The ReCap by Rachele Lena: 12.12.18 by HWTP Sports Talk

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This week we were joined by The Japan Times’ Ed Odeven to discuss the life and legacy of George Foreman. Born on January 10, 1949, George has had a long boxing career winning 76 of his 81 total fights.  

Odeven opens the conversation discussing Foreman’s childhood in Marshall, Texas. Odeven claims, “in his youth he was a trouble maker. He was in the streets, he was bullying people, he was getting in fights.”  He describes Foreman as growing up in a rough neighborhood and cites this as a possible reason for his behavior in his childhood. 

Despite his rough beginnings, Foreman quickly changed his ways and turned his life around. Odeven claims that, “he decided to join the Job Corps after seeing a commercial with Jim Brown”. After seeing this commercial, Foreman left Texas and went to northern California. Odeven explains that, “he began to study carpentry and construction skills” and that “there was discipline in his life and that guided him in the right direction”.  

Carpentry is not the path that Foreman took in life, despite his time in the Job Corps. Ed Odeven explains that, “a man named Doc Broadus convinced him to try boxing.”  After moving to Oregon for another Job Corps program, Foreman began boxing and training. Having won a few amateur events, Foreman was invited to the U.S. Olympic team for Mexico City. Odeven tells us that, “Doc Broadus, who was the mentor in Mexico City, coached [Foreman] throughout his time there.” 

Foreman can be described as a “potent” puncher and has won 68 matches through knock-outs, but was this through training or was he born with it? Odeven explains that, “Foreman thought that it was God-given ability, just the strength, force and inertia”. He also explains that Foreman, “worked on [his punches and form] by watching boxing and training”. When asked about Foreman’s inspiration, Odeven claims that, “he never forgot where he came from and throughout his career he thought he had something to prove.” 

George Foreman and Muhammed Ali developed a strong relationship throughout their boxing careers. When asked about their history, Odeven describes that, “they were not friends in the lead up to and during “The Rumble in the Jungle,” but that this all changed when, “Foreman became a preacher after his religious conversion and began to calm down.”  Odeven claims that, “periodically, Ali began to call [Foreman] and in the 80’s and 90’s they got closer and closer, especially once Ali’s health began to deteriorate quite a bit”. 

Ed Odeven explains the “cell phone in a briefcase” story, recalling, “Foreman was training in Miami and Ali shows up at the hotel that he was staying at. They were doing a T.V. promotional interview for Foreman and the producers did not want Ali around because he was loud and they wanted all of the soundbites centered around Foreman. Later that day, Ali was speaking to Foreman and claimed, “This is what you can get if you become Heavy-Weight Champion of the World” and opens his briefcase to display a very primitive mobile phone.” Ed Odeven then explains that once Foreman became heavy-weight champion, he bought a mobile phone for himself.  

When discussing Foreman’s current life, Odeven explains that Foreman “hits the bag a bit, but he doesn’t seem to be sparring”. While he has a youth center in Texas, he is not a “full time couch, but he does offer pointers every once in a while”.   

A fan wrote in to ask Ed Odeven, “Did you ask George why he named all of his kids George Foreman.”  Odeven responded that, “[he] did not ask him that, but has heard various answers to that question.”  A few of the reasons Odeven has heard is, “you get hit in the head as a boxer and you don’t have to remember other names, as well as, George is their identity but they all have middle names.”  A listener called in named Mo joined the conversation to ask, “When Odeven said George was angry after the fight with Ali and later said Ali was the better fighter that day, what was Foreman’s anger directed at about that fight?”  Mo asked, “was part of the anger that Ali did not get disqualified? [Ali] knew if he did not hang over the ropes, the fight against George was essentially over and his actions were completely illegal.”  

In response, Odeven claims that he has not heard anything regarding this question from Foreman himself, but he has heard other people, boxing observers and analysts say that the “officiating did not take that into account though and were ineffective in stopping [Ali’s] actions.”  Odeven explains that anger grew from “The taunting that Ali did in the lead up to the fight,” and that “there was a jealousy between Foreman and Ali because Foreman felt everyone was against him.”

o to www.japantimes.co.jp to read more articles from Ed Odeven regarding George Foreman’s boxing career.

The ReCap by Rachele Lena: 11.28.18 by HWTP Sports Talk

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This week HWTP Sports Talk were joined by Kareem Copeland from The Washington Post, A.J. Perez from USA Today and Marcel Louis-Jacques from the Charlotte Observer. After a week of hot sports news, including the Washington football club’s signing of Reuben Foster,  a nail-biting match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and Eric Reid’s random drug testing.  

Kareem Copeland joined us to discuss Reuben Foster’s addition to the Washington football club after his dismissal from the San Francisco 49ers after a second domestic violence occurrence. Copeland tells us that Washington players are in a strange position when it comes to answering questions regarding how they feel about Foster’s addition to the team. He explains that, “this is someone that could be their teammate and they don’t want to get off on the wrong foot, but at the same time, no one wants to condone the allegations.”  Reuben Foster played college football at Alabama and Kareem Copeland tells us that four other players on the Washington team also have roots in Alabama spoke very highly of Foster and gave him “glowing recommendations.” When asked why Copeland thinks the Washington team took a risk on a player that is on the Commissioner’s Exempt List as opposed to a player like Colin Kaepernick who is known for being “outspoken, but not with the law” he explains that, “from a pure football standpoint it makes sense” and that “he’s a first round talent and does not need to be paid a lot since he is being kept on his first contract.”  Copeland describes this as “purely and clearly a business decision” instead of a decision that was made with taking public relations into account.  

Our second guest, USA Today’s A.J. Perez, joined us to discuss the golf match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson that lasted 22 holes. This match, which was a pay-per-view event, faced streaming difficulties and other technical issues. These technical difficulties have led to a public outcry from those that paid to watch the match and were unable to stream it. Perez explains to us that, “this event was supposed to be a trial event” and that he has received multiple messages from people that have yet to receive their refunds for the match that they played for.  

Our third guest, Marcel Louis-Jacques from the Charlotte Observer, joined us to discuss the “random” drug tests that are being administered to Eric Reid, a player known for kneeling during the national anthem. Louis-Jacques claims that, “it is a 1 in 500 chance that a player is tested 5 times in 8 weeks out of a 72-player pool”. Despite Eric Reid being continuously tested for performance enhancing drugs, Marcel Louis-Jacques claims that “Reid has never registered a positive test and has never shown evidence of using these drugs.”  He also explains to us that the independent administrator of the tests, Dr. John Lombardo, “has the sole discretion to decide what players are tested, when they are tested and is not allowed to override the random computer program”.  In response to whether or not these random drug tests are affecting Reid’s play out on the field, Louis-Jacques states that, “Reid is arguably the best member of the secondary so far this season except for their corner Dante Jackson.”

The ReCap by Rachele Lena: 11.14.18 Podcast by HWTP Sports Talk

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This week HWTP Sports Talk was joined by Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore and attorney Stuart Davidson to discuss the NHL concussion lawsuit worth nearly $19 million. This case is similar to multiple cases brought against the NFL, which resulted in larger sums awarded to injured parties. Adam Kilgore states that it may be, “the high profile of former players [in the NFL] who were showing symptoms at an older age or even doing things like committing suicide,” that may have caused the case against the NFL to have more media attention than the lawsuit brought against the NHL. Kilgore explains that in the cases similar to the concussion case against the NFL, the league, “tries to mitigate or eliminate any PR headaches, so they settled right away.” In the case against the NHL, “the commissioner decided that the league was going to meet the players head on.”  

This case has not garnered as much media or fan attention. Kilgore claims that fans don’t care about [the case against the NHL regarding CTE and concussions in players] as much as they cared about the same issues in the NFL.” Due to the new emphasis on the negative effects of concussions on players health and well-being, Kilgore explains that, “there’s a new concussion protocol in the NHL, there are cases where the league has pulled players off the ice…[and] the case [against the NHL] has raised awareness among the fan base about the dangers of brain trauma in hockey.” In regard to the effect of this lawsuit on the popularity of hockey or the NHL, Kilgore claims that the case "will not affect viewership or advertising [of the game]...since hockey is so embedded in Canadian culture. It will take a lot more than a lawsuit…to distance hockey from the country's culture."  

