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UMass responds to lawsuit, denies men’s basketball staff members intimidated woman

03.14.17 at 3:31 pm ET
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A woman is suing the University of Massachusetts, because she says members of the men’s basketball coaching staff intimidated her in an attempt to keep her from leaking potentially damaging information about the program. The school responded to those allegations Tuesday.

In a statement, athletic director Ryan Bamford says the school became aware of the alleged incident in December and hired an outside investigator to look into it. According to Bamford, the investigator didn’t find any evidence of wrongdoing.

AyAnna Hickman, who used to date assistant coach and former UMass player Lou Roe, says he and two other staff members prevented her from leaving his office one night in December 2013. The lawsuit states Roe had told her about the use of banned substances by players and domestic violence committed by some coaches against their family members. It also says recently fired head coach Derek Kellogg covered up the episode.

UMass confirmed to WEEI.com Monday it’s aware of the lawsuit. The University also said Kellogg’s dismissal was unrelated to the case. Roe is currently on administrative leave.

Hickman is suing for $75,000 in damages and wants a jury trial.

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There’s nothing endearing about LaVar Ball’s greed and delusion

03.14.17 at 1:54 pm ET
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Laval Ball (right), says he wants to secure a $1 billion shoe contract for his sons. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

LaVar Ball (right), says he wants to secure a $1 billion shoe contract for his sons. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

With the NCAA men’s basketball tournament starting this week, expect to start hearing a lot about UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball. The standout freshman is pegged for NBA superstardom, and will likely be a top pick in this year’s draft. Since the Celtics control the lowly Nets’ first-round selection, there’s a chance he could wind up in Boston.

If the Celtics draft Ball, that means his delusional and greedy father would likely come here as well. Turner Sports, which broadcasts the tournament, may attempt to soften LaVar Ball’s image over the next three weeks with puff pieces and lighthearted interviews. SB Nation has already started, publishing an article about how Ball is a “good sports dad.”

But don’t let the potentially forthcoming PR blitz fool you: There’s nothing endearing about this shallow, egotistical man.

Ball’s repulsive persona is highlighted in a recent USA Today profile, titled, “LaVar Ball and his boys are here to change the world.” In it, the family’s patriarch brags about buying his boys luxury cars, his plans to secure them a $1 billion shoe contract and an apparently fabricated college football tryout. He sounds like a total jerk.

Perhaps the biggest headline to emanate from the piece is Ball’s desire to ink a $1 billion merchandise deal for his kids. His two other sons, LiAngelo (high school senior) and LaMelo (high school sophomore), are already both committed to UCLA as well. Last month, LaMelo Ball attracted headlines –– and criticism –– for a 92-point performance during one of his high school games.

With that kind of talent talent under his roof, Ball says he’s holding out for one of the biggest shoe contracts in history.

“A billion dollars, it has to be there,” he said. “That’s our number, a billion, straight out of the gate. And you don’t even have to give it to me all up front. Give us $100 mil over 10 years.”

That figure would put the Ball boys in line with LeBron James, who inked a deal with Nike last year worth more than $1 billion. While it’s nice to be proud of your kids, calculating their worth in the form of a high-priced shoe contract seems grotesque and exploitive. It sounds like something a less charming Gordon Gekko would say if he were to have children.

But then again, this is the man who buys his boys $100,000 BMWs, because they’re so damn good at basketball.

“To get my boys a little $100,000 car, that’s nothing,’’ he said. “I don’t have to pay for education. I’m saving over $1 million dollars.”

Questionable math aside –– as USA Today points out, Ball would only save around $400,000 if all of his kids went to UCLA for all four years –– this sounds like a man who’s intent on flaunting his alleged wealth. There’s nothing cool about a show-off, especially when he appears to be using his kids as props.

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Read More: Lonzo Ball,

ESPN’s Max Kellerman: Bill Belichick will retire this season

03.14.17 at 9:18 am ET
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Last year, ESPN’s Max Kellerman predicted Tom Brady would soon “fall off a cliff.” Considering Brady led the Patriots to their fifth Super Bowl championship last season, he couldn’t have been more wrong.

But that doesn’t mean Kellerman is out of the Patriots hot take business –– no, no. The bloviating talking head now says Bill Belichick is getting ready to retire, perhaps as early as this season.

On “First Take” Monday, Kellerman said he thinks Belichick’s impending exit is the reason why the Patriots have been so aggressive in free agency. Last week, the team handed cornerback Stephon Gilmore $40 million guaranteed and traded its first-round pick to the Saints for star wideout Brandin Cooks.

