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Urschel says he's staying at Penn State

John Urschel started his college football career at Penn State and that’s where he’s going to end it, the Canisius High School graduate confirmed on Monday night.

“I’m a Penn-Stater all the way,” he said by phone.

Urschel’s future with the Nittany Lions, as well as teammate Akeel Lynch’s of St. Francis, got thrown into the spotlight when the NCAA announced a series of sanctions against the Penn State football program for its involvement in the sexual abuse scandal surrounding former coach Jerry Sandusky.

One of the sanctions opens the door for current and incoming Penn State football players to transfer to other schools without penalty. Typically, players who move from one Division I school to another have to sit out one season.

Urschel, a senior, expects to start on the offensive line when camp opens Aug. 6, while Lynch is an incoming freshman with a seemingly much tougher decision ahead of him.

Urschel graciously deflected questions about what factors led to his decision to stay, and how’s he’s been handling the situation. “Honestly, these aren’t really things we can talk about right now. We’re sending all things related to [head] coach [Bill] O’Brien. I’m a Penn State football player and that’s not going to change.”

Lynch was not available for comment on Monday.

---Mary Jo Monnin

McLaughlin leaving Niagara for VCU

Niagara athletics director Ed McLaughlin will be leaving Monteagle Ridge for Virginia.

Sources told The Buffalo News and The Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting that McLaughlin will be named the athletic director at VCU in a press conference at 11 a.m. Tuesday. He will be filling the position left vacant when Norwood Teague left VCU for Minnesota.

VCU will be joining St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic 10 Conference and will broadcast the press conference live on their website.

McLaughlin was named the athletic director at Niagara in July 2006.

--- Amy Moritz

Lynch, Urschel to ponder futures at Penn State

  Former All-Western New York football players Akeel Lynch of St. Francis and John Urschel of Canisius were looking forward to the writing the next chapters of their football careers at Penn State, but that was before the NCAA threw the book at the university.

 The NCAA on Monday morning announced a series sanctions against the Penn State football program for its involvement in the sexual abuse scandal surrounding former coach Jerry Sandusky. One of the sanctions allows current and incoming Penn State football players to transfer immediately to another school without penalty. Typically, players who move from one Division I school to another have to sit out one season.

Now Lynch and Urschel have to decide if Happy Valley will continue to be their home.

When contacted by phone after the NCAA announcement, St. Francis coach Jerry Smith said Lynch and Urschel were not immediately available because as of 11:45 a.m. they were in a players meeting at the Penn State complex discussing what steps to take. Lynch, an incoming freshman, left Buffalo for Penn State last month and has been taking summer school classes. “I can’t begin to tell you what’s going through his head,” said Smith. “His grandmother just died last week, so it’s been a stressful couple days. He left June 24, and he’s been loving it.”

  Urschel is a 2008 Canisius graduate, who will be a senior this fall. He is a mathematics major and owns a perfect 4.00 grade-point average his last six semesters through the spring of 2012.

  Lynch originally committed to Boston College.

-Mary Jo Monnin


Daemen admitted to East Coast Conference

The second time proved the charm for Daemen College, which was granted membership in the NCAA at the Division II level. Today it was formally announced that the Wildcats were admitted to the East Coast Conference.

Daemen had been a member of the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) since the mid-1980s but looked to make the jump to the NCAA at the Division II level to better fit with the needs of its student-athletes.

Accpeted by the NCAA, Daemen enters a three-year process to become a full Division II member. The next two academic years are candidacy years followed by a third transitional year. If all goes well, Daemen will be a full member of both the NCAA and the East Coast Conference, including being eligible for championships, for the 2015-16 season.

To provide its student-athletes with championship opportunities while undergoing the provisional process, Daemen will compete for the next two seasons in United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA).

Daemen brings the ECC up to 11 members schools along with the University of Bridgeport (Conn.), University of the District of Columbia, Dowling College (Oakdale, N.Y.), LIU Post (Brookville, N.Y.), Mercy College (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.), Molloy College (Rockville Center, N.Y.), New York Institute of Technology, Queens Colelge, Roberts Wesleyan College and St. Thomas Aquinas College (Sparkill, N.Y.) 

--- Amy Moritz


New coaches, new titles, national honors

Cleaning out the college notebook with updates from the past week around area schools:

Marie Curran was named the new softball coach at Buffalo State. Curran, a former coach at the University at Buffalo, joined the Bengals staff in 2011. She became the interim head coach for the Bengals this past spring, 14 games into the season, after Sandy Hollander passed away. Curran helped  Buffalo State into the playoffs and, along with Hollander, was named SUNYAC Coaches of the Year.

"I feel very privileged and honored to become the coach of such a tradition-rich program," Curran said in a press release from Buffalo State. "I had the wonderful opportunity to have been involved with the program under Coach Hollander and truly understand the traditions of ht eprogram and how to continue and build on its successes. The Western New York softball community offers such a deep talent base, it provides the opportunity for our program to reach the NCAA playoffs on a consistent basis."

Meanwhile at Canisius, Jude Caserta was promoted to Assistant Athletic Director for Business Operations and Matt Reitnour was promoted to Assistant Athletic Director for Communications. Caserta, in her 24th year on the Golden Griffins athletics staff, will continue to be oversee business operations for the department and will also oversee the women's rowing program. Reitnour, in addition to directing the athletic department's communication staff, will be responsible for all broadcast and multimedia platforms along with advancing social media presence.

