Category: Sports

Paid to play?

CONNOR KING
Staff Writer

The National Collegiate Athletic Association faces mounting pressure from current and ex-student athletes to provide salaries for collegiate sports players.

Ohio State University wrestler Logan Steiber won the 141-pound weight class wrestling national title, earning a hefty $18,000 prize because of “exceptional athletic achievement.”
Although he deserves his prize, Steiber will not see a penny of the cash he was awarded. Gene Smith, the athletic director at Ohio State, will casually pick up the bonus because the “exceptional achievement” occurred while he has been serving as director. Welcome to the world of college sports under the governing body we call the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Considered a “non-profit organization,” the NCAA makes around $800 million annually, with president Mark Emmert taking home a whopping $1.7 million every year. Last week, not for the first time, Emmert made headlines for his disapproval of players wanting to unionize, calling the effort “grossly inappropriate.”
“They are student-athletes. They are not our employees, they don’t work for us, they are our students, so we don’t pay them,” Emmert said back in February of 2011, and his stance on the issue has not changed since.
The hypocrisy in his comments can be found rather quickly, though, as pointed out on Twitter this past summer by ESPN College Basketball analyst, Jay Bilas.
“Go to, type in ‘Manziel’ in upper right search box, hit ‘enter.’ This comes up,” Bilas tweeted in August, with a screenshot of four No. 2 Texas A&M jerseys for sale, the same jerseys that Johnny Manziel, a “student-athlete,” made popular during his Heisman-winning season in College Station.
“They call us student-athletes, then they take us away from our school,” Shabazz Napier told reporters after his UConn Huskies won the 2014 NCAA title in basketball. “We as student-athletes get utilized for what we do so well, and we’re definitely best to get a scholarship to our universities. But at the end of the day, that doesn’t cover everything. We do have hungry nights that we don’t have enough money to get food in. Sometimes money is needed.”
It’s no surprise that college sports have turned into big business, with the national championship for basketball being played in the Dallas Cowboys’ football stadium, setting a new attendance record of 79,238 people.
Marc Edelman, an associate professor of sports and anti-trust law at City University of New York reported, “Alabama’s athletic revenues last year, which totaled $143 million, exceeded those of all 30 NHL teams and 25 of the 30 NBA teams.”
Alabama is not even the most profitable college athletic program, with Texas bringing in $165 million, $109 million of that just from Longhorn football.
Kain Colter, a former quarterback at Northwestern, leads the charge for the next wave of student-athletes and their battle against the NCAA. The National Labor Relations Board ruled that Northwestern football players have the right to unionize, in a case that had to prove that these athletes were employees of the university.
An “employee’” is a person who is under contract of hire to perform services for another, subject to the employer’s control, and does so for payment.
In the case of a NCAA Division I football player, he signs a letter of intent to play football for a certain school, which is binding to such an extent that a school can refuse to release a player to go to another school. The coach who recruited the player acts as the employer, and the player performs the sport as an act of work. The payment would be the player’s scholarship, which, as Napier pointed out to the media, isn’t always enough.
On top of this, the NCAA restricts athletes by forcing them, even NCAA Division III athletes like those here at Virginia Wesleyan, to sign waivers granting the right of using athletes’ names, likenesses, and images to the school, conference, and NCAA. With such a waiver, it would be illegal to use an autograph on a picture of an athlete, or any jersey with an athlete’s number, to make money.
In a separate case against the NCAA, Ed O’Bannon, a former UCLA basketball player, argues that this waiver breaks athletes’ right to publicity, or the right to control the use of one’s identity. The O’Bannon case at first also involved EA Sports and College Licensing Co. because of their involvement through video games like NCAA Football ‘14, but they settled for $40 million.
The battle for student-athletes has just begun, but a small victory has already been won. On Apr. 15, it was proposed that Division I athletes gain the right to unlimited meals on their respective college campuses.
Apr. 24 is the date for the NCAA board of directors to vote on the proposal. If approved, the measure will go into effect Aug. 1.

