Bears

You won't believe Penn State's 2011 donations

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You won't believe Penn State's 2011 donations

From Comcast SportsNet
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State received more than 208 million in donations for the fiscal year that just ended, the second-highest total in university history despite the upheaval after the arrest of Jerry Sandusky on child sex abuse charges. The school said Monday there was a slight uptick in the number of alumni who donated money or gifts in the fiscal year that ended June 30 to more than 75,500, reversing two years of slight declines. "We're very grateful -- humbled really -- to have this kind of response from Penn Staters, who I think have rallied to the cause ... by the side of the institution through a very difficult time," Rod Kirsch, senior vice president for development and alumni relations, said Monday in an interview. The number of donors overall -- which would include corporations and non-alumni -- also rose slightly to more than 191,000. Donations included gifts for scholarships; as well as increases in giving to the football booster club and the annual student-organized dance marathon to raise money for pediatric cancer patients and research. Only the 2010 fiscal year was more prolific for Penn State, when the school raised more than 274 million. What Kirsch described as a "bonanza year" for fundraising was due in large part to an 88 million gift by Terry Pegula, and founder and former president of an energy company involved in Pennsylvania's burgeoning natural gas industry. Pegula earmarked the gift, which is the largest private donation in Penn State history, to upgrade the school's club hockey team to Division I and build an arena. Pegula has since increased his commitment to 102 million. He said at a groundbreaking ceremony in April that he didn't waver even after the turmoil that embroiled the campus after retired defensive coordinator Sandusky was arrested in November. It led to the ouster of head coach Joe Paterno, a move criticized by some alumni and former players. Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of 45 criminal counts last month. The findings from the school's internal investigation, led by former FBI director Louis Freeh, are also expected to be released soon. Those conclusions could weigh heavily on whether the university can settle any civil lawsuits out of court. The school has said that private donations, tuition dollars or state appropriations will not be used to pay for legal fees, consultants or any other costs associated with the Sandusky scandal, which has, through the end of April, totaled 11.9 million. The school isn't deviating from its overall goal of raising 2 billion in the current, seven-year fundraising campaign that began in 2007, Kirsch said. Including the most recent 208 million figure, about 1.6 billion has been raised for that campaign. "Keep in mind we are not only dealing with the crisis we're still going through, but we're dealing with a tough economic environment still," Kirsch said. "In that context, I'm not real surprised, but I'm very grateful for" the donations. Separately, Penn State reported 223 million in new donation commitments, down 37 percent from the previous year. Kirsch said that was expected given the size of Pegula's gift, and a big fundraising push by the school related to that donation. The latest fundraising figures were released against the backdrop of a decline in recent years in state funding, which is used to help offset tuition for in-state residents. Penn State trustees are expected to vote on a potential tuition increase at their next meeting Friday in Scranton. Kirsch said raising money for undergraduate scholarships remained a top priority to keep Penn State affordable. Last year, in-state freshmen and sophomores paid more than 15,000 a year in tuition to attend the main campus in State College, while out-of-state residents paid 27,000. The school is seeking to raise more money to support faculty. Penn State said it has also raised more than 46 million from current or former faculty and staff, or 3 million more than its initial goal. That total would include donations made by the Paterno family, such as the annual 100,000 gift in December, a month after Paterno was fired, for the library and an undergraduate fellow program that bears the family name. Paterno died in January of lung cancer at age 85.

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Low

Decisions to be made on: Christian Jones (free agent), John Timu (free agent), Jonathan Anderson (free agent); Jerrell Freeman has reportedly been cut

Possible free agent targets: Demario Davis, Preston Brown, Anthony Hitchens, Avery Williamson, Navorro Bowman, Derrick Johnson

How the Bears rate Nick Kwiatkoski will be the key to figuring out what this unit will look like in 2018. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio thought Kwiatkoski finished last season strong, but strong enough to rely on him in 2018 as the starter next to Danny Trevathan?

The thing with the Bears’ inside linebackers, though: Trevathan makes whoever is playing next to him better. The problem is Trevathan hasn’t been able to stay on the field — he missed time in 2017 with a calf injury and a one-game suspension, and missed half of 2016 after rupturing his Achilles’. Trevathan hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013, so durability is an issue for the soon-to-be 28-year-old.

So that leads to this question: Do the Bears need to find someone in free agency, regardless of how they value Kwiatkoski, who’s also missed time due to injuries in his first two years in the league?

Free agency could provide a few options. Demario Davis had a career high 97 tackles for the New York Jets last year and has never missed a game as a pro. Preston Brown had some decent production in Buffalo and also hasn’t missed a game since being drafted in 2014. Avery Williamson may not be a world-beater but has only missed one game in his four years in the NFL.

The Bears could also opt for someone who fits more of a rotational mold, like Dallas’ Anthony Hitchens, or try to lure a veteran linebacker like Navorro Bowman (who played for Vic Fangio in San Francisco) or Derrick Johnson (who Matt Nagy knows from his Kansas City days) to play next to Trevathan and/or Kwiatkoski.

The Bears could opt to keep the status quo and re-sign Christian Jones and John Timu for depth, and enter 2018 with Kwiatkoski and Trevathan as the team’s starters (Jerrell Freeman, who suffered a season-ending injury and then was hit with his second PED suspension in as many years, was cut on Tuesday). Signing a starting-caliber free agent isn’t out of the question, either, but there is a third option for the Bears if they appear to stand pat in free agency: Draft an inside linebacker in April. If that’s the route they go, Georgia’s Roquan Smith could be the guy. But again, those more pressing needs at other positions could mean the Bears don’t burn a first-round pick on an inside linebacker.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?