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University of Akron sports: Tom Wistrcill's letter of resignation

By George Thomas Published: June 11, 2015

Zips Nation:

Usually, I would use these communications to praise the newsworthy achievements of our student-athletes and coaches. Today, I want to share with you some personal and professional news: Effective Tuesday, June 16, I will be leaving my post as the Director of Athletics at The University of Akron to become a Senior Vice President with Learfield Sports, based in Dallas, Texas. This is an extraordinary opportunity to work in a leadership capacity in the rapidly growing field of sponsorship and multimedia rights in intercollegiate athletics.

Of course leaving Akron is not easy to do, after six years of learning and loving this community. My family will miss so many things: standing until the first basket at basketball games; singing "I Believe That We Have Won" when we've won another soccer match; sitting with you at countless games and cheering on the Blue and Gold together. Zips Nation became an extended family to my wife, Kelly, and our sons, J.T. and Jack. Thank you so much for being so welcoming.

Together, we have created so many memories. The achievements of our student athletes and coaches over these past years will be forever etched in our memory and in our hearts:

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MAC extends Commissioner Steinbrecher's contract by three years

By George Thomas Published: June 8, 2015

 From a Mid-American Conference news release:  The Mid-American Conference announced today that the Council of Presidents has extended the contract of Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher for three additional years through the 2019-20 academic year.  Steinbrecher began as MAC Commissioner in May of 2009 and this marks his second contract extension as the conference Presidents unanimously rewarded Steinbrecher with another three-year contract extension.

 “I am very appreciative to the Council of Presidents and the confidence they have placed in me during my years as Commissioner of the Mid-American Conference.  We share the same vision and I look forward to continuing to lead this conference, our members and our students,” said Steinbrecher.

During his term as MAC Commissioner, Steinbrecher has brought long-term security for the Conference through partnership in the new College Football Playoff, national television rights deals, greatly increased national television exposure, expanded bowl opportunities, stabilized conference membership and enhanced neutral site conference championships with long-term agreements for football and men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

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MAC will receive increased exposure with new CBS Sports Network deal

By George Thomas Published: June 3, 2015

Fans of University of Akron and Kent State University basketball and football teams may have reason to cheer, but the Mid-American Conference can do a happy dance.

Football and basketball programs conference wide stand to benefit from a four-year television agreement with CBS Sports Network, the company’s cable sports channel.

The channel will broadcast as many as 12 football and 12 hoops game per year.  In the first year of the contract, which begins this fall, six football and seven basketball games will air and will include two Thursday,  three Saturday football game and one day after Thanksgiving game.

“Today’s announcement is another important step in the continued growth of Mid-American Conference television coverage,” said Mid-American Conference Commissioner, Dr. Jon Steinbrecher.  “Having CBS Sports Network join us is part of our vision for the growth of live national coverage for our fan base.  This agreement provides another platform to showcase the outstanding students attending Mid-American Conference member institutions.  I look forward to joining forces with the CBS family.”

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MAC news: Gary Pinkel, Ben Roethlisberger to hall of fame

By George Thomas Published: May 20, 2015

From a Mid-American Conference news release:

The Mid-American Conference will induct the 2015 MAC Hall of Fame Induction Class into the MAC Hall of Fame on Wednesday, May 27 during the MAC Honors Dinner at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel.  The five inductees are Casey Cunningham (Central Michigan, wrestling), Bob Parks (Eastern Michigan, men’s cross country, men’s track and field), Ben Roethlisberger (Miami, football), Gary Pinkel (Toledo/Kent State, football) and George Dales (Western Michigan, men’s cross country, men’s track and field).   

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Zips basketball: UA set for spot in Pre-season NIT

By George Thomas Published: April 20, 2015 is reporting that the University of Akron men’s basketball team will participate in the NIT Tip Off in November.

Zips coach Keith Dambrot confirmed the report although no contract has been signed.

“We don’t know who we’re playing.  We think we’re going to play Arkansas or Villanova, but we’re not sure,” he said. “It’s tough.  Those are two of the best teams in the country.  They were Top 20 teams.  Obviously, Villanova was Top 5 for the year.”

The tournament will serve as an early test for a Zips team that never quite put it all together last season and will have a quasi-different look in the coming one.

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(Updated) Report: Former UA wide receiver to work out for Cleveland Browns

By George Thomas Published: April 18, 2015

According to a report from the Dawgs By Nature blog, former University of Akron wide receiver Zach D’Orazio will work out privately for the Cleveland Browns in the near future.

D’Orazio, who passed on his final year of eligibility with the Zips, played primarily in the slot during his college career.  At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, he has the size to play in the NFL in the same position.

D'Orazio is a local product - playing for Cuyahoga Heights High School.

What, however, is intriguing is D’Orazio’s background.  He’s the son of a coach and arrived at UA as a quarterback.  When current Zips coach Terry Bowden and his staff arrived, they converted him to receiver in one of their savvier moves.

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Zips basketball: UA officially welcomes Daniel Utomi

By George Thomas Published: April 16, 2015

From a UA athletics news release:  

 University of Akron men's basketball head coach Keith Dambrot announced on Thursday that Daniel Utomi (Houston, Texas) has signed a national letter of intent to play for the Zips in the 2015-16 season.

Utomi joins Peter Agba (Greensboro, N.C.), Emmanuel Olojakpoke (Houston, Texas) and Josh Williams (Akron, Ohio), who signed NLI's in November.

"I view Daniel as a Brett McKnight-type of player," Dambrot said. "He is big, strong and can score from anywhere on the floor. You don't average 27 points per game in Houston if you are an average player."

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Zips football: Youth football clinic before spring game

By George Thomas Published: April 16, 2015

From a UA athletic department news release:

Zips' Football will host its annual Spring Game on Saturday, April 18, at 1 p.m. at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field. Admission to the game and parking are FREE.

Free parking will be available in Lot 9, south of the stadium directly behind the videoboard.

The festivities kick off at 10 a.m. with a Youth Clinic (for kids in Grades K-6) in the Louis and Freda Stile Athletics Field House. Youngsters will run drills with Zips student-athletes and get to meet head coach Terry Bowden. To register, click here. Password is CLINIC.

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Zips basketball: B.J. Gladden announces transfer via Twitter

By George Thomas Published: April 2, 2015

Thank you Akron for everything. I've learned alot and grown as a man here but i am officially transferring next year. #AllGloryToGod ��

When contacted by regarding the transfer UA coach Keith Dambrot said that nothing is official yet. 

Gladden played 9.7 minutes per game, averaging 2.9 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.

Guess Zips fans will have to see how it plays out.

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Conference commissioner saying 'no' to state of Indiana

By George Thomas Published: April 1, 2015

Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher announced on ESPN that his conference would avoid doing business in Indiana because of the state’s recent passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

"The Mid-American Conference will not schedule any more meetings or championships in Indiana until this current matter is brought to a sensible and appropriate conclusion," Steinbrecher said in interview.

The conference has one member school in Indiana, Ball State in Muncie.

The MAC holds its basketball tournament in Cleveland and its championship football game in Detroit, but holds its president’s meeting in Indianapolis.  

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