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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: While Broncos wait, evidence continues to pile up against Peyton Manning

02.23.16 at 8:14 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Pelicans at Wizards, 7 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Nets at Trail Blazers, 10 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: Virginia Tech at Boston College, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Rhode Island at Davidson, 6 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Georgia State at Georgia Southern, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Alabama at Kentucky, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: LSU at Arkansas, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Temple at Tulsa, 7 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Rutgers at Minnesota, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Kansas at Baylor, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Dayton at Saint Louis, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Michigan State at Ohio State, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: TCU at Texas Tech, 9 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: New Mexico at Colorado State, 10 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: UNLV at Boise State, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
NHL: Blue Jackets at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— There is speculation that Peyton Manning already has informed the Broncos of his plans for next season, two weeks before the deadline for the team to commit one way or another. However, with the quarterback continuing to get embarrassed in the media over his alleged sexual assault from 1996 and his subsequent treatment of the alleged victim, he continues to lay low.

ESPN reported Monday that the former University of Tennessee trainer who accused Manning of exposing himself and pushing up against her while she examined his injured ankle called a sexual assault crisis center less than three hours after the incident, lending more credence to her version of the facts.

According to court documents, Jamie Naughright called a sexual assault crisis center in Knoxville, Tennessee, and said she had been victimized by a “very well-known public figure … an athlete at UT” and that she did not want to discuss the details because she “feared for her job, worried and feared for her life.” Notes written by a crisis center worker quoted Naughright as saying she sensed “there will be a cover-up.”

Naughright reported the incident to her supervisor, head trainer Mike Rollo, who discouraged her from going to police.

Manning claimed he was mooning fellow athlete Malcolm Saxon, but Saxon denied that assertion. Rollo said in a deposition that he was the one who initially described the incident as mooning, something he regretted. While he said Naughright never told him Manning made contact with her, Rollo said Naughright had seen other athletes moon one another before previously and she never seemed upset about it. This time, Rollo said Naughright “was distraught, she was upset, and it seemed unusual.”

Meanwhile, Tennessee scheduled a press conference for Tuesday morning featuring all 16 of its head coaches. The athletic department did not announce the reason, but it appears to be a response to a federal lawsuit related to the school’s handling of sexual assaults, many of which involve UT athletes.

— Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict believes he’s being targeted by officials because of his reputation, and that he would not have been penalized for his hit to the head of Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in the AFC playoffs if not for his previous transgressions.

Burfict’s penalty helped set up Pittsburgh for the game-winning field goal in the closing seconds and earned him a three-game suspension from the league.

“I play hard. Sometimes it gets me in trouble,” he told ESPN. “My style of play is aggressive, and [the game has] changed, and I have to change with it, and that play right there, I think if I wasn’t number 55, I wouldn’t have got flagged.”

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Read More: Joseph Randle, Peyton Manning, Vontaze Burfict,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: SI’s Peter King calls for NFL to admit mistakes on Deflategate, return Patriots’ draft picks

02.22.16 at 8:01 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Blue Jackets at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Sharks at Blues, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Celtics at Timberwolves, 8 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Warriors at Hawks, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Suns at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: Virginia at Miami, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Texas at Kansas State, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Iowa State at West Virginia, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Coppin State at Norfolk State, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
Soccer: FA Cup, Manchester United at Shrewsbury, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— This time last year, the national media was coming down hard on the Patriots for Deflategate. A year later, it’s a different story.

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, in his Monday Morning Quarterback column, calls for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to admit he erred and return the two draft picks he took from the Patriots as punishment for the alleged scheme to deflate footballs.

Writes King: Based on the weight of the evidence from the past 13 months, and that weight being circumstantial and not convincing, there’s one conclusion I’ve reached entering the 2016 draft season: Roger Goodell needs to give back the picks.

