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Sports Forum / Lawsuit against Georgia Southern Football continues
« on: August 06, 2020, 02:29:32 PM »

Lawsuit against Georgia Southern Football continues

Updated: Aug 5, 2020, 10:13 PM

Following the revelation in June of a lawsuit filed against the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and the Georgia Southern football program alleging discrimination, the Herald has obtained personnel files and documents pertaining to the 2019 termination of a football team employee.

John Christopher Ball was employed as the football team’s video coordinator beginning in 2013, until he was terminated on March 11, 2019 for what was described in his personnel file as a “Violation of University Policy.”

More specifically — as described by Ball in an interview and in emails obtained from the university in response to a Freedom of Information request from the Herald — the violation was a “falsification of a time card,” with Ball reporting a total of 24 hours over three days in which it was later determined he did not work.

While Ball acknowledges a mistake in reporting hours, he contends that the true reason for his dismissal stems from his inability to carry out responsibilities that were added to his job description following a surgery that left him disabled.

Ball’s lawsuit was filed after he went through proper channels with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Georgia Southern complied with the EEOC’s request for pertinent information. Following its review, the EEOC did not determine that the university was in violation of any statutes, but also issued Ball a Right to Sue notice.

Ball has obtained the services of Kirby Smith of The Kirby Smith Law Firm of Atlanta and the case is ongoing in the Atlanta Division of the Northern District Court of Georgia.

The complaint

The principal complaint in Ball’s suit stems from discussions with Head Football Coach Chad Lunsford and Director of Football Operations Sean Fitzgerald prior to the team’s spring practices in 2019, according to the suit. Ball was absent from the team from October 2018 through January 2019 while recovering from an operation that included the amputation of a foot. Upon returning to work, Ball was notified that Lunsford wanted him to be on the field during practices in order to quickly make changes to filming setups, if needed.

“That was something that I had never done before,” Ball said during an interview in June. “It had never been brought up. I thought that we were able to do whatever (Lunsford) wanted with the setup we had been using.”

Ball stated that the new demands would be very difficult to execute as he was confined to a wheelchair. Ball said Lunsford insisted that he figure out a way to get things done.

That led Ball to meet with Benefits Manager Samantha Rossi of the university’s Human Resources department on Feb. 15. In the meeting, temporary accommodations were discussed that would allow Ball to remain off the field while documentation from his physician was obtained.

Emails and meeting notes obtained in the Herald’s investigation show that both Ball and Lunsford were informed that Ball could not be forced to work on the field and that both sides should work towards finding a solution.

While Ball was out on medical leave, Lunsford said that he had video coordinators on the field and that he had decided that it was a more optimal setup than the system that had been employed by Ball and his staff. Ball contended that he believed he could fulfil all of the team’s requests while not physically being on the field himself.

Time card discrepancies

Prior to a full audit of Ball’s time card, university documents show Fitzgerald met with Ball on Feb. 21 to discuss proper procedures for alerting supervisors on days he was unable to come to work. The memo compiled by Fitzgerald on the meeting specifies Jan. 29 and 30 as instances where Ball notified the team that he would not be at work in what was determined by the university to be an untimely manner. The memo also states that future absences without proper notification could lead to further discipline up to and including termination.

Following the Feb. 21 meeting between Ball and Fitzgerald and up until his termination, there is no documented information showing formal disciplinary action towards Ball and there were no further instances of time card falsification. Notes provided by Fitzgerald kept a running record of concerns related to Ball’s job performance, but none of these instances are cited as reasons for Ball’s termination.

Ball added that the meeting consisted solely of being presented with the document and verifying the message. While the document stated that further incidents could lead to termination, Ball said that there was no discussion on the matter and that no verbal threats of termination were made.

Among the documents obtained by the Herald was a report submitted on Feb. 27, 2019, in which Georgia Southern’s Chief Auditor Jana M. Briley provided Deputy Athletic Director Lisa Sweany and Fitzgerald with the results of an internal audit into Ball.

The audit determined that Ball had not been at work on Jan. 22 or Jan. 29-30, but had reported eight hours on his time card for each of those days. The report further recommended that Ball receive training for appropriate time reporting and leave requests and that Ball’s supervisors should contact the university’s payroll department to adjust Ball’s compensatory leave hours to reflect his absence.

The possibility of termination was not mentioned in the report.

When asked by the Herald why he submitted a time card with hours he did not work, Ball said that “it was an honest mistake.”

Despite the reports recommending disciplinary action and Ball’s meeting with Director of Football Operations Fitzgerald where termination was not discussed as a possible action, Ball was fired on March 11, 2019.

University officials declined to comment on how the ultimate decision to terminate Ball was made – as well as the person or persons responsible for making the decision to terminate – citing that it is against policy to comment on pending litigation.

Also, the university declined to comment on whether similar infractions by other employees had led to termination, but did cite university policy stating, “falsification of institutional documents or records" is a serious violation that "may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.”

Ball said he believes the decision to fire him was made prior to any investigation of his time card.

