the NCAA

On Thursday, for the eighth season in a row, the Texas women’s golf team will be headed to the three-day NCAA Regional Championship. The Longhorns enter the competition at Briggs Ranch in San Antonio, Texas, as the No. 11 seed. 

The 54-hole regional tournament features three top-10 teams  in Golfweek’s rankings: No. 1 Washington, No. 2 UCLA and No. 9 Texas A&M. The Longhorns will also be competing against three Big 12 Conference members Texas Tech, Oklahoma and conference champion Baylor.

Just two weeks ago at the Big 12 Championship, the Longhorns were in San Antonio, where they had a disappointing sixth-place finish. 

While junior Tezira Abe had her best finish of the season, a tie for 10th place, the next closest Longhorn was senior Bertine Strauss in 20th. In addition, three of the five Longhorns that competed had individual rounds that exceeded their average by three or more strokes.

At the NCAA Regional Championship, Texas will have a chance to rectify that mediocre performance. Texas has the talent to do so, as every member of the prospective lineup — which includes Strauss, Abe, junior Natalie Karcher, and sophomores Julia Beck and Anne Hakula — has had success this season and all have set personal records.

If Texas is able to finish in the top six, it will advance to play at the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship in Bradenton, Florida, May 22–27. 

Junior Stephanie Ceo is ready to step into a leadership role this season after posting a .348 batting average and 34 RBIs so far in her career at Texas.
Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

When Texas’ softball season ended at the NCAA Lafayette Regional final last May, its offense was struggling.

The Longhorns only managed four hits against Louisiana-Lafayette, with the lone score coming off a solo home run by senior Gabby Smith. 

But as the team heads into a new season, it has two veteran juniors returning in place to lead this season’s offense in the right direction.

Junior right fielder Lindsey Stephens and junior second baseman Stephanie Ceo are the only two players on the current roster who played in all 58 games last season.

Stephens, who is one of 50 players on the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year watch list, had one of the most dominant offensive seasons in Texas softball history in 2014 with a .371 batting average for the year. She led the team in six offensive categories and ranked in the top 10 in nine offensive categories in the Big 12.

“She’s one of our captains,” Clark said. “She’s really going to step up and do some things really well. She definitely will help us offensively.”

Despite last season’s postseason struggles, Stephens said she believes her team has the confidence to succeed this season.

“We have such a strong foundation,” she said. “Everyone on this team is ready to learn, ready to make adjustments and ready to take that next step.”

Ceo is also expected to capitalize on her leadershipskills in the upcoming season. The junior hit .362 last season and recorded 10 multi-hit games. Ceo’s biggest talents were often on display at the plate in the postseason, where she notched team-high postseason batting averages as a sophomore in 2014 (.375) and as a freshman (.400) during the Women’s College World Series (WCWS).

In June, Ceo watched as her older sister, Courtney, competed for Oregon in the WCWS. This season, Ceo hopes to have that same experience.

“Last year had a lot of learning moments that we went through,” Ceo said. “Now we get to build off of that.”

But before the Longhorns start thinking about the postseason, they will have to focus on their tough non-conference schedule.

Texas will face several ranked opponents early, including No. 2 Oregon on Friday night at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona. Sunday afternoon, it faces No. 16 Arizona State.

The Longhorns will start their season by playing 11 teams that are either ranked or receiving votes in the preseason Softball rankings. Eight of those games will occur throughout the month of February and serve as challenges the Longhorns must face if they want to reach their ultimate goal.

“Not only do we want to get to the World Series, but we want to win the World Series,” Stephens said.

Thursday and Friday, the Texas women’s swimming and diving team heads to California to race in its first two dual meets of the season. The team will take up the challenge of swimming against two of the Top 4 teams in the NCAA, No. 1 California and No. 4 Stanford.

Last time Texas met with Stanford and Cal, Texas lost to both. Stanford won by a narrow margin of 154-146, and Cal, by a 172-128 count.

This 2014 Texas schedule is anything but easy. Thursday, Stanford (2-0), who conquered Oregon and Utah State in its first meet, will host Texas (3-0) at 4 p.m. Not only does the Stanford women’s swimming and diving team have big talent overall, but their freshman are stealing the show. This season, Stanford’s freshmen alone have acquired 15 individual wins.

Other than the swimming on Thursday, Stanford will also be hosting a “Pink Out” to raise awareness for cancer, in which both teams will swim in pink caps, and both coaches have vowed to donate.

Stanford head coach Gregg Meehan, will donate $1 for every fan who wears pink to the meet. In response, Texas head coach Carol Capitani tweeted:

“@Stanford_W_Swim: I will be donating $1 for every fan in PINK.

I will match Greg’s donation, 100% to Komen Austin. Be there!”

Capitani takes her team to the Spieker Aquatic Complex on Friday to swim against her alma mater, Cal, at 1 p.m. Both teams have been held to high esteem in college swimming. Though Texas has won more championships than Cal overall, Cal has been at the forefront of the competition in the NCAA in recent years.

