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Penn St. approves president search, athletics code

Penn St. approves president search, athletics code

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Penn State trustees on Friday approved the process to find a new president and an athletics code of conduct required by the NCAA as part of the penalties for the child sex abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

The university also received encouraging news after the Middle States Commission on Higher Education lifted its accreditation warning and reaffirmed the school was in compliance with the agency's governance, finance and integrity standards.

The presidential search begins immediately, with the goal to find President Rodney Erickson's replacement by next November. Erickson plans to step down by June 2014.

Board chairwoman Karen Peetz was confident the school would have no trouble finding potential candidates despite the scandal.

``By the time someone gets here in 2014, it will be just a distant memory,'' Peetz said.

Earlier Friday, higher education commission announced that the school was in full compliance with the agency's governance, finance and integrity standards. The commission lifted the accreditation warning issued in August based on the fallout from the scandal that began a year ago with Sandusky's arrest. Sandusky was later convicted and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 boys. He maintains his innocence.

Deep fractures remain among some vocal alumni and others in the university community over how Penn State leaders handled the scandal; the internal investigation led by former FBI director Louis Freeh; and the landmark NCAA sanctions.

As part of the consent decree with the NCAA, the university was required to institute an athletics code of conduct. The school's legal counsel said the code of conduct simply reaffirms current university guidelines.

Three trustees sought to emphasize that passing a code of conduct didn't equate to the board officially giving its approval to the NCAA sanctions, which Erickson agreed to. He has said he faced a difficult ``take-it-or-leave-it'' proposition after the NCAA discussed shutting down the football program.

Trustees Anthony Lubrano and Ryan McCombie, who joined the board this summer, and veteran trustee Joel Myers praised the code of conduct but said it was important to make a distinction.

``We just wanted to be clear that accepting the resolution was in no way an acknowledgment of our acceptance of the consent decree agreement,'' Lubrano said. ``We never ratified that.''

Alumni critics remain incensed about the results of Freeh's investigation, which said Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno, former President Graham Spanier and two other university officials concealed abuse allegations.

Paterno died in January. His family, as well as Spanier and the two school officials, have vehemently denied there was a cover-up.

Each of the six speakers who spoke during Friday's public comment period denounced the board in varying degrees. Phil Shultes, 48, of Queensbury, N.Y., said he was among a faction of alumni severing ties with the school.

``Penn State is dead to us. We are not moving forward ... and it is not because of this scandal; it is because of your response to it,'' he said as Peetz listened at the podium. ``Nearly every decision this board has made has defied logic and defined cowardice.''

Shultes, a 1990 graduate of the College of Medicine, said he was discouraging prospective students from attending Penn State and was asking other alumni who shared his sentiments to do the same.

``That's very disappointing,'' Peetz said later when asked about the comment. ``I would have expected that alumni would get behind the university at the time we need them the most.''

Peetz said the university would be proactive in reaching out to students, staff, faculty, alumni and other Penn State community groups for input on the presidential search.

``Over the past year, the board and community have had our share of conflicts,'' Peetz told trustees. ``I urge everyone to work together ... for the future of Penn State.''

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The makeup of the draft pool will shape the Redskins' first-round strategy

The makeup of the draft pool will shape the Redskins' first-round strategy

The makeup of the top players in the 2018 NFL Draft pool may push the Redskins into continuing a short-term draft trend that appears to be working out fairly well for them. 

For seven straight years beginning in 2009, the Redskins went along with the conventional wisdom in the draft, taking a player that primarily impacted the passing game or stopping the other team’s passing game, with their top draft picks. 

Their top pick (whether in the first or second round) in every draft from 2008-2014 was at a traditionally high-value position associated with the passing game — wide receiver (Devin Thomas), edge rusher (Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy), left tackle (Trent Williams), quarterback (Robert Griffin III), or outside cornerback (David Amerson). 

This was the Redskins going along with the conventional wisdom. Since 2000, 62 percent of first-round NFL draft picks have been players at those positions even though they account for just 32 percent of a team’s starters. 

The Redskins have shifted away for conducting the draft focused on the passing game at the top in two of the last three drafts. The Redskins selected guard Brandon Scherff (No. 5) in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft and interior defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (No. 22) in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In between, they went the old way, selecting wide receiver Josh Doctson (No. 22) in the 2016 NFL Draft. 

This trend is likely to continue due in part to the makeup of the top talent in the draft.

If you’re not looking for a quarterback, the top half of the first round is very light in talented players playing the positions that are most important to the passing game — outside cornerback, edge rusher, left tackle, and wide receiver. Cornerback Denzel Ward is a top-10 player as is edge rusher Bradley Chubb. But that’s about it at those positions and there are no wide receivers or left tackles worthy of consideration in the top 15.

That leaves players like interior defensive linemen Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne and inside linebackers Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds as players who have the potential to be the best available players on the board when the Redskins are on the clock. Traditionally, these players play positions that teams are looking for in the latter stages of the first round at the earliest. 

They could go the non-traditional way for the third time in four years with Vea, Payne, Fitzpatrick, or Smith. In fact, unless Ward slips or they pull off a major surprise it’s likely that they will.

Scherff has worked out well and Allen was getting the job done as a rookie before he got injured so perhaps the way the draft plays out will work out well for Washington.

More Redskins Draft News

 

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John Wall said he's not listening to Drake's music during Wizards-Raptors playoff series

John Wall said he's not listening to Drake's music during Wizards-Raptors playoff series

The friendly feud between Wizards guard John Wall and Raptors superfan Drake nearly tilted to Washington over the weekend as the rap star apparently floated the idea of showing up for Game 3 in D.C. 

Drake, in fact, was going to bring with him a prop to show just how confident he was after his team went up up 2-0.

"I told him to be here for Game 3. He told me he was going to be here," Wall said. "He didn't show up. He told me we was getting swept and he said he had the broom for us."

Wall and Drake exchanged trash-talk throughout the first two games held up in Toronto as Drake sat courtside. Their back-and-forth was caught on camera and went viral.

Wall now has the upperhand with the Wizards having won two straight games as the series shifts back to Toronto for Game 5 on Wednesday.

"I wanted him to know that they wasn't going to sweep us," Wall said. "We did what we were supposed to do. We came home and took home court, won two games."

Wall continued to say that him and Drake "are just having fun." He has referred to Drake as a friend in the past and Drake is a fan of the University of Kentucky, where Wall starred during the 2009-10 season.

But that friendship is currently on hold. Wall, in fact, says isn't listening to any of Drake's songs during the series and that includes 'Nice For What,' Drake's latest single. The song is being played everywhere, but Wall is avoiding it. 

"I can't?" Wall said when told he can't get away from 'Nice For What.' "I always have my headphones on."

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