“Personally, I think they had already made up their minds (about termination),” Ball said. “I didn’t hear much from Coach Lunsford all throughout spring practice. I feel like they had me do video editing through the spring and waited until right after the spring game to let me go.”

Ball’s lawsuit was filed in January in the Atlanta Division of the Northern District Court of Georgia. It demands from the Regents and Georgia Southern “full back pay plus interest, front pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, reasonable attorney fees, and costs in accordance with the American Disabilities Act to exceed $25,000; and any other relief this Court deems proper and just.”

Sports Forum / Savannah State football team looking toward spring
« on: July 10, 2020, 06:52:50 PM »

By Dennis Knight
Posted at 4:53 PM

Savannah State’s Shawn Quinn is a man whose upbeat, positive personality has formed the foundation of his success as a football coach.

Quinn has been faced a challenge he never expected in the last four months dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on his Tigers program. The worst news yet came Thursday night when the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference announced it was extending the suspension of all sports through the fall of 2020 because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Quinn had to break the news to his squad in a virtual meeting.

“Since Day 1 of all of this, the safety of our players and doing right by them has been the top priority,” Quinn said at a news conference Friday. “But to say it was disappointing would be an understatement. That was probably the toughest meeting I’ve ever had to deal with.”

Quinn and SSU athletic director Opio Mashariki held out hope that football could return in the spring.

“We hope we can play in the spring, as long as we can do it safely,” Mashariki said. “That decision will ultimately come from the SIAC and the presidents’ council, with some input that could trickle down to the AD.”

Mashariki said that decision about spring football could come soon.

“After we suspended play for the fall, now everyone is looking toward the spring,” he said. “We know everything is fluid and things could change in society that could impact a decision next week. But I anticipate that decision will be made in the next couple weeks.”

If the SIAC decides not to play football in the spring, Mashariki said SSU would look into other options for spring ball, or see whether anything could be salvaged in the fall, depending on what the NCAA comes up with.

He said all athletic scholarships will continue to be honored, and athletes will continue to work out on campus, with coronavirus precautions in play, preparing for the possible return to action in the spring.

“We will continue to follow guidelines from the CDC, the Georgia Department of Health and the city of Savannah to ensure the safety of our student athletes and coaching staff,” he said.

Mashariki said the loss of ticket revenue for the six home games that were suspended shouldn’t affect non-revenue sports.

“We’ll make an assessment on the financial impact, but I don’t foresee it having a big impact because 90% of our athletic budget comes from student fees,” he said.

Quinn and his staff are still in coaching mode, as they were looking over film before the news conference started.

“That shows you the type of mindset we’re in,” Quinn said. “Our team wants to compete, obviously within all the rules and protocols. This is a fluid situation, and we’re in discussions with a lot of teams and conferences.

“Who knows how this will pan out? But if they tell us to meet in a Walmart parking lot at midnight to play a game, then we’ll be there with our team ready to go.”

The NCAA announced it had granted SSU full membership into Division II on Friday. Last year, the Tigers had their best season since 1998 — going 7-3, including a 5-0 mark in SIAC play. They weren’t eligible for the playoffs in their first year back in Division II, but now they officially are.

“We were really happy about that, then this news (the suspension of fall play) came out,” Quinn said. “But we’re excited for the opportunity to play for a championship whenever it presents itself. We hope it’s sooner rather than later.”

Sports Forum / Savannah State grad named AD at Norfolk State
« on: June 30, 2020, 10:09:56 PM »

Webb Appointed Director of Athletics at NSU

6/30/2020 6:00:00 PM | By: Matt Michalec, Asst. AD/Communications

NORFOLK, Va. – Norfolk State University President Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston announced Tuesday that Melody Webb has been appointed to the position of University Athletics Director.

Webb replaces Marty Miller, who is transitioning to a new senior leadership role in Dr. Adams-Gaston's administrative team after more than 15 years as Athletics Director.

"Ms. Webb will lead Spartan Athletics to excellence both on and off the field of competition while also increasing NSU's visibility and competitiveness," Dr. Adams-Gaston said.

Webb is no stranger to the University. Since 2014, she has held the position of Senior Associate Athletics Director for Administration and Senior Women's Administrator at NSU. In this role, she serves as the deputy to the Athletics Director, and is responsible for day-to-day operations of the Department of Athletics. Webb is also responsible for managing revenue generation, fundraising and development efforts for the Department, and oversees procurement, human resources and facility operations. Additionally, Webb serves as the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Athletics and works strategically with the Office of Institutional Equity to ensure Title IX compliance.

Prior to joining NSU, Webb served as the Associate Commissioner for Business Operations for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). In this role, she provided leadership and oversight for financial administration for the conference, which included expenditure analysis, human resources functions and event management.

From 2010-12, Webb served as the Assistant Athletics Director for Budget and Finance at George Washington University. At George Washington, she was responsible for administrative oversight of a $22 million budget.

Webb was the Athletics Business Manager for the Department of Athletics at the University of Maryland, College Park from 2006-12. In this role, she assisted with the financial management of a $55 million budget and oversaw the administrative operations for athletic financial affairs, purchasing and accounts.

