Home Is Where The Hot March Madness Tickets Are

Check out FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness predictions. SESSIONLOWER SEATSUPPER SEATSTICKETS SOLD Friday evening186.25107.952,375 Thursday evening163.0087.552,235 Sunday233.70130.752,760 Saturday248.45136.402,825 There are eight cities hosting March Madness games this weekend, but none with ticket sales hotter than Louisville, Ky.; Omaha, Neb.; and Seattle. That’s what happens when NCAA tournament games are basically home games.The demand for tickets there shows how valuable ostensible home games are to ticket sellers, if not to fairness lovers. Kentucky, Kansas and Gonzaga — the first or second highest-ranked teams facing off in the hot-ticket cities — all play their home games less than 300 miles from their tournament host cities. Omaha gets a double dip of local teams, with No. 7 Wichita State playing there as well.To get the list, I used data provided by two online ticket marketplaces, ScoreBig and SeatGeek. Connor Gregoire, a SeatGeek spokesman, sent data based on sales made via the site’s ticket search engine. Alison Burnham, vice president of pricing and analytics for ScoreBig, sent data for tickets available on her site and elsewhere on the secondary market.I compared average prices for top-tier seats, and, separately, for the cheap seats. Also, some sessions are more attractive than others — people would rather go to a weekend session than one during the week, probably both because of the convenience and because weekend sessions tend to feature tighter games. In addition, weeknights beat weekdays, and Fridays beat Thursdays, perhaps because it’s easier to travel without taking two days off work. Since 2011, Friday afternoon sessions have averaged 19 percent higher prices for the best seats, 30 percent higher prices for the cheaper seats and 26 percent more sales on SeatGeek. Thursday afternoon$131.95$67.802,175 So I compared apples to apples: How did Thursday afternoon sessions, for instance, compare to average prices for that session this year?After controlling for variables unrelated to which teams were playing, Louisville was clearly the hottest ticket among the four cities holding Thursday/Saturday sessions. Omaha and Seattle were the Friday/Sunday winners.1Venues sell four types of tickets: For each of the two round-of-64 sessions, for the single round-of-32 session, and for all three sessions combined. In each host city, I looked at ticket demand for each of the four ticket types in three ways: prices of more-expensive seats, prices of cheap seats and volume of ticket sales. That’s 12 points of comparison in all. Louisville and Omaha were above average in 11 of the 12 categories for their sessions. Seattle was above average in every ticket-price category, though below average in three of the four ticket-sale-volume categories. The ScoreBig data, used as a reality check, was similar, with Pittsburgh also making a strong showing.From a last-minute ticket-buyer’s perspective, the main question might be, how much is the least I can pay to get in? To answer that question, SeatGeek sent along daily figures for the ticket at the fifth percentile of listing prices for each session. Even these seats, some of the cheapest available, have stayed expensive for the round-of-64 sessions that feature quasi-home teams in Louisville, Omaha and Seattle. But for other sessions, prices have fallen. For instance, on Wednesday, tickets to the Thursday afternoon session in Louisville — the one that featured four teams not named Kentucky — could be had for just $14. Friday afternoon156.7588.052,740 read more

49ers Linebacker Aldon Smith Stabbed At House Party

A house party in San Jose turned chaotic over the weekend and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was stabbed multiple times in the mayhem.His injuries are considered minor, according The Associated Press.“(We) are aware that Aldon Smith incurred minor injuries during an incident last night,” the 49ers said in a statement. “We are in contact with Aldon and thankful that his injuries were not more serious and that he is recovering comfortably. The 49ers are also in communication with local authorities as they gather information regarding the incident, and will reserve further comment at this time.”According to The Sacramento Bee, deputies from the Santa Clara County sheriff’s office were called to a house party at about 2 a.m. on Saturday after receiving reports of gunshots. When police arrived, they found two people shot and another stabbed.The Bee reported that all three were taken to the hospital with what were believed to be non-life-threatening injuries.A source told the Bee the stabbing victim was Smith. A spokesman for the Santa Clara County sheriff’s department, meanwhile, would not comment on the identity of the victims.The party was so large — more than 100 people were estimated to be there — that deputies called for backup from the San Jose police and the California Highway Patrol, Sgt. Jose Cardoza told the Bee.“It was a chaotic scene,” Cardoza said. “There was a lot of commotion, and no one knows where the gunshots came from.” read more

Shocker LSU Dismisses Honey Badger Tryann Mathieu

In a move that shakes up the college football landscape, LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu – perhaps the most dynamic player in college football – has been dismissed from the preseason No. 1-ranked team for violating school and team rules.“We extended ourselves personally and professionally to him,” LSU coach Les Miles said at a news conference Friday. “He has really improved and has a chance to take some steps as a person.“We extended ourselves to the full length of the policy.”Miles would not specify the reason Mathieu, who was suspended for a game last year for failing a drug test, was kicked off the team.“We’ll miss the guy,” Miles said. “The football team’s got to go on. We’ll have to fill the void.”A source told ESPN that Mathieu has been looking for a new school to play for this season. Mathieu has two years of eligibility left and could transfer, but he would have to sit out this season if he went to another school in major college football. If he moved down a level, to FCS, he could play right away.“I can’t imagine he would be here and not want to transfer and go play football,” Miles said. “We will help him in every way we can.”Last season Mathieu was a finalist for the Heisman and won the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation’s best defensive player.The junior defensive back nicknamed “Honey Badger” was the surprising Heisman Trophy candidate last season as the Tigers won the Southeastern Conference championship and reached the BCS title game. LSU lost the championship 21-0 to Alabama.LSU enters this season ranked No. 1 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.The AP college football poll will be released Aug. 18. The Tigers opened preseason camp last week as one of the favorites to reach the national championship game again.Mathieu was the team’s big-play machine at cornerback and on special teams. The All-American scored four touchdowns — two on punt returns and two on fumble returns — intercepted two passes and caused six fumbles and recovered four. read more

Beside The Points For Monday Nov 20 2017

College Football Things That Caught My EyeAwful year to be a quarterbackBased on Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Games Lost metric, the NFL’s quarterback corps are at 77.8 adjusted games lost in 2017 ahead of this past weekend. Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Tannehill, Sam Bradford, Carson Palmer, Deshaun Watson, Jameis Winston, Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, and Jay Cutler all were or are injured, and 2017 is already the eighth highest AGL since 2000, and we have several weeks left in the NFL season. [FiveThirtyEight]I’m sorry, MississippiThe New York Times dove deep on who watches what NFL games on every Sunday. It’s part of a serpentine series of rules blacking out or making constant or flagged for mandatory pullout when it comes to what goes on CBS where. Thanks to rules saying no team’s home market can have a competing game on air, 9 percent of the country’s population didn’t get an NFL game on CBS at 1 p.m., and 86 percent of the country watched New England and Oakland play in Mexico. The fun part is that when deciding where to air a game, sometimes the players come up: Eli Manning plays well in Mississippi, where he went to college, just as Carson Wentz plays well in North Dakota and Marcus Mariota play well in his home state of Hawaii. [The New York Times]They blew it!Washington had a 99.7 percent chance of beating the Saints about six minutes before the end of regulation Sunday, and the Saints even had just a 0.2 percent chance of victory with 4:42 into the fourth quarter. Hilariously, Washington blew a 15 point lead and lost 34-31 in overtime. [ESPN]New recordKatie Ledecky broke her own American record in the 1,650 freestyle at a meet in Texas. The Olympic superstar swam the distance in 15:03.31. [Swim Swam]Nigeria is going to PyeongChang!Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere, and Akuoma Omeoga will makeup the first African bobsled team to qualify for the Olympics. They’re also Nigeria’s first ever qualifying team for the games. Canada has won the past two gold medals in women’s bobsledding. [Deadspin]No major CFB upsets mean no major changesRight now, Alabama has a 83 percent chance of finishing with a top four strength of record, followed by Miami, Clemson, Oklahoma and Georgia. Wisconsin will be a very interesting case for this season: They’ve got a 32 percent chance of finishing with a top-4 record, are currently undefeated, but as it stands according to ESPN’s FPI there are eight teams that look better than them on paper. [ESPN, ESPN]Make sure to try your hand at our fun NFL can you beat the FiveThirtyEight predictions? game!Big Number11 completions, 6 of which were to the correct teamRookie quarterback Nathan Peterman started for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday after the team benched Tyrod Taylor. He completed six passes out of fourteen attempts. He also completed five passes to the other team. The five interceptions in fewer than 15 passes in a single game is up there with the worst ever performances by a quarterback at the professional level, and only four other people have matched the achievement, three of whom did so in the 1930s. [ESPN]Leaks from Slack: neil:This Tyrod thing must be the most catastrophic QB switch everheynawl-enten:SeriouslyIDK what this even istchow:Eagles should always go for two rest of the season…even if Elliot comes back finePredictions NFL All newsletters See more NBA predictions Oh, and don’t forgettake a chance We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆  Join the squad. Subscribe See more college football predictions NBA See more NFL predictions read more

Day 1 Of March Madness Was Weirdly Normal

950%21.00 Total164.22 113610.41 SEEDEXPECTED UPSET RATEGAMESEXPECTED UPSETSACTUAL UPSETS OPENING DAY 2017 103910.40 The first day of March Madness was anything but mad. Better-seeded teams went 14-2 on the day, and even the “surprises” were relatively easy to see coming: The higher-seeded teams’ two losses came at the hands of Middle Tennessee State (the South’s No. 12 seed) and Xavier (No. 11 in the West), both of which were among the most popular upset picks of the first round. (Our March Madness predictions had each game as a toss-up.) All told, the NCAA hadn’t seen a chalkier opening day since 2000, when the superior seeds went 15-1 after the tournament launched.VIDEO: A No. 16 seed will win, but don’t bet on it 141610.20 15610.10 16020.00 132040.80 Expected upset rates are based on winning percentage in all first-round games for each seed from 1985-2016.Source: Sports-Reference.com 123641.41 March Madness tipped off with a dose of sanity That kind of normalcy is not why we tune in to the tournament! Annoyed that I watched 12 consecutive hours of basketball with so little chaos to show for it, I started to wonder whether we have overblown expectations of unpredictability in March Madness. Are most days actually like Thursday, but we only remember the last-second shots and the scrappy Cinderellas?No — Thursday really was different. This year featured 2.2 fewer upsets than expected, which makes it second only to 2000 in terms of uneventful opening days during the tournament’s 64-team era. To get those numbers, I looked at the historical upset rates for each seed,1Starting in 1985, when the NCAA tournament expanded to a 64-team bracket, and going through 2016. taking into account which games were played on Thursday.But despite their disappointing record, underdogs kept the score relatively close in 2017’s opening-day games. In terms of average scoring margin, this year tied for the ninth-most-respectable showing by worse-seeded teams on an opening day of the tournament — on par with days where fans saw six or seven upsets.In other words, a lucky bounce here or there could have made all the difference for Thursday’s long shots. Maybe that means good, old-fashioned madness will be restored to its rightful place on Day 2 of the tourney. Then again, analyzing other second-day games using the same method as above suggests that Friday should be less upset-y (3.9 expected upsets) than Thursday was supposed to be. Somebody free us from this prison of predictability! read more

The Cardinals Spread It Out Like No Other Team But How Much

Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group 32,67245.0+0.12 Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group Play-action is more effective, especially with fewer receiversExpected points added (EPA) by the number of eligible receivers in route, for play-action plays vs. all other dropbacks, 2017-18 regular seasons If your goal is to fool your opponent into thinking you’re going to run the ball, bringing in a bunch of players who look like blockers is probably a good idea. That’s an intuitive finding that makes sense. Meanwhile, it’s also heartening to see that adding eligible receivers to the route design of a non-play-action passing play leads to greater passing efficiency. That’s also a finding that we’d expect — the more passing options the better!It’s no surprise that play-action continues to show up as one of the most efficient play types in football. Analysts have been calling it the NFL’s corner three for years. But it’s still somewhat shocking to see just how pervasive and massive an effect a little deception can have on the success of an offense. It will be interesting to see how much play-action the Cardinals incorporate into their attack moving forward. With a healthy dose, along with the ability to successfully flood the field with wide receivers over the course of 16 games, Arizona shouldn’t stay near the bottom of our Elo rankings for long.Check out our latest NFL predictions. 42,78350.6+0.216,17142.5+0.01 2 or fewer1,20139.0-0.03 Based on success rate2The share of those plays with a positive EPA. and EPA per play, the optimum number of receivers to send out into routes is three. NFL rules dictate that five receivers at most can report as eligible to catch a pass on any given play,3The sixth non-lineman must pass the ball and is normally referred to as the quarterback. so this finding would appear to support passing out of heavy sets with big tight ends staying home to help shore up the pass blocking. Or perhaps teams should keep a running back in the backfield to help chip rushing defenders. But it also could be that those heavier sets are effective because of the deception they afford via the play-action pass.To find out, we broke out all plays by the number of receivers and then split the plays by play-action and non-play-action. When we look at the plays this way, we find that play-action accounts for all the efficiency we see from the plays with three or fewer receivers. When play-action snaps are removed, passes with three or fewer receivers have a negative expected value leaguewide. 31,43848.8+0.221,13040.3-0.01 New Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury and Arizona have brought a variant of the Hal Mumme Air Raid to the NFL, and while the Cardinals didn’t earn a Week 1 win — they tied the Detroit Lions in their home opener — the system lived up to its billing. Known for its spread concepts and heavy use of the forward pass, the Air Raid relies on a smart, accurate passer to distribute the ball to a bevy of playmakers sent into routes that attack all areas of the field. And spread they did. With first overall pick Kyler Murray running the offense, the Cardinals trotted out more four wide receiver sets (45) on Sunday than the rest of the NFL combined (36).Clearly Kingsbury isn’t afraid to be different, but it comes with risks. Going four-wide is an approach that hasn’t typically paid off for NFL offenses. In the 2017 and 2018 seasons, NFL teams ran 1,185 plays from four-WR sets and ended up stubbing their toes. Over that fairly large sample, the expected points added per play across the league was negative, at -0.03 EPA per play. Meanwhile, teams found success featuring fewer wideouts, averaging positive EPA per play numbers with their personnel groups of two and three wide receivers.1Two-WR formations earned 0.04 EPA play, while three-WR formations earned 0.02 EPA play.[/footnote.That pattern continued in Week 1: Teams averaged -0.03 EPA per play on passes with four wide receivers — right in line with the two-year average.[footnote]On 86 dropbacks. As we saw, the Cardinals were responsible for the majority of those plays, though, so it’s encouraging they performed slightly better than the league mean, earning -0.01 EPA per play.The Air Raid encompasses a set of passing concepts that many teams have integrated into their schemes, so it’s not completely new. Andy Reid of the Chiefs incorporated parts of the Air Raid into his system to suit the specific strengths of Patrick Mahomes, Kingsbury’s former QB at Texas Tech. But the difference for the Cardinals may be in the details. Kingsbury used wide splits and 3×1 wide receiver sets often to stress the Lions defense with his four wideouts, and Murray improved as the game went on. Perhaps they have what it takes to make four-wide in the NFL successful.But we also wondered: Wide receivers aside, does a team having more eligible receivers running routes lead to more production in the NFL? Or do offenses benefit when players stay in to protect their QB? Is adding more receivers to a play ineffective?Expected points added (EPA) per play by number of eligible receivers running routes, for 2017-18 regular-season plays ≤ 242353.6+0.4276438.3-0.05 Number of RoutesDropbacksSuccess RateEPA per play 49,41944.9+0.07 525,73944.8%+0.04 Routesdropbackssuccess rateepa per playdropbackssuccess rateepa per play 52,75349.0+0.1522,48244.3%+0.03 play-actionnon-play-action read more

Opinion Additions of Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh the best thing for

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh watches the action against Penn State on Saturday, Nov. 21 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. Michigan won 28-16.Credit: Courtesy of TNSThe rivalry between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines is about to get a lot more interesting on Saturday.This will be the first game in which Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh will face off in what many would consider the most intriguing meeting between the two teams since 2006. Harbaugh has been a successful head coach on both the college and professional level. In stops with the University of San Diego and Stanford, Harbaugh posted a 58-27 record with two conference championships at San Diego in 2005 and 2006, respectively. After Stanford finished 12-1 with an Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech in 2011, Harbaugh left the collegiate ranks for the NFL, becoming the head coach for the San Francisco 49ers. He posted a 44-19 record, including a loss to his brother’s team, the Baltimore Ravens, in Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. After a rift between Harbaugh and the 49ers front office following an 8-8 finish in 2014, Harbaugh left San Francisco to go back to his alma mater and coach the team he onced quarterbacked: Michigan. Both Michigan and OSU have been teams to be reckoned with in the Big Ten this season, and part of that is due to the job that both Meyer and Harbaugh are doing at their respective schools. ESPN College GameDay analyst Kirk Herbstreit said this game will be different because of what Harbaugh brings to the table as the man in charge at Michigan. “Spice. Intensity. For me, even when Ohio State was winning with Jim Tressel, the fan in me liked Woody (Hayes) and Bo (Schembechler). I like the angst, the emotion, the, ‘I’m not going to cross midfield to shake his hand,’” Herbstreit said. “I don’t know if we are going to get to that level with (Meyer) and (Harbaugh), but it’s going to be different. It’s going to be different just because of the personality of (Harbaugh). I’m one of these guys that starting Sunday morning, I don’t know if I’ll sleep because of what could be at stake this weekend. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”Despite much of the focus being on the two successful coaches, Harbaugh said in a Monday press conference that the focus should not be on them but on their players.“My reaction to the coach vs. coach build-up is he’s not going to be blocking anybody; he’s not going to be tackling anybody,” Harbaugh said. “I’m going to be on the sideline blocking and tackling nobody.”OSU coach Urban Meyer stands on the sideline during a game against Michigan State on Nov. 21 at Ohio Stadium. OSU lost 17-14.Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorEven so, it’s hard to ignore the impact the coaches have had on their respective programs and in turn, the rivalry in general. When each coach took the helm, the program finished under .500 the year prior. In Meyer’s first season in Columbus in 2012 and Harbaugh’s first one this year, the teams made major strides. Based on the first-year improvement, it’s completely reasonable to assume that the programs will maintain a level of success for years to come. That is the reason why these two teams have the potential to re-establish arguably the biggest rivalry in all of sports. With these two premier coaches leading the programs, the recruiting classes for these two teams should be among the best in the country, so the talent pool should be overflowing. With all of the eventual talent coming to these schools, the rivalry will only grow. And with that, the prominence of one of college football’s biggest rivalries will be restored. read more

Offseason additions have Cincinnati buzzing about Reds

Traditionally, a Cincinnati Reds offseason includes the signing of an overpriced free agent, i.e. Eric Milton or Willy Taveras, and misplaced hope for the upcoming season.Furthermore, the men of the Queen City usually attempt to fill major holes in their roster by acquiring “has-beens” and hoping that these players miraculously have career years.This offseason has been a bit different, and the upcoming season may merit a hint of optimism.The last major acquisition the Reds have made in recent memory was the Ken Griffey Jr. trade after the 1999 season. When rumors began to float around that the Reds were in the Aroldis Chapman sweepstakes, no one gave them a chance to sign the 21-year-old, left-handed Cuban and free agent pitcher armed with a 100 mph fastball.Pundits predicted Chapman would sign with one of the big-market teams such as the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets or Phillies. However, the Reds ended up on top by giving Chapman a six-year, $30.25 million contract on Jan. 12.Clearly, the Reds are taking a huge gamble. Chapman is a classic example of a pitcher with a big, live arm, but one who is also dogged by control issues. In 327 career innings for Holguin, his Cuban team, Chapman struck out 365 batters but walked 203.Coming into the offseason, the Reds had a gaping hole at shortstop. As the winter months wore on, popular opinion was that the Reds were going to spring training with Paul Janish, a slick-fielding but offensively-challenged shortstop, as the starter.Then, way out of left field, the Reds signed veteran shortstop Orlando Cabrera to a $3.02 million, one-year contract. The 35-year-old Cabrera has lost a step or two defensively, but is a significant upgrade offensively over Janish.Also, by trading outfielder Willy Taveras, who was due $4 million next year, to Oakland along with infielder Adam Rosales, the Reds opened up enough money to sign Cabrera.The last objective on the Reds’ offseason list would be bringing back outfielder Jonny Gomes. As a platoon player last year, Gomes hit 20 home runs in 281 at-bats and brought much-needed right-handed power to the lineup. Re-signing Gomes would also add experience to a young outfield that includes Chris Dickerson, Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce.Without a doubt, the 2010 season is a make or break year for manager Dusty Baker. The Cincinnati Reds manager enters the last year of his contract having gone 74-88 and 78-84 in his first two seasons. Considering Baker was hired by General Manager Walt Jocketty’s predecessor Wayne Krivsky, it’s hard to see Baker returning if Cincinnati has another disappointing season.In Baker’s first two seasons, he has had a significantly different roster to manage each year. In 2008, the Reds still had sluggers Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn, whose personalities dominated the clubhouse. In 2009, the Reds were an extremely young team led by Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips.However, the offensive problems that have plagued the Reds for much of the past decade still ring true today. Their mantra a few years ago was to rely on the home run ball to win games. Last year, with a precocious but young ball club, the team relied on small ball. Yet, they ranked No. 11 in the National League in runs scored and No. 15 in batting average.Since the Reds did not make a big trade to acquire a power bat, Baker will fill his lineup card everyday hoping to get increased production from his young players. First baseman Joey Votto and second baseman Brandon Phillips are entrenched in the three and four spots, while third baseman Scott Rolen will likely bat fifth.Baker would be wise to utilize center fielder Stubbs’ speed and Cabrera’s contact skills at the top of the lineup. The Reds have not had a legitimate table-setter since Barry Larkin, and Stubbs’ blazing speed and bunt skills have the potential to make some noise in the leadoff spot.The biggest question mark in the Reds’ line-up surrounds Bruce. After bursting onto the big league scene in 2008, the right fielder suffered a sophomore slump in 2009, batting .223 with 22 home runs and 58 RBIs. However, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel for Bruce. He batted .326 over his last 18 games, in part due to a stance adjustment following a stint on the disabled list.The Reds’ clear strength is their pitching staff, specifically the bullpen. Closer Francisco Cordero anchors a bullpen that ranked near the top of the NL. Cordero is joined by flame-throwing right-hander Nick Masset and screw-ball lefty Daniel Ray Herrera.The first four spots in the Reds starting rotation appear to be set in stone with Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Aaron Harang and Homer Bailey, while the fifth spot is up for grabs between a cast of characters including Matt Maloney and Micah Owings.The Reds appear to be heading in the right direction. For the most part, their young stars have taken their major league lumps. They have proven veterans looking to rebound from injury-plagued seasons. Jocketty is an aggressive GM with a track record of success.However, the fact remains the Reds have not been to the playoffs since 1995. Come August, if the Reds can stay healthy and get production from all 25 guys on the roster, they just may be able to keep Cincinnati fans focused on a pennant race instead of Bengals training camp. read more

Hejduk looking forward to World Cup

As the 2010 World Cup in South Africa approaches, one of U.S. Soccer’s all-time greats looks back on his career and looks forward to the summer event.Columbus Crew’s Frankie Hejduk has had ups and downs while cementing himself as one of U.S. soccer’s most accomplished player.“It came with hard work,” Hejduk said. “I’m a believer that you create your own luck.”Hejduk’s resume speaks for itself: two World Cup appearances, two Olympic games, part of the German team Bayer Leverkusen that played in the 2002 UEFA Champions League final, five-time Major League Soccer all-star and 2008 MLS champion with the Columbus Crew.Hejduk, born in La Mesa, Calif., a suburb of San Diego, grew up surfing and playing soccer. He was more passionate about surfing, and many of his friends did go pro in surfing. Despite that, he decided to attend UCLA on a scholarship to play soccer.His first international cap came in 1996 in El Salvador during a World Cup qualifer. He scored a goal in his international debut.“Scoring a goal was icing on the cake,” Hejduk said.Hejduk made his World Cup debut in 1998, playing in the second game of the first round against Iran. That day is something he will remember for the rest of his life, he said.“Absolutely incredible experience,” Hejduk remembers. “During the National Anthem, thinking of all the past coaches I played for, my family, what they have sacrificed, what I sacrificed, all of that comes together at one moment. I got the chills, teary-eyed. And this is all before the game even starts.”The summer of 2002 is one that stands out to Hejduk and US soccer fans. That summer in Korea and Japan, the team made an unexpected run all the way to the quarterfinals. To get there, they defeated rival Mexico 2-0 in the round of 16.“It was for bragging rights. Who was going to step up?” Hejduk said. “We knew we were going to win.”USA fell to Germany 1-0 in the quarters, a match many felt the US should have won. “The German press told us ‘We got a lot of respect for you guys. We lucked out,’” Hejduk said of the aftermath.“We were proud of ourselves. We gave everything we had,” Hejduk said.After that great World Cup run, Hejduk looked forward to another one four years later. Unfortunately, two days after being named to the 2006 World Cup roster, Hejduk tore his ACL.“Pretty much a buzz kill,” Hejduk said. “A lot of mental stuff you go through when you have those injuries. That’s why you have friends and family to help you get by it.”Despite not being able to participate, U.S. Soccer paid for Hejduk and his family to go to Germany and be at the World Cup with the team.“It was a great experience, I got to be a fan,” Hejduk said. “I was able to bring my son. He got to experience the World Cup with me. I got a different perspective and it was simply amazing.”Hejduk has taken that experience and used it for motivation.“It actually motivated me to try to make this next World Cup because after 2006 a lot of people wrote me off because I was 32 at the time with a torn ACL,” Hejduk said. “I made it a goal of mine to prove those people wrong.”The motivation seemed to work, as Hejduk helped team USA qualify for this year’s World Cup and helped lead the Crew to the 2008 MLS Cup.“Nothing better than picking up that trophy after the 9 years I gave to the MLS,” Hejduk said.As for U.S. Soccer’s chances in South Africa, Hejduk believes they should make it out of the first round. After that, he feels anything can happen.“I think on any given day the US can beat any team in the world,” Hejduk said. “I think teams are starting to have a lot more respect for the US.” read more

Gene Smith Big Ten no longer pursuing further expansion

The Big Ten is finished with expansion — for now. In an exclusive interview with The Lantern earlier this month, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said the conference would only consider adding schools that contacted the league, not vice versa. “We’re done with it,” Smith said. “We’re finished. The only thing that would cause us to look at it further is if someone contacted us. So, we’re not going to go out and say we’re thinking about expansion.” Although the Big Ten won’t aggressively pursue potential additions, Smith said he expects other universities to seek inclusion into the conference. “We think there are some schools that are going to try to talk to some conferences,” he said. “But we’re not actively out looking at expansion. After our October meetings, that’s going to be the last we talk about it.” In October 2009, the league announced its intentions to explore expansion during a 12- to 18-month period. Nebraska left the Big 12 to join the Big Ten on June 12, 2010. Smith said the league will continue to operate under its original timeline, and once details about scheduling and the conference-title game are hammered out in next week’s meetings, expansion will be a topic of the past. That is, unless another school wants in. The right schools could add to the quality of the Big Ten Network, which Smith said has driven the conference’s pursuit of expansion. According to a report by the Associated Press earlier this month, the network turned a 30 percent profit last year. “The growth of the Big Ten Network was significantly faster than any of us projected,” Smith said. “It’s highly profitable, beyond what we thought at this particular time. We knew it was going to be successful. … But with that growth you have to sit back and say, ‘OK, how do we continue that growth? What things can we add to it?’” With the advent of 3-D TV and incessant improvements being made to high-definition quality, the TV market has emerged as college football’s most lucrative outlet. Smith said athletic directors and presidents are channeling their efforts toward maximizing TV’s role in their respective conferences. Adding a 12th team allowed the Big Ten to institute a conference championship game beginning next year, a national spectacle that should generate about $15 million to $20 million, Smith said. “As television changes, and all the mediums change for communication, the conferences have to shift in order to maximize revenue opportunities off of them,” Smith said. “When you get down to it, it’s about more inventory, more games, so that you can provide the television carrier with more product.” read more

Ohio State mens hockey set to honor 8 seniors playing in final

Forward Matt Johnson (26) is 1 of 8 OSU seniors scheduled to play their final collegiate home game against Minnesota on March 7 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Kelly Roderick / Lantern photographerAfter 142 games, the Ohio State men’s hockey senior class is set for one last series at the Schottenstein Center.The Buckeyes are set to honor eight seniors on Saturday night — forwards Tanner Fritz, Matt Johnson, Darik Angeli, Chad Niddery and Nick Oddo and defensemen Al McLean, Justin DaSilva and Clark Cristofoli — as they play in their final collegiate home game.“They are what an Ohio State Buckeye is,” coach Steve Rohlik said. “All eight of these guys have brought different things to the table, on the ice, off the ice and in the classroom.”Former Buckeye and current Binghamton Senator in the AHL Ryan Dzingel sang his praises for his former teammates as well.“This senior class is a group filled with character,” Dzingel said in an email.The class has played a big role in leadership for the Buckeyes. This season, the seniors have become the leading offensive unit, scoring 33 of the Buckeyes’ 84 goals. They also showed their ability on the defensive side, blocking 192 of OSU’s 493 total blocked shots.“These guys are always that group that’s there for you, no matter what,” junior forward Anthony Greco said. “Each player brings a different element to our game. Johnson and Niddery are hardworking and give their all every day at the rink. We will also miss the skill that Fritz, Oddo and Angeli have. They are all going to be missed and it’s going to be tough to find guys that are able to fill those holes.”This weekend’s last home series against the Minnesota Golden Gophers is a time for the seniors to express gratitude and appreciation for OSU and their teammates.“This experience has meant absolutely everything to me,” DaSilva said in an email. “I’m proud that I was able to play hockey for the Ohio State University and be a part of this community.”DaSilva said the reality of his OSU career winding down hasn’t hit just yet.“I don’t think the feeling will come till Saturday night,” he said. “When we walk out of the locker for the last time, that’s when all emotions will come.”Oddo added that he has some mixed emotions as senior night approaches.“It’s exciting and sad kind of at the same time, it’s the last time we will be here playing in front of our home fans, it’s kind of bittersweet,” Oddo said.Rohlik said it will be an emotional weekend for the seniors, but added that’s not necessarily a negative.“I feel like this emotion can be seen in a positive way too, because I think there is a lot of guys in this room that want to send them (the seniors) off on the right note,” Rohlik said.Greco said the loss of this year’s seniors is especially hard.“They have been great, this senior class is kind of my core group of buddies on the team. These were the guys that directed me and helped me when I came in. I’ve grown to be close with all of them and it’s going to be sad to see them leave,” Greco said.For OSU, the season is far from over with the thought of the Big Ten Tournament on the horizon.After achieving their first series sweep against the Penn State Nittany Lions last weekend, the Buckeyes are looking to build upon that momentum with just two series to play before the postseason, Oddo said.“We dealt with a lot of different things, going through injuries, traveling, different elements like that,” he said. “So coming back here with a full healthy roster, we have the ability to be successful.”The Buckeyes are set to take on the No. 15 Golden Gophers Friday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center. read more

Camber Sands victims family criticises lack of lifeguards after five childhood friends

first_imgNitharsan have driven the group down to the East Sussex beach in his silver VW Golf GTI, which was later found by police parked where they had left it.Police visited the family on Wednesday evening and asked the family to identify the vehicle.At the family home in south-east London a group of friends and family gathered to commemorate the Brighton University student who was studying aeronautic engineering.  Ajithan said: “My brother was very talented and he was a fantastic sportsman. He excelled in everything he did and was very clever for his age.”We are really upset. Devastated. He was always trying to better himself and educate himself. “He had this magical magnetic aurora, he was so helpful and selfless.”  The Nathan brothers were from the Slades Green area of south-east London and studied at Bexleyheath Academy.Ajirthan explained: “The five of them went in the car yesterday to Camber Sands on a day trip because they knew it was supposed to be one of the hottest days of the year.”They hadn’t been before. “My brother could swim just like the rest of them could but because of the strong tide it wore them off easily.”They drowned because of a lack of stamina from the tidal effect.” He added: “The boys all knew each other since the age of five when they all met playing tabla drums together.”A five minutes delay caused this death toll. I recommend there to be a reliable lifeguard. A lifeguard could have saved their lives.” Nitharsan Ravi was among the group who died, according to his brotherCredit:Steve Finn Police officers among beachgoers on Camber Sands after the tragedy Kobi Nathan also died in the tragedyCredit:SWNS Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. This has been an incredibly tragic incident and we are offering their next of kin support at this difficult timeSupt Di Roskilly Paramedics and police were called to Camber Sands following reports of one man in the sea. Within 20 minutes, they had discovered another two men in difficulty. Despite successfully retrieving the men from the water, all three died later.Two more bodies were discovered by a member of the public on the beach after the tide receded at around 8pm. An emergency helicopter attends the scene of the tragedy Nitharsan’s younger brother Ajithan Ravi, said: “Ken and Inthushan got stuck under the water in the mud and sand and their three friends went under the water to try and save them. But all five of them got into difficulty and sadly died.”He added: “My brother could swim just like the rest of them could but because of the strong tide it wore them off easily. A lifeguard could have saved their lives.” It is the second tragedy to take place recently at Camber Sands An emergency helicopter attends the scene of the tragedy as beachgoers watch in horrorCredit:Tashka4/PA Rudy Bruynius, who died after being swept out to sea at Fistral Beach, with his two-year-old daughter Mckayla Bruynius, who later died in hospitalCredit:PA The first three men died despite efforts by medics to save them after being pulled from the sea at about 2.15pm.Later in the evening, a beach-goer found two bodies and reported another in the water off the beach with no permanent lifeguards on the hottest day of the year. Rudy Bruynius, who died after being swept out to sea at Fistral Beach, with his two-year-old daughter Mckayla Bruynius, who later died in hospital His uncle, Kugan Gianarathinam also questioned the lack of safety provisions in the area.He said: “There needs to be more lifeguards at Camber Sands. They say it’s one of the safest beaches in Britain but it’s a lie, Nitharsan and his friends are dead.“They also need to put up more signs warning of the dangers. It is not safe for anybody.” Inthusan Sriskantharasa was also among those who died Credit:Facebook/SWNS Police officers among beachgoers on Camber Sands after the tragedyCredit:Gareth Fuller/PA Beachgoers were urged to stay out of the sea while investigations were carried out. It came as temperatures hit 90F (32C) in some parts of the country. Witness Charlotte Frederick, 25, told The Telegraph that there were no flags up on the beach suggesting it was unsafe to swim, and added that the water was calm. “We got here just before 2pm and after we had set up we noticed two people on the beach receiving CPR, then about 10 minutes later we saw another person receiving CPR,” the media executive, from London, said. “They were just unconscious, the people were doing CPR on them for ages. One was taken away on a rescue truck and then the others were left there and they were still doing CPR on them.”The water didn’t seem rough at all, it seemed calm. The sea is so shallow there.”  The tragedy means at least 12 people have died in just six days in what is thought to be one of the deadliest periods to have hit Britain’s coastline in recent years.The deaths come after a Change petition was set up in June by Josie Holloway, a resident from Greatstone, a coastal town around 10 miles away, calling for permanent lifeguards to be placed on Camber Sands.The petition, which has received more than 4,500 signatures since it was started, said: “Camber Sands gets unbelievably busy during summer time. They have beach patrol but no lifeguards… I feel it could save lives.”Witnesses claimed there were patrols on the beach before the tragedy, but no permanent officials.  It is thought they may have fallen into deep channels, known as sandbars, which had been made even more treacherous by the weekend storms.Despite being able to swim, they were unable to reach safety and were overcome by the rising tide.Their deaths come just weeks after a 19-year-old Brazilian, Gustavo Silva Da Cruz, died in the same area and Nitharsan’s family said there should have been more warnings for bathers, with lifeguards on duty to help those who got into trouble. Inthusan Sriskantharasa was also among those who died  Police used loudhailers to urge people to stay out of the sea Tara Lopez, who was also on the beach, said the tide was going out when tragedy struck.  She added: “I have only been to the beach once before and have noticed the lack of flags but didn’t notice the absence of lifeguards until today. A beach patrol, however, was present and became more present after the incident.” Another witness, Natalja Taylor, 30, who was on a day trip with her husband, said police were driving up the beach with a loudspeaker urging people to stay out of the sea.”We were sat on a hill a bit further away and we saw three people being pulled out of the water,” she said. “I think the people who rescued them were regular people, not emergency personnel.”Police drove on to the beach with a loudspeaker, telling people not to go into the water until further notice. They also taped off a huge chunk of the beach so no one could get near it.”It’s pretty scary. I’m not sure how it happened. It wasn’t particularly windy down there, it was just a hot, sunny beach day.” Police used loudhailers to urge people to stay out of the sea at Camber SandsCredit:Tashka4/PA Kurushanth Srithavarajah was among those who died in the Camber Sands tragedy Emergency services at the scene of the tragedy at Camber SandsCredit:Peter O Uwaibi/PA Online petition calling for permanent lifeguards on Camber SandsCredit:Change.org Last month 19-year-old Brazilian Gustavo Silva Da Cruz died after getting into difficulty while swimming in the sea at Camber Sands.Da Cruz, who was visiting family in Croydon, south London, was one of three men who got into trouble. The two others, who were not connected to him, included a man aged 35 and his son aged 17.It also comes after a string of sea tragedies last weekend, which saw seven people, including a father-of-three and a mother and her son killed.Rudy Bruynius, 33, died after he was washed off rocks into water just off South Fistral Beach near Newquay alongside his wife and daughter last Friday. His wife, Lisinda, survived, but his daughter McKayla, two, later died in hospital. Kurushanth Srithavarajah was among those who died in the Camber Sands tragedyCredit:Facebook/SWNS Kobi Nathan also died in the tragedy An RNLI spokesman confirmed it did not have any lifeguards on the beach. Although they said it was too early to say if this would change, they added: “The location of our lifeguards is under constant review and this latest incident will factor into our planning.”A Rother District Council spokesman said: “While it’s very upsetting to see two similar, tragic incidents this summer, over the years these kind of incidents are extremely rare and on a fine day around 25,000 people use the beach safely,” he said.”Although it’s too early to draw any conclusions from this latest incident, in recent years we have seen a change in the make-up of visitors to Camber, including more people from outside the area who are not familiar with the sea and the dangers it can pose.” He and his friends, Kurushanth Srithavarajah, 27, brothers, Kenigan and Kobi Nathan, aged 19 and 22 and Inthushan Sriskantharasa, 23, who are all of Sri Lankan origin, had driven to Camber Sands from their homes in south-east London on Wednesday afternoon to take advantage of the fine weather.But within minutes of entering the water two of the men got into difficulties and the other three went to try to help them. Online petition calling for permanent lifeguards on Camber Sands Nitharsan Ravi was among the group who died, according to his brother The grief-stricken family of one of the victims of the Camber Sands tragedy has said they would not have died if lifeguards had been on duty at the time.Nitharsan Ravi, 22, a former aeronautical engineering student, died alongside four of his childhood friends, while swimming in the sea at the popular Sussex resort on the hottest day of the year. Kenigan Nathan died alongside his older brother On Saturday, Julie Walker, 37, and her son Lucas, six, were killed after getting into difficulty in “choppy” water off Aberdeen beach.  A 50-year-old swimmer, who has not been named, also died after getting into difficulty just off Sandbanks, a popular beauty spot at the mouth of Poole Harbour.Windsurfer David Baker, 67, died after being rescued by lifeboats off the coast of West Mersea, Essex, and Joy Godfray, who was in her 30s and got into difficulties while swimming with a man near Green Island in Jersey, took the death toll to seven. Kenigan Nathan died alongside his older brotherCredit:SWNSlast_img read more