“He knows that Brady’s, and his, days are numbered –– obviously. Since when do the Patriots load up by trading their highest draft picks for players?,” Kellerman asked. “When does Belichick trade his highest available draft picks for the present? You know when? Right now. He is getting ready, for his and Tom Brady’s swan song. Now, my belief is, that will be this season. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe his belief is he’s got another two seasons. But the point is, he knows the end is coming. He is absolutely loading up to win a least one more Super Bowl, because at this moment they are so clearly the odds on favorites.”

Prior to Super Bowl LI, Patriots owner Robert Kraft revealed he knows when Belichick is going to hang it up. But unfortunately for Kellerman, Kraft guaranteed it won’t be this year.

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, Tom Brady,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Manny Ramirez’s new Japanese contract includes unlimited sushi; LaVar Ball wants $1 billion shoe deal for sons

03.14.17 at 9:03 am ET
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Good morning! Here is your Tuesday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
World Baseball Classic: Cuba vs. Japan, 6 a.m. (MLB Network)
World Baseball Classic: Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico, 9 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Toronto at Boston, 1 p.m. (WEEI-AM 850)
MLB: Atlanta vs. Philadelphia, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: San Francisco vs. Cleveland, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Detroit at Cleveland, 7 p.m. (NBATV)
NHL: Chicago at Montreal, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: New Orleans vs. Mount St. Mary’s, 6:40 p.m. (tru TV)
College basketball: UNCG at Syracuse, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Valparaiso at Illinois, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Oakland at Clemson, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Georgia Tech at Indiana, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Wake Forest vs. Kansas State, 9:10 p.m. (tru TV)
College basketball: Richmond at Alabama, 9:15 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Boise St. at Utah, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Bakersfield at California, 11:15 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

Can wait for this season with our #KochiFamily Arigatou gozaimasu🙏🏻 @kochifightingdogs @junkitakomi @colbysan3🙏🏻

A post shared by _____💎Mrs. Juliana Ramirez____ (@mrsjulianaramirez) on

— Former Red Sox goofball Manny Ramirez recently signed a contract with Japan’s Kochi Fighting Dogs and it is loaded with perks.

His deal with the country’s independent baseball league includes his own hotel suite for away games, his own Mercedes with a personal driver, unlimited sushi and practices are optional.

He will wear No. 99 with simply “Manny” stitched on the back.

Ramirez last played professional baseball in 2014 for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs as a player-coach. He hasn’t played at the major league level since 2011.

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Read More: Lonzo Ball, Manny Ramirez,

In a lawsuit, woman says UMass basketball staff members intimidated her

03.13.17 at 10:03 am ET
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Former UMass coach Derek Kellogg is named as a defendant in the lawsuit. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Former UMass coach Derek Kellogg is named as a defendant in the lawsuit. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

A woman says members of the University of Massachusetts men’s basketball coaching staff intimidated her in an attempt to keep her from leaking potentially detrimental information about the program, according to court documents.

In a civil suit, AyAnna Hickman alleges assistant coach and former UMass great Lou Roe prevented her from leaving his office during an incident in December 2013. The lawsuit states Roe had told Hickman “about the use of banned substances by team members; domestic violence by certain staff members against family members; incidents of infidelity and quashing of potential criminal complaints against unidentified team members.” She says assistant coach Shyrone Chatman and former strength coach Richard Hogans aided Roe in his efforts to trap her. Hickman and Roe used to date each other.

The University confirmed to WEEI.com it’s aware of the lawsuit, but declined further comment. Roe was placed on administrative leave in December and Chatman remains in good standing. Hogans left the program in 2014.

Recently fired head coach Derek Kellogg is named as a defendant, but the University says his dismissal was unrelated to the case. The suit says he “encouraged and participated in a cover-up” of the incident.

Hickman’s attorney, Harry Miles, declined comment when reached by email Sunday night. She’s suing for $75,000 in damages and is seeking a jury trial.

Read More: UMass,

Thinking Out Loud: Providence should still be all set to get into NCAA Tournament

03.10.17 at 11:01 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud…while wondering whatever happened to a member of the “Brady Six,” Chad Pennington?

— Maybe he should have been selected by his fellow Big East coaches as the COY. The job Ed Cooley has done with this Providence team is easily his best effort in the six seasons he’s been the head coach of the Friars. Preseason picked for ninth? Finished third? Lost two players to the NBA draft? Cultivated another Most Improved Player in the Big East? Just sayin’.

— While Butler’s Chris Holtmann is also very deserving, a media straw poll conducted in New York this week gave Cooley the nod as Big East Coach of the Year. Fitting that NBCSports.com also thought likewise.

— Regardless of Thursday night’s result against Creighton, the Friars should be all set for Selection Sunday. A month ago, they were all set to watch everyone else get invited. Now, it matters little where they’re seeded, or who they play. You want a gravy game? A gravy year? This is it.