From 2004-06, Webb served as the Associate Athletic Director and Senior Women's Administrator for Elizabeth City State University. At Elizabeth City, she provided fiscal management and operational oversight of all aspects of the intercollegiate athletics and sports programs.

"Ms. Webb is an exceptional administrator and is well respected within the field of intercollegiate athletics. She is highly involved and engaged in professional associations including the National Association of Athletic Development Directors, and Women Leaders in College Sports," Dr. Adams-Gaston said. "As a former student-athlete at Savannah State University and Head Volleyball Coach at Bowie State University, Ms. Webb understands intercollegiate athletics at every level."

Webb received her Bachelor in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from Savannah State University. She received a Master of Public Administration with a focus in Public Policy and Management from Bowie State University. Webb is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education from the United States Sports Academy. She will complete the doctorate in December 2020.

Webb will assume her duties as Athletics Director on July 1, 2020.


Savannah State football looks to fill hole in schedule after Morehouse cancels season

By Dennis Knight
Posted Jun 26, 2020 at 4:57 PM

The coronavirus pandemic continued to affect the Savannah State football program from afar on Friday as Morehouse College, an HBCU in Atlanta, announced it was canceling its season due to COVID-19.

That throws the Tiger program into another scheduling bind as SSU was set to host Morehouse in a SIAC game on Sept. 26.

But SSU coach Shawn Quinn and athletic director Opio Mashariki are used to the drill by now. They already scrambled once to fill a hole in their schedule when Florida Tech eliminated its entire football program back on May 11. The Tigers were supposed to open on the road at Florida Tech on Sept. 5.

They filled that date nicely by adding a non-conference road game against perennial Division II power Valdosta State. Now they have work to do again.

“It really has been an interesting world we’re living in as of late,” Quinn said in a phone interview Friday. “But we’re sad for Morehouse -- that’s a well-coached team and a good program. We feel sad for the team, especially the seniors, who are losing the opportunity to play this season.

“We were disappointed to hear the news because it’s a conference game and we want to have a full home schedule. But as soon as the news came out, we had four or five teams calling us to fill the spot. We’re trying to work something out.”

Quinn said the pandemic is having a big effect on the sports landscape, and he wouldn’t be surprised if this same situation arose with another opponent.

“We give our condolences to Morehouse, but now we’ve got work to do, and we’re excited about trying to add another team to the schedule,” Quinn said.

Academic honors

Quinn did get some good news on Friday as 25 SSU football players were named to the 2019-20 SIAC Commissioner’s All-Academic Team.

The 25 football players were part of a school record number of 92 SSU student athletes who were selected.

“That was great news to hear,” Quinn said. “It’s something we’ve been focusing on and we had a team GPA of 2.71, with 45% of the team earning a 3.0 GPA or higher. Our goal is to get to 3.0 as a team, but 2.71 is the highest we’ve had since I’ve been here, and I’m really proud of the guys.

“Winning games in football is important, and we have guys who would like to make it to the NFL, but at the end of the day we tell the kids once you have that degree, you’re playing with house money,” Quinn said. “So kudos to our players, it’s great to see these results after all their hard work.”

Georgia’s Public HBCUs: Standing United

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Our nation’s current state of affairs requires the attention of all leaders to champion social justice and end racial inequality. But before action must come thoughtful, engaged and strategic planning. As the presidents of Georgia’s publicly supported historically black colleges and universities we present the following statement.

“We have reached a crossroads; the events of the past few weeks have made even more certain our need to address the issues of social injustice and racial inequality. Across the country, people (like our students, faculty, staff and I) are hurting, angry and weary. It is imperative that we work together to make things better for each other, our communities and our country. We must end racism now,” says Kimberly Ballard-Washington, interim president of Savannah State University.

Paul Jones, president of Fort Valley State University, says “As a Black man in America, I can relate to the feelings of hopelessness regarding our justice system in the United States and how it is often unfair and tilted against people of color. I am not immune to society’s ills because I enjoy the privilege of being a university president. I say to those who have resisted engaging in this matter, I call on you to join us in saying enough is enough. Racism is tearing away the very fabric of our country. It is taking its toll on us all, so we all share the responsibility of making things better.”

“Racism is reprehensible in all forms. The unconscionable acts of hate that have become common place must end. Like many of you, the injustices that I’ve witnessed in the past few months have left me feeling heartbroken, concerned and incensed. We are at a tipping point in America regarding race relations, and if we do not employ constructive solutions, we will continue to witness and experience destructive responses. The events that are unfolding are the result of legitimate pain, frustration and the symptom of a bigger problem. The social and economic injustices that continue to plague our country have to end,” says Marion Ross Fedrick, president of Albany State University.

As university presidents we are taking an active and distinct role in educating our constituents (students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members). Our institutions have a historic legacy of developing strong leaders who fight at the forefront for equality in education, social justice, and who died for civil rights.

Albany State, Fort Valley State, and Savannah State have a responsibility to create opportunities for dialogue. We must lift voices, particularly of those who are often silenced. We are entrusted with our nation’s most cherished resources, minds seeking education and enlightenment.

