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WKU Athletics Media Relations

Four former Western Kentucky University athletes are being inducted into the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame in Elizabethtown.

Dwight Smith, Jim Rose, Gene Rhodes, and Harry Todd are part of the Hall’s fifth class of inductees.

Smith and Rose are being honored posthumously.

Smith is a Princeton native who led Dotson High School to the state tournament in 1963. He went on to score 1,142 career points at WKU, while averaging 11 rebounds a game.

Rose led Hazard High School to three straight Sweet 16 appearances in from 1964-66, and was named all-state in his final three high school seasons. He finished 34th on the all-time WKU scoring list, and was a key member of the school's 1971 Final Four team.

WKU Athletics

Three WKU football players were selected on the final day of the NFL draft. That ties a program record for the most players selected in the modern era. Five other players were invited to rookie camps.

Tight end Tyler Higbee was the first Hilltopper to get the call, chosen by the Los Angeles Rams with the 110th overall pick in the fourth round. Higbee became the highest offensive draft pick ever for WKU, and the first offensive player taken since 2003.

Record-setting WKU quarterback Brandon Doughty was taken by the Miami Dolphins as the 223rd pick in the draft's seventh round. The south Florida native led the nation in passing yards and passing touchdowns for the past two years.

Doughty is the first WKU quarterback ever selected in the NFL draft.

Cornerback Prince Charles Iworah rounded out the WKU selections when he was taken by the San Francisco 49ers also in the seventh round.

WKU Athletics

Former Western Kentucky University men's basketball coach Ray Harper has been hired in the same position at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama. He'll be formally introduced at a news conference in Jacksonville Thursday morning.

Harper resigned from WKU last month following the suspension of three players for undisclosed reasons. It was announced this week those players are no longer enrolled at WKU. School President Gary Ransdell has said those suspensions were the "primary reason" behind Harper's resignation March 17th.

WKU hired former Mississippi State head coach and Texas A & M assistant Rick Stansbury as head coach March 28th.

Harper coached for five seasons at WKU after becoming interim coach in the 2011-12 school year. He compiled an 89-64 record. He led the Hilltoppers to the NCAA Tournament in each of his first two seasons but failed to reach any post-season tournaments in his last three years.

Harper's taking over a program at Jacksonville State that went 8-23 last season, including a 4-12 record in the Ohio Valley Conference.

After being suspended from the Western Kentucky University men's basketball team last month for undisclosed reasons, three former players have now officially left the school.

In a statement released late Tuesday afternoon, WKU Athletics Director Todd Stewart said "Fredrick Edmond, Marlon Hunter and Chris McNeal are no longer enrolled at Western Kentucky University. They have been released from their scholarship and are able to pursue other opportunities."

The three were dismissed from the team for undisclosed reasons after a ruling by the University Disciplinary Committee. The Committee and the athletics department cited federal privacy laws in declining to release any details of the case.

Former coach Ray Harper resigned immediately following the players' suspensions. He's reportedly being considered for the head coaching position at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. New coach Rick Stansbury made it clear during his introductory news conference last week that the three would not be on the team next season.

Fredrick Edmond has signed with an agent and will forego his senior year of college eligibility to play professionally overseas. Both McNeal and Hunter are freshmen.

WKU Athletics

The WKU womens' basketball team beat Dayton 89- 72 at E. A. Diddle Arena in their opening round game of the Women's National Invitational Tournament. WKU was led by Conference USA Player of the Year Kendall Noble's 27 points.

They'll stay home to play their second round game Monday night at 7:00 pm central time against UT-Martin. It will be the first meeting between the teams since 1981.

During Thursday night's game, Noble got most of her points at the free throw line hitting, 17 out of 18 attempts. That's the fourth most free throws in a single game in WKU history. They were the most in a game for the Lady Toppers since 2008.

Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

Western Kentucky University men's head basketball coach Ray Harper has resigned.

The school announced Thursday night that Harper informed Athletics Director Todd Stewart that he was stepping down.

The announcement came following news that three WKU basketball players had been suspended from the team following the outcome of a hearing by the University Disciplinary Committee.