— But what a time to throw a stink bomb into the NCAA party. It was as if the Friars hadn’t played a game in a month, or worse yet, hadn’t seen a basketball in a month, either. Thursday night’s mess against Creighton was as self-inflicted as hoop wounds can get – turnovers and missed free throws. You control those, the other guys not-so-much.

— Providence, right now, is still the better team. And that’s not dumping on the BlueJays. The Friar defense is good.

— But if they reach the NCAA’s, they’ve got to remember they’re the better team and play like one. Or it will be a very short stay, wherever they play.

— Good move by CBS to shorten the selection show by 30 minutes, and get the brackets released in the first hour of the program. Last year’s production was abominable in the way it unfolded, and interminable with the interviews prior to the entire bracket being announced. Now, the key to true success is in the execution of the new plan. Somebody needs a quick finger on Charles Barkley’s microphone.

— In the Big East’s opening round Thursday, who else thought they were caught in a 1985-time warp, when Georgetown Hoyas suddenly surrounded St. John’s’ Chris Mullin? Emotion? You could cut it with a knife at that moment.

— That PC’s Kyron Cartwright earned 2nd team all-Big East honors wasn’t a surprise. Most Improved Player? Absolutely. But Rodney Bullock’s honors seemed to surprise some – except for right here. Bullock’s numbers were consistently in the league Top 10 throughout the season. Maybe the surprise was in the expectation?

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Witness says Aaron Hernandez called repairman when his car ran out of gas

03.10.17 at 3:45 pm ET
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Aaron Hernandez (The Sun Chronicle/Pool Photo via USA Today Sports)

Aaron Hernandez is currently serving a life sentence for Odin Lloyd’s murder. (The Sun Chronicle/Pool Photo via USA Today Sports)

Aaron Hernandez doesn’t appear to be a car aficionado.

During his double murder trial Friday, the former president of Fox Toyota was called to the witness stand. Jack Fox leased the Toyota 4Runner to Hernandez that authorities say he was driving when he shot and killed Daniel Abreu, 29, and Safiro Furtado, 28, in the South End in 2012.

During one exchange, Fox was asked about his relationship with the former Patriots tight end. He said he entered a promo agreement with Hernandez, and would regularly service the vehicle free of charge. In exchange, Hernandez would give Fox tickets and other perks.

About three or four weeks into the lease, Fox said Hernandez told him the car wouldn’t start. He went to Hernandez’s house, only to find that the 4Runner didn’t have any gas in it.

The 4Runner has been off the road for over three years, as authorities seized it around the time Hernandez was arrested for the shooting death of Odin Lloyd in June 2013. Hernandez was found guilty of first-degree murder the following year.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez,

Tom Brady’s 2020 presidential election odds are better than Donald Trump’s three years ago

03.10.17 at 1:58 pm ET
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Tom Brady has a better chance to be president than Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady has a better chance to be president than Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Three years ago, Donald Trump’s odds to be elected president were 150/1. Tom Brady’s chances to be sworn into the Oval Office in 2020 are better than that.

According to Bovada, Brady’s chances to be the next President of the United States sit at 125/1. That puts him in line with U.S. senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Chris Murphy (D-CT). Leonardo DiCaprio, Chelsea Clinton, George Clooney, Kanye West and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have 125/1 odds as well. Johnson is the only person in that group who’s hinted at making a presidential run, telling reporters last year he “wouldn’t rule it out.”

In an interview with GQ in 2015, Brady said he doesn’t have any desire to seek higher office.

“There is a 0.000 chance of me ever wanting to do that,” he said. “I just think that no matter what you’d say or what you’d do, you’d be in a position where –– you know, you’re politicking. You know? Like, I think the great part about what I do is that there’s a scoreboard. At the end of every week, you know how you did. You know how well you prepared. You know whether you executed your game plan. There’s a tangible score.”

While Brady expressed support for Trump during the campaign, he never explicitly revealed his political views. Earlier this year, Brady implied on Kirk & Callahan he might disagree with some of Trump’s policies.

“If you know someone, it doesn’t mean you agree with everything they say or they do,” he said. “You have a lot of friends in your life. I think there are things that are based in your own dealings with someone that is a personal dealing, not a public dealing. Because you have personal experiences.”

Thanks to Trump’s improbable rise, the next presidential race will likely feature some unorthodox candidates. Oprah Winfrey, who Bovada says has 66/1 odds of winning in 2020, signaled last week she might be warming up to the idea of giving it a shot.

Currently, Trump has 9/4 odds at being reelected. The person most likely to unseat him is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who’s chances of winning are 8/1.