We must prepare this and future generations of scholars and servant leaders to manifest the freedoms that America promises. These weeks of protest, often punctuated by anger, frustration and tears, remind us that organizing, strategizing and mobilizing can make real and lasting change. By consistently taking a stand, and speaking out, we can help to prevent tragedies, like the most recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Aubrey, Rayshard Brooks and others from ever happening again!

In the coming weeks, our institutions will host a tri-campus symposium on race relations in America. We must all understand and respect that Black Lives Matter!

Sports Forum / CAU basketball
« on: June 24, 2020, 06:44:22 PM »
A few names kicking around surrounding the search at D2 Clark Atlanta University are Arkansas Little Rock assistant Alfred Jordan and Norfolk State University assistant Jamal Brown. Jordan is a CAU alum, who had sent eight seasons as an assistant there before heading to Little Rock. Brown is in his fifth seasons at NSU, and has also been an assistant at NC A&T, Winston-Salem State, Maryland Eastern Shore, South Carolina State, and Tennessee State. I’m working on other names, but sounds like a decision here could be made this week.


Savannah State athletic director tasked with making budget cuts during pandemic

By Nathan Dominitz
Posted Jun 13, 2020 at 3:43 PM

The challenging times for Savannah State Director of Athletics Opio Mashariki did not start with the coronavirus pandemic. It’s only made his job more complicated.

Mashariki has been tasked with reducing the athletic department’s budget deficit, which he projects was in the red about $700,000 for 2019-20. Final numbers are not yet available, he said on Thursday, June 11.

“The last information that I received, we expected, as part of our plan, to run a deficit in the $700,000 range,” said Mashariki, who has been part of the SSU athletics department since March 2005 and was promoted to his current title in January 2019. “We hit that mark. That was our deficit. That number may change once everything is final. They’re still finalizing all of our expenditures for this year.”

As for the 2020-21 budget, that also is being hammered out, with Mashariki hoping to have it by “the end of the month, if not sooner.”

He is certain that the budget will be smaller and the need greater to find areas for reduction. Mashariki said the 2019-20 budget as approximately $3.1 million. Based on projected student enrollment figures which impact the budget, he said, “We’re looking at a budget of about $2.4 million, $2.5 million. We’re still looking at that.”

The department is looking at 15% cuts in costs for travel, operations and scholarships, he said. Which leads to the big question, one athletic departments across the country have been grappling with since the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to huge losses in current and projected revenue.

“The discussion right now is we’re not looking to cut any sports,” Mashariki said.

What the Tigers program has done is reduced the number of scheduled games for some sports, saving on travel as well as on game-day operations.

“We’ve reduced our contests over the years since I’ve been the AD,” said Mashariki, who oversaw the costs-saving transition from NCAA Division I back to DII in 2019-20. “That’s what we’ll continue to do. That’s definitely had a reduction.”

There was a silver lining in a way to the timing of the pandemic, which led to an abrupt halt in March to the spring sports seasons for non-revenue sports but has not yet affected the Tigers’ revenue sports of football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball.

SSU fields teams in the spring in softball, baseball, men’s and women’s golf, women’s tennis and outdoors men’s and women’s track and field.

“Because of those sports, we did save money because we didn’t have to spend it on the travel that we normally would have done,” Mashariki said. “It was in the range of probably $60,000 to $70,000.”

Another chance

There will be some costs ahead, including providing financial packages for senior student-athletes in spring sports who choose to return for an additional year, as the NCAA has ruled in response to the lost spring seasons.

“We’re going to accommodate our student-athletes that want to come back,” said Mashariki, estimating that number to be perhaps 10 to 15 but it’s not even that definitive. “Some want to go right into their careers. Some have expressed that they want to come back. Some are still on the fence.”

He said SSU coaches have been told to include these players into their scholarship figures for the 2020-21 budget. Mashariki also has headed up a new fundraising program, announced Friday, that could provide revenue designated for the returning athletes as well as other department expenditures.

The new sponsorship packages offer businesses and individuals opportunities to purchase advertising in the forms of facility signage, game programs and public address announcements, printed posters, and banners on the SSU athletics website. Prices range from $150 to $3,000.

“We anticipate this will be a huge revenue stream for us,” Mashariki said.

Readying for football

He also anticipates having games in the fall. The football team kicks off a 10-game schedule on Sept. 5 at Valdosta State. The first home game is Sept. 19 against Central State, and could be limited to 50% capacity, or 4,250 of the 8,500-seat T.A. Wright Stadium, Mashariki said. This also could an issue for the hugely popular homecoming game Oct. 17 against Clark Atlanta.

“Everything could change because things are fluid,” he said in regard to social distancing guidelines. “After 4,250, we will encourage people to go online. We will provide our webcast for our sports teams so we encourage people to go online and watch the games.”

The women’s volleyball team opens its season at home Sept. 11 against Benedict College.

Both teams are scheduled to report Aug. 2 for practice, including a few days of physicals and instruction for social distancing and other pandemic-related protocols. Other teams will start later in August.

