TIME College football

University of Alabama-Birmingham Officially Shuts Down Football Program

UAB Blazers v Arkansas Razorbacks
Head Coach Bill Clark of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers is seen with his team during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on October 25, 2014 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Wesley Hitt—Getty Images

The "financial realities" it faces from an administrative standpoint made the football program unsustainable

The University of Alabama at Birmingham announced Tuesday that it has shut down its football program. Sports Illustrated’s Thayer Evans reported on Sunday that the announcement was expected some time this week.

In the press release announcing the decision, President Ray L. Watts said the “financial realities” it faces from an administrative standpoint made the football program unsustainable. The bowling and rifle programs will also be dropped in the 2014-15 academic year.

“The fiscal realities we face — both from an operating and a capital investment standpoint — are starker than ever and demand that we take decisive action for the greater good of the Athletic Department and UAB,” Watts said. “As we look at the evolving landscape of NCAA football, we see expenses only continuing to increase. When considering a model that best protects the financial future and prominence of the Athletic Department, football is simply not sustainable.”

Watts also announced that athletic director Brian Mackin has been reassigned from his position, at Mackin’s request. Mackin will fill the role of “the newly created position of special assistant for Athletics,” according to the release. Mackin will “assist student-athletes and coaches affected by the discontinuation of programs.” Mackin had been UAB’s athletic director since 2007.

“While Brian has been leading the strategic review process for the Athletic Department, working closely with our consultants to inform and guide their analysis, he does not wish to lead our newly constituted Athletic Department,” Watts said. “I respect his decision and thank him for his 12 years of service. In his new role, Brian has a great opportunity to make this transition easier for the affected athletes and coaches as they work to make the best decisions for their futures.”

UAB finished this season 6-6 under first-year coach Bill Clark. Clark took over a program already lacking financial support and one that hadn’t had a winning season since 2004.

UAB football players were told about the decision in a meeting with Watts on Tuesday.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME MLB

Baseball Umpire Comes Out as Gay in First for Pro Sports

Dale Scott
Umpire Dale Scott officiates a game between the Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 7, 2013, in Seattle, Wa. Elaine Thompson—AP

Dale Scott has been an MLB umpire for 29 years

Major League Baseball umpire Dale Scott is the first active male official to come out as gay in the four major professional American sports leagues.

Scott discussed his sexuality in an interview with OutSports published Tuesday. He previously came out in the October issue of Referee magazine, in which the umpire was profiled. Referee, which is subscription-only, has a circulation of roughly 45,000.

A photograph showed Scott with his husband and had the following caption:

Scott’s resumé includes three World Series, three All-Star games, six league championship series and 10 division series. He and his longtime companion, Michael Rausch, traveled to Australia for the 2014 season opener between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers.

Scott has been an MLB umpire for 29 years. Major League Baseball officials and other league umpires were already aware of Scott’s sexuality even before theReferee magazine story was published, according to OutSports. Scott told OutSports that when the piece ran in the magazine, nobody even mentioned the photo to him.

Scott also said that while he would have been “horrified” if a story came out that he was gay early in his career, individuals around the league have personally given him their support throughout his career, making the decision to go public easier.

The umpire, who was the crew chief for this year’s NLDS between the Dodgers and Cardinals, has worked three World Series.

“I am extremely grateful that Major League Baseball has always judged me on my work and nothing else and that’s the way it should be,” Scott told OutSports.

Violet Palmer, the first female referee in the NBA, announced in July that she is gay.

No active Major League Baseball player has publicly announced he is gay.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Football

Ray Rice: ‘Me and My Wife Had One Bad Night’

'I made a horrendous mistake'

Ray Rice apologized for hitting his wife Tuesday, saying that the pair had “one bad night,” and asked for a “second chance” at his NFL career in an interview on NBC’s Today.

“I made a horrendous mistake not apologizing to my wife,” Rice said of a press conference held after a video emerged of him dragging his unconscious then-fiance, now-wife Janay from an elevator. “I take full responsibility for my actions.”

The disgraced former Baltimore Ravens star told interviewer Matt Lauer he would remain committed to his family, even if no team will sign him. “If I never play football again, I’ll be honest with you, I would adapt into life and I would sacrifice more so she can have a better future,” he said, referring to his wife Janay.

Rice also said that while the couple had argued in the past, no other incident had escalated that far.

Rice had been banned from playing in the NFL after footage of him hitting his wife caused a national uproar, but the punishment was overturned last week. Janay Rice has maintained steadfast support for her husband since the assault came to light.