Game-on with Gabe

GABE HIGGINS
Staff Writer

What does April stand for in the sporting world? You may immediately think that the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs are the biggest, most exciting event of the spring sporting calendar, but you would be mistaken. It is playoff season for the National Hockey League (NHL) and this is really all that matters.
The NHL season is peaking as teams enter the playoffs. Goals are more difficult to attain, hits are harder and every single play means 10 times as much as it did in the regular season, because it is all for the Stanley Cup.
In my opinion, the Stanley Cup is the coolest championship trophy in all of sports, because it has the name of every single player who has ever been on the winning team engraved on its surface. The cup weighs a whopping 36 pounds. What makes the cup all the more interesting is that each player of the team that wins the Stanley Cup gets possession of the trophy for one day. Then the trophy goes back to the NHL for the next year’s playoffs.
This year’s NHL playoffs are set to be more intense than ever before. The Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues have played two games in their series already and both of those have gone into overtime. The first game went into triple overtime, which means the game was almost as long as two full hockey games! In hockey, the first team to score in an overtime period is the winner, which means that teams live or die by their performance in overtime.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Bluejackets have played a great first game, as well. The Bluejackets took an early 3-1 lead, but Pittsburgh fought back to win the game 4-3.
Personally, I think that NHL playoff games are the most exciting type of playoff game to watch. I would go as far as to say that I would rather watch the NHL playoffs than March Madness. It is truly unfortunate that more people are unaware of how intense watching an NHL playoff game can be.
If you have never seen an NHL game before, you have plenty of reasons to watch the Stanley Cup playoffs. One of the reasons why the playoffs are so great this season is because only one Canadian team progressed to post-season play this year! How cool is that? We took a Canadian sport and made it our own by shutting out all of their teams and making room for our own.
Another reason that I am going to enjoy these playoffs more than I do most years is that the Washington Capitals are not in contention! As a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, I have always had a special place in my heart for hating the Washington Capitals, so their not being in contention for a Stanley Cup is going to make this year’s post-season that much more enjoyable for me. (Granted, they probably would have lost in the first round anyway, just as they do every other year.)
I can enjoy that they are not in the playoffs even more because Alex Ovechkin, their best player, had his sixth consecutive season of scoring 50 goals per season, and they still did not make it to the post-season. That is embarrassing.
There are several great match-ups in this year’s playoffs, but a couple of them stand out, and I believe there will be some upsets coming. The first game to talk about is the Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Redwings series. The Detroit Redwings won the first game of the series, and I think they will upset the Bruins and move on in the playoffs, even though the Bruins had a great regular season.
Another series that stands out as one to keep an eye on is the Blackhawks vs. Blues. The Blues got the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, and they are playing last year’s Stanley Cup champions. The Blackhawks have some great experience, but the Blues have proven to have more heart early on in the series. I think the Blues will move on.
Now to fast forward to the Stanley Cup championship series. My admittedly biased opinion is that the Pittsburgh Penguins will move past Columbus, to whom they have not lost since 2011, and then use that momentum to get to the Cup with two of the best players in the world, Evegeni Malkin and Sydney Crosby. Finally, as a fan of the movie Mighty Ducks, I am going to have to root for the Anaheim Ducks to fly into the Stanley Cup championship series, with the Ducks ultimately losing to the Penguins in the final.