He hopes to have voluntary weight training and conditioning sessions as soon as July 1 on and near campus for SSU’s athletes who live in the Savannah area. SSU head strength and conditioning coach Justin Vandusen has been providing at-home workout and conditioning plans and nutritional information for coaches and athletes to follow.

“Everything’s looking good right now. We’re moving forward that, yes, there’s going to be football and fans,” Mashariki said, noting that the athletic department follows the lead of the university. “Right now, the university is going the direction of having the students on campus. As long as that continues to be the direction, we will have our teams on campus.”

Classes are scheduled to start Aug. 17.


Claflin University Names New Director of Intercollegiate Athletics

Claflin University has chosen a dynamic and proven leader as its new Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. Tony O'Neal will assume the role on July 1, 2020, succeeding Dr. Jerome Fitch, who announced his retirement after serving 11 years in the position.
O'Neal has served at the senior administrative level of college athletics for more than two decades, including stints at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Savannah State University in Savannah, Ga. O'Neal was selected for the Claflin position after a national search.
"We are excited to have Tony join the Claflin Family," President Dwaun J. Warmack said. "He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our athletics program. I am confident he will sustain and enhance Claflin's proud legacy of success by our student-athletes in athletics and academics."
O'Neal spent 17 years in the athletics department at Bethune-Cookman University. For the past five years, he served as the senior associate athletic director of facilities and strategic initiatives. In between his time in Daytona Beach, O'Neal served as the director of athletics at Savannah State University, managing the University's 15 intercollegiate men's and women's athletic teams.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to lead a thriving athletic program," O'Neal said. "Claflin's amazing history and its commitment to success are impressive. I will do my best to keep Panther teams competing on a level that will continue to bring pride to the University and supporters of the athletics program."
Currently, O'Neal serves as the NCAA Chair of the National Bowling Committee. He has spent years participating in NCAA leadership programs. He was selected for the NCAA Leadership Institute for Ethnic Minority Males in 2002, and he completed the NCAA Fellows Leadership Development Program in 2003. O'Neal also spent years interpreting NCAA bylaws for Bethune-Cookman's 17 sports.
O'Neal received his bachelor's degree in social welfare at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, and he earned his master's degree in transformative leadership from Bethune-Cookman University. O'Neal and his wife, Bonnie, have six daughters and six grandchildren.
Claflin University sponsors 11 team sports that compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II. Claflin has 10 sports that compete in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). The university's baseball program is a member of the Peach Belt Conference. For more information on Claflin University's athletics department, visit


Ken Sugiura

Georgia Tech took a concrete step Thursday in its response to the social unrest caused by the death of George Floyd, as nine varsity teams pledged not to hold any mandatory activities on the Nov. 3 election day to encourage team members and staff to vote.

The nine are men’s and women’s basketball, football, volleyball, men’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s indoor track and field. The women’s swimming and diving team has a competition scheduled for Nov. 3, but is working to reschedule.

The plan to free the day for athletes to vote was hatched by men’s associate head coach Eric Reveno following a Monday video conference call with the Yellow Jackets team in which players, coaches and staff met to share their thoughts sparked by Floyd’s death and the ensuing protests. The idea was championed by men’s coach Josh Pastner and women’s coach Nell Fortner.


Ken Sugiura

More than most, Grady Brewer has experienced the arc of progress that his country has made in the realm of racial equality. The 62-year-old Morehouse basketball coach was born and reared in Atlanta, living through the latter stages of the civil rights movement. He counted as friends Martin Luther King III and Ralph David Abernathy III, sons of civil rights giants.

He grew up feeling the lash of racism. Among his childhood memories – his parents’ refusal to let him and his siblings watch movies at the Fox Theatre until seating was integrated in 1962. He remembers going downtown and seeing two sets of water fountains, one for white people and one for black people. It was a practice outlawed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but vestiges continued in following years.

He has a memory of being struck with fear as a young boy when he was subjected to racist epithets upon encountering a Ku Klux Klan rally on his way home from a Braves game to the Eagan Homes housing project. As a student at Douglass High, he recalled textbooks that were hand-me-downs from predominantly white high schools in the Atlanta Public Schools system.

At a time of social upheaval, as thousands in Atlanta and more nationwide protest police brutality and racial inequality after the death of George Floyd, Brewer is at once hopeful and frustrated.

“I know it’s going to get better,” Brewer told the AJC. “There’s always a storm before the calm, and so it’s going to get better.”

At the same time, he feels sadness for having to continue to teach the members of his Morehouse team and his three sons to put their hands on the steering wheel or out the window if they are stopped by police, and not to respond if they believe they’re being treated inappropriately. The deaths of black men such as Floyd at the hands of police only deepen his sorrow.

“It saddens me, because over the years – and a lot of people don’t want to admit it – but there has been a great advance in civil rights over the years,” he said. “But these types of things impact you.”

