Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam was honored for his courage displayed last season with one of the highest honors out there. Sam was named the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. The award will be presented to the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year at the 2014 ESPYs later this summer (July 16).
“I’m very honored to be presented with the Arthur Ashe award,” Sam said. “You know I don’t think there is anything courageous I did. I look forward to when we can live life in a world when gays don’t have to come out in public.”
Sam has his sights set on being drafted in the NFL Draft in the next few days. Wherever he ends up, he will be the first openly gay player to suit up in an NFL uniform in league history, breaking down a perceived barrier in sports. Sam revealed his sexuality to his Missouri teammates and coaches last summer, but the news was not broken until after the season thanks to a team decision to stand by Sam and allow him to break the news on his terms instead of having it leaked. That Sam’s sexual preference was kept silent for so long in this age of new media and instant news is an incredible testament to Missouri’s entire football program.
Sam put together one of the top individual performances during the 2013 season in the SEC, as demonstrated by his Defensive Player of the Year award. Sam helped lead Missouri to an SEC East division championship and berth in the SEC Championship Game in the program’s second year in the conference. The Tigers lost to Auburn in the conference title game but rebounded to win the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma State. Now Sam joins a list of names honored for a variety of displays of courage including Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, Billie Jean King and Pat Summitt.
One of the final aftershocks of the Great Realignment from earlier this decade officially reaches the surface today.
The Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina are now officially all-sports members of the Sun Belt Conference. In every sport, that is, except football. Joe Moglia and his 41-13 football program will compete this fall as an FCS independent before making the leap in 2017.
“This is a great day for the Sun Belt Conference as we are very proud to have Coastal Carolina University officially join our membership,” Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson said in a statement. “The Sun Belt has a bright future and Coastal Carolina makes a perfect fit as it too has seen a tremendous amount of growth and success with its baseball team most recently winning the College World Series and a national championship. Under the leadership of President DeCenzo, Athletics Director Matt Hogue, and all the Chanticleer coaches and student-athletes, I expect CCU to be very competitive in the Sun Belt immediately and represent the SBC in NCAA championships in the upcoming season.”
The oddity here is that no Sun Belt member has ever won a national championship while a member of the Sun Belt (Georgia Southern, Appalachian State and Louisiana-Monroe each claimed Division I-AA/FCS national championships). Meanwhile, Coastal Carolina registered its first ever national championship in baseball just yesterday, its final day as a Big South member and on the eve of moving to the Sun Belt.
That, of course, didn’t stop the Sun Belt from covering the Chanticleers’ run through Omaha like they were one of their own.
Coastal Carolina’s first football season will also mark affiliate members Idaho and New Mexico State’s final season in the Sun Belt. The sleeker, geographically cohesive 10-team Sun Belt will launch its championship game in 2018.
Jeremy Foley‘s rise up the ranks of Florida’s athletics department is a path that launched thousands of sports careers.
After obtaining a Master’s degree in sports administration from Ohio, a 22-year-old Foley took an internship in Florida’s ticket office. He was hired full-time after the internship ended. Then he was promoted to ticket manager. Then he took over all ticket and game operations. Before his 30th birthday Foley was running Florida’s business operations and by age 39 he was the Gators’ athletics director.
He remained in that position, of course, throughout the duration of his career. A career that will end in October.
Foley’s quarter-century run atop the Florida sports pyramid and four decades working within it will come to an end soon, and in the process of finding his replacement it appears the Gators will choose from a well different than they found the old boss. Foley was famously and obviously loyal to Florida, and also to his team of senior executives.
His top three executives, executive associate AD for internal affairs Chip Howard, executive associate AD for external affairs Mike Hill and executive associate AD for administration Lynda Tealer have been in Gainesville since 1989, 1993 and 2003, respectively. And each has taken their name out of the running to become Florida’s next AD.
“Each of the internal people have made a decision not to pursue the athletic director position for their own individual reasons,” Florida spokesman Steve McClain said in a statement on Thursday to the Florida Times-Union.
Georgia AD Greg McGarity, a former Foley protege in Gainesville, took his name out of the running earlier last month.
With the start of summer camp just up the block and around the corner, Colorado State has seen its secondary take a rather significant hit.
A CSU official has confirmed to the Loveland Reporter Herald that Preston Hodges has been dismissed from Mike Bobo‘s football program. The Reporter Herald writes that Hodges “had become academically ineligible and was dismissed from the team.”
The past three seasons, Hodges had started 28 games in the Rams’ secondary. Eight of those starts came at cornerback last season.
Exiting the spring, the senior Hodges was listed No. 2 on the depth chart at one of the safety spots.
In addition to Hodges, offensive lineman Blake Nowland is no longer on the team’s roster. There was no reason given for his departure.
After playing in three games as a redshirt freshman in 2014, Nowland missed the entire 2015 season because of a broken leg.
There is a new preseason favorite for the 2016 Heisman Trophy, at least as far as Bovada is concerned.
The betting service Tuesday listed LSU running back Leonard Fournette checks in with the best odds at 9/2. He moved ahead of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, whose odds went from 9/2 in January to 5/1 now.
Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey’s odds moved to 11/2 while Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield are all at 12/1.
Several players were added to the board since January, including UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen (16/1), Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough (20/1) and Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham (28/1).
The group of newcomers also includes both of the competitors to be Notre Dame’s starting quarterback. DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire are both set at 28/1.