Men’s tennis advances in ODACs

KELLIE LAGOY
Staff Writer

The men’s tennis team started their journey to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championships on Saturday with a win in the quarterfinals against Roanoke College. With this victory, the team has sealed a place in the semifinals on April 26 against Guilford College, and are looking to bring the championship title home for the first time in program history.
“I think this win gives us a lot of confidence,” said sophomore Spenser Bullock. “The teams that we did lose to during the regular season were really tough opponents.”
The only loss Wesleyan faced in the ODAC was to nationally-ranked Washington and Lee University.
“I think that match isn’t totally relevant anymore,” said sophomore Drew Tomajczyk. “We were all kind of ‘off’ for that match, probably due to lack of preparation.”
The other three losses came from Christopher Newport University, Illinois-based Knox College and Ohio-based Otterbein University.
“I think it’s good that the only matches we’ve lost so far are to nationally-ranked teams,” said sophomore Graham Wilson.
The Marlins are more than ready to fight in this tournament and look to put it all on the line to try to gain their first conference title in VWC history.
“That’s what everyone on our team is shooting for and I think we’ll get there,” said Bullock.
“We’ve come a long way through the whole season,” said Tomajczyk, “I expect to make it to the finals and to draw blood from Washington and Lee.”
After last season, there was a coaching change and new freshmen were brought in. This has given this men’s team a spark that doesn’t seem to be about to go away.
a lot more confident in their abilities, which translated into better on-court play,” said Bullock.
Head Coach Darryl Cummings has brought life to this once-struggling program, and has been very instrumental in the success of the team.
“I was aware of the talent level within the program, and believed there was significant opportunity to develop the program,” said Cummings.
He not only has whipped his old players into shape, but also has brought in key freshmen to rise to the occasion. These freshmen cracked the top six line-up, and the older teammates have appreciated their much-needed talent.
“Our incoming freshmen have helped tremendously,” said Wilson.
Kenneth Downing and Brendan Kelleher are two freshmen who have really shown talent on the court. The pair is consistently part of the line-up both in doubles and singles. The players all have high expectations of every person on the roster as post-season play begins.
“I am sure they will have a lot of energy and will represent Virginia Wesleyan College well,” said Cummings.
“We’ll definitely have to be on our A-games,” said Tomajczyk “We can’t take our opponents for granted.”

“I think we all have to come out there and play our best tennis,” said Wilson.

The new freshmen, the new coach and the consistent play of everyone on the team have given the team a second seed going into the ODAC tournament. With expectations and confidence high, they are on track to succeed.

Lacrosse looks ahead

KELLIE LAGOY
Staff Writer

The last half of the season for the VWC men’s lacrosse team will prove very important. In the last seven games of its season it will face six conference competitors. This won’t be the easiest run for the Marlins, with the final rankings of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) hinging on the last six games they have.
Though they will be facing some tough teams, the Marlins have proved that they are a strong team to battle. They are confident about what the rest of the season will hold, and rightfully so. The Marlins are currently ranked in four categories nationally: scoring offense, assists per game, ground balls per game, and points per game.
“I think we have proved to ourselves that we are a great team,” said sophomore attacker Josh Currier.
However, the Marlins aren’t letting the rankings go to their head. They will continue to stay focused on what is most important, a conference championship.
“It shouldn’t matter where you are ranked or in what category,” said junior midfielder Tim Gunn. “ The only thing that really matters is if you are ready to play and beat your next opponent.”
Members of the team have high expectations of themselves and the team’s high-powered offense. Senior attacker Nick Pappas, junior attacker Mike Moran and Currier have all contributed points in every single game played this season. These three are also the three leading the team in goals and assists.
“For myself, I expect to lead my team in the right direction in order for us to be successful and take this program to the NCAA tournament,” Pappas said. “I also expect my teammates to continue to grind away at what we’re trying to do here.”
This unstoppable trio will help push the team toward the ODAC tournament.
“Making the ODAC tournament and competing for the championship are our top priorities as a program,” said Coach J.P. Stewart.
“I expect that the rest of the season will wrap up pretty well as long as we keep learning about the things we do wrong or right and improve on them,” said Gunn.
The end of the season will be a nail-biter as the Marlins fight to keep a spot in the conference tournament.