Brewer, who has been head coach at Morehouse for the past 20 seasons after 13 as an assistant to Maroon Tigers legend Arthur McAfee (whom Brewer played for), has his own story of being profiled by police. Brewer said that, in 1987, he and a close friend flew to Chicago to watch a Cubs-Dodgers game at Wrigley Field. On their way to the game, Brewer said, he and his friend were pulled over by police, who ordered them out of their rental car with guns drawn and told them to put their hands on the car.

His friend, Hubert Bell, said Thursday that he remembered being frisked and the car searched. Both men recalled that police told them that they suspected them of being drug dealers.

Said Bell, “That incident happened, and it wasn’t good. It was a sign of the times then. It’s surely a sign of the times now.”

In his time as head coach, Brewer said that team members at the HBCU school have come to him – he estimates perhaps once a year – to tell him of traffic stops where they believed they were mistreated because of their race.

“All the time,” Brewer said. “And these are great kids. Most of them have no issues in the past, and they are just frightened and afraid. They would come to me (and say), ‘I got stopped because I was in a nice car.’”

Brewer hopes that sharing those experiences can help create understanding and sympathy with people of all racial backgrounds.

“It’s traumatic,” he said. “I just don’t think a lot of people have the compassion and understanding that, it’s real tough when that type of situation happens, especially when you’ve got good kids who have not done any wrong.”

Brewer’s hope is that the young people who have demonstrated in protest of Floyd’s death will not be overtaken by their emotions, but to organize, devise a lawful strategy and then execute it. Voting should be at the heart of any plan, he said.

“That is what’s going to make the change, by changing the people that are up in the offices that you don’t want to be there,” Brewer said.

For the goal of racial justice, Brewer also advocated for slavery reparations, the idea of payment by the U.S. government to descendants of slaves to acknowledge the damages caused by slavery. A poll conducted in September by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 74% of black Americans were in favor of reparations, while 15% of white Americans supported the idea.

Brewer believes that the idea at least deserves examination “because you can’t catch up 400 years of what they have done to African Americans in this country.”

Brewer can measure the progress of racial equality through three events that he personally witnessed on the same spot on Morehouse’s campus – the outdoor funeral service for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, then-President Barack Obama’s commencement address in 2013 and the 2019 commencement speech of billionaire Robert Smith, when he announced he would pay off the $34 million of student debt of the entire graduating class.

Brewer’s parents were involved in the fight for civil rights and racial justice. He now passes the baton to his sons and players.

“Just the journey, I know that you can be successful if you have patience and you do the right things and you try to overcome hate with love,” he said. “I do know that.”



    Eric Stirgus

Wesleyan College has expelled a student for recent racist posts on social media, the school said on its Instagram page late Thursday.

Several students and alumnae shared the posts, demanding the student be removed. One post read “Bear down on these (expletives),” using a racial slur to demean African Americans.

The college did not name the student. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is seeking comment from the woman others have identified as the student.

Wesleyan College wrote on Instagram: “Today Wesleyan administrators learned of racist statements and photos posted on a Wesleyan student’s social media. These posts are abhorrent to us and a gross violation of Wesleyan’s mission and values. Such values have no place on our campus or within our community and we will act decisively when confronted by them. As soon as we were made aware of this information, we launched an investigation that led to the expulsion of the student, effective immediately. Wesleyan will not tolerate racist behavior in any form.”

The college’s president, Vivia Fowler, said in an email Friday morning Wesleyan will not comment further on the matter.

At least two colleges have rescinded athletic and admissions offers to incoming freshmen who made racist comments about African Americans on social media in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man, while in police custody, the news site, Inside Higher Ed reported Friday.

Wesleyan, a private, women’s college of about 765 students in Macon, has — under pressure in recent years from students and graduates — made changes to address its history of racism. In 2017, for example, the college made a formal apology for past decisions, such as engaging in Ku Klux Klan rituals.


by: CLIFF BRUNT and GARY FIELDS, Associated Press
Posted: Jun 5, 2020 / 01:59 PM EDT   / Updated: Jun 5, 2020 / 02:13 PM EDT   

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Black police officers find themselves torn between two worlds: They feel the pain of seeing yet another black man killed at the hands of fellow officers, yet they must also try to keep the peace during angry protests fueled by that death.

Those feelings, familiar to many blacks in law enforcement for years, have never been more intense than in the days since George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, died after a white officer jammed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes as other officers watched.

“My emotion, my fervor is no less than those people on the streets,” said New York City police Detective Felicia Richards, who is black. “I stand in this uniform, and I understand what my obligation is to this uniform, but I can’t compromise my humanity.”

Since police killings gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement, police departments have sought to better diversify their ranks. But minorities remain underrepresented in many agencies. For example, of the 36,000-plus officers in the New York Police Department, 17,000 are white, while 5,500 are black.

Richards, president of the NYPD Guardians Association, a fraternal organization, said she was horrified by the video that captured Floyd’s arrest and final moments, and she struggled to understand what could possibly have warranted such “brute force.”

Floyd, a 46-year-old out-of-work bouncer, was being arrested after a convenience store employee accused him of using counterfeit money. He was handcuffed and did not appear to be resisting the officers.

Black police officers who saw the footage “let out a sigh of disgust and abandonment right there,” Richards said. “When we saw that man was not moving, we have to answer to the community.”