Dan McFarland, a graduate of St. Mary's and a junior at Hilbert, was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches Honors Court. He was the only honoree from the 10-member Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference. McFarland averaged 17.9 points for the Hawks this season with his 1,168 points placing him seventh on the program's all-time scoring list. He has 3.2 grade point average as a criminal justice major.

--- Amy Moritz

Two UB football players receive preseason honors

The past two seasons -- the first two seasons of the Jeff Quinn era -- the University at Buffalo Bulls football team has gone a combined 5-19. Not all that impressive.

What is impressive, however, is that the team's leaders throughout those two years were youngsters. Many fans have long believed that now-juniors Branden Oliver and Khalil Mack have pro potential, and that notion was affirmed this week.

Oliver, a 5-foot-8 running back from Miami, Fla., was one of the best offensive players in the Mid-American Conference last season. He didn't have much help, but his efforts were noticed. On Monday, Oliver became the first player in UB football history to be named to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, which recognizes the nation's top college football player. 

Not to be outdone, today Mack (a native of Fort Pierce, Fla.) was named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List, which honors the top defensive player in the nation. The 6-foot-3, 244-pound linebacker is a monster. He has some of the biggest arms you'll ever see.

It's not surprising that the two are training partners and very close friends. Over the summer, they focus on uphill, sled-pulling, weighted-vest running at UB's old football stadium.

--- Aaron Mansfield

Twitter: @aaroncmansfield

Billy Baron joins dad at Canisius

New Canisius basketball coach Jim Baron has reportedly lured a new guard to the program -- his son.

Billy Baron told CBS Sports late Thursday night that he will transfer to Canisius. He was also considering Purdue and Providence. 

Baron averaged 13.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game last year with Atlantic 10 member Rhode Island before his dad was fired on March 4, hours before Tom Parrotta heard the same from Canisius. He just completed his sophomore season.

Both Barons originally told the press Billy would stay at URI and play for Danny Hurley.

“This is my home,” Billy Baron told the Providence Journal in March. “This is where I want to be.”

“He’s finishing up and doing what he needs to do there,” Jim Baron told the Canisius school newspaper in April. “That’s the most important thing now.”

Baron is expected to apply for a waiver that would allow him to play this coming season without having to sit out. There is precedent in the NCAA to allow for this. Most recently and notably is Central Michigan's Trey Zeigler, who will be allowed to play for Pittsburgh next year after he received the waiver in May following his father's firing. 

A potential detour for Baron could be the fact that he already transferred once, leaving ACC member Virginia midway through his freshman year to play for Jim at URI. 

If granted the waiver, Baron would add talent and depth to the Griffs' backcourt. Harold Washington, the team's leading scorer a year ago who had and up-and-down season, is the incumbent at the point guard, though Baron would challenge him for playing time. Seniors Alshwan Hymes, a team captain last year, and Isaac Sosa, who sat out last year after transferring from Central Florida, are both experienced shooting guards. 

The Canisius athletic department is not able to comment on the situation until it receives official paperwork for Baron.

---Nick Veronica

Twitter: @NickVeronica

Niagara names women's track and field coach

Niagara didn't have to look far to hire its first women's track and field. The university announced today that current cross country coach Hadara Katarski will be the head coach for the school's upstart women's track and field program. The Purple Eagles are scheduled to begin competition in the 2013-14 season.

Katarski came to Niagara last August as an assistant cross country coach. In November she was named the interim head coach with the "interim" tag dropped in February. She is married to Mark Katarski, one of the assistant women's basketball coaches.

A native of Claremont, Calif., Katarski competed at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., before transferring to the University of Colorado-Boulder. She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Colorado in 2001 and is a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor.

Before coming to Niagara, she was started the cross country program at Chatham University, a Division III school in Pennsylvania and worked as an assistant cross country and track and field coach at Division III Dickinson College.

Niagara is starting a women's track and field program after deciding to drop its women's hockey program this spring.

 --- Amy Moritz

Asia Henry earns international roster spot

After finishing sixth in the 800 meters at the Jamaican Track and Field Olympic Trials, University at Buffalo junior Asia Henry eanred a spot in an international competition.

Henry was chosen to represent Jamaica at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Under-23 Championships in Mexico, begining Friday and ending on Sunday. The meet is held every two years in one of the 32-member countries of NACAC, which is one of six regional associations affiliated with the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).

Henry will be one of three Jamacians entered in the 800 meters. She took sixth at the Olympic trials in Kingston, where she finished in 2:08.51 in front of 25,000 spectators at National Stadium.

"With 25,000 in attendance, I think this was an eye-opening experience for Asia,: head coach Perry Jenkins said in a University at Buffalo press release after the trials. "I am extremely impressed with the high-level that Asia has been able to compete in all year and I know she is so grateful for all of the opportunities that she has had.  Each time I think she surprised herself, but I knew along what she was capable of."

In June, Henry set the UB school record at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, running the 800 in 2:04.65 to finish 14th.

--- Amy Moritz


About Campus Watch

Bob Dicesare

Bob DiCesare

Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.

@TBNDicesare |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |