 12 coordinator of officials Walt Anderson said Tuesday.

The hit that became a highlight on Joseph’s NFL draft clips led to an NCAA rule change whereby replay officials in 2016 can stop action to review targeting that wasn’t called on the field.

Anderson described Joseph’s pass breakup as “clear and obvious and evident and egregious.” Take a look:

“Clearly targeting the opponent, lowers the head, makes contact not only with the crown of the helmet, but is making no effort to lower the strike zone and avoid this,” Anderson said. “It should have been called on the field.

“We missed this and this would be one that this year we would want the instant replay official to stop.”

Mindful of stoppages that lead to four-hour games, Anderson’s staff is training replay officials to identify hits that stand out immediately.

“That doesn’t mean we’re stopping every big hit in a football game just in case it might be targeting,” he said. “The language I told the officials is we’re going to stop play on the should have’s. We’re not going to stop play on the could have’s.”

151,365 plays in Division I
161 targeting
17 targeting fouls enforced (44 reversed to no foul)
8 targeting calls in the Big 12 (4 reversed to no foul)

►  Pro Wrestlers Sue Over Brain Injuries, Too

Add pro wrestlers to those suing their former employer over brain injuries suffered on the job. More than 50 retired wrestlers—including Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka—filed suit against World Wrestling Entertainment on Monday, reports Reuters. Other big plaintiff names from wrestling’s early days are Joseph Laurinaitis, 55, known as the “Road Warrior Animal,“ and Chris Pallies, 60, or “King Kong Bundy.“ They say WWE and its chief, Vince McMahon, encouraged them to use dangerous, choreographed moves such as the “piledriver,“ in which a wrestler is dropped head first onto the mat, and then concealed the risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy and other neurological conditions, reports Bloomberg.

“WWE placed corporate gain over its wrestlers’ health, safety, and financial security, choosing to leave the plaintiffs severely injured and with no recourse to treat their damaged minds and bodies,“ the complaint says. On top of that, the lawsuit says WWE classified its wrestlers as “independent contractors” to avoid liability. Nope, says WWE. “This is another ridiculous attempt by the same attorney who has previously filed class action lawsuits against WWE, both of which have been dismissed,” says a statement. Still, one sports law expert calls pro wrestlers “the most disposable athletes in the sports and entertainment business” given the physical abuse they endure, combined with their status as independent contractors. The wrestlers cite not just brain injuries but higher rates of suicide, drug abuse, and violent behavior.

►  Girl Cut From Cheer Squad Threatens to Sue

A Florida student is threatening to sue Leon County Schools … because she was cut from her high school cheerleading team. Caylen Berry, head coach of the Leon High School cheer squad—which finished second in the state last season and will compete in Orlando’s National High School Cheerleading Championship in February, per WGN—says the senior fell twice during a recent tryout and failed to nab a spot on the team, reports the Tallahassee Democrat. Afterward, a rep says the district was “made aware of a parent’s complaint,“ which apparently included a threat to sue. The district is now considering just putting the student on the team—but Berry says that’ll be one strike too many.

Berry claims the district placed a student on the Leon cheer squad last year though she was initially cut. “This is just a thing the district does and thinks is OK,“ she says, though district officials say that decision was made at the school level. If the move is repeated, Berry and some cheerleaders say they’ll quit. “They should not put an athlete on the team that doesn’t deserve to be on the team,“ says Berry. “A decision like this would question my integrity as a professional. It also questions the entire legitimacy of tryouts and cheerleading as a sport.“ LCS says it’s working with school officials to determine “what’s in the best interest of the student and the school,“ per the Democrat. A decision is expected in the coming weeks.

GCHS Titans’ News

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  • Gilmer County High School will hold organizational meetings for Mini-Titan football, Mini-Titan Volleyball, Varsity and Mini-Titan Cross County, and Varsity Cheerleading on Monday, July 25 at 6 p.m. Students who are interested in participating in these sports should plan to attend and bring at least one parent/guardian.