No further information was released regarding the suspensions of Frederick Edmond, Marlon Hunter, and Chris McNeal.

Harper just completed his fifth full season as WKU head coach.

WKU Athletics

One Western Kentucky University basketball team is still in the hunt for its conference championship, while the other is coming home earlier than expected.

The WKU men’s team takes on Old Dominion Friday afternoon in the semifinals of the Conference USA tournament. Five Hilltoppers scored in double figures Thursday to propel WKU to an upset win over the top-seeded UAB Blazers.

The WKU-Old Dominion game tips off at 3 pm central, and is being televised on the CBS Sports Network. The winner will play in the C-USA championship Saturday, with an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament on the line.

The WKU women’s team had their conference tournament run ended Thursday night at the hands of Marshall. The Thundering Herd knocked off the Lady Hilltoppers 66-63.

WKU’s Kendall Noble recorded her second triple-double of the season—and the first triple-double in C-USA Tournament history—with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists.

The WKU women’s team will now likely receive a bid to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

Flickr/Creative Commons

Referees would be able to pull a student athlete out of a game if they suspected the player had a concussion and wasn’t being given a medical evaluation, under a bill under consideration by Kentucky lawmakers.

The legislation passed the House Education committee Tuesday, though several lawmakers expressed concerns it would put too much responsibility on sports officials.

Chad Collins, general counsel for the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, said that the measure might discourage people from becoming referees.

“Our concerns are putting an official in a position where they might be doing more getting closer to practicing medicine or diagnosing and we want to avoid that,” Collins said.

If a player is suspected to have a concussion, state law already requires teams to bench the player until a licensed health care provider conducts a medical evaluation.

WKU Athletics

WKU has a new leader of its baseball team. The school will introduc John Pawlowski Thursday afternoon as the new head coach of the Hilltopper baseball program.

Pawlowski formally coached at Auburn and the College of Charleston, and has been to 11 NCAA tournaments as either a head coach or assistant coach.

WKU announced last month that Matt Myers wouldn’t be retained following four seasons as the school’s baseball coach.

Here's a look at Pawlowski's coaching career:

Pawlowski’s Coaching Career

2014-15: San Diego State Assistant Coach (2 Years; 2 NCAA Tournaments)

2009-13: Auburn Head Coach (5 Years; 167-126 Record, and 1 NCAA Tournament)

2000-08: College of Charleston Head Coach (9 Years; 338-192 Record)

WKU

WKU is suspending its Swimming and Diving program for five years, effective immediately. The university informed the team members and coaching staff of the decision Tuesday morning.

The move comes after investigations by the Bowling Green Police Department and university uncovered evidence of violations of WKU’s Student Code of Conduct, Discrimination and Harassment Policy, and Title IX Sexual Misconduct/Assault Policy.

In an email sent to school faculty and staff Tuesday, President Ransdell said those violations included hazing and underage alcohol consumption involving team members and recruits. Ransdell said coaches were aware of the “pervasive culture” of abuse with the program and failed to prevent it.

"This University simply will not tolerate indecent, immoral, physical, or mental acts of disrespect or abuse among our students. We must all embrace a culture where every student is as important as any student," Dr. Ransdell said in his email. "When this culture is not embraced, we will act swiftly and firmly to ensure that the dignity and integrity of the institution is sustained. It is our hope that over the next five years, the pervasive culture of misconduct and lack of sufficient oversight in this program will be flushed from our campus life."

The investigations into the Swimming and Diving programs at WKU began when a former swim team member filed a report with city police claiming he was assaulted by teammates and forced to drink alcohol during several hazing incidents.

Current swimming and diving team members will be able to transfer immediately to other schools. Those choosing to remain at WKU will have their scholarships honored through their senior years.

The positions currently held by Head Swimming Coach Bruce Marchionda, Associate Head Coach Brian Thomas, and Head Diving Coach Chelsea Ale will be eliminated June 30.