Mary Berry breaks down in tears as she recalls the death of

first_img“It was about 1pm. The doorbell rang and a policeman was there. Immediately, I knew why. He said, ‘There’s been an accident and I’m sorry to say your son is dead’.”She and her husband rushed to hospital where they saw William for the last time.”He just looked so beautiful and so lovely, his little cold face and it was nice to say farewell.” William had come home from university on a Friday night and enjoyed a family roast dinner.”I remember him walking through the door and asking ‘Who is coming?’ And I said, ‘It’s for you, it’s so lovely to see you and have you here’,” Berry said.He borrowed the family car the following day for a trip into town and never returned. Sat crying watching #TheMaryBerryStory. It’s so sad watching her talk about her son’s death. Mary is so lovely, hardworking and talented.— Joanna Muchmore (@JoannaMuchmore) November 11, 2016 I’ve come to the conclusion the world needs more people like Mary Berry. Just watched #TheMaryBerryStory on @BBCTwo. What a woman!— Gary Burgess (@GaryBurgessITV) November 11, 2016center_img Mary Berry has described her heartbreak when she was told that her son 19-year old son William was killed in a car crash.The star of The Great British Bake Off wept as she recalled the accident in 1989 when William had come home from university during a BBC documentary about her life.Her raw emotions as she was filmed visiting William’s grave led to a wave of sympathy on social media from viewers who called for her to be made a dame. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Doctors warned dont tell girls with anorexia to come back when thinner

first_imgYoung women with anorexia have been sent from Hertfordshire to Glasgow for treatment, amid shortages of bedsCredit:PA  Woman on scales  Anorexia: ‘You can’t force me to live’ Earlier this week charities raised concerns that rising numbers of vulnerable patients with disorders such as anorexia are being sent hundreds of miles for care, with many cases from England going to Scotland for care.Jane Smith, chief executive of Anorexia and Bulimia Care, said services were in a “very fragile, risky state” with too many vulnerable young people left in “life-threatening” situations without the right help. Tom Quinn, from eating disorder charity Beat, said: “Early intervention is key in halting the onset and development of these serious mental illnesses affecting at least 725,000 people in the UK and it’s vital that GPs don’t hesitate in sending patients on to get the help they need.”The number of children being diagnosed with such disorders has risen in recent years.  It follows concerns that increasing numbers of patients with anorexia are being turned away by cash-strapped NHS trusts because they are “not thin enough”.Earlier this year, one in three mental health trusts were found to be using weight measures to decide whether or not to accept patients with eating disorders, with some using weight loss alone to determine the presence of such conditions.  Women with eating disorders said they had been told their BMI was not low enough for them to receive treatment Credit:Getty NHS  Doctors have been warned not to tell patients with anorexia to come back for help when they are thinner, following new advice from watchdogs.The NHS guidance also tells GPs to look out for the condition in patients working in “high risk” professions like fashion, dance, modelling, where eating disorders are rife.The draft advice from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) warns GPs not to delay referring patients with eating disorders for treatment, amid fears that too many doctors wait to see if symptoms worsen before treatment is given.  Girls and women with anorexia said they had been refused treatment because their body mass index was “too high” with one saying she was left to feel she “wasn’t good enough” at her eating disorder, forcing her into a dangerous spiral of weight loss.It also comes amid rising numbers of cases of eating disorders, with bed shortages meaning teenagers and young adults have been sent hundreds of miles from Hertfordshire to Scotland for inpatient treatment.Hospital admissions for eating disorders have risen by more than one third in the last decade, with a recent doubling in cases among teenagers.The new draft advice from Nice says GPs should refer anyone with a suspected eating disorder to specialist services “without delay” and not wait to see if symptoms progress.The watchdog’s advisors said GPs should refer cases even if they were uncertain, and concerned about adding to waiting lists for services, which are under strain.If GPs suspect an eating disorder after initial assessment they should “refer without delay to: a community based, age-appropriate eating disorders service for an assessment and treatment (if possible); or day patient or inpatient services for people with clinical signs in the concern or alert ranges,” the draft advice states.The committee behind the guidelines said GPs “should not ‘wait and see’ if the symptoms progress” nor advise patients “that they are not ill enough or that they need to lose more weight before they are eligible for treatment”.The patient’s body mass index, levels of weight loss, state of physical health and level of support available from parents or carers should be used to determine whether care is given as a day case or inpatient, Nice said.The draft guidelines say GPs should think about the possibility of an eating disorder in people who, for example, have an unusually low or high BMI for their age, show disproportionate concern about their weight, or are found to be suffering dental damage.It also says efforts should be made to identify patients taking part in activities associated with a high risk of eating disorders such as professional sport, fashion, dance, or modelling. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Synagogue membership drops to lowest level in 30 years as mainstream Jews

first_imgData shows that there has been a 28 per cent increase in the number of Orthodox schools open over the past decade. Strictly Orthodox membership has risen by 139 per cent, from 4,489 in 1990 to 10,712 in 2016, which is equivalent to 240 new households each year. The increase in the overall number of places of worship is likely to be down to growth in small synagogues, many of which are in Orthodox areas, the report said. Dr Jonathan Boyd, executive director of JPR, said the findings showed that strict Orthodox communities were the only ones showing growth. He said: “The trends point to a future in which stricter forms of Orthodoxy will hold an increasingly prominent position, not only in synagogue membership, but in how Judaism is practised and how Judaism is seen and understood by others.” The trends point to a future in which stricter forms of Orthodoxy will hold an increasingly prominent position Membership of synagogues has fallen below 80,000 for the first time in 30 years as “mainstream” Jews marry out of the community, a report has found. Despite a growing number of synagogues membership numbers have fallen by 20 per cent in a generation as more Jews become secular after marrying non-Jewish partners. The report, by The Institute for Jewish Policy Research and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, found that declining birth rates and increasing intermarriage mean the Jewish community is shrinking. It said: “For certain sections of the community, the age at which people are choosing to have children is increasing and the number of children being born is declining. “The overall effect of such trends may reduce the tendency of Jewish people to join synagogues.Intermarriage also impacts on decisions about joining a synagogue, raising the question as to whether non-Jewish partners are welcomed by communities. “Other factors also play their part: for example, the rise of more individualistic approaches to life and sceptical attitudes about the role of organised religion in society.”Such shifts have led to Jewishness increasingly becoming a matter of choice rather than of birth, and making Jewish identity far more ‘fluid’.”While less observant communities are getting smaller, the report also found that strict Orthodox communities, also known as haredi, are growing, in part due to high birth rates. center_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Unconditional offers undermine credibility of higher education universities minister warns

But the move has led to accusations that they now act like businesses, seeking to maximise their revenue by recruiting as many students as possible.A fresh analysis by Ucas found that five years ago, 2,570 applicants received at least one unconditional offer (1.1. per cent of all 18-year-olds).In 2018, the number increased to 58,385, meaning more than a fifth (22.9 per cent) of school leavers received at least one unconditional offer.“Unconditional offers have always been a feature of university and college admissions, and used in a variety of circumstances,” the Ucas report noted.“For example to admit mature students who have already achieved sufficient qualifications to meet entry criteria [or] to make offers to applicants following interviews, auditions, or portfolio reviews.” Sam Gyimah, the universities minister, accused universities of acting in a “completely irresponsible” manner by handing out so many unconditional offers, as he urged to cut down on the practise.“Places at universities should only be offered to those who will benefit from them, and giving out unconditional offers just to put ‘bums on seats’ undermines the credibility of the university system,” he said.“Along with the Office for Students, I am closely monitoring the number being issued and fully expect the regulator to take appropriate action.“Unconditional offers risk distracting students from the final year of their schooling, and swaying their decisions does them a disservice – universities must act in the interest of students, not in filling spaces.” However, the report’s authors explained that more recently, unconditional offers have been used as way to “attract and retain interest from applicants in an increasingly competitive marketplace”.Lecturers and academics have criticsed the rise in unconditional offers, saying they “have made a mockery of exams” and encouraged talented students to “take their foot off the gas, instead of striving for excellence”.Sally Hunt, general secretary of University and College Union (UCU), said: “The proliferation of unconditional offers is detrimental to the interests of students and it is time the UK joined the rest of the world in basing university offers on actual achievements instead on guesswork.” Lecturers and academics have criticsed the rise in unconditional offers The lifting of student number controls in England in 2015 gave universities free rein to recruit as many undergraduates as they see fit. Lecturers and academics have criticsed the rise in unconditional offers An earlier report by Ucas, warned that unconditional offers were partly to blame for a fall in the number of the brightest students achieving their predicted grades at A-levels between 2010 and 2015.“Applicants holding unconditional firm choices were more likely to miss their predicted attainment by two or more grades, compared to applicants holding conditional firm choices,” the report said.Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK acknowledged that there has been a rise in the number of unconditional offers in recent year, but said that they still account for just 7.1 per cent of offers.  He said that unconditional offers are made in “a number of circumstances”, adding: “When used appropriately, [they] can help students and ensure that universities are able to respond flexibly to the range of applicants seeking places.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Places at universities should only be offered to those who will benefit from them, and giving out unconditional offers just to put ‘bums on seats’ undermines the credibility of the university systemSam Gyimah, the universities minister Universities which hand out soaring numbers of unconditional offers are “undermining the credibility of higher education”, the universities minister has warned.Fierce competition between universities to attract students has seen sixth form pupils increasingly offered places regardless of their exam results.Since 2013, the number of unconditional places handed out to school leavers has surged from 2,985 to 67,915, up by more than 2,100 per cent.In the past year alone, there has been a 32 per cent rise, according to new figures released by Ucas, the university admissions service.–– ADVERTISEMENT –– read more

Police arrest man 27 on suspicion of murder as detectives link deaths

“I know that everyone’s immediate thoughts will be with the family and friends of these gentlemen, and as you would expect, we are providing as much support as we can to them.”The investigation is being led by our major crime investigation team, supported by local detectives, forensic staff, family liaison officers, and an extensive range of other specialists who have been working around the clock since Monday afternoon.”Residents in the area of both Bonhay Road and Cowick Lane will continue to see police cordons today as we continue vital work. The local neighbourhood team will be out on foot over the next few days in order to provide advice, support, and to answer questions.”While a man has been arrested on suspicion of murder in relation to these incidents, we must keep an open mind and avoid speculation as we are still in the very early stages of what is already a complex investigation.”We have therefore issued an appeal for information from the public and for any potential witnesses who were in either area during specific times. It is vital that anyone who has any information shares with us it as soon as possible.” Forensic officers at Bonhay Road Forensic police officers were seen on Wednesday at a large, detached house on the road, where one neighbour said the two men found dead were twins.Police arrested the 27-year-old man on Tuesday and he remains in police custody.Detective Chief Inspector Roy Linden, from the major crime investigation team, said: “At this time there are several and significant common factors between the two addresses.”In terms of the level of violence used we decided last night to link the investigations. Originally they were treated as two separate murder investigations. One suspect has been identified and formally arrested yesterday evening.””There were significant levels of injuries and some commonality between the two incidents, which led us to link those investigations and treat them as one single investigation at the moment,” he said.Superintendent Matt Lawler told reporters the force had  “yet to establish a clear connection between the parties involved”. Police have launched a triple murder investigation after three men in their 80s were killed in similar circumstances and found within a mile and a half of one another. A 27-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after the bodies of the victims were discovered in two properties in Exeter in the space of 22 hours, Devon and Cornwall Police said.The deaths of the three men, one aged 80 and two aged 84, showed “similar injuries” and “similar levels of violence”, according to police, who said the way the bodies were “presented” led them to believe the three murders are linked. Police said the deaths were “unprecedented in the city” and admitted it had “shocked us all”. The body of an 80-year-old man was found at an address in Bonhay Road at around 3pm on Monday a house near St David’s Railway Station in Exeter – a busy road which runs north from the town centre to the station, parallel to the River Exe.While the house remains behind a police cordon, a handwritten note stuck to the front door reads: “Elderly man, 80 years of age, wants accommodation for himself and his pet cat.” He asks for any replies to be posted through his letterbox. Forensic officers at Bonhay RoadCredit:Dale Cherry Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Earlier, he released a statement saying: “I know that this news will cause significant and understandable concern and is an unprecedented event in our city which has shocked us all. A day later, the bodies of the two 84-year-old men were found after officers were called to a property in Cowick Lane at 1pm on Tuesday.The second house is a mile and a half away from the first, and some houses on Cowick Lane sell for more than £1million.  read more