  • Varsity football, varsity golf, varsity cross country, varsity cheerleading, and Mini-Titan cross country seasons all open on Monday, August 01.

  • Varsity Volleyball and Mini-Titan football seasons open on Monday, August 08.  Mini-Titan volleyball opens on August 15 (first day of school).

WVSSAC 2016 Champions

A list of the 2015-2016 West Virginia high school team state championships won for all three classes out of the WVSSAC.

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In Sports….

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►  University Tells Would-Be Cheerleaders How to Look

Newsflash: Cheerleaders should not sport ponytails. This according to a now-pulled infographic posted to Facebook by the University of Washington cheerleading team on Monday. It was ostensibly a guide for would-be Huskies, as cheerleader tryouts begin Friday. Instead, the list of Dos and Don’ts—which specified that “nude lips” are out, as are “tops that cover the midriff,“ while “natural tan/spray tan” and Girl About Town Lipstick (a $17 option from MAC) are in—sparked a backlash, and was wiped from Facebook early Tuesday. The Seattle Times reports that Husky athletics officials said they came up with the graphic after fielding “a high volume of student questions about cheer and dance team tryouts.“ Now they’re fielding something else: complaints about racism and objectification.

“As a student of color who looks nothing like the student in the poster, this feels very exclusive,“ student Jazmine Perez, director of programming for student government, tells the Times. Louisiana State University and Washington State University have produced similar graphics, with NBC News pointing out the other two schools did so “apparently to little controversy,“ even though all three “are remarkably similar, boasting women with relatively straight, shoulder-length blonde hair.“ At Sporting News, Haley Sawyer makes the “exhausting argument” she’s made ad nauseam: Cheerleading is a sport. Girls “put in hours on the mats, they get banged up doing all kinds of stunts, and they have to memorize hours of choreography.“ But that reality will continue to be supplanted by a layer of superficiality “until mistakes like Washington’s are stamped out.“

WSSAC Regional Alignments Set for 2016-2017 Academic Year

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PARKERSBURG, WV — The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission board of directors on Monday approved new regional alignments starting in the 2016-2017 academic year and going through 2019-2020.

The regional alignments for boys and girls basketball are posted below.


Region 1, Section 1: Brooke, John Marshall, Wheeling Park

Region 1, Section 2: Buckhannon-Upshur, Morgantown, Preston, University

Region 2, Section 1: Hedgesville, Martinsburg, Musselman, Spring Mills

Region 2, Section 2: Hampshire, Jefferson, Washington

Region 3, Section 1: Capital, George Washington, South Charleston, St. Albans

Region 3, Section 2: Greenbrier East, Princeton, Riverside, Woodrow Wilson

Region 4, Section 1: Parkersburg, Parkersburg South, Ripley

Region 4, Section 2: Cabell Midland, Huntington, Hurricane, Spring Valley



Region 1, Section 1: Berkeley Springs, Frankfort, Grafton, Keyser, Petersburg, Philip Barbour

Region 1, Section 2: East Fairmont, Fairmont Senior, North Marion, Oak Glen, Weir

Region 2, Section 1: Bridgeport, Elkins, Liberty (H), Lincoln, Robert C. Byrd

Region 2, Section 2: Braxton County, Clay County, Herbert Hoover, Lewis County, Nicholas County, Roane County

Region 3, Section 1: Independence, Liberty (R), Oak Hill, Westside, Wyoming East

Region 3, Section 2: Bluefield, James Monroe, PikeView, River View, Shady Spring

Region 4, Section 1: Point Pleasant, Nitro, Poca, Sissonville, Wayne, Winfield

Region 4, Section 2: Chapmanville, Lincoln County, Logan, Man, Mingo Central, Scott



Region 1, Section 1: Bishop Donahue, Cameron, Hundred, Madonna, Valley (W), Wheeling Central

Region 1, Section 2: Magnolia, Paden City, St. Marys, Tyler Consolidated, Ritchie County

Region 2, Section 1: Clay-Battelle, Dodridge County, Gilmer County, Notre Dame, South Harrison, Trinity Christian, Tygarts Valley