Stuart Davidson is a partner at Robbins Geller Rudman and Dowd LLP in Boca Raton and represented a few of the former players in the lawsuit against the NHL regarding concussions and CTE. Davidson’s firm filed in 2014 and was appointed co-lead council to represent the players and has been involved ever since. Stuart Davidson explains that in the beginning of the lawsuit, “Canadian media and television stations had nothing good to say about it,” but eventually those media outlets realized that the NHL was doing harm to players due to their policies regarding head trauma.   

While initially filed as a class action lawsuit, Davidson explains that, “the judge found that since these were personal injury claims that were individual to each player, and each player lived in a different state or province of Canada, one set of laws could not be used for all of the cases, keeping this case from being litigated as a class action lawsuit.” In the NHL concussion case, Davidson explains that, “[the NHL] let [the plaintiff lawyers] into their books, they let [the lawyers] into their email communications…and made [the plaintiff lawyers] prove to [the] judge…that [the plaintiffs] could not meet the requirements of the class action suit.”  

When discussing the personalities and attitudes of those in power in the NHL that he encountered, Stuart Davidson told HWTP Sports Talk, "I couldn't understand why it was so hard for these businessmen to have empathy for the players that they made money off of.”  Davidson explains that the principle thing that was being fought for was testing and treatment for his clients that were suffering. He further explained that his clients “were able to get neuropsychological testing to see if they had a problem neurocognitively.”

The ReCap by Rachele Lena: 11.7.18 Podcast by HWTP Sports Talk

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This week we were joined by Emily Giambalvo from The Washington Post who covers the University of Maryland athletics news. We were also joined by author and professor Andrew Billings who co-wrote Mascot Nation: The Controversy Over Native American Representations in Sports.  

Emily Giambalvo joined us this week to discuss the reinstatement and subsequent firing of Coach DJ Durkin for the University of Maryland’s football team. Durkin was originally taken out of power due to allegations of inappropriate behavior including a toxic culture of intimidation and humiliation against players. Once Durkin was reinstated on Wednesday, there was a major outcry from the players and the community. Giambalvo states that players using their voices to protest against policies and those in power, “is not something that we usually see in college sports.” 

Giambalvo states that on a college football team, “the head coach holds a lot of power,” and believes that now that Durkin has been removed there will be major changes for the team. She states that much of the pressure and criticisms against DJ Durkin stem from his inability to control the strength and conditioning coach, Rick Court. Those on the athletic board claimed that DJ Durkin was a good man and simply did not receive the correct training, which Giambalvo claims “may have swayed their decision heavily”.  

We were also joined by author and professor Andrew Billings who spoke about the use of Native American culture in sport team’s mascots. Billings claims that the controversy over Native American mascot use is based on various questions, asking “is it the name, is it the image or logo, or is it the rituals that go along with it?” Billings also discusses the backlash against those that are told they “have” to change their actions. He explains that when people are asked, “Should someone do something?” the answer is most usually yes, but when the question is phrased as, “Should someone have to do something?” the answer is most usually no.  

Andrew Billing’s claims that many that oppose the changing of these team’s names do so on the basis of the worry that the fandom of the teams may change. Billings explains to us that it is possible for many teams to drop the most offensive aspects of their teams, including name, mascots, or rituals, and still maintain their history and pride while remaining inoffensive. The public has begun to take part in a practice called “de-mascoting” that removes the offensive aspect from team regalia while maintaining a person’s ability to show team pride.

Listen to the entire episode below. Don’t be shy! Send us your questions and/or comments!

 

The ReCap by Rachele Lena: 10.24.18 Podcast by HWTP Sports Talk

“We still need due process to play out…and that the claims of a cover-up [from] USA Gymnastics don’t really hold up when you consider ...” Will Hobson, Washington Post

“We still need due process to play out…and that the claims of a cover-up [from] USA Gymnastics don’t really hold up when you consider ...” Will Hobson, Washington Post

This week HWTP Sports Talk is joined by Will Hobson from the Washington Post to talk about the recent arrest of former USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny. This scandal comes after the Larry Nassar case regarding sexual assault allegations in USA Gymnastics hit the headlines, placing the spotlight on USA Gymnastics in the news.  