TIME NFL

NFL Won’t Discipline Rams Players for ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ Gesture

NFL: Oakland Raiders at St. Louis Rams
St. Louis Rams players put their hands up to show support for Michael Brown before a game against the Oakland Raiders at the Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, on Nov. 30, 2014 USA Today Sports—Reuters

The NFL will not punish St. Louis Rams players for their “hands up, don’t shoot” gestures made during introductions before Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders, a league spokesman told CNN’s Rachel Nichols.

“We respect and understand the concerns of all individuals who have expressed views on this tragic situation,” Brian McCarthy, the NFL’s vice president of communications, said in a statement.

The St. Louis Police Officers Association had requested the NFL punish the players.

The gestures, made by Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Kenny Britt, mirrored those made by protestors in Ferguson, Mo., and throughout the country and world after the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was unarmed, by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in August.

St. Louis prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced on Nov. 24 that a grand jury would not indict Wilson for the shooting.

The NFL’s statement comes after a lengthy denunciation of the players’ action by the St. Louis Police Officers Association. SLPOA business manager Jeff Roorda called for discipline from the league and suggested that his organization would continue to pressure the league and its sponsors until it felt its grievances had been addressed.

“Five members of the Rams entered the field today exhibiting the “hands-up-don’t-shoot” pose that has been adopted by protestors who accused Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson of murdering Michael Brown. The gesture has become synonymous with assertions that Michael Brown was innocent of any wrongdoing and attempting to surrender peacefully when Wilson, according to some now-discredited witnesses, gunned him down in cold blood.

“The SLPOA is calling for the players involved to be disciplined and for the Rams and the NFL to deliver a very public apology. Roorda said he planned to speak to the NFL and the Rams to voice his organization’s displeasure tomorrow. He also plans to reach out to other police organizations in St. Louis and around the country to enlist their input on what the appropriate response from law enforcement should be. Roorda warned, “I know that there are those that will say that these players are simply exercising their First Amendment rights. Well I’ve got news for people who think that way, cops have first amendment rights too, and we plan to exercise ours. I’d remind the NFL and their players that it is not the violent thugs burning down buildings that buy their advertiser’s products. It’s cops and the good people of St. Louis and other NFL towns that do. Somebody needs to throw a flag on this play. If it’s not the NFL and the Rams, then it’ll be cops and their supporters.”

 

Rams coach Jeff Fisher and a spokesman for the team said that they were not aware of the players’ plans before the game.

Demonstrations before and after the announcement of the grand jury’s verdict led to clashes between protestors and police in Ferguson.

The Rams, 5-7 and fourth in the NFC West, defeated the Raiders 52-0. They travel to Washington on Dec. 7.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Baseball

Adderall Caused Most MLB Positive Drug Tests

(NEW YORK) — While 113 big leaguers had exemptions in the past year to use otherwise banned substances to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Adderall caused eight of the 10 positive tests for stimulants under Major League Baseball’s drug program.

A report released Monday by MLB’s independent program administrator detailed the findings. Dr. Jeffrey M. Anderson’s report showed that therapeutic use exemptions given to 40-man roster players to treat ADHD were down from the 119 in the year ending with the 2013 World Series.

Among the TUEs for ADHD, there were 11 for new players, down from 21 the previous year and the lowest total since 2008, a person familiar with the data told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because those figures were not in the report.

MLB and the players’ association say the condition is more frequent in young adult males than among the general population.

One TUE also was granted for Hypogonadism, down from three.

Baltimore pitcher Troy Patton, San Diego outfielder Cameron Maybin and Orioles first baseman Chris Davis all served 25-game suspensions this year that followed banned tests for stimulants. Patton, now a free agent, was suspended again last month and will miss the first 80 games after he signs with a big league organization.

Players are suspended for banned stimulants only starting with a second violation. Initial positive tests are not announced and result in follow-up testing.

There were two positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs that led to 50-game suspensions: Tampa Bay pitcher Alex Colome for Boldenone, which has led to suspensions in several sports, and Seattle first baseman Ji-Man Choi for Methandienone, a substance popular with bodybuilders.

In addition, New York Yankees first baseman Alex Rodriguez served a season-long ban for violations of the sport’s drug agreement and labor contract related to MLB’s investigation of the Biogenesis of America clinic and not to positive tests.

MLB conducted 6,394 urine tests for PEDs and stimulants, up from 4,022 the previous year, and 1,535 blood tests for human growth hormone, an increase from 1,369. There has not been a positive HGH test since MLB began collecting blood samples in 2012.

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: The Hidden Dangers of Cricket

Two deaths in one week shine a spotlight on the "gentleman's game"

A 60-year-old cricket umpire in Israel died from injuries sustained after being struck in the face with a cricket ball during a match Saturday.

Just two days prior to that, Australian batsman Phillip Hughes, 25, died after being hit in the head by a ball as a result of a quick, rising pitch called a “bouncer.” Deaths in cricket—one of the world’s most popular sports—are extremely rare, but bowlers pitch their balls at speeds of up to 100 mph, and most on the field don’t wear protective gear.

Following the tragic events, Australia’s chief executive for cricket, James Sutherland said Cricket Australia will be reviewing safety procedures and protocol for players.

TIME World Cup

Report: Russia’s World Cup Kickbacks Included Picasso Painting

FIFA president Joseph Blatter graces  the ground breaking ceremony of the FIFA Goal Project III
FIFA president Joseph Blatter delivers his speech prior to the Ground Breaking Ceremony of the FIFA Goal Project III for the national teams' training center at the San Lazaro Leisure and Business Park in Cavite province, south of Manila, Philippines, Nov. 30, 2014. Dennis M. Sabangan—EPA

Insiders allege a system of kickbacks helped countries secure bids to host the game

World Cup officials accepted valuable works of art from Russia as it was bidding to host the 2018 soccer tournament, according to a new report published Monday.

The dossier of findings, which was submitted by investigative reporters at a British newspaper to a UK Parliamentary committee, includes allegations that Russia’s successful bid to host the tournament in 2018 was bolstered by a handout of a Picasso painting to FIFA executive member Michel Platini. Belgian executive committee member Michel D’Hooghe also allegedly accepted a valuable painting.

Investigative reporters for British newspaper the Sunday Times gathered allegations by unnamed whistleblowers, including a British intelligence agent who reportedly spied on rival countries’ bids to host the World Cup tournament. The dossier also alleges that Russia and Qatar traded votes for their successful bids as part of a gas deal.

Platini dismissed the allegations as “total fabrications,” CNN reports, while D’Hooghe characterized the painting given to him as “absolutely ugly,” and insisted it had no bearing on his vote, which he said did not go in favor of Russia.

The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee accepted the dossier as part of an ongoing investigation into the World Cup bidding process.

TIME NFL

St. Louis Cops Condemn Rams’ ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ Gesture

'Violent thugs' don't buy NFL products, warns St. Louis Police business manager

The St. Louis Police Department condemned St. Louis Rams football players who ran onto the field Sunday night with their arms raised in the “hands-up, don’t shoot” pose. The gesture has been seen in demonstrations across the nation this week in the wake of the Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict a white cop for shooting and killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August.

“The St. Louis Police Officers Association is profoundly disappointed with the members of the St. Louis Rams football team who chose to ignore the mountains of evidence released from the St. Louis County Grand Jury this week and engage in a display that police officers around the nation found tasteless, offensive, and inflammatory,” the police said in a statement.

The police said that the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture “has become synonymous with assertions that Michael Brown was innocent of any wrongdoing and attempting to surrender peacefully when Wilson, according to some now-discredited witnesses, gunned him down in cold blood.”

Protesters around the country have been raising their arms in the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture to protest the grand jury’s decision not to indict now-former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown, who did not have a weapon on him, multiple times. Massive demonstrations in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. have included thousands of people making the gesture in solidarity with the Brown family and to draw attention to the larger issue of racial profiling.

Jeff Roorda, the business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, was especially incensed by the Rams, noting that the team and the NFL depended on the police to keep fans safe from violent protesters.

“I know that there are those that will say that these players are simply exercising their First Amendment rights,” he said in a statement. “Well I’ve got news for people who think that way, cops have first amendment rights too, and we plan to exercise ours. I’d remind the NFL and their players that it is not the violent thugs burning down buildings that buy their advertiser’s products. It’s cops and the good people of St. Louis and other NFL towns that do. Somebody needs to throw a flag on this play. If it’s not the NFL and the Rams, then it’ll be cops and their supporters.”

A spokesman for the St. Louis Rams told KSDK.com that the team did not know about the demonstration beforehand.

TIME Baseball

Mo’ne Davis Is Sports Illustrated’s Sports Kid of the Year

Mo'ne Davis Sports Kid of the Year Cover Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated

Another honor for the first girl in history to throw a shutout during a Little League World Series

Monday marks another big moment for superstar teen pitcher Mo’ne Davis.

Sports Illustrated announced the 13-year-old has been named this year’s Sports Illustrated Sports Kid of the Year — with a little help from First Lady Michelle Obama:

Davis caught the world’s attention this summer, when she became the first girl in history to throw a shutout during a Little League World Series. She has since graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and landed a commercial shot by famed director Spike Lee.

Read more at SIKids.com

TIME Cricket

Two Deaths Within a Week Makes Cricket Safety Conversation Get Louder

The death of an Israeli umpire hit by a cricket ball on Saturday came two days after the demise of Australian rising star Phillip Hughes

In the conversation about the dangers of global sport, cricket is not the first (or even the fifth) one that springs to mind. Popularly known as “the gentleman’s game,” it generally doesn’t receive the sort of negative attention that sports like American football have recently.

But two shocking fatalities within the past week have thrust a global spotlight on the potential risks of a storied pastime that is only played regularly by about a dozen countries. A 60-year-old Israeli umpire died on Saturday after being struck by a ball during a match in the country’s Western city of Ashdod. Hillel Oscar, a former national team captain, was rushed to hospital but declared dead on arrival after the ball rebounded off a wicket and hit him in the face, according to the Associated Press. Unlike baseball, cricket umpires stand directly across from the batsman right next to where the bowler releases the ball — and without any protective gear.

But death or even serious injury to umpires are even more infrequent than to players, with only a 2009 incident involving Wales’ Alcwyn Jenkins the only such fatality in recent memory, according to the BBC. (Fractured fingers when the ball strikes the gloved hand gripping the hard bat handle are some of the most common injuries.)

Saturday’s incident came at a time when the cricket fraternity is still reeling from the sudden demise of 25-year-old Australian batsman Phillip Hughes two days earlier. Hughes was struck on the side of the head Tuesday by a quick, rising ball known as a “bouncer,” severing a vertebral artery in what many are calling a freak accident.

Although blunt trauma from a cricket ball is an infrequent occurrence and fatalities are even rarer, there have been instances of both in the past — including one with eerie similarities to Hughes. The inherent danger of fast bowling, where a five-and-a-half ounce cricket ball made of cork and leather is often used to directly target batsmen’s faces and bodies at close to a 100 miles per hour, has prompted a few rule changes in the past.

The most notable of these was the 1933 “bodyline” controversy between England and Australia, where the English bowlers adopted a strategy of bowling quick, short balls straight at the bodies of Australian batsman. The tactic caused a lot of bad blood between the two countries, and even spilled over to the diplomatic arena. The laws of the game were subsequently amended to restrict the number of fielders in the immediate vicinity of the batsman that made bodyline bowling effective, and the danger posed by a bowler was placed at the discretion of the umpire.

“The bowling of fast short pitched balls is dangerous and unfair if the bowler’s end umpire considers that by their repetition and taking into account their length, height and direction they are likely to inflict physical injury on the striker irrespective of the protective equipment he may be wearing,” the current law states, with an addendum stating that “the relative skill of the striker shall be taken into consideration.”

The International Cricket Council, the sport’s governing body, issued a directive in 1991 limiting the number of “bouncers” a bowler could bowl to one every six balls. That number was increased to two after players protested vociferously, but returned to one in 2001. But one in six deliveries is still a relatively high frequency, and the short ball remains a commonly employed intimidation tactic.

“I think the danger is for young cricketers to be steered away from being exposed to the short ball,” said Shaun Seigert, head coach of Australia’s Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy, in an interview with TIME. “I think it needs to go the other way,” he added, explaining that young cricketers who are not taught to face this kind of bowling have a tougher time developing the instinct to deal with it when they enter the big leagues.

Hughes’s death has also initiated a conversation around safety equipment in cricket, with the company that manufactured the helmet he was wearing stating that their latest version affords more protection to the area of the body where he was struck.

Helmets only became common in the 1970s, and are only generally worn by the two batsmen on the field and the wicketkeeper (equivalent of baseball’s “catcher”), although fielders placed standing extremely close to the batsmen at a position aptly named “silly point” sometimes don them. The other outfielders — unlike those in baseball — are not usually protected by any gloves or other padding, and dislocated fingers are another common occurrence from mistimed catches.

But many argue that no amount of protection can completely negate the risks of the game, and Hughes’ death — however freakish — serves as a warning against complacency.

“We wouldn’t want anyone wearing a helmet designed to the new standards to think that they were invulnerable,” the New York Times quoted Professional Cricketers Association chief Angus Porter as saying. “A cricket ball is a hard and potentially dangerous object, whatever protection you are wearing.”

Porter’s statement stems from the argument that helmets prompt cricketers to take shots and risks that they might not otherwise, not unlike NFL players hurling themselves into dangerous tackles that unprotected rugby players would avoid.

Seigert, whose students are just a couple of years younger than Hughes was, says that is a fair assessment. “You probably may not respect the short ball as you would if you hadn’t got a helmet on,” Seigert says, stressing again that the reduction in consequences that helmets afford may prevent youngsters from learning the proper techniques. “You tend to see a lot of players now that don’t really move their feet [to the optimum striking distance of the ball],” he explains.

The veteran coach says that although safety equipment is a factor that needs to be taken into consideration, there is no substitute for facing the short ball head on, both literally and figuratively.

“We tend to wrap our kids up in cotton wool, but is that really preparing them for the world?”

Read next: Tributes Pour in for Late Australian Cricketer Phillip Hughes

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