Region 2, Section 2: East Hardy, Harman, Moorefield, Paw Paw, Pendleton County, Tucker County, Union, WV School for the Deaf

Region 3, Section 1: Charleston Catholic, Fayetteville, Midland Trail, Pocahontas County, Richwood, Valley (F), Webster County

Region 3, Section 2: Greater Beckley Christian, Greenbrier West, Meadow Bridge, Montcalm, Mount View, Summers County

Region 4, Section 1: Calhoun County, Parkersburg Catholic, Ravenswood, Wirt County, Wahama, Williamstown

Region 4, Section 2: Buffalo, Hannan, Sherman, St. Joseph Central, Tolsia, Tug Valley, Van

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►  Stars of Famous Super Bowl Ad Reunite 37 Years Later

The stars of one of the most famous Super Bowl commercials of all time recently reunited on a football field in Texas, CBS News reports. In 1979, Pittsburgh Steelers player “Mean” Joe Greene famously drank a young boy’s Coke, tossing him his game jersey in exchange. Thirty-seven years later, that boy—Tommy Okon—says Greene is one of his oldest friends, according to People. “That commercial is kind of what Joe is: tough football player who’s a nice guy,“ Okon says. Greene and Okon met up to film a segment on Super Bowl advertising. “Still special after all these years,“ Greene says after recreating the iconic ad. He was probably just relieved he didn’t have to chug 18 bottles of Coke this time around.

►  Patriots Fan’s Premature Tattoo: Super Bowl ‘Champs’

A New England Patriots fan was a bit premature when he got a tattoo declaring the team champions of a game they never reached—yet he says he has no regrets. Burke O’Connell, 31, says he strongly believed the Patriots would win the AFC Championship and advance to the Super Bowl. The Massachusetts native had a friend ink the celebratory tattoo across his calf two days before the Patriots lost to the Denver Broncos 20-18. The black-and-white tattoo depicts a Lombardi Trophy rising above the Patriots’ logo, along with the Boston skyline, the number “50,“ and the word “Champs.“

“Honestly, I just had a bad feeling right in the beginning [of the game], and they started losing,“ he tells WCVB. O’Connell, who now lives in Los Angeles, tells the Boston Globe he has no regrets, though. He says his chin tattoo of an ex-girlfriend’s name—now covered up with skulls—was much worse. “I can’t say ‘live and learn,‘ because I didn’t live and learn,“ O’Connell tells the Globe. “But the memories. That’s what tattoos are there for. This one I’ll never forget.“

►  Jets Cheerleaders Score $325K Settlement

A New Jersey court on Wednesday gave the Flight Crew—aka the New York Jets cheerleaders—something to cheer about: a $325,000 settlement of the class-action lawsuit filed in 2014 by a cheerleader identified as Krystal C., CNNMoney reports. That amounts to each of the 52 cheerleaders getting $2,500 per season worked and $400 per photo shoot. The settlement covers the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. New York State Senator Diane Savino, per the New York Post, cheered the settlement, calling on the NFL to “develop uniform rules … to ensure that all cheerleaders in every state received the employee pay and protections they deserve.“

NFL teams have sought to justify low pay for cheerleaders by saying they’re independent contractors, CNN notes. In the case of the Flight Crew, Krystal C.‘s suit claimed that cheerleaders were compensated $150 per game and $100 for special appearances. But, when you factor in practices and rehearsals, that pans out to $3.77 per hour. Throw in hair, makeup, and transportation expenses and “the hourly rate goes below $1.50 an hour,“ says the cheerleaders’ attorney. The Flight Crew isn’t alone: Cheerleaders have taken to the courts to seek higher pay from the Cincinnati Bengals (tentative agreement reached), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (settled for $825,000), Oakland Raiders (settled for $1.25 million), and the Buffalo Bills (class-action suit on the horizon).