Richards, a 34-year veteran of the NYPD, said the toll on officers’ mental health runs deep. They cannot grieve with the rest of the black America, and many of them must meet a seething public.

The National Black Police Association was blunt in its assessment of Floyd’s death and how law enforcement has historically treated black citizens.

“Let’s speak truths: In America, it is clear that the humanity of black people appears invisible to law enforcement,” it said in a statement. “What other explanation would there be for (Minneapolis Police Officer Derek) Chauvin to lean on the neck of a handcuffed black man until he dies?”

The group cited recent images of armed white men converging on the Michigan Capitol to protest stay-at-home orders intended to curb spread of the coronavirus.

“Armed white men are allowed to stand on the steps of government buildings and protest that their liberty is being stepped on, unchallenged by law enforcement. But too often, when unarmed black citizens are alleged to have committed minor violations, freedom is no longer at play, and the door opens for death at the very hands of those who should be protecting and serving,” the organization said.

Police work in the U.S. has been challenging for black officers since the beginning.

In 1965, sheriff’s deputies O’Neal Moore and David Creed Rogers were ambushed in Varnado, Louisiana, while investigating a brush fire. Moore was killed, and Rogers was blinded in his right eye. According to Justice Department files on the attack, the two had been on the job for one year and were the first black deputies in the department. Their hiring infuriated the Ku Klux Klan.

Mike Render, a member of the popular rap duo Run The Jewels and known as Killer Mike, spoke tearfully during a news conference last week in Atlanta about his love for family members in law enforcement. His father was a police officer, as are two cousins.

He recalled that the first eight black officers on the Atlanta department, who joined the force nearly a century ago, had to get dressed at a YMCA because their fellow white officers did not want to be in the same locker room with them.

“I’m mad as hell,” he said. “I woke up wanting to see the world burn yesterday, because I’m tired of seeing black men die. He compared Floyd’s death under the officer’s knee to that of a zebra “in the clutch of a lion’s jaw.”

Some have sought to bridge the divide between demonstrators and fellow officers. In Florida, Fort Lauderdale officer Krystle Smith was lauded after a video went viral of her chasing and reprimanding a fellow officer after he pushed a protester to the ground who was already kneeling.

Officer Jasmine Nivens spoke with a group of protesters in Charlotte, North Carolina, to ease tensions. She told them that she could not defend the officers in Minneapolis. But when she’s on the job, she does her best to hold her fellow officers accountable and has told some of them to “ease up.”

“I’m hurt the same way you hurt. … I understand your pain,” said Nivens, part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s “constructive conversation” team, which makes a point of talking with the public during demonstrations. The unit was created after protests erupted in that city following the 2016 police shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott.

Some officers say they too have experienced racism — on and off the job.

Norman, Oklahoma, officer Ralph Manous recalled an experience while attending Missouri State University. He was walking home from his overnight job when he started to hear honking from a truck in the distance.

“Somebody threw a full beer at my head. And so I instantly took off running. And they chased me, throwing beers, a whole bunch of racial slurs, stuff like that,” Manous said. As a former junior college wrestler, he was still athletic enough to escape after jumping some fences and hiding behind a backyard shed.

Even as an officer, he is leery of other police. When he leaves Norman, he hangs his wallet badge on his rearview mirror to make sure if he is pulled over, officers immediately know he’s one of them.

He’s been to all the protests in Norman. He said the response from black people is usually negative when they find out he’s an officer.

“They typically start to clam up and get secretive or think that I’m out to get them,” he said. “They crack the little sly jokes. I get where they are coming from.”

Once, when he was the first officer to show up on a call for a disturbance, the man who answered the door wouldn’t speak to him or let him into the house. When his white partner arrived, the man immediately explained everything to the other officer. When it was time to leave, the man shook his partner’s hand but turned his back on Manous and walked away.

“I said, ‘OK. This is the America we are living in.’”


Brunt reported from Oklahoma City, and Fields reported from Silver Spring, Maryland. Associated Press writers Lisa Marie Pane in Boise, Idaho, Ashraf Khalil in Washington and Sophia Tareen in Chicago also contributed to this report.


By WTOC Staff | June 5, 2020 at 12:50 PM EDT - Updated June 5 at 1:19 PM

STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - Georgia Southern University has issued a statement after controversial pictures of a student began circulating online.

In the screenshots, a female student is seen wearing a black face mask with controversial racial captions.

The university issued the following statement:

"Georgia Southern University officials are aware of these social media posts. To be clear, these posts do not reflect Georgia Southern University’s values or our ongoing efforts to create an inclusive environment where every individual feels a sense of respect and belonging.

Consistent with our new student orientation process, we will ensure that all students entering Georgia Southern this fall are educated on the importance of our shared values and the expectation that each of us play an integral role in achieving inclusive excellence."

The student seen in the photos was a member of the Chi Omega sorority. The student’s membership has been revoked.

