Kevin's interview with WKU Athletic Director Todd Stewart
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.
The WKU Board of Regents has approved a $37 million bond issue to fund a new international center and Honors College building, as well as the next phase of the ongoing renovation of the Downing University Center.
While the motion passed, three regents voted against the proposal.
Faculty Regent Patty Minter joined Student Regent Keyana Boka and Staff Regent James Kennedy in dissent. Dr. Minter says while she fully supports the WKU Honors College and the school's efforts to grow its international student population, she questions the need to issue bonds and build a brand new facility.
“There were a lot of better ideas that were not explored," said the WKU History Professor. "For example, having a floor in the replacement building for the Gordon Ford College of Business—what a great place that would be. And it would also integrate that group and the international student services into the entire student population, as opposed to segregating them out.”
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 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 newest member of WKU’s women’s basketball coaching staff is no stranger to head coach Michelle Clark-Heard. Candyce Bingham was a member of Louisville’s 2009 national finalist team, and played her junior and senior seasons when Clark-Heard was a U of L assistant coach.
Bingham helped lead the Cardinals to a 34-5 record and a national championship game appearance her senior season at Louisville, and was a graduate assistant at Louisville this past season. In a news release, Clark-Heard said Bingham would bring “great energy and enthusiasm” to the WKU women’s basketball coaching staff.
Western Kentucky senior basketball forward and football defensive end Kene Anyigbo has been arrested on marijuana possession charges.
The Warren County Regional Jail lists the 21-year-old Anyigbo as an inmate at the facility. Anyigbo also faces charges of tampering with physical evidence and failure to illuminate head lamps. His initial bond is set at $2,000. He was arrested Saturday and remained in jail Monday morning.
Jail records did not list an attorney for Anyigbo.
Western Kentucky Athletic Director Todd Stewart told The Daily News that school officials were aware of the charges.
Citing increased exposure and football bowl game opportunities, WKU President Gary Ransdell and Athletic Director Todd Stewart announced Monday that the school will join Conference USA on July 1, 2014.
Following a unanimous vote by the WKU Board of Regents late Monday morning, WKU officials and the Conference USA commissioner held a news conference a short time later announcing the pact.
C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said WKU brings a lot to the conference.
“We want to provide an opportunity to the next generation of great universities, and (WKU) certainly fits that profile. I think they’re a growing university connected to some large markets like Nashville and Louisville, and frankly I think they have a tradition of excellence,” said Banowsky.
WKU will play one more season in the Sun Belt, a conference WKU joined in 1982.
For the second-straight year WKU has willed itself to a Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship appearance, and a win on Monday night at 6:00 (CT) against fourth-seeded FIU would send WKU to its 23rd NCAA Tournament and fourth in the last six seasons.
WKU sophomore T.J. Price’s steal and layup with 19 seconds remaining erased a one-point deficit Sunday night as the Hilltoppers advanced to the championship game of the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Tournament with a 58-56 win over second-seeded Arkansas State.
Monday's game will be televised nationally on ESPN.
The Hilltoppers have stormed through the bracket this season, winning three games in three days thus far to advance to its 13th Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship game, where WKU is 8-4 all-time.
WKU shot nearly 70 percent from the floor in the first half to help open a 46-24 halftime lead and roll to a 74-60 win over 11th-seeded ULM in the first round of the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Tournament Friday night in Hot Springs, Ark. The win is WKU's fourth in the last five games and moves its overall record to 17-15 on the season.
WKU also advanced to its 22nd-straight Sun Belt Conference Tournament quarterfinal with the victory and will face third-seeded South Alabama at 8:30 PM (CT) Saturday.
WKU went 18-for-26 from the floor in the first half (.692) and finished at 58.3 percent from the game (28-for-48), and the Hilltoppers tied a season high with 11 three-pointers. WKU was led by T.J. Price's 18 points, and George Fant went 6-for-6 from the floor en route to 12 points and five rebounds. Caden Dickerson sank three three-pointers in the game, as did Kevin Kaspar, and 10 Hilltoppers scored in the game.
With the win, WKU advances to the quarterfinals of the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Tournament to face third-seeded South Alabama Saturday night at 8:30 (CT) on the Convention Center Court.
WKU’s Michelle Clark-Heard has been named the Sun Belt Conference Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year. Two of her players—sophomores Chastity Gooch and Alexis Govan—were named First Team All-Conference selections in a survey of the league’s coaches and media members.
Gooch was also named Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year.
Voters recognized Coach Clark-Heard for turning the team around in her first season on the hill. The Lady Hilltoppers take a 20-9 record into this week’s conference championships. Last season, the team won only nine games.
Gooch has averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds this season. Govan averaged over 20 points a game, and hit more than 42-percent of her three-point attempts.