Whatever happens in the appeal of the case — which isn’t centered on the Patriots’ guilt or innocence but rather on a point of labor law in the judge’s decision — Goodell needs to realize he acted without nearly enough scientific evidence against the Patriots. The NFL has some significant circumstantial evidence in the case, the kind that should have prompted a strongly worded letter and $250,000 fine. Instead, Goodell killed an ant with a sledgehammer.

King notes that the lack of  a “smoking gun,” combined with referee Walt Anderson’s failure to maintain proper oversight of the footballs plus the flaws in the Wells Report, should be enough to reduce the penalties.

Concludes King: The Patriots deserved to be slapped for Deflategate, not crushed. In fact, I’d propose giving back the draft picks but keeping in place the $1 million fine. These were reactionary, overblown sanctions. With time to reflect, they look even worse than when they were levied last May.

— Former Cowboys running back Joseph Randle continues to run afoul of the law, earning another stint in jail Sunday on suspicion of aggravated battery, possession of drugs and criminal damage to property.

The 24-year-old was arrested Sunday morning in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas.

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Read More: Deflategate, Joseph Randle, LeBron James, Roger Goodell

Thinking Out Loud: Providence needs Kris Dunn to take over

02.19.16 at 5:23 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to the old “College Bowl” quiz shows?

— The steady drop in the national polls for the Providence basketball team is predictable, given the fact that the Friars have lost five of their last seven games. However, they’ve remained a fixture in the Top 25 thanks to their early season successes. That’s why they are also still very much in the picture for the NCAA Tournament, despite the gloom-and-doomsayers.

— Twelve straight weeks in the rankings, at the present time, represents the longest stretch since 1977-78. Trying to look at this glass as half full, for the most part.

— Now the other shoe drops. PC’s game at eighth-ranked Xavier this week underscores the lessons in futility this team is now realizing. First, there is no reliable, consistent scoring threat beyond Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil. Second, when the Friars don’t defend (as they didn’t in the first half against the Musketeers), they’re not very good. Third, when either Dunn or Bentil suffer from lapses under the previously mentioned numbers 1 and 2? Mediocrity ensues, along with five losses in seven games.

— Now, having said this, the Friars are still a very good team. They’re capable of winning any game they play, but also capable of losing any game they play. The golden moments in November and December have become fool’s gold in February.

— The Friars need to string together at least three wins in the last four regular-season games to stay clear of the NCAA bubble. This season, however, the bubble is pretty soft. That should play into PC’s favor if “push comes to shove.” The Arizona and Villanova road wins are very strong. A 4-4 record vs. the AP Top 25 is also more than respectable.

— By the time Providence takes the court next Thursday at Seton Hall, it will have been more than a month since the Friars beat anyone not named Georgetown. Think about that for a second. That’s how rough February has been, after PC went undefeated in December.

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Read More: Kris Dunn,

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: National women’s group calls for companies to suspend relationship with Peyton Manning

02.18.16 at 7:55 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Bruins at Predators, 8 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Red Wings at Penguins, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Bulls at Cavaliers, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Spurs at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: SMU at UConn, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Tennessee at Kentucky, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Charleston Southern at Gardner-Webb, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Missouri State at Wichita State, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Maryland at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Belmont at Eastern Kentucky, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Wisconsin at Michigan State, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Cincinnati at Tulsa, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Utah at UCLA, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: California at Washington, 11 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: BYU at San Diego, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB:

Peyton Manning continues to remain quiet about his alleged sexual assault and defamatory comments about his accuser, but his critics are getting louder.

A national women’s rights group on Wednesday called for companies to halt their dealings with the Broncos quarterback until more details are known about what happened.

“Nationwide Insurance and Papa John’s Pizza must show their customers that they will never stand for sexual violence — and suspend their relationships with Manning pending further investigation,” UltraViolet co-founder Nita Chaudhary said in a statement.

UltraViolet, which previously called for commissioner Roger Goodell to step down after his initial ruling on the Ray Rice domestic violence incident in 2014, said the league should sideline Manning.

