Archive for the ‘College Sports’ Category

The changing faces of coaching

March 28, 2016
Rhonda Rompola

Photo Courtesy: Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News

 

Veteran SMU women’s basketball coach Rhonda Rompola recently announced that she’ll be retiring after the season, ending her 25-year tenure as the Mustangs’ head coach. It’s been a successful career for Rompola, with seven NCAA tournament berths and a career record above .500.

Now normally, news about a coach retiring wouldn’t spread much past the sports pages and fan websites. But Coach Rompola didn’t hesitate to say why she’s retiring and THAT’s what making news far beyond campus. It’s not because she’s tired of the sport: She’s tired of the players.

“Kids are not as coachable as they were years ago,” she told the Associated Press. “I see kids sometimes talking back to their coaches and it’s like a way of life. I’m just being honest. The rules and everything they get, they haven’t taken time to appreciate. I was happy to have a scholarship. Kids nowadays are more concerned about when their next cost-of-attendance check is. It’s just a different world.”

As you may recall, this academic year is the first in which NCAA student-athletes can receive cost-of-attendance payments in addition to their athletic scholarships. The extra money is for incidentals, such as travel home, school supplies, laundry, etc. The amount given to each student-athlete varies by school, anywhere from $1,000 to more than $6,000 per academic year.

According to CBSSports, SMU student-athletes receive $2,676 per year, on average.

Coach Rompola apparently is not a fan of cost-of-attendance, going on to tell the AP: “Kids are making decisions these days to go to a college based on what their cost-of-attendance check is, based on the meals they get, not based on academics, not based on what a great school it is.”

“Maybe I’m old school. It’s not necessarily what I signed up for and I’m not going to adjust my coaching to the way kids are these days. That’s how it is these days, coaches having to adjust to kids, rather than kids having to adjust to coaches.”

Many youth coaches across the country probably nodded their heads in agreement after reading those words. Whether it’s youth sports or high school and college athletics, more now is being done to meet the needs of the student-athlete. Most of it is good, and overall the cost-of-attendance payments have been received well. But there’s a fine line between helping players and coddling players. Youth coaches have to balance that line all the time, and some, like Coach Rompola, are tired of the high-wire act.

Credit goes to the coaches who can stick it out, encourage and teach our young athletes, and get them ready for the next level, whether it’s in sports or not. Next time you’re at your kids’ games, thank their coaches. Their job gets more difficult every day.

Sports in the Courts

October 22, 2015

If event rights holders and venue operators need another reminder that every legal scenario needs to be covered when holding an event, here are three reminders:

A former Ohio University baseball player has sued the school, alleging that his career ended because his coach discouraged players from complaining about injuries. RyLee Rogers, a catcher from Cambridge, Ohio, is seeking more than $25,000 in the lawsuit.

Rogers suffered a tear in the shoulder cartilage of his throwing arm in the Bobcats’ 2012 baseball season and underwent corrective surgery before returning to the team for the 2013 season. Head baseball coach Rob Smith then assigned Rogers to be a bullpen catcher for the annual varsity-alumni game, and he was required to make an “excessive” number of throws, the lawsuit states. Rogers suffered another torn labrum in his throwing arm and underwent surgery that ended his baseball career, according to the lawsuit. The suit claims Smith discouraged players from complaining about soreness or physical limitations and discouraged them from sitting out of scheduled activities.

But it’s not just at the college level: A La Jolla High School student is suing the school district, alleging that a football coach ordered him to keep playing in a game last year even though he had suffered a concussion during the first quarter.

John Enloe III, who is now over 18, accuses the San Diego Unified School District of negligence and failing to both recognize the signs of his injury and to follow safe and proper coaching protocol.

According to the complaint, Enloe was a member of La Jolla High’s junior varsity football team on Oct. 16, 2014, when he was hit hard during game play. He complained of a headache and nausea, told an assistant coach that he wasn’t feeling well and asked to be taken out of the game, but the coach told him to “suck it up” and keep playing, said attorney Harlan Zaback, who represents Enloe in the lawsuit. Enloe was hit again during the game and was taken to a hospital later. There, he was diagnosed with a serious concussion.

And it’s not just in the schools: WTA star Eugenie Bouchard has begun legal action against the United States Tennis Association after suffering a concussion following a fall at the U.S. Open. She slipped in the locker room there, withdrew from the tournament before her fourth-round match, then pulled out of the China Open the next month because of dizziness.

The lawsuit alleges she slipped on “a foreign and dangerous substance,” identified as a cleaning agent supposed to be left on the floor overnight. The suit also alleges negligence and includes a demand for a jury trial, with Bouchard seeking damages from the USTA and USTA National Tennis Center.

While these cases make their way through the legal system, they stand as reminders for everyone to cross their legal T’s and dot their legal I’s. Whether it’s background checks on volunteers or insurance coverage for venues, we all know that events, and the places where they’re held, should and must be covered. It’s a good time as we head into the new year to re-evaluate your coverage and your security protocol to make sure you’ve done everything needed to make your event, and venue, safe.

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Helicopter Parenting, Celebrity Style

July 2, 2015

We may find out this week whether Sean “Diddy” Combs will be charged by the district attorney after his dustup last week with the UCLA football strength and conditioning coach.

In an incident that someone said was “helicopter parenting by a parent who actually owns a helicopter,” Diddy got into a fight with Bruins coach Sal Alosi after the coach screamed at Diddy’s son, Justin, on the practice field.

Now, no one likes to see their child get screamed at, so Diddy allegedly confronted the coach in his office and he was 1)either defending himself from the coach’s threats or 2)threw a kettlebell weight at the coach during the argument. Diddy’s arrest includes three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of making terrorist threats and one count of battery. There is said to be surveillance video of the incident, so more should be known soon.

A bit of background: If Sal Alosi’s name sounds familiar, it should, because he was an assistant with the New York Jets almost five years ago when he tripped a Miami Dolphins player as he was running down the sidelines covering a punt.

As for Justin combs, he’s a redshirt junior defensive back for the Bruins and has played a handful of games during his UCLA career. UCLA is becoming the program of choice for rap star’s sons: Snoop Dogg’s son just signed with the Bruins this year.

You don’t have to have been around youth sports long to see verbal confrontations between parents and coaches, during and after games. Who is at fault for what in this particular incident has yet to be sorted out, but it’s not unique in youth sports and it’s a big reason kids say they leave sports in their early teen years.

A coach’s job is to make that young player the best he or she can be. A parent’s job is to be as supportive as possible. And let’s think about what the atmosphere in that locker room is going to be when – or if – Justin Combs returns to the UCLA program.

NCAA Baseball Remains Big Business

May 28, 2015

Omaha, Nebraska isn’t the only place that profits from the NCAA baseball tournament.

Omaha, of course, the long-time host of the College World Series, sees the tournament as a major economic driver as well as a showcase for the area. In 2012 it’s estimated the tournament generated more than $20 million worth of media coverage for the city. And a report by Goss & Associates Economic Solutions estimates that between 2008 and 2018 the CWS will add $514.8 million to the Omaha economy, or $385.6 million in 2008 dollars.

But other cities that are the hosts for the baseball regionals are seeing a positive economic impact as well. Tulsa’s first Big 12 championship baseball tournament’s five days of competition are expected to be exciting for more than just college sports fans.

According to the Tulsa Regional Chamber, the Big 12 Baseball Championship is expected to have a total economic impact of close to $5.6 million in revenue.

The Tulsa Sports Commission’s budget to put on the event was just less than $800,000, said Ray Hoyt, president of VisitTulsa and the Tulsa Sports Commission.

The Tulsa World reports that the $5.6 million in revenue includes $3.2 million, the amount spent by outside visitors; $221, the average each visitor who spends the night in Tulsa is expected to spend per day during the tournament; and $142, the average each visitor who doesn’t spend the night will spend per day.

A particular goal for this week is to run the event in a way and produce turnout that will strengthen the city’s relationship with the Big 12 as well as the NCAA. Tulsa has an application in to be the host for the 2018 Big 12 Baseball Championship as well as conference events as soon as next year.

Amenities added include a free “Fan Fest” area where about 6,000 were expected during the weekend, pop-up bars and other activities between games. To help fund the extras, a number of area businesses stepped up with donations and sponsorships.

As Ray Hoyt, president of VisitTulsa and the Tulsa Sports Commission told the Tulsa World, “Sports is a business. They (the businesses) understand the return on investment to Tulsa.”

Whether it’s the NCAA world series, a regional site or a conference tournament, CVBs and sports commissions are seeing the value in being the host for thousands of passionate fans, ready to party and ready to spend.

The Power of Sports

November 18, 2014

Not often will an NFL backup defensive lineman and a freshman forward on a Division III women’s basketball team make national news and touch countless lives. But in the last month we have seen the power of sports touch emotions and raise millions of dollars.

The story of Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still’s daughter, Leah, and her fight against pediatric cancer reached far beyond the NFL. More than $1.3 million was raised through the sale of Still’s number 75 jersey for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and its pediatric cancer research.

Just as dramatic, is the story of Lauren Hill, the Mt. St. Joseph basketball player who was diagnosed her senior year of high school with an inoperable brain tumor and whose only wish was to play a college basketball game. The NCAA allowed the school to move up the date of its season opener to assure Lauren would be well enough to play in at least that one game.

But her #layups4Lauren campaign, similar to this summer’s ice bucket challenge, continues, as she challenges celebrities and pro athletes to make a donation to The Cure Starts Now, dedicated to raising funds for pediatric cancer research. Her efforts, too, are raising hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“I never thought I would play on a college court, put my feet on the floor and feel the vibration of the crowd,” she said after that first game against Hiram College. That is a quote from someone who truly loves her sport and is grateful for the opportunity to play.

Every once in a while, the games that student-athletes and professionals play transcend sports and remind us what is really important. A 4-year-old who is undergoing chemotherapy and a 19-year-old grateful to take the court before the inevitable occurs remind us that sports can touch us all and can make a difference long after the final buzzer sounds.

Pat Summitt presented Lauren Hill with the “Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award” at halftime of the Mount St. Joseph University game in Cincinnati.

Pat Summitt presented Lauren Hill with the “Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award” at halftime of the Mount St. Joseph University game in Cincinnati.

Mascot Mania: Making Community Connections

October 6, 2014

A mascot can be more than a tiger roaming the sidelines of a game, it can serve as an ambassador for year-round fan engagement.

Consider this: A couple of weeks ago, Texas A&M’s live mascot, Reveille, a female rough collie, was saved from impending injury when an A&M cadet stepped between her and an SMU receiver and blocked the receiver from crashing into the dog. That got a lot of airplay and, for the cadet, got him a free pair of senior boots worth more than $1,000, paid for by the commandant of the Corps for his heroism. (you can read a play by play breakdown of the best block of the game here: http://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2014/9/22/6827349/reveille-texas-am-mascot-ryan-kreider)

So, the mascot earned Texas A&M great publicity and connected the school with the community and sports fans everywhere.

Think about adding a mascot to do the same for your organization?

For example, Kentucky Speedway for years had  ‘Horsepower,’ its community mascot. (pictured) Horsepower would be part of many community events that might not have had a thing to do with auto racing, such as mascot broomball every winter. Horsepower also has led library reading programs, participated in flag football at halftime of NFL games and been part of mascot foot races at Cincinnati Reds games.

Even though Kentucky Speedway is a venue with a handful of events throughout the year, its mascot ‘Horsepower’ helped keep Kentucky Speedway in front of the community, and consumers, throughout the year by having a presence at events.

Libraries have mascot reading dogs. Recycle services have mascot recycle bins (really). The idea is less about developing an expensive mascot, and more about keeping your organization, sports commission or venue in front of the community 24/7, 365.

Remember, it’s your community that supports your group with sponsorships, volunteers and ticket sales. Having a mascot is a fun and simple way to engage the community on a year-round basis.

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NASC Board of Directors Meets for Summer Retreat

July 22, 2014

Membership services and professional development were two of the main topics covered at the 2014 National Association of Sports Commissions Board of Directors Summer Retreat, held July 16-18 at the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s office in downtown Indianapolis.

The meeting is the yearly opportunity for the Board to discuss topics that affect the long-term growth and viability of the NASC, and how NASC can best serve its members.

“We see the summer retreat as a great way to proactively look at the issues facing the NASC and its member organizations,” said Kevin Smith, CSEE, director of the St. Petersburg/ Clearwater Sports Commission and the chair of the Board of Directors. “We use this time to discuss some of the ways we can help our members be even more productive.”

Topics during the retreat included CSEE and professional development for members, Association meetings and events, and new membership services.

The Board also heard from Mark Lewis, executive vice president for championships and alliances of the NCAA, on the changing environment of college sports.

“These topics affect how our membership does business in the competitive sports tourism industry,” said Greg Ayers, CSEE, president and CEO of Discover Kalamazoo and Vice Chair/Chair-Elect of the Board. “The Board wants to find new ways, from education to networking, to help our members establish themselves as leaders in this field.”

The next professional development opportunity for members is the CSEE Fall Module and Market Segment Meetings, co-located with the USOC Olympic Sportslink at the Hilton Chicago on Monday, September 22 and Tuesday, September 23. For information and registration, visit http://sportscommissions.org/MarketSegmentMeetings.

Jackie Reau
Game Day Communications
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Five Questions with Mark Lewis, Executive Vice President of Championships and Alliances, NCAA

April 24, 2013

Mark Lewis, who has been in the role of Executive Vice President of Championships and Alliances, NCAA, for exactly one year, is spending time at the 2013 Symposium meeting with the membership of the organization.

In June, the NCAA will distribute the bids collectively for the 89 annual championships facilitated by the NCAA. NASC_News asked Mark Lewis a few questions about his role at the NCAA.

Q: You have been in your role for one year now. What are some of the accomplishments in which you are most proud?

A. Each year, we host 89 championships for our student athletes to compete at the highest level, and to create lasting memories for them. Our men’s tournament this year celebrated its 75th anniversary with a terrific tournament that included some of the best match ups in the history of the tournament, record TV ratings and terrific attendance. We also launched our Division II Championship Festivals for the first time. We received great feedback from our member organizations as well as our student athletes for the overall experience from our host cities and member organizations.

Q: What are three tips you can share with potential host cities?

A: First and foremost, all potential host cities need to develop close working relationships with our members, the colleges and universities in their market, to submit the bid. Secondly, it’s important to complete the bid per the specifications but also be creative. We want to see some community spirit and passion in the bid. Lastly but probably most important, we want to see how the host community and member organization are going to create a positive experience for our student athletes.

Q: What are you most excited about at the NCAA?

A: I get excited going to work every day. Interest in college athletics is at an all-time high as evidenced by the TV ratings of the men’s basketball tournament–the highest since the 90s. But every time we award a championship trophy, it’s a magical moment, and we get to do it 89 times a year.

Q: How are you looking to grow strategic alliances for the NCAA?

A: With 94 percent of the annual revenue for the NCAA coming from men’s basketball, I think about growing revenue opportunities with the other championships every day. Only five of our 89 championships are self-funding (men’s basketball, men’s hockey, baseball, men’s lacrosse and wrestling). We are constantly looking for ways to grow revenue while providing additional exposure to our student athletes. For example, we will broadcast the men’s and women’s golf championships on the Golf Channel this year.

About Mark Lewis

Mark Lewis was named the NCAA’s executive vice president for championships and alliances in April 2012.

Lewis oversees the administration and operation of 89 championships in 23 different sports, including ticketing and marketing operations. Lewis also is responsible for managing the broadcast partnerships with CBS, Turner Sports and ESPN, as well as the Association’s corporate partners.

Before joining the NCAA, Lewis was president of Jet Set Sports, a leading hospitality and event company with highly successful partnerships with various local and national Olympic organizing committees. As president, Lewis focused on managing partnerships with Olympic entities in the areas of accommodations, event tickets, catering, ground transportation, management and many other services.

Prior to his position at Jet Set Sports, Lewis was vice president of sponsorship at the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) where he was responsible for the oversight of all aspects of global Olympic and NFL sponsorships for General Electric, including working with various business units of the company to increase sales.

Lewis also previously served as president and chief operating officer of Olympic Properties of the United States in Salt Lake City, a joint venture of the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee and the United States Olympic Committee. This joint venture raised more than $1.5 billion in sponsorships with more than 70 corporations.

Lewis is a former Division I student-athlete who played football at the University of Georgia, where he received his undergraduate (accounting) and law degrees. He is married to Dawn Allinger Lewis, a former Pac-10 basketball player at Washington State and a 1996 Olympian in team handball.  They have two children, Peyton and Dylan.