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A former marine hoping to play college football in Tennessee is being told by the NCAA he’ll have to sit out a year. The collegiate sports governing body says the 24-year-old freshman can’t play this upcoming season because of his participation in a military-only recreational football league in 2012.

Steven Rhodes entered the U.S. Marine Corp after graduating from Antioch High School in Nashville. After serving five years of active duty with the Marines, Rhodes contacted Middle Tennessee State coaches and asked about walking-on to the football ball team as a non-scholarship player.

That’s when the NCAA told Rhodes that his participation in a military-only football league would prevent him from playing immediately. Instead, he was told he would have to sit out the upcoming season.

WKU Athletics

As college football season approaches, student-athletes are having to brush up on the rules regarding autographs and eligibility.

The reverberations of the NCAA’s inquiry into whether Texas A&M quarterback and Hesiman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel signed autographs for memorabilia dealers will be felt in Kentucky this weekend. In Louisville, the athletic department has advised the Cardinals football team not to sign autographs at this weekend’s fan event.

 But that will not be the case at WKU’s Football Fan Fest On Saturday.

“They’ll all be available for autographs throughout the event,” said Michael Schroeder, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications at WKU.  

WKU Athletics

For the first time in school history, a football team from the SEC will visit Bowling Green to take on the Hilltoppers. WKU announced a three-game series with Vanderbilt University on Wednesday. 

The first game will take place in 2015 in Nashville, with the Commodores coming to the WKU Campus in 2016.  

“It’s a great compliment that Vanderbilt wanted to schedule that game with us – two games at their place and one at ours as a part of that three-game series. We're certainly looking forward to that starting in a few years,” said Michael Schroeder, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications at WKU.

The WKU men’s basketball team will burn the midnight oil during their season opener. The school announced Monday that the Hilltoppers will take on Wichita State at midnight on November 12, as part of ESPN 2’s Tip-Off Marathon.

ESPN is airing more than a dozen games in over 24 hours of basketball to kick off the new season.

Both WKU and Wichita State are coming off of NCAA tournament appearances, with the Shockers making last season’s Final Four. The Hilltoppers went 20-and-16, and won the Sun Belt Conference tournament.

You can see the 2013-14 WKU men's basketball schedule here.

WKU Athletics

WKU is adding another major-conference opponent to its football schedule. Athletic Director Todd Stewart says the Hilltoppers will travel to the University of Illinois in 2017.

WKU already has a game at Illinois scheduled for 2014.

Stewart says playing road games against larger-conference foes is a major money-generator for the athletic program.

"It's still anywhere from a $800,000 to $1 million payday, and we need that money. But we'd like to have that game a little more regional, so that our fans can go to it."

Champaign, Illinois is a five hour drive from Bowling Green. WKU will receive $875,000 for next year's game vs. the Illini.

Stewart recently spoke to WKU Public Radio about his efforts to schedule fewer so-called "money games," but to have those revenue-generating contests be closer to southern Kentucky.

WKU plays the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville this season. UT is paying WKU $800,000 for that game Sept. 7.

You can see WKU's 2013-14 football schedule here.

WKU Running Back Arrested on Disorderly Conduct Charges

Aug 5, 2013

A Western Kentucky University running back is free on $300 bond after being charged with disorderly conduct over the weekend.

Police in Bowling Green took sophomore Leon Allen into custody at about 2:35 a.m. CDT Sunday. He was released from the Warren County jail at about noon Sunday.

WKU spokesman Kyle Neaves told the Daily News the university is aware of the arrest and is gathering information about it.

Details of the incident were not available Monday morning.

Allen is a 6-foot, 235-pound graduate of Manatee High School in Bradenton, Fla. He was second on the team in rushing in 2012 with 317 yards on 56 carries, scoring twice and averaging 5.7 yards per carry.

WKU’s athletic director is predicting there will be changes coming to the organization that governs collegiate athletics. But Todd Stewart doesn’t think the country’s most powerful conferences will break away from the NCAA and form their own organization, as some have suggested.

Stewart will attend a summit in January called by NCAA President Mark Emmert in response to pressure by big-revenue generating schools who want more say in how the NCAA is run. Some large schools want to increase compensation for collegiate athletes beyond what is currently allowed—something opposed by many smaller schools who say they couldn’t afford it.

Stewart came to the WKU Public Radio studio Wednesday to discuss the upcoming NCAA football summit, the future of college football, and his approach to putting together future WKU football schedules.

WKU Public Radio: WKU has been invited along with all the other Division I football schools to attend a Jan. 16-17 summit in San Diego that coincides with the NCAA’s annual convention. From what you understand so far, what’s going to be discussed?

Todd Stewart: A lot of things are being discussed right now, and I think what President Emmert wanted to do was get everybody in the room and hopefully come out with some form of solidarity. Because you have what people refer to as the “power five” conferences—the SEC, ACC, the Big 10, the PAC 12, and the Big 12—and there are some reforms they would really want to see.

WKU Athletics

The WKU men’s basketball team opens its upcoming season on the road in Wichita.

The 2013-14 Hilltopper schedule was released Friday, and WKU begins its quest for a third straight NCAA tournament appearance November 11 at Wichita State.

Other highlights include a December 14 road game against the defending national champion Louisville Cardinals. That’s followed by home games against Southern Mississippi, Murray State, and Ole Miss.

WKU opens Sun Belt Conference play at South Alabama on January 2.