This meet will be especially interesting for senior diver, Emma Ivory-Ganja, who transferred from Cal to Texas her sophomore year.

Former Texas football player Julius Whittier has filed a $50 million class action lawsuit against the NCAA, according to KEYE-TV.

Whittier, the first African-American player in school history, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2012. He claims the repeated head trauma he sustained during his playing career caused his health issues.

According to KEYE-TV, Whittier’s lawsuit against the NCAA “includes all former NCAA football players who played from 1960-2014 who did not go on to play professional football and who have been diagnosed with a latent brain injury or disease.”

Whittier played for Texas from 1969-1972 as an offensive lineman and tight end. His lawsuit states the NCAA breached its duty to protect players “in the face of long-standing and overwhelming evidence regarding the need to do so.”

Photo Credit: Hannah Hadidi | Daily Texan Staff

Since its launch in 2011, the Longhorn Network has flooded the UT athletic department with cash.

However, the ESPN-backed Longhorn Network frustrated the rest of the Big 12 with its lack of revenue sharing — among other things — and irritated Missouri and Texas A&M so much that, coupled with other issues, they decided to bolt for new conferences.

Texas A&M and Missouri received the revenue sharing they wanted when the SEC boosted their already prestigious position in the NCAA by launching the also ESPN-backed SEC Network on Aug 14.

The SEC Network lacks the availability concerns that dragged down the Longhorn Network for some Texas fans. Upon its launch, the new channel was available to a reported 90 million households via powerhouse providers Dish Network, AT&T, Comcast, DirecTV and Time Warner Cable, among others. 

A concerning figure for the Longhorns is the advantage in exposure the SEC Network has created over its Austin counterpart.

Fans, pundits and head coaches have all but unanimously crowned the SEC as the greatest conference in college football, and conference newcomer Texas A&M has been snatching four- and five-star recruits from the Longhorn’s traditional hunting grounds.

For a few years, Texas could pitch a 24/7 exposure to recruits driven by the prospect of stardom. However, Texas’ neighbors to the east can now pitch that same access to an even bigger audience, which has the possibility of pushing the already tipping recruiting scale further towards SEC schools.

The Longhorn Network has struggled to reach the majority of viewers within Texas, although a new carriage agreement with Dish is expected to help the issue.

Meanwhile, July estimates ranked the SEC Network the fifth largest sports network in the country with an expected 75 million subscribers and a revenue of $611 million. 

After accounting for the costs and the revenue share taken by ESPN, the estimates predicted that each of the 14 member schools will haul in around $19.6 million this year from the SEC Network and total TV revenue could balloon to $40 million by the network’s third year.

To put those figures into comparison, in 2012-2013 Texas reported $33.4 million in total royalty and licensing revenue, including the cash influx from the Longhorn Network.

The channel accounts for a huge role in Texas claiming the title of wealthiest athletic department in the country, and it helped make Texas one of the few schools that has been able to distribute athletic revenue to academics rather than the other way around.

Money has not—and should not—be a problem for the Longhorn Network thanks to the 20-year, $300 million deal ESPN signed in 2011, guaranteeing a large revenue stream to Texas Athletics. However, Florida and Alabama could dethrone Texas as the NCAA’s revenue king if things go as planned for the new network. 

FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2010, file photo, former UCLA basketball player Ed O'BannonJr. sits in his office in Henderson, Nev. Five years after the former UCLA star filed his antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA, it goes to trial Monday, June 9, 2014, in a California courtroom.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

The recent start of the O’Bannon v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) federal trial comes on the heels of several major legal announcements regarding intercollegiate sports. The first concerned an agreement by Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) and the Collegiate Licensing Company, the NCAA’s licensing agent, to pay out $40 million to those college football and basketball players who appeared in EA Sports’ video games after 2003. EA Sports and the NCAA ended their licensing agreement last year. Moreover, the NCAA announced this June 9 that it had agreed to a settlement of $20 million to end similar claims against it regarding the video games. In addition, Northwestern University scholarship football players were recognized early this spring as employees with a right to unionize by the Chicago regional arm of the National Labor Relations Board.

A win by the athletes in the O’Bannon case would accelerate this strong momentum toward change in intercollegiate sport. In the class action lawsuit, former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon argues on behalf of his fellow plaintiffs that the NCAA violates U.S. antitrust law by profiting from the use of athletes’ names, images and likenesses in various media outlets. The NCAA maintains that student-athletes are just that — students first, and athletes second and that they are fairly compensated through scholarships, stipends and the opportunity to compete. The athletes, on the other hand, believe they are entitled to compensation far beyond those benefits given the level of financial success enjoyed by the NCAA and its member institutions. As it currently stands, NCAA athletes sign a waiver relinquishing their intellectual property rights upon entering college. 

The landscape of intercollegiate sports — including athletics here at UT — will change dramatically if the NCAA loses the O’Bannon case. And most legal experts believe that athletes will indeed come out on top if the trial proceeds to conclusion. This makes a multi-million dollar settlement highly likely. By agreeing to such a painful sum, the NCAA might just put off what many are already calling its day of reckoning.

