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Wednesday, 23-Feb-2011 05:57 Email | Share | | Bookmark
NCAA slaps UConn men's basketball team with penalties

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New York (CNN) -- The University of Connecticut men's basketball program will be penalized for recruitment violations, including a suspension for head coach Jim Calhoun, the NCAA announced Tuesday.

"The case includes more than $6,000 in improper recruiting inducements, impermissible phone calls and text messages to prospective student-athletes," the NCAA said. Additional allegations include, "failure to monitor and promote an atmosphere for compliance by the head coach, failure to monitor by the university, and unethical conduct by the former operations director."

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Following a two-year investigation, the Division I Committee on Infractions found that UConn men's basketball staff members violated NCAA rules, exchanging 150 calls and 190 text messages with prospective recruits, and providing complimentary game tickets.

The committee also found that Calhoun, who has been head coach for 24 years, knowingly allowed a booster and certified NBA agent to participate in recruitment and make prohibited financial contributions to a potential student-athlete.

"Penalties include suspension of the head coach for three conference games during the 2011-12 season, scholarship reductions for three academic years, recruiting restrictions, permanent disassociation of a booster and three years probation," the NCAA announced.

Calhoun responded, saying, "I am very disappointed with the NCAA's decision in this case. My lawyer and I are evaluating my options and will make a decision which way to proceed."

In addition, the coaches and compliance staff must attend the NCAA Regional Rules Seminar. The former operations director was penalized with a two-year show-cause order, which essentially prevents him from participating in college basketball during the time allotted.

"Let me be very clear, we will comply fully with the NCAA's sanctions and work with great resolve to restore the luster to our men's basketball program," University of Connecticut President Philip Austin said Tuesday.

Dr. Dean Thomas, chair of the Committee on Infractions, defended the decision against claims from reporters that the punishment might have been too weak.

"I can assure you with 100% accuracy that the committee is not influenced by high-profile cases or high-profile coaches," Thomas said on a conference call. "The committee bases its deliberations on the information presented."
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Tuesday, 22-Feb-2011 01:52 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Fomer Chicago Bear Requested Brain Testing Before Suicide

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Former Chicago Bears defensive back Dave Duerson, who committed suicide last Thursday, will have his brain matter tested for chronic traumatic encephalopathy at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine.
Duerson, 50, was found dead in his Miami home from a gunshot wound to the chest. The former Super Bowl champion had sent text messages to his family requesting that his brain be tested for the disease after his death.
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"He told me he loved me very much and he was truly sorry and that he loves the kids," said Alicia Duerson. "And that he thinks there was something wrong with his brain on the left side and for me to please get it to the NFL."

Watch 'World News With Diane Sawyer' for more on this story tonight on ABC

The degenerative brain disease has been linked to repeated head trauma, and it has become more common among football players, some as young as 18 years old.

"Essentially, your brain actually starts falling apart because you've been hit in the head and 10 to 20 years later start getting symptoms, memory problems, emotional problems and eventually it leads to dementia," said Chris Nowinski, co-director of the center.

Family members say that Suerson recently began having vision problems and had trouble forming words.

"He was a brilliant man, never had a problem with spelling, or words, or putting words together," said his ex-wife. "He was a very educated man and he was experiencing blurred vision and formulating words and spelling. Dave's vision was perfect, you know, his whole entire life."

CTE begins when a protein that's a normal part of the cell becomes toxic and starts slowing down the cell's ability to function.

"It's like a sludge," said Nowinski. "This toxic protein starts a process in the brain, spreads cell to cell. Eventually when you lose enough brain cells these symptoms start to appear."

The disease has also been associated with cognitive problems and in some cases, depression and loss of impulse control.

Also known as punch drunk syndrome, the disease has been most associated with boxers. However, in recent years it has shown up in professional and college football players, and in one pro hockey player.

"Football players are at very high risk because they take, studies show, about a thousand hits to the head," said Nowinki. "One thousand hits is something we've never really done before with athletes, and we're learning it might be too many."

Duerson's family just wants him to remembered for advocating for his fellow athletes.

"I would like all his fans to know that David was a very loving caring man, and he always thought of others before he thought of himself," said Alicia. "Even in this moment, by him wanting his brain to be examined and treated and so he could possibly help other football players in the future."

NFL Cracking Down on Head Injuries

The NFL has attempted to crack down on head injuries in recent years. In 2009, the league created rules for when players could return to the field after suffering blows to the head. Players showing any of several symptoms, even if they remain conscious, must be benched for the rest of that day. They also cannot return to practice or play until cleared by the team physician and an independent neurological consultant.

Later, in August 2010, posters were distributed in locker rooms to warn players that head injuries could have lifelong consequences.

The poster warned that a traumatic brain injury can cause a wide range of short or long term changes affecting thinking, sensation, language or emotions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also warns that the changes may lead to problems with memory and communication, personality changes, as well as depression and the early onset of dementia.

Earlier, in March 2009, the league acknowledged that careers in the NFL could lead to neurological and mental health problems.

Dr. Wendy Wright, a neurologist at Emory University in Atlanta, said in 2009 that she was pleased to see that the policy that kept players from returning to a game or practice if they'd lost consciousness was more conservative than she expected.
Players Protecting Themselves

She acknowledged that care needs to be taken when a player's career is at stake, "but when you're talking about protecting the brain from long-term consequences of injury, as a neurologist, of course, I think you can't be too careful."

The New York Times reported that Duerson was the first player to request that his brain be examined after his death for CTE, but that as an active member of the players union, he was likely all too aware of the disease. It's been reported that he believed he had the disease in the months before he died.

In the past, players had been cavalier about playing with an injury, even concussions. In an Associated Press survey of 160 active players in 2009, 30 said they had hidden or played down the effects of a concussion at some point in their careers.

But Dr. Kenneth Perrine, a neuropsychologist at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, N.J, said players had become more aware of the seriousness of concussions in recent years and more candid about feeling ill effects.

"They realize that this is their profession, this is their game, but it's also their lives, and they want to make sure that they're not going to do something that's going to have a negative impact down the line," he said.

Nowinski said that athletes need to know that they need to see a doctor to be cleared to play after a head injury.

"The brain is far more fragile than we've ever realized," said Nowinski. "When you get a concussion, know your brain needs time to recover before you make the injury far worse."
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Wednesday, 5-Jan-2011 07:48 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Avs edge Sabres in OT

DENVER – For the Colorado Avalanche, relief came in the form of a wild 4-3 overtime win Tuesday night over the Buffalo Sabres at the Pepsi Center.

David Jones, who had scored one goal in the previous 15 games, redirected Tomas Fleischmann's pass on a 2-on-1 rush by goalie Ryan Miller with 42.9 seconds remaining in the extra period to put a halt to the Avalanche's home losing skid at four games.

"We have a big stretch here at home, and we need to win games here in front of our crowd," Jones said. "We haven't been doing that, so it's nice to get the monkey off our back. We have to carry the momentum into next game."

Jones' goal came during a 4-on-3 skating advantage with Buffalo's Tyler Ennis in the penalty box for high-sticking Ryan Wilson with 15 seconds left on a tripping penalty to Colorado's Milan Hejduk.

Only five seconds remained on Ennis' penalty when Jones scored after Wilson fed Fleischmann skating down left wing.

"Flash just kind of took the puck wide and the D-man slid there trying to take away the pass and he made a great play just to get it over to me," Jones said.
"The goalie was pretty much playing him, so I pretty much had a wide-open net up top there and I hit the spot. I couldn't be more excited."

Colorado had failed to score on its previous five power plays in the game and on 14 consecutive man advantages covering seven games.

"Flash made a sick pass to Jonesie, and he put it upstairs," said Matt Duchene, who tied the game 3-3 at 6:02 of the third period off a setup from Fleischmann. "I think we've been playing some real good hockey and we found a way to win, so it was great."

The Avalanche, which killed seven of eight penalties, caught a huge break during a Sabres' power play with the score tied 3-3 and 5:35 to play in regulation. Goalie Peter Budaj was on his belly when Luke Adam took a shot that hit Budaj's right skate. The puck would have sailed into the net, but Ennis got his stick on it from the side of the net and inadvertently swatted it back.

A video review confirmed the puck didn't completely cross the goal line, and the Avalanche killed off the remaining 46 seconds of the penalty.

"I just tried to jam the net," Ennis said. "The puck squirted out there. Luke, I saw he had the whole net and the shot came and my stick just happened to be sitting there. For whatever reason, (the puck) decided to hit my stick and doesn't go in. Just really disappointing."

Said Adam: "It was a matter of centimeters. Obviously it wasn't in and they called it no goal. It was pretty close."

The Sabres took their only lead at 3-2 in the third period when Jochen Hecht and Steve Montador scored 63 seconds apart, but Duchene tied the game shortly after Avalanche coach Joe Sacco called a timeout.

"I just told the players that we were mismanaging the game a little," Sacco said.
"We wanted to put the puck deep, and we didn't do that. We started to turn it over and it got a little contagious. They capitalized on a few of our mistakes and
I thought it was the right time to kind of regroup the players and let them know there was still a lot of time left, and Duchene came up with a big timely goal for us."

Daniel Winnik scored a goal and set up Ryan O'Reilly for a shorthanded goal and a 2-1 Avalanche lead in the first period.

Winnik beat Miller at 14:16, whipping the puck inside the near post from the right circle off a long pass from TJ Galiardi for a 1-0 lead.

The Sabres countered 33 seconds later when Thomas Vanek tapped the puck in from just outside the crease 12 seconds after Avalanche defenseman Ryan O'Byrne was assessed a double minor for high sticking.

Just over a minute after that, during the second Buffalo power play, Winnik passed to O'Reilly for a one-timer in front to regain Colorado's lead.

The Avalanche, which totaled 10 goals during a 1-4-1 slump before Tuesday, played without center Paul Stastny, a late scratch because of flu-like symptoms.


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