The Hilltoppers won the Sun Belt Conference tournament last season, winning four games in four days. In their NCAA tournament opening round game against #1 seed Kansas, WKU led at the half before losing by seven points.

You can find a link to the entire WKU men’s basketball schedule here.

The WKU women’s basketball team has a trip to Puerto Rico, and contests against Louisville and Vanderbilt to look forward to this upcoming season.

The 2013-14 Lady Hilltoppers’ non-conference schedule was released Monday. Following two exhibition games, the regular season starts November 9 at home against Austin Peay. Other highlights include playing at Vanderbilt and home against Murray State in mid-November.

WKU hosts the Louisville Cardinals November 27,  and the team travels to San Juan, Puerto Rico the week before Christmas to play in the 2013 Puerto Rico Classic.

The Lady Hilltoppers are coming off a 22-11 season in Michelle Clark-Heard’s first year as head coach of the program. Last year’s record represents the largest single-season win improvement in Sun Belt Conference history.

The latest WKU men's basketball player will add some international flair to the roster.

Ben Lawson, a 6’11’’ forward, will have four years of eligibility at WKU beginning this fall. Lawson is a native of Hitchen, England and was a member of the England 18 and under national team.

Over 31 games for Oaklands College in Great Britain last season, Lawson averaged 15 points, 11 rebounds, and nearly five blocked shots a game. The big man can also shoot it from outside, hitting 40 percent of his three-point attempts last season at Oaklands.

Lawson is the fifth new addition to the WKU roster who will be eligible for the upcoming season.

Lawson joins Aaron Adeoye (6-7, forward, Marion, Ill.), Chris Harrison-Docks (6-0, guard, Okemos, Mich.), Payton Hulsey (6-5, guard, Memphis, Tenn.), Trency Jackson (6-2, guard, Jackson, Miss.) and Daouda Soumaoro (6-9, center, Mali) as newcomers to the Hilltopper roster in 2013-14.

The Kentucky Wildcats are making it clear they want pay-back for last year’s football loss to the WKU Hilltoppers. Several UK players talked about the season-opener for both teams at Wednesday’s Southeastern Conference Media Days event in Hoover, Alabama.

To hear several Kentucky Wildcat football players tell it, the WKU Hilltoppers were disrespectful following last season’s 32-31 overtime win at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington.

Wildcats running back Raymond Sanders said the team was looking forward to the season-opener for both schools. The Courier-Journal quoted Sanders as saying the Toppers “were pretty disrespectful on our field—and disrespectful with some tweets and Facebook and some stuff. After the game, jumping and stomping on the field. It’s our field. You gotta take pride in that.”

After last year’s win at Kentucky, then-WKU head coach Willie Taggart said WKU red was the “new blue” in Kentucky.

This year’s matchup is the debut for new WKU coach Bobby Petrino. WKU and UK face off August 31st at Nashville’s LP Field.

You can see the entire 2013 WKU football schedule here.

It’s not uncommon for college coaching staffs to send scores of letters to top high school prospects they are recruiting.

If the number of letters sent by Kentucky coaches to one Hardin County prospect is any indication, the Wildcats REALLY want to land the services of the 360-pound defensive tackle.

The Courier-Journal reports John Hardin’s Matt Elam received 182 recruiting letters from UK Monday. Elam said he was home when the mail carrier called him out to her truck to see the crate of letters the school had sent him.

Elam is storing all of his college recruitment letters in his size 16 shoe boxes. So far he’s filled up ten and he says the 182 letters Kentucky yesterday will take up half of an eleventh box.

Elam is also being recruiting by Louisville, Alabama, Ohio State, and Notre Dame.

Donahue Qualifies for World Championships

Jun 29, 2013

Former WKU swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Claire Donahue made the U.S. team for the 2013 FINA World Championships after coming in second Thursday night in the 100 meter butterfly at the Phillips 66 National Championships in Indianapolis.

Donahue finished at 58.32 behind Dana Vollmer's 57.53. The top two finshers in the 100 fly advanced to the World Championships July 28-August 4 in Barcelona, Spain. Donahue led Vollmer at the halfway turn by 0.09 seconds, but Vollmer pulled ahead in the back half to record the third-fastest time in the world this year.

The Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals both had first round picks in the NBA draft Thursday night. 

Former Wildcat Nerlens Noel was picked sixth overall by the New Orleans Pelicans and Archie Goodwin was picked 29th overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Following their picks, each player was involved in a proposed trade, with Noel going to Philadelphia and Goodwin to Phoenix.

Former Louisville Cardinal Gorgui Dieng was taken by the Utah Jazz with the 21st overall pick and then traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Peyton Siva was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the second round with the 56th overall pick.

It marks the fourth consecutive NBA draft that Kentucky was represented by multiple players in the first round of the draft.  Dieng is the first Cardinal to go in the first round in four years.

Kentucky lawmakers are reviewing a proposal that would place middle school athletics under the control of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, with the regulations going into effect for the 2014-15 school year.

If approved, the measure would mark the first time middle schools fell under statewide oversight.

The state board of education has already signed on to the idea. KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett told the Lexington Herald-Leader the lack of statewide oversight over middle school athletics has led to problems that include some schools playing more games during a season than is considered safe and parents holding students back a year simply for athletic reasons.

The regulation was filed with the Legislative Research Commission on Friday. After a month long public comment period and a public hearing, the General Assembly's Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee and the Interim Joint Committee on Education will give the regulation a final review.

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