Hunt is an assistant professor of kinesiology and health education. Mueller is a graduate student in the same department.

No. 1 Texas women’s track and field team fell just short of winning the title, finishing second, at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.  

Although senior Marielle Hall won the 5,000-meter and the women’s 4x400 relay team took first in its event, their efforts came too late for the Longhorns as Texas A&M had already clinched the team championship. 

The Texas men’s team wasn’t as successful as the women’s, however. The men finished 11th in the overall standings.  

Despite the teams’ finishing positions, first year head coach Mario Sategna is happy with the outdoor season and is looking forward to the future. 

“I think this is a great starting point, with this being a very historic year for the University of Texas,” Sategna said at a press conference. “We knew at the beginning of the season we had the people to win a championship ….”

As for Saturday’s events, Hall was phenomenal, winning the 5,000 with a time of 15 minutes, 35.11 seconds. 

“I’ve been feeling really good since cross country and I haven’t had a [5,000-meter] race [lately] and haven’t been able to show that,” Hall said in a press conference after the meet. “So to come out here and have it come together — I’m obviously really excited — but I knew that I had it inside me.”

The 4x400-meter women’s relay team also gave a strong performance at the NCAA meet; the team set a meet record, running the event in 3:24.21 seconds, the second-fastest time in collegiate history. The 4x100-meter women’s team finished third.

Also competing at the meet, Texas’ sophomore Courtney Okolo won the 400 championship Friday.

“It feels really good. I’ve been dreaming about this all year,” Okolo said. “To know that it’s finally here, it feels so amazing.”

Freshman Fabian Jara Dohmann was the only member of the Texas men’s team who competed Saturday, finishing 18th with a javelin toss of 211-4.

The men had plenty of competitors in other events. Junior Ryan Crouser successfully defended his national shot put title. Crouser’s toss of 69-3 1/2 won him a third straight national championship.

Sophomore Johannes Hock failed to defend his decathlon title after struggling in the 1,500 and finishing second.

“He’ll walk away from here feeling defeated, but the decathlon is a different beast,” Sategna said. “He went into the 1,500 — not one of his strong points — in the lead. He gave it a shot for three laps and kind of fell off the pace at the end.”

Also competing for Texas was sophomore Reese Watson who finished seventh in the pole vault. 

The NCAA Track & Field Championship concludes the track and field season. The team will now enter the offseason before starting again in the fall with the cross country season.

Texas’ Courtney Okolo won the 400-meter final Friday at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Okolo is one of just three women to win the 400-meter title as a Longhorn.
“It feels really good. I’ve been dreaming about this all year,” Okolo said. “To know that it’s finally here, it feels so amazing.”
Also competing in the 400-meter event, freshman Kendall Baisden finished third, and senior Briana Nelson crossed the line in fourth. Baisden, Nelson and Okolo will run in the 4x400-meter relay Saturday.
In the overall team standings, the Texas women are in a tie for third place with 29 points. The Longhorn men are in fifth place with 19.5 points.

The NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship wraps up Saturday.

Longhorns track and field sophmore decathlete Johannes Hock during the decathlon shot put at the NCAA track and field championships on Wednesday. 

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowner | Daily Texan Staff

Heading into Day 2 of the NCAA Track & Field Championships, it appeared as if Longhorn sophomore Johannes Hock would win his second decathlon title. With only one event — the 1,500 meter run — remaining, Hock held a small lead of 23 points. But Hock saw his chances at winning dissapear after finishing 12th in the 1,500.

"He'll walk away from here feeling defeated, but the decathlon is a different beast," Texas head coach Mario Sategna said. “He went into the 1,500 — not one of his strong points — in the lead. He gave it a shot for three laps and kind of fell off the pace at the end.”
The Longhorn women continued a solid qualifying effort. Three Texas runners advanced to a finals event Thursday.
Sophomore Morolake Akinosun was able to advance to her third final at the championships with a victory in her 100-meter heat.
The women’s 4x400 meter relay team was able to advance to finals with a top time of 3 minutes and 28 seconds.
The NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship continues Friday.

Photo Credit: Texas Sports

Texas opened up the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a bang Wednesday, as junior Ryan Crouser successfully defended his shot-put title.

With a toss of 69 feet, 3 ½ inches, Crouser won his third straight national championship.

Also competing in the men’s Track & Field Championships for the Longhorns are sophomores Johannes Hock and Reese Watson. 

Hock is close to winning another decathlon title after posting a personal-best 4,243 points on day one after competing in five events. Watson tied for seventh in the pole vault event.
For the Texas women, three of the four 400-meter qualifiers advanced to the finals - freshman Kendall Baisden, senior Briana Nelson, and sophomore Courtney Okolo.

In the 100-meter race, sophomore Morolake Akinosun advanced to the finals after posting a career best time of 11.04.

The NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship continues Thursday