A statement from Chi Omega Executive Headquarters is below:

"The Chi Omega Executive Headquarters was alerted to an abhorrent and racially insensitive photo that was posted on social media by of one of our members at Georgia Southern University. While it is not clear when this photo was taken, regardless of the timeframe, the image and caption used are inexcusable, inconsistent with our values in every way, and Chi Omega immediately moved to revoke her membership.

Chi Omega asks our Sisters to condemn words and acts of hatred, bigotry, and violence. We encourage our members to speak out against acts of racism and educate themselves on the issues at hand. Chi Omega is proud to represent women of varied racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds, and our chapters embrace women from all walks of life who come together to form a network of friends with high standards and similar values."


Savannah State’s John Wilson invited to minicamp by Seattle Seahawks

By Dennis Knight
Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:05 PM

John Wilson has been beating the odds his whole life. The Savannah State defensive back walked on with the Tiger program coming out of New Manchester High in Douglasville and earned a 3.4 GPA as a freshman to become eligible and receive his scholarship.

Wilson has been a starter at cornerback ever since, except for 2017 when he missed the season after tearing his ACL in a spring practice.

He said he became a student of the game during his season on the sidelines — learning the X’s and O’s that helped him develop into a defensive star the last two years.

Now Wilson is ready to take on his next challenge after earning an invitation as an undrafted free agent to attend a minicamp with the Seattle Seahawks.

“I had hopes of getting picked in the last couple rounds (of the NFL draft), but that didn’t go too well,” Wilson said in a phone interview Wednesday, May 27. “So I was working with my agent to try to set something up and we got a call from the Seahawks Saturday.

“This means a lot to me. It gives me a chance to go out and represent myself after everything I’ve been through. I’ve been an underdog my whole life, so my mindset is that I have nothing to lose. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’m going to go all out.”

Wilson said he was initially crushed by the knee injury that caused him to miss the 2017 season, but he made the best of his situation.

“I matured a lot during that time,” Wilson said. “It was depressing, but I opened my mind up and learned everything I could about the game — from different defenses to personnel. I learned to break down an opponent’s film and form a game plan.

“It was hard to see your friends playing when you’re on the sideline, but I kind of became a grad assistant coach and that kept me level-headed.”

Football runs in the family for Wilson. His father, John Wilson, was a star running back for an Americus High squad that lost in GHSA Class 4A title game to Washington County 22-21 in his senior season of 1996. He went on to play for Tulane as a running back, receiver and defensive back and was a member of the Green Wave squad that beat Brigham Young in the 1998 Liberty Bowl.

As a junior, the younger Wilson led SSU defensive backs with 39 tackles and had a pair of interceptions. Last fall, he had 35 tackles, four pass break-ups and a fumble recovery as he earned All-SIAC second-team honors at cornerback.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder described his style of play as being aggressive, while trying to be a technician when covering receivers. He was also a standout in track and field, baseball and even played soccer at New Manchester, and he brings that versatile athleticism in his approach to the game.

Wilson, who earned his degree in homeland security, said SSU coach Shawn Quinn has been a big influence on and off the field. Quinn led the Tigers to a 7-3 record in his first season as head coach last year as SSU had its first winning campaign since 1998.

“When coach Quinn came on, we had a lot of problems with the program, but he came up with the motto ‘Find a Way’ and we’ve been doing that ever since,” Wilson said. “He changed the culture of our team.”

Quinn said Wilson is the kind of player coaches love to work with.

“John is a great guy. He’s not only a talented player, but he’s a hard-working leader,” Quinn said. “He has that energy and bounce about him. He’s the kind of player who ends up cramping up at the end of practices because he’s just working his butt off.

“I’m a big disciple of Pete Carroll — I like the discipline his teams show and they are always competitive. We run a similar defensive system to what Seattle uses. I think John has everything that Seattle is looking for. He’s a talented corner who can lock down receivers, but he also loves to tackle and blitz.”

Sports Forum / University of Akron eliminating 3 sports
« on: May 14, 2020, 09:54:27 PM »

University of Akron eliminating 3 sports, making additional athletic cuts

By George M. Thomas
Beacon Journal
Posted at 11:15 AM Updated at 8:36 PM

The University of Akron followed through on its plan to begin trimming 23% of its athletics budget on Thursday by eliminating the men’s golf and cross country and women’s tennis programs.

Director of Athletics Larry Williams said on a news conference call he was not ready to be more specific on the other cuts, but that the football team “will need to bear some of the burden.”

“The overall arching goal is to make sure that whatever we do, we try to protect the opportunities that are available in college athletics,” Williams said.

The cuts are expected to total $4.4 million. The university is in the process of cutting $65 million from its $325 million budget by early June through a massive reorganization of academics.

The shuttering of the three programs doesn’t represent the full scope of those $4.4 million in cuts.

Williams said they were the first leg of a four-pronged effort that will also include reductions in scholarships, salaries, operational expenses and staffing.

He said cost of attendance — the amount of money provided to student-athletes above tuition, room and board and books — will also be reviewed.

Things could look a lot different for UA football players in particular as hotel stays the night before a home game could be a thing of the past, Williams said. Additionally, the team will be more minimalist when it comes to uniforms.

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