One of the best parts of the Michael Sam story at Missouri, where Sam informed his teammates he was gay and nobody made a peep about it the entire season, was how respectful the entire football program was of a historic moment in sports. Sam became the first openly gay football player at the highest level of college football and later went on to become the first openly gay football player drafted by an NFL team, the St. Louis Rams. Now the entire program is being recognized for how it handled Sam and his news.
The SEC awarded Missouri’s football team with a sportsmanship award for how the entire team responded and respected Sam’s wishes to keep the focus on football last fall. In this day and age of instant news and social media and networking, to keep this a secret among the entire team is a testament to the commitment to the team each person associated with the Tigers had, although former quarterback James Franklin said it was more about acceptance instead of support. What makes it even more impressive is the fact the Tigers made a run to the SEC Championship Game, garnering more and more attention from the media along the way in the SEC, the top conference in college football. Sam opened up to his team, asked for it to be kept private until he was ready to go public with it, and everybody bought in, from the players to the coaches.
“Sportsmanship, civility and social responsibility are marks of character that last a lifetime,” said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive in a release from the SEC. “We are proud of these teams from Missouri, Tennessee and Georgia and the women’s golf coaches of the SEC for setting an example for us all.”
The sportsmanship award is voted on by the SEC’s athletic directors. The football teams at Tennessee and South Carolina were each awarded the male sportsmanship award in 2013. Sam was presented with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in May.
Still needing another win to secure bowl eligibility, Chris Petersen has been rewarded by his Washington bosses for the work he’s done with the Huskies thus far.
First reported by SI.com‘s Pete Thamel and subsequently confirmed by ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad, Petersen has signed a two-year contract extension with UW. The new deal would keep Petersen with the Huskies through the 2020 season.
Thamel adds that Petersen will earn $4 million in the extension years of 2019 and 2020; in 2015, Petersen earned $3.4 million. Petersen had already been scheduled to earn $4 million in 2018 under the terms of his original five-year deal.
Following an eight-year tenure at Boise State in which the Broncos won 88 percent of their games, Petersen left to take over the Huskies for the 2014 season after Steve Sarkisian exited for the USC job. In his first season, Petersen went 8-5 and ended the year with a Cactus Bowl loss. This season, the Huskies are 5-6 and need a win over No. 20 Washington State this weekend to extend their bowl streak to six straight seasons.
In Petersen’s first seven seasons as a head coach, he went 84-8; in his last three seasons, he’s gone a combined 21-16 — 8-4 in his last season in Boise, 13-12 in his first two years at UW.
UPDATED 12:04 p.m. ET: Within a minute of this being posted, UW sent out a press release confirming that Petersen has indeed agreed to a contract extension.
“Coach Petersen has demonstrated tremendous integrity and is building a program that Husky fans can be proud of, both on and off the field,” athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement. “This extension is well-deserved and we hope Coach Petersen is a Husky for a long time to come.”
In a deposition this past summer, the woman charged with running the office that deals with victims of, among other things, sexual violence on the Florida State campus claimed that 20 women were sexually assaulted by members of the Seminole football team over the past nine years. The former director of FSU’s victim advocate program, Melissa Ashton, went on to claim that the accused football players received special treatment and that most of the alleged victims chose not to pursue student-conduct charges “a lot of times based on fear” of reprisals.
The June deposition is part of the ongoing lawsuit filed by Erica Kinsman, who had accused star quarterback Jameis Winston of raping her in December of 2012. The first overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft was neither charged criminally nor found guilty in a student-conduct hearing.
The testimony of Ashton, who left her post in August of this year, was part of what was described as the release of heavily-redacted documents related to Kinsman’s lawsuit. It’s argued in the Title IX suit that FSU did not properly investigate Kinsman’s claims against Winston as required by federal law.
Speaking of others who said they had been sexually assaulted at the school over the past nine years by football players, Ashton said the majority “chose not to go through a process, a lot of times based on fear.” Ashton said victims had “a fear of retaliation, seeing what has happened in other cases and not wanting that to be them.”
But in her statements she said she was concerned that athletes get preferential treatment during investigations of misconduct, including access to an athletic department official who helps them get access to outside lawyers.
In addition to the unnamed football players allegedly involved in an estimated 20 sexual assaults the past decade, “Ashton stated that… ‘easily double‘ that number have been involved in interpersonal violence.”
FSU officials had sought to block the release of the depositions, but were ordered by the judge in the case to hand them over in a ruling this past October. The document release was prompted by a public records request from various news organizations, including the Associated Press.
Earlier today we had the report that Cal, they of the normally bowl-eligible six wins on the season, were not actually bowl eligible. The hang up was due to some NCAA red tape on how many scholarships Grambling, a 73-14 victim to the Bears on opening Saturday, had actually awarded this year.
Why the number of scholarships awarded by an opponent of a 6-5 team could determine what glorified exhibition said 6-5 could or could not play is a matter for another time, but the fact is it mattered.
But according to a report from Kevin Gemmell of ESPN.com, the Bears received approval to count the win toward their total, meaning Sonny Dykes and company will go bowling for the first time since 2011.
“We have conferred with both Grambling and the NCAA,” Cal spokesman Wes Mallette told ESPN. “As anticipated, Grambling has confirmed their football program has met the 90 percent financial aid requirement over the rolling two-year average. Therefore, Cal football’s win over Grambling counts toward bowl eligibility. Cal football is bowl eligible.”
The Bears have a chance to become bowl eligible the old fashioned way with a win over Arizona State Saturday in Berkeley.
The end of the college football regular season brings with it bowl bids, conference championship entries and rivalry games. Along the way, though, come end-of-season firings. So many end of-season firings.
According to a report from Dan Wolken of USA Today Wednesday night, the first one is already on the books. Or at least close to it.
Wolken reports Tulane is set to part ways with head coach Curtis Johnson following the Green Wave’s Friday finale against Tulsa “barring a last-minute change of direction.”
Johnson is 15-33 in nearly four complete seasons at Tulane, reaching a high point of a 7-6 mark wtih a New Orleans Bowl appearance in 2013 but winning two, three and three games in his other three campaigns.
If and when the move becomes official, Tulane will become the 15th FBS school to change head coaches this season, matching the total number of changes during the 2014-15 cycle.
Wolken reports Tulane will hire a new athletics director within the next week, and once that hiring is complete the school will then embark on hiring Johnson’s replacement.