Marlins advance to Sweet Sixteen

THOMAS MILLS
Photo Editor

With three minutes and 46 seconds left in the second half of their second-round NCAA elimination playoff game, the Marlins were clinging on to a precious seven-point lead over the Wesley College Wolverines.
Then, to the roar of a packed J.P. Batten Student Center crowd, sophomore guard Sedric Nady nailed a three-point field goal.
“Once he hit that shot, we went on our run and pretty much controlled the rest of the game,” said team captain and senior guard D.J. Woodmore. “His basket was the turning point in the game. From there, it was just a free throw competition.”
“It’s all about finding a way to win and advancing,” said team captain and point guard Aaron Clark.
“For our seniors, this is their fourth trip to the Sweet Sixteen,” said head men’s basketball coach Dave Macedo after the game. “They’ve done an outstanding job. Everybody just wants to win.”
The Marlins, however, will have to place their past successes aside as they shift their focus to Fredericksburg, Virginia, home of the University of Mary Washington Eagles. Ranked 17th in the nation, the Eagles, who defeated the Marlins 95-87 in overtime on Dec. 17, will have home-court advantage in the round of sixteen.
“It’s a big challenge as they are a good team and have been playing well all year,” said Clark. “I’m sure they’ll have a great crowd to support them and it will be a challenge to go on the road and play in a game of this magnitude.”
“We lost to this team the first time around,” said freshman guard Khory Moore. “We are a very good team and it is hard to beat us twice in one season.”
The University of Mary Washington offers a unique matchup for the Marlins. The Eagles are fourth in the nation in three-point field goals per game and total three-point field goals made, making 301 three-point shots throughout their season. Virginia Wesleyan is right behind the Eagles though, as the Marlins have knocked down 296 three-point field goals on the season, putting them fifth in the nation.
“Mary Washington presents the challenge that you have to make shots to beat them,” said Woodmore. “We are one of the best-shooting teams in the country and so are they, which means whichever team shoots it better from the field will have the better chance of winning.”
The Marlins, however, have a significant advantage as they tout the best three-point field goal defense in the country. In their 30 games on the season, Virginia Wesleyan has allowed just 123 three-point field goals, 34 less than the next closest team.
Another intriguing aspect of the Eagles’ hosting the Sweet Sixteen round is that, unlike in previous years when the Marlins had to make long journeys to Wisconsin and Massachusetts, the team gets to stay in their home state.
“It means a lot to stay in the state of Virginia,” said Woodmore. “This means we don’t have plane rides that can tire teams out and can potentially draw a bigger fan support than most other teams in the tournament.”
“We know a lot of our fellow students are from areas close to Mary Washington so it may be possible to have a good crowd with it being spring break this weekend,” said Clark. “Most of us on the team are from the area so it’s not a bad drive for our families as well.”

Winter sports wrap up

KELLIE LAGOY
Sports Writer

The first weekend in March was the time for Virginia Wesleyan College’s winter sports teams to showcase their best performances in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) tournaments.
The men’s basketball team got a first-round bye and rallied their way through the weekend to win the ODAC championship title for the second year in a row. They took down Bridgewater College, Washington and Lee University and Hampden-Sydney College.
“I thought we gave a championship effort,” said head coach Dave Macedo.
The entire team pulled together to get the win in dramatic style, keeping the fans on the edge of their seats during the game. The scoreboard very briefly favored Hampden-Sydney in the championship game, but the Marlins’ confidence never wavered.
“It never went through our head that we weren’t going to win,” said senior Aaron Clark. The Marlins pulled through to win the championship game 77-74.
The women’s basketball team competed in the ODAC tournament as well, though with a different outcome. While the team managed to edge Hollins University in the first round, they fell to Guilford College 79-57 in the quarterfinals.
“The last game was a disappointment to all of us,” said sophomore Kelly Jones. “It was by far not our best game.”
Basketball wasn’t the only sport to see tournament recognition this month. The men and women’s track and field teams broke records and came home with hardware. The men’s team came back with a fourth-place finish while the women placed fifth with their highest point total ever as a team.
Senior Randy Lott set a record time in the 60-meter dash with 6.87 seconds. This time ranks him as the tenth-fastest in the nation for that event. Lott broke VWC’s record as well as setting an ODAC record in the 200-meter run with a time of 22.17 seconds.
Senior Courtney Mebane also held strong in the 60-meter by taking first place while sophomore Shakira Mills put up a program-record time of 7.90 in the 60 and junior Shakiella Daniel broke another program record in the 200.
“We had a lot of personal records at this meet, which gives us high hopes and motivates us for the outdoor season,” said Daniel.
All three teams played to the best of their abilities and all managed to shine bright for Virginia Wesleyan. Now each team faces different levels of competition as they look forward to what is to come.
The men’s basketball team will continue to compete in the NCAA tournament, the women’s basketball team will set a game plan for next season and both track teams will prepare themselves for the upcoming outdoor season.