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Why more men should become cheerleaders

After football season ended, Jacob Papp had free afternoons and a crush on a cheerleader. So, the Indiana high school senior joined her squad. Lifting a teenage girl, he figured, must be easier than benching his one-rep max of 250 pounds.

That winter, as students swarmed the gym for the season’s first basketball game, Papp slipped into his snug purple uniform, worrying: Would people think he was girly ?

“I took a deep breath and told myself, “Okay, you’ll be fine,“ recalls Papp, 28. “I was really nervous.“

But he cared more about nailing aerial stunts than wrecking his image as a tough middle linebacker. Balancing the fliers on his palms proved harder than he’d imagined. He’d worked daily to master the tricks.

His crush became a great friend. His real love, it turned out, was the sport. He is now a cheerleader for the Indianapolis Colts.

“I feel closer to [the cheerleaders] than my teammates from football, baseball and rugby,“ Papp said. “We go through fire together. We look out for each other.“

A curious thing happens when young men become cheerleaders: They appear to prioritize the good of the team over the way they grew up thinking guys should behave, according to a new study in the journal Sport in Society.

Co-author Amy Pressland, an education professor at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, said more male cheerleaders - or men who compete alongside women, in general - could strengthen gender relations beyond the sidelines.

She doesn’t advocate total athletic integration—a 200-pound man, for example, shouldn’t be able to bulldoze an 120-pound woman in a rugby match.

Schools, however, should encourage more gender-blended sports, she argues. Girls and boys learn together in the classroom, and women and men share workplaces, but more rarely do members of the opposite sex bond together in athletic environments.

Pressland’s theory: If kids have the opportunity to compete together, regardless of gender, they get another chance to understand each other. It’s no coincidence, she said, that high school and university sports teams, often comprised of teenagers from different racial and economic backgrounds, tend to morph into tight cliques.

Dividing the sexes in America’s favorite pastimes, on the other hand, conveys that differences between boys and girls are “essential” or “natural” rather than socially constructed, the paper asserts. “The reproduction of a largely misogynistic and unjust sporting and thus social culture is also facilitated through such segregative practices,“ the authors wrote.

Pressland observed four British cheer squads and interviewed 10 male cheerleaders to understand how they interacted with teammates in a traditionally feminine activity. Those who identified as heterosexual didn’t see their teammates as romantic interests. They discussed learning how to better communicate with female peers to achieve physically demanding goals. They seemed to develop deep, mutual respect.

The findings, Pressland said, are worth exploring on a larger scale.

“Many of the young men we interviewed weren’t totally comfortable wearing sparkles or doing dance moves,“ she said. “But they placed the team over gender and their worries.“

Take Richard, last name omitted, who became a cheerleader “on a dare” and told researchers he stayed for the camaraderie:

“They made us do a bit of poms, which was embarrassing but fun ... we were a couple of guys in the middle, throwing around poms! Of course we made it look better, but ... you know, some things which a guy naturally wouldn’t do. You look like a fool doing it, but it’s fun anyway. And I’d rather be embarrassed than let my team down.“

Melanie, another British college student, revealed male teammates stepped out of their comfort zones after some coaxing:

“A lot of boys struggle with the dance and ‘sass’ elements while girls seem to naturally like to dance and to be pretty and neat and sassy. Boys are also quite shy, I think, about doing the sassy elements. For example, we get extra points if we wink or blow kisses to the judges. So to get the boys to up their game, we’ve challenged them to a sort of competition amongst themselves, to project the most sassiness. That kind of eggs them on, there’s a good atmosphere with everyone fooling around but also trying to do better than each other.“

Of course, co-ed squads aren’t totally gender-neutral spaces. Young men in Pressland’s study justified their involvement by bragging to pals about proximity to attractive ladies, the researchers learned through interviews. Young women tried to make their male teammates more comfortable by acknowledging their strength and pumping up their egos.

The researchers remain optimistic, though. “Mixed-sex sporting activity, it is hoped, may be able to stage a counter to such socially regressive gender pedagogy,“ they wrote, “by providing transformative experiences that challenge traditional ideas of male superiority.“

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