Sports news

WKU Athletics

An online article highlights clashes between WKU football coach Bobby Petrino and a medical trainer who was fired in the spring.

The Chronicle of Higher Education story about friction between coaches and athletic trainers singled out the relationship between Petrino and former WKU associate athletic trainer Danny Cobble. The Chronicle’s story says Petrino questioned Cobble’s medical abilities, grew impatient with return-to-play times for players, and pushed back against decisions made by physicians.

Cobble says he was fired in the spring after being at WKU since 2009. When asked by the Courier-Journal about the article, A WKU athletics spokesman said neither coach Petrino or WKU Athletic Director Todd Stewart would comment.

The Chronicle story spotlighted an incident in which Cobble says a doctor ordered surgery for an unidentified WKU football player. Cobble says Petrino wanted to treat the player with a cortisone shot instead. The player eventually had surgery.

The Chronicle surveyed hundreds of athletic trainers and staff for their story. Of the 101 who responded, 53 said they felt pressure from football coaches to get players back on the field faster than the trainers felt was medically prudent.

You can read the full article from The Chronicle of Higher Education here.

Keshawn Simpson ran for a pair of 3-yard touchdowns and Antonio Andrews added his own 3-yard score as Western Kentucky beat Kentucky 35-26 Saturday night making coach Bobby Petrino a winner in his debut.

The Hilltoppers also beat their in-state rival for a second straight year, though they didn't need overtime like they did last year in this win over the Southeastern Conference program. They outgained Kentucky 487-419 in total offense and held the ball for 35 minutes.

The loss ruined Kentucky coach Mark Stoops' debut. Coordinator Neal Brown's Air Raid offense struggled against a Western Kentucky defense returning seven starters from a bowl team that went 7-6 last season in the Sun Belt Conference.

Brandon Doughty was 27 of 34 for 271 yards and a TD, numbers that would have been better except for at least four drops including a would-be touchdown.

WKU kicks off its 2013 football season Saturday night against Kentucky.

While the contest is technically a home game for WKU, it's being played at LP Field in Nashville. The game marks the debut for both WKU coach Bobby Petrino and UK head coach Mark Stoops.

Petrino says season-openers are always a major challenge for the coaching staff.

"We have to do a good job on the sidelines making sure we're coaching our guys in between series, and really understanding what Kentucky is trying to do to us, and making sure our players stay into it mentally," said Petrino.

Petrino has 75 career wins as a head coach, and his teams have made seven bowl appearances. The UK game marks Petrino's return to coaching following his 2012 firing as head coach of Arkansas. Petrino was let go by the SEC school after he lied to Arkansas officials about a motorcycle accident involving his mistress.

Kevin Willis

The leader of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association says he’s pleased with the job WKU has done in hosting the state football finals. That might quiet any talk about the finals moving from Bowling Green to Louisville.

WKU has hosted the state high school football finals since 2009, and is under contract to remain host through 2014. Before that, the city of Louisville hosted the events stretching back to 1979.

In a text message to a Courier-Journal sports reporter, KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said his group is happy with Bowling Green as the location for the football finals, saying WKU’s L.T. Smith Stadium gives fans and player a more intimate setting than the larger Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville. Tackett says WKU “appears to maximize all desired factors.”

The U of L Cardinals’ upcoming move to a new athletic conference means the team won’t be playing at home the first weekend in December, the weekend the high school football finals are traditionally held. Because of that availability, some have speculated the KHSAA might consider moving the high school finals back to Louisville.

A former marine hoping to play college football this season at a Tennessee school is celebrating after receiving good news from the NCAA.

The collegiate sports governing body had initially said Steven Rhodes would have to sit out the upcoming season at MTSU. But the NCAA came under heavy criticism after it said the 24-year-old Rhodes would be penalized because he played in a military recreational football league during his time serving in the U.S. Marines.

Rhodes described the league as similar to an intramural activity, but the NCAA said it counted as an organized league since scores were kept, players wore uniforms, and officials refereed the games.

Upon further review, the NCAA now says it’s decided Rhodes can play this upcoming season at MTSU.

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.