Steve Penny, the ex USA Gymnastics president, was arrested and indicted last week on state tampering charges. Penny is alleged to have taken and hidden documents that the ongoing investigation occurring in Texas would have benefited from. Hobson claims that, “law enforcement did a preliminary investigation [of the USA Gymnastics training center outside Huntsville, Texas] two years ago when Larry Nassar was initially arrested and determined that no crimes had occurred other than Nassar’s abuses,” but then went on to tell us that due to backlash from Nassar’s victims, the case was reopened. 

David reminds us that it is unclear whether the evidence that Penny is accused of tampering with has been destroyed or if these documents are hidden in an office somewhere. The question remains on whether or not we are rushing to judgement on the guiltiness of Steve Penny without getting all of the facts and discovering what information is contained within those hidden documents. Will Hobson claims that, “we still need due process to play out…and that the claims of a cover-up [from] USA Gymnastics don’t really hold up when you consider [that USA Gymnastics] did report Nassar to law enforcement”. Suspicions do rise when it is considered that despite Nassar being reported to law enforcement, USA Gymnastics still asked victims not to speak publicly about the abuse.  

Hobson reminds us that, “there are a lot of different organizations and institutions that had the chance to stop this sooner and they didn’t”. Due to the fact that it is unclear what information these documents contained, it is difficult to determine the guilt of Steve Penny in this investigation.  

This investigation has made it difficult to find another person to fill this position as president of USA Gymnastics and the most recent president, Mary Bono, resigned after four days on the job. Will Hobson describes that, “the turmoil [we] are seeing at USA Gymnastics…speaks to the tunnel vision that the Olympic committees have had.” We are also reminded that these type of sexual assault cases have occurred multiple times throughout the years and these organizations have been able to easily keep these issues out of the spotlight, but since the Nassar cases, these stories have been given more precedence.

Full episode below.

The ReCap by Rachele Lena: 10.10.18 Podcast by HWTP Sports Talk

Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus

This week we are joined by USA Today’s investigative reporter A.J. Perez and The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education’s Jessica Feighan to discuss the sexual assault allegations made against soccer superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo.  

These allegations, made by Kathryn Mayorga, relate to an incident that occurred in 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. When this event first happened, A.J. Perez claims that the Las Vegas police stated that Mayorga did not name a suspect, but reminds us that there was a settlement and a non-disclosure agreement between Ronaldo and Mayorga that was signed in 2010. The settlement reached was for $375,000. 

Once Mayorga came forward to the police, a rape kit was done, but never processed and it was stated that she did not want to pursue the case. Now that this new lawsuit was opened last month, it appears Mayorga wants to “hold the soccer superstar…to account, criminally,” states Perez.  

Jessica Feighan claims that “it can take years” for victims of sexual assault to come forward with their allegations and that, “it is not uncommon at all for people to not initially want to go to the police, [or even] the hospital.”  

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A.J. Perez states that in this case, “both the hospital staff and the police told [Mayorga] the case would ‘make her look bad’,” and therefore increases distrust between the victims and those in authority. Perez also states that the previous settlement and non-disclosure agreement should not discredit Mayorga’s allegations due to her being, “under emotional distress, [having] pressure from Ronaldo’s people to settle and her first lawyer being…inadequate.” 

Ronaldo’s lawyer claimed this week that the sexual relations between the two were consensual, seemingly deeming the rape-kit taken in 2009 useless due to Ronaldo’s admission that there was a sexual encounter.  Perez reminds us that the settlement reached in 2010 was not an admission of guilt for Ronaldo and that he is unsure how the prosecution will use this settlement in this new lawsuit.  

Jessica Feighan claims that with the current media coverage of the rape allegations made by Dr. Ford against Judge Brett Kavanaugh calls to sexual assault hotlines have increased by 200%. She claims that “societally we automatically go into this victim blaming,” and when large cases such as the case against Kavanaugh and Ronaldo are covered by the media and apparently ignore the victims it makes it harder for other victims to come forward.  

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, please do not hesitate to call The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education: 

24 Hour Hotlines:
203-329-2929 (Ct. Local)
888-999-5545 (Toll Free)
888-568-8332 (Spanish)

10.10.18 Episode

The ReCap by Rachele Lena: 9.26.18 Podcast by HWTP Sports Talk

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This week, Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell joins HWTP Sports Talk with David Weinstein to talk about his new STARZ docuseries, “The Warriors of Liberty City.”   We were also joined by The Washington Post sports reporter Des Bieler who talks to us about ignorant comments made about Houston’s quarterback Derrick Deshaun Watson.

Derrick Deshaun Watson labeled as a black quarterback you can’t count on

A Texas school district superintendent made ignorant comments on Facebook regarding the choices made by Houston’s quarterback, Deshaun Watson during a game. Superintendent Lynn Redden, whose Facebook comment read, “That may have been the most inept quarterback decision I've seen in the NFL. When you need precision decision making you can’t count on a black quarterback,” recently resigned from his position as superintendent. 

After his resignation, Redden stated that, “I recognize that given the opportunity to respond by criticizing or belittling me, Watson chose peace and positivity instead.”  Redden went onto say that Watson was a great role model for the children in his Texas school district. 

Bieler stated that these comments “sparked a new discussion on the state of the black quarterback in football these days,” explaining that despite black men being 70% of the NFL, they only makeup 20% of quarterbacks. 

Bieler also explained that the comments sparked outrage because Redden attacked the decision making, and therefore intelligence of Deshaun Watson and other black athletes. He describes the common phenomenon that “when you want a player with intelligence, you may favor the white player over the black player.”

Uncle Luke of 2Live Crew fame creates a compelling docuseries, “Warriors of Liberty City”

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Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell joins David to discuss his decision to give back to the community of Liberty City through the creation of his docuseries on STARZ called “Warriors of Liberty City.”  Campbell stated that he wanted the program to be “organic” and a safe space for young men in the neighborhood to go and spend their time.   Luke describes the area where the young men practice as “sacred ground.” 

Luke also tells David that none of the kids are reacting negatively to this newfound fame. He explains that they are already local celebrities because of their position in the “Warriors” program, so the filming of the docuseries has not created any big heads on the team. 

When discussing the impact of the “Warriors” program on the children’s academics, Luke explains that it is mandatory for the children to bring in their report card for the previous year to ensure that the program is not interfering with their studies, emphasizing the importance of dedication to both the program and school. 

As described by Luke, the purpose of the docuseries is to show that they are, “men that are out there, whether they are incarcerated or not, that are out there trying to make a difference with their sons.”  Campbell describes his shock at the fact that the kids that come out of his program in Liberty City are going on to college and the NFL. He explains that this program, “isn’t just football, it’s a family.”


Rachele is a student at Fordham University. She studies Sociology and Education. She loves writing and takes part in various journalism clubs on campus. In her free time she enjoys watching rugby, playing with her dog and cat and reading.  Follow Rachele on Twitter @rachelelena4, Facebook and Instagram @rachelealena.

9.26.18 Episode

The ReCap by Laina Stebbins: 8.22.18 Podcast by HWTP Sports Talk

This week, Sister Mary Jo Sobieck dials in from Chicago to talk about her perfect first pitch at last week’s White Sox game that made headlines across the country. We are also joined by Washington Post sports reporter Roman Stubbs, who discusses the ongoing controversies surrounding the University of Maryland’s athletic program following the sudden death of one of their football players in June.

Sister Mary Jo Sobieck on her “nun-believable” first pitch and deep love of sports

Sister  Mary Jo at Guaranteed Rate Field; (Melissa Ferrara, Iron + Honey Photography)

Sister Mary Jo at Guaranteed Rate Field; (Melissa Ferrara, Iron + Honey Photography)

Last week, Sister Mary Jo Sobieck became a trending topic on Twitter thanks to virally-shared videos of her show-stopping first pitch at a Chicago White Sox game.

For most people, a Dominican nun with such impressive pitching skills is not something you see every day – but for Sobieck, playing sports has been a lifelong passion. Her students at Marian Catholic High School in suburban Chicago, where Sobieck teaches theology, know this very well.

“In the classroom, I have some credibility with the athletes. They knew that I had the skills, so to speak,” Sobieck tells David, adding that she is very active in the school’s team sports and with their student athletes.

“They’re really not surprised,” Sobieck says about her students’ reaction to her now-famous first pitch. “To them, this is just kind of a natural occurrence.”

Indeed, Sobieck is a skilled former college athlete who played softball as shortstop and center fielder.

“I would say my God-given gift has been my athletic ability, so a lot of it does come naturally for me,” Sobieck says.

“But I haven't thrown the ball in a long time like that. So I did practice...I had to get that angle right.”

Sobieck, who turns 50 later this year, grew up in a large, active family in which she was the youngest of ten children.

“I’ve been playing ball with my brothers and sisters since since I could walk,” Sobieck says.  “That competitive spirit in me, it came from sport, but also because I'm the youngest of ten. I had to, you know, keep myself strong and agile with all those brothers and sisters coming at me.”

In addition to softball, Sobieck also played volleyball throughout high school and college. She was even an assistant varsity men’s volleyball coach for Marion Catholic during her first year at the school, but her focus has since shifted.

“As much as I love sports, as much as I enjoy being active and staying physically fit, my spiritual exercises are more important to me,” Sobieck says, explaining her reasoning for giving up coaching.

“My love for sports has transcended into a love for God and community,” she says.

“I hope people can see…beyond just the fact that I'm a girl and I’m a sister and I can throw the ball, [and also see] that I'm motivated by my love for life and my joy for the Gospel,” Sobieck adds.

WaPo’s Roman Stubbs on Maryland football

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Roman Stubbs is a Washington Post sports reporter who has covered University of Maryland athletics and national college sports since 2014. Read his article regarding Jordan McNair's death and Maryland's inability to overhaul athletes' healthcare here.

Jordan McNair was a freshman on Maryland’s football team. In late May of this year, McNair collapsed during a team practice and died two weeks later on June 13.

It has been reported that the 19-year-old was showing signs of exhaustion and additionally suffered a seizure before being taken to the hospital. McNair’s cause of death was listed as heatstroke.

An external review of the school’s athletic department concluded in early August and resulted in multiple staff members being put on administrative leave. Shortly after, an in-depth exposé by ESPN revealed a “toxic,” borderline abusive culture underpinning the school’s football program, leading to even more questions surrounding McNair’s death and how it may have been prevented.

Now, Stubbs’ reporting reveals that a health care overhaul for Maryland’s athletes was on the table a year before McNair died, but was shot down by the school’s president, Wallace D. Loh. Had the NCAA-recommended medical model gone through, would McNair still be alive today?

Stubbs says there is no way to know, but there is plenty of speculation that the proposed health care model would have at least improved the culture of the athletic department.

“If you create this independent model...the system might not be manipulated by coaches,” Stubbs says. Maryland’s current model, on the other hand, has many doctors housed inside the athletic department, which Stubbs says may lead to conflicts of interest and other problems.

“We don't know how much that contributed to the culture of Jordan McNair maybe not feeling like he could speak up when he was struggling,” Stubbs says, “and so the thought is that maybe an independent model would have helped that culture…[but] the president completely mixed it.”

Maryland’s athletic scandal doesn’t end there, as Stubbs says there remains plenty of legal liability and more potential for Maryland to come under fire for the circumstances contributing to McNair’s death. There is at least one lawsuit pending against the school and three separate probes into the program.

“They're looking at not just the program itself, but the trainers who are out there. There's some liability on the line from them,” Stubbs says.

As for those at the top – “We don't know the fate yet of the jobs of the president, athletic director [Damon Evans] and the football coach D.J. Durkin, but there's a notion...by a lot of the community that none of them will potentially survive this,” Stubbs says.

“I think it’s a chaotic time at the University of Maryland,” Stubbs says. “My sense is that they need to not only do a thorough job [with the investigations], but they need to act quickly, or it’ll only get messier and messier.”

Listen to the entire show below.