Read More: Donald Trump, Tom Brady,

Stephen A. Smith: Jimmy Garoppolo’s Instagram post wasn’t a hoax

03.10.17 at 12:40 pm ET
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Stephen A. Smith says he thinks Jimmy Garoppolo wants out of New England. (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)

Stephen A. Smith says he thinks Jimmy Garoppolo wants out of New England. (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)

Jimmy Garoppolo says his now-deleted Instagram post with a “peace out Boston” captain was a hoax. Stephen A. Smith ain’t buying it.

On ESPN’s First Take Friday, Smith said he thinks Garoppolo knew about the post when it appeared on his account.

“I think it’s indicative of what Garoppolo actually wants to happen. I don’t believe it was a hoax,” he explained. “I think he had everything to do with that post. I don’t care what anybody says.”

While ESPN’s Adam Schefter is adamant the Patriots will keep Garoppolo, trade rumors continue to swirl. Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot reports the Browns intend to make a strong run at the highly coveted backup, freshly armed with a 2018 second-round pick they received from the Texans in exchange for taking on Brock Osweiler’s entire salary.

If Garoppolo stays in New England, he’ll almost certainly sit behind Tom Brady in 2017. Though his rookie contract expires at the end of the season, the Patriots can franchise him, keeping Garoppolo under their control for an additional year. Smith said he thinks Garoppolo is anxious to start after spending the first three years of his career on the bench.

“Garoppolo is feeling himself a little bit. He knows that at no time the market is going to be as high as it is appears to be for him right now,” Smith said. “He senses a prime opportunity for himself to land someplace else, be a starting quarterback in the NFL and get some shine. And I think he wants to capitalize on it.”

In a statement Friday, Garoppolo’s agent Don Yee said the quarterback’s Instagram account was hacked. Hours before the cryptic post, Garoppolo took a Snapchat video from the Blackhawks game Thursday night. If he was hacked, perhaps responsibility lies with somebody who was with him.

Regardless, Garoppolo’s future with the Patriots will likely remain a major topic for the foreseeable future. Since there’s no timetable on a trade, the drama could even extend well into training camp.

Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots,

Bill O’Reilly agrees with Mike Francesa about women not being able to coach men’s teams

03.10.17 at 11:41 am ET
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Bill O'Reilly, pictured here with President Donald Trump, has Mike Francesa's back. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Bill O’Reilly, pictured here with President Donald Trump, has Mike Francesa’s back. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

On his radio show last week, WFAN host Mike Francesa said it would be “impossible” for a woman to coach a men’s sports team. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly agrees.

In a segment Thursday with HBO “Real Sports” contributor Bernard Goldberg, O’Reilly defended Francesa’s logic –– though he slightly misconstrued the Sports Pope’s words.

“I don’t disagree that women can coach a men’s basketball team. Twelve players … it could happen. He was talking about baseball and football and I agree with Francesa, it would be almost impossible on a number of different levels for that to happen,” he said.

Francesa wasn’t just talking about baseball and football, however. He made a blanket statement about women coaching all men’s sports teams.

“Do you know how difficult it would be on a female to have to manage 25 men? Or 50 men? Do you know how impossible that would be?,” he asked. “It wouldn’t be tough, it would be impossible. You’re gonna tell me that you would think a woman would walk into an NFL team and coach as a head coach 15 assistants and 50-60 men?”

A caller pressed Francesa on whether he thinks former Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt, who won eight champions with the Lady Volunteers, could’ve coached men. He said no.

“NBA? No,” he said. “She would have said, ‘I don’t belong there.’ But she could not coach an NBA team, nor would she even wanna try.”

This week, Francesa expounded on his take, saying he thinks it would be a publicity stunt if a men’s team hired a female coach. That’s an asinine statement to make, considering there’s nothing worse for a franchise’s publicity than a losing season. Seemingly no club would sacrifice on-field or on-court success for the sake of a short-term PR boost.

That’s not to say Francesa’s argument doesn’t have a kernel of truth to it. It probably would be difficult for an accomplished female coach to be in charge of a men’s team –– just because of its unprecedented nature. There isn’t a single woman coaching men at the collegiate level, and in the NBA, there are only two female assistants: WNBA great Becky Hammon with the Spurs and two-time Olympian Nancy Lieberman with the Kings. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Women have risen to the highest levels in other male-dominated fields. Why not sports?

Naturally, after briefly addressing Francesa’s claims, O’Reilly and Goldberg turned their attention to a familiar target: the liberal PC police.

“(They) will punish you if you’re not PC enough and that’s what’s happening here,” Goldberg said.

Francesa, who reportedly makes $5 million per year, is almost certainly not being punished. In fact, his ratings have probably increased as a result of this episode.

Read More: Bill O'Reilly, Mike Francesa,