Julian Assange moved to prison health ward as WikiLeaks reveal  grave concerns

WikiLeaks has grave concerns about the state of health of our publisher, Julian Assange, who has been moved to the health ward of Belmarsh prison. – See full statement: pic.twitter.com/HnZVks4kWj— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 29, 2019 A defence lawyer for Assange said on Tuesday that a  Swedish court had rejected a request to postpone a planned hearing to rule on the detention in absentia as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged rape.The Swedish prosecutor heading an investigation into the rape allegation against Assange, which he denies, this month filed a request with a local court for him to be detained with a hearing scheduled for June 3. The British courts will have to rule on the two extradition requests, with the home secretary having the final say on which one takes precedence.  The Ministry of Justice has been contacted for comment. The move came a day before Assange was due to appear via videolink for the latest hearing in his extradition case. Assange is facing extradition to the US, accused of conspiring to break into a classified Pentagon computer and facing 17 charges under the Espionage Act. Greg Barns, an Australian lawyer and WikiLeaks adviser  who visited Assange in January, said that the time Assange was suffering chronic pain in one arm and needed dental work. Assange’s health continued to decline, he said. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Swedish defence lawyer Per Samuelson told Reuters he had visited Assange in British custody on Friday after which he had sought to have the hearing postponed.”One of the reasons is that Assange’s health situation on Friday was such that it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him,” Mr Samuelson said.”I meant that it should be postponed until I had time to meet again and go through the issues in peace and quiet. I suggested no specific date and meant it should be postponed until everything was ready, but the district court has now decided that this won’t happen.”Sweden reopened the rape investigation in early May. It was begun in 2010 but dropped in 2017 years after Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy. If the court order is granted, it would be the first step in a process to have Assange extradited from Britain. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been moved to the heath ward of Belmarsh prison. On Wednesday night the company released a statement confirming the move, adding that they have “grave concerns” over the state of his health. At the start of this month Mr Assange was jailed for 50 weeks for skipping bail in 2012.”Mr Assange’s heath had already significantly deteriorated after seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy, under conditions that were incompatible with basic human rights,” the group said in a statement.It added: “During the seven weeks in Belmarsh his health has continued to deteriorate and he has dramatically lost weight. The decision of prison authorities to move him to the health ward speaks for itself.” Show more read more

Jihadi Jack claims he worked for propaganda magazine and taught children under 

A Muslim convert known as Jihadi Jack taught children about terror and created propaganda videos, he has admitted in an interview before his parents were convicted of funding terrorism.Jack Letts, 23, said he left the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) after fearing for his life when 20 of his friends were killed.In an interview with the BBC, Letts admitted that he taught recruits under the age of 15, referred to as “cubs”, about Isil ideology.After almost losing his arm in battle he became a contributor to Dabiq, an online recruitment magazine, before making Isil videos.It allegedly took Letts three months to get to Syria after travelling through Kuwait, Jordan and Turkey before crossing into Syria at Al Raj. Jack Letts in Raqqa, SyriaCredit:PA Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. He claimed to have been radicalised in part by a British Isil cell from Portsmouth, Hampshire, most of whom are reportedly dead.In the interview at a Kurdish prison camp, Letts said: “The so-called Islamic State. If it was an Islamic state, I wouldn’t have left.”The main reasons I left the so-called Islamic State is because they started to kill people I know them personally that are Muslims.”I had a group of about 20 friends that all left the so-called Islamic State. They all left at one time. One by one, they started to kill them.” Jack Letts talks from Kurdish jailCredit:@sommervilletv “There’s a feeling of stress and there’s a feeling of regret. Regret without result. … we’re just being left like dogs”.  Jack Letts talks from Kurdish jail Letts said that he was caught as he tried to escape the border into Turkey after expecting safe passage through Al Nusra-Front territory. Jack Letts in Kurdish jail Speaking about his time in solitary confinement, he said: “You wouldn’t be able to sit with me like this. You’d say I’m insane.”  Letts faces being barred from returning to the UK under rules that allow Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, to strip him of his citizenship provided it would not make him stateless.   “I’ve repented from what I did, and it’s not important in a sort of legal sense, but that’s why I left. I realized what I did was wrong, religiously and also in a moral sense,” he added. Jack Letts in Kurdish jailCredit:@sommervilletv  He said: “They would help us leave. They would get us a smuggler. Nusra Front not great guys, but they’re a lot more trustworthy than the Free Syrian Army”.Letts’ commented on his mental heath, claiming that he was diagnosed with Tourette’s and severe obsessive compulsive disorder.The convert left his middle-class home in Oxford to become one of IS’ most notorious recruits before his eventual capture.Now, after languishing in prison for two years, Letts said that he regretted becoming the “poster boy” for Islamic extremism.He said: “That’s one of the things that I regret I realised that me coming had a lot more meaning than a Syrian becoming ISIS.” Jack Letts in Raqqa, Syria read more

Tate Modern Teenager accused of throwing boy off viewing platform to be

A reporting restriction was imposed granting anonymity to the suspect and the victim. Officers were called to the Tate about 2.40pm last Sunday following reports that a child had fallen from the tenth floor onto the fifth-floor roof.The victim was visiting the gallery on London’s south bank of the Thames with his mother, who reportedly screamed  “my son, my son” when the incident took place.The Tate Modern was the UK’s most popular tourist attraction in 2018 after being visited 5.9 million times, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions. The 17-year-old charged with throwing a young boy off a viewing platform at London’s Tate Modern gallery will be assessed by mental health experts, a court heard.Psychiatric reports will be obtained by the teenager’s legal team before he is asked to enter a plea to one count of attempted murder later this year. He was arrested after a six-year-old French boy fell 100ft from the tenth floor of the venue, suffering a bleed on the brain, broken arms, legs and a fractured spine on August 4.The child was airlifted to hospital, where he remains in a critical but stable condition, according to the latest update.Scotland Yard has said there is no link between the victim and the suspect, who appeared at the Old Bailey on Thursday for a brief preliminary hearing.Wearing a light blue t-shirt roughly stuffed into grey trousers, he spoke only to identify himself and sat staring forwards from the dock throughout proceedings. Judge Nicholas Hilliard, QC, said the fact that “psychiatric reports are being obtained by the defence” could be reported. The defendant was remanded in custody ahead of a plea hearing on November 7 and a two-week trial set for February 3 next year.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more