KFC Yum! Center

Because melting snow and heavy rain have caused flooding around the Louisville waterfront, city officials are urging fans heading to the KFC Yum Center for NCAA Tournament games this week to arrive early.

“There are still a number of parking spaces that are flooded. A number of roadways that are blocked or closed and construction as well,” said Sandra Moran, Yum Center marketing director.

The parking garages underneath the arena and at the Galt House are open for business, she said. And if fans aren’t parking in either of those lots they should try to avoid west Interstate 64’s Third Street ramp, which reopened Tuesday after flooding, because traffic congestion is expected in that area, said Moran.

“Have a plan and look at a couple of different garages that you might try to park at because there will be limited space during the day with the business traffic that’s going to be downtown as well,” she said.

Bowling Green will be the host of the tournaments for the next five years in a partnership announced at the Bowling Green Ball Park Wednesday morning. The city will host eleven tournaments this year and as many as 15 beginning next year.

The conference will also hold at least six league meetings in Bowling Green throughout the year.

The NAIA conference includes Campbellsville University, Lindsey Wilson College and the University of Pikeville as well as schools in five other states. They'll kick off the partnership February 6th and 7th wil the conference bowling tournament at Southern Lanes in Bowling Green

Conference commissioner Eric Ward said they were afraid the championships might fall under the public's radar in a city larger than Bowling Green. He said the conference was looking for a neutral site that was big enough to handle several tournaments back to back or even at the same time at different facilities.

He also said they wanted a site with a variety of things for players and fans to do when their team isn't playing.

Amy Cardwell with the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors' Bureau estimates each tournament will bring about 250 participants to the city and twice that many family and fans.

WKU Athletics

The WKU Lady Hilltopper basketball team has been playing a prominent role in area elementary and middle schools over the past several weeks. Thursday’s game between the WKU Lady  Toppers and Florida Atlantic is the fourth annual “Spread the Red Education Game”, and will be attended by all third-through-eighth graders in Bowling Green city schools, and seventh grade students from Warren County public schools.

For the past month, teachers have been incorporating statistics and biographical information about the players and teams into math, geography, reading, and history lessons. 

“And  bigger picture, there’s a learning component in terms of the career opportunities, and just the overall experience of being able to come up to the university and hopefully inspire our kids to want to aim high,” said Warren County Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton.

Bowling Green Schools Superintendent Joe Tinius embraces any opportunity to get young students on a college campus. He says it will be many students’ first time attending an event at WKU.

Kevin Willis

Six Kentucky high school football champions are being crowned Friday and Saturday in Bowling Green.

Belfry of Pike County beat Louisville Central 14-7 in the class 3A title game. Belfry running back Austin Hatfield carried the ball 30 yards for 235 yards and a touchdown in the first of six championship games to beplayed at Houchens-L.T. Smith stadium.

Here is the rest of the lineup:

2A game between Louisville DeSales and Newport Central Catholic is underway.

5A game at 6:00 p.m.: Pulaski County vs. Graves County 

Saturday:

Murray St. Athletics

A college basketball rivalry dating back to 1932 continues Saturday between two Kentucky programs.

The WKU Hilltoppers travel west to take on the Murray State Racers for the 152nd time.

Both teams enter tomorrow’s game with .500 records. WKU is 3-3 and coming off wins against Bowling Green State and Saint Joseph’s. The Hilltoppers are led in scoring by senior guard T.J. Price, who is averaging 13 points a game, with senior forward George Fant leading the team in rebounding at 7 per contest.

You can read more about WKU’s 2014-15 season here.

Murray State is 4-4, and has been a tough home opponent for WKU in recent years. The Racers have won the last three meetings they’ve hosted against WKU, with the Toppers’ last win in Murray coming in 2004. If WKU is to win Saturday, they’ll likely have to contain the Racer’s star sophomore guard Cameron Payne, who was picked as the Ohio Valley Conference preseason player of the year.

After Saturday’s game in Murray, the Toppers have a week off for finals. Then they travel to Ole Miss Dec. 13, before hosting games against Chicago State Dec. 17, and the Louisville Cardinals Dec. 20.

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