Family of slain UConn corner seeking $5 million from school

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Stabbed to death following an altercation at a school-sponsored dance in October of 2009, Jasper Howard‘s parents are seeking significant financial compensation for the parties they believe are at least partly responsible for their son’s death.

A Connecticut claims commissioner, the Hartford Courant writes, “is considering a request by Howard’s parents… to file a lawsuit against UConn for damages ‘in excess of ‘$5 million‘.”  The paper goes on to explain that “[t]he state, by law, enjoys immunity from most lawsuits unless the claims commissioner grants a request to sue.”

Months of depositions will take place before the claims commissioner makes a decision on whether a lawsuit against UConn should go forward.

A lawsuit against the company that provided security the night of their son’s death seeking unspecified monetary damages has already been filed.

The cornerback became mixed up in a confrontation involving a group of UConn students and a group of non-UConn students, altercations that allegedly took place both during the Oct. dance and after.  The non-UConn group went back to their vehicles following one of the verbal altercations, and at least two armed themselves with knives and returned to confront the group of UConn students.

Howard, along with teammate Brian Parker, was stabbed in what the family’s attorney claims was the third altercation involving the group of non-UConn students.  Howard, who was reportedly not involved in the original confrontation(s), died a short time later as a result of the injuries suffered in the stabbing.  Parker recovered from his injuries.

The school claims it is not responsible for Howard’s death and that the family should not be permitted to sue the university.

The murder of Jasper Howard was a terrible and senseless tragedy. Although we strongly condemn this brutal crime and continue to express our condolences to Jasper Howard’s family and friends, the State of Connecticut is not legally liable for his death,” Associate Attorney General Perry Zinn-Rowthorn and Assistant Attorney General Michael R. Bullers wrote in March 2011.

“The legislature has determined that the State – and by extension its taxpayers – shall only bear legal and financial responsibility for claims in which the State has caused the damage or injury that is the subject of the claim. Based on the foregoing, the [state] respectfully denies liability in this claim.”

In response to the civil suit, the company that provided security for the dance shot back that Howard himself was to blame for his death.

“Any injuries, damages or losses suffered by the plaintiffs’ decedent, Jasper Howard, were a direct and proximate result of the negligence and carelessness of Jasper Howard, and his own actions or inactions were the primary and substantial factor” in what happened to him.

Howard “initiated, instigated, caused and/or became involved “in either a “verbal altercation” or a “physical altercation,” or both, Paice wrote.

John Lomax was sentenced to 18 years in prison last March after pleading no contest to first-degree manslaughter in connection to Howard’s death.  Hakim Muhammad was sentenced to over two years for the stabbing of Parker.

WATCH: Colorado State OL Luis Lebron forced to walk after Atlanta airport shuts down

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Colorado State played in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday, and afterward the players were released to return home to their families for Christmas break.

For freshman offensive lineman Luis Lebron, that meant a cross-country trip to Jacksonville. And, like many a trip cross-country, that required a stop at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

That quickly turned into a problem when the entire airport shutdown due to a power outage on Sunday. Without any other options, Lebron started walking. He said he walked six miles before he ran into a reporter from the local Fox affiliate.

The story comes with a happy ending: Lebron eventually hitched a ride.

I could say something snarky here, but it’s Christmas so instead I’ll just say this: the Colorado State program and the Lebron family should be proud of how Luis carried himself on a day that would cause many of us to snap. And I’ve no doubt they are.

Report: Kent State to hire Syracuse co-OC Sean Lewis as head coach

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The final open job in FBS is no longer open. According to a report from FootballScoop, Syracuse co-offensive coordinator Sean Lewis will be the new head coach at Kent State. (Full disclosure: I also work for FootballScoop.)

Lewis’s ascension to head coach completes a meteoric rise through the FBS coaching ranks. He was a graduate assistant at Akron in 2011, then joined Dino Babers‘s staff at Eastern Illinois in 2012-13. He followed Babers to Bowling Green where he served as wide receivers coach in 2014 and as co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in ’15, then did the same at Syracuse from 2016-17.

The site also reported that former Babers staffer and current Chattanooga defensive coordinator Tom Kaufman will join the staff as defensive coordinator.

Lewis is set to take over one of the most down-trodden programs in FBS. The Golden Flashes carry a lifetime record of 321-500-8 and have three all-time bowl appearances, all of them losses. Kent State has one MAC championship in its history, coming under Don James in 1972.

The 2017 Flashes went 2-10 and ranked 129th nationally in yards per play and scoring, beating out UTEP for the cellar for both spots.

Report: Florida State TE Mavin Saunders pursuing graduate transfer to Kansas

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Florida State tight end Mavin Saunders will pursue a graduate transfer to Kansas, according to a report from Bud Elliott of SBNation.

Saunders did not record a statistic as a redshirt junior in 2017. He caught 10 passes for 182 yards in 12 appearances in 2016, and made two starts as a redshirt freshman in 2015.

A native of the Bahamas, Saunders graduated from The Kinkaid School in Houston before enrolling at Florida State. The Jayhawks are losing their top tight end from the 2017 team. Senior Ben Johnson finished second on the club with 30 receptions for 363 yards and one touchdown this fall. He was the only tight end to catch a pass this season.

Scott Frost adds AP Coach of the Year to award haul

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Scott Frost will have to make room for a little more hardware as he moves to Nebraska. On Monday, the Associated Press named Frost its coach of the year for the 2017 season.

Frost received 21 first-place votes and 100 total points in the voting consisting of 57 voters in the AP Top 25. Frost beat out Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney for the award following an undefeated 12-0 season at UCF that ended with an AAC championship and a berth in the Peach Bowl as the highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion. Despite already being hired to be the head coach at Nebraska and UCF hiring a new head coach, Frost has stayed committed to coaching the Knights in the bowl game even if it makes for some long days flying between Lincoln and Orlando as he pulls double duty.

Frost turned UCF football around in short order. After inheriting a team that had gone 0-12 just prior to his arrival, Frost reinvigorated the mindset of the program and led UCF to a 6-7 season in his debut as UCF head coach in 2016. To follow that up in 2017, Frost led UCF to an undefeated season and conference championship to help return the program to a big bowl game for the first time since facing Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl with Blake Bortles at quarterback.

Frost already collected a few coach of the year honors with the Eddie Robinson Award from the Football Writers Association of America and the Home Depot Coach of the Year award.