“While it is outrageous that the University of Tennessee chose to turn a blind eye to sexual violence by student athletes like Manning, it would be flat-out unacceptable for the NFL and major companies like Nationwide Insurance and Papa John’s Pizza to continue to stand with Manning in light of emerging evidence,” Chaudhary said in the statement. “The NFL should thoroughly investigate this incident before allowing Manning to play or work in [the] NFL again.”

— Boxer/politician Manny Pacquiao apologized for his comments criticizing gay people as “worse than animals,” but it wasn’t enough to stop him from losing his endorsement deal with Nike.

The company announced Wednesday that it found Pacquiao’s comments “abhorrent” and no longer would do business with him.

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Read More: Bob Arum, Dennis Wideman, Donald Trump, Gary Bettman

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Clippers say they won’t trade contrite Blake Griffin

02.17.16 at 8:06 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Blackhawks at Rangers, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Dayton at Saint Joseph’s, 6 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Iowa at Penn State, 6:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Providence at Xavier, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Syracuse at Louisville, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Villanova at Temple, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: UCF at Memphis, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: DePaul at St. John’s, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Nebraska at Indiana, 8:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Duke at North Carolina, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Seton Hall at Georgetown, 9 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Oklahoma at Texas Tech, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Arizona State at Arizona, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Houston at Tulane, 9:30 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Boise State at New Mexico, 10 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Colorado at USC, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB:

Celtics fans dreaming of seeing a star headed to Boston will have to turn their attention to someone other than Blake Griffin.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday that the injured star would not be traded, despite a flurry of rumors and reports indicating there have been calls from other teams.

Griffin is expected to be out until next month with a broken right hand he suffered punching team equipment manager Matias Testi at a Toronto restaurant. He then will serve a four-game suspension for the transgression.

On Tuesday, a contrite Griffin wore a black wrap on his hand at practice as he addressed the media for the first time since the incident.

“It’s something I think about every day and wish I could take back, and I’ve told Matias that,” Griffin said. “I have talked to Matias tons of times since the incident. He actually said it best: ‘This stuff happens and we’re like brothers and we just have to move on.’ ”

Griffin said he already apologized to his teammates and the organization.

“It’s something that I feel awful about, something that I haven’t had to deal with ever before in life and it’s been tough,” he said. “But now that the NBA has done their due diligence and the Clippers and I have my punishment, I’m looking forward to just moving on and moving past this and getting back on the court with our teammates.”

— MMA fighter Ronda Rousey said Tuesday during an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” that she contemplated suicide after her shocking loss to Holly Holm last year, her first defeat after dominating UFC competition.

“Honestly, my thought in the medical room, I was sitting in the corner and was like, ‘What am I anymore if I’m not this?’ ” an emotional Rousey said. “Literally sitting there thinking about killing myself. In that exact second, I’m like: ‘I’m nothing. What do I do anymore?’ “

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Read More: Blake Griffin, Ronda Rousey,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Argentinian soccer player kills referee during match

02.16.16 at 8:17 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Bruins at Blue Jackets, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Stars at Blues, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Wake Forest at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: West Virginia at Texas, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Michigan at Ohio State, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Northwestern at Purdue, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Creighton at Butler, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Rhode Island at VCU, 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Kansas State at TCU, 8 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Iowa State at Baylor, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Rutgers at Illinois, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: UNLV at Air Force, 9:30 p.m. (CBSSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— A soccer player in Argentina, apparently furious after given a red card for a hard tackle, took out a gun from his backpack and killed the referee Sunday, according to reports from the South American country.

The player shot 48-year-old referee Cesar Flores three times, in the head, chest and neck. He also shot another player, Walter Zarate, in the chest, but that player is expected to survive.

“It all happened during the match,” a police spokesman told the media from Cordoba, Argentina. “We don’t know what happened with the referee, but the player was angry and went to get his gun and killed him.”

The suspect left the field and was being sought by police.

There have long been problems with soccer violence in Argentina and other South American countries, During a game last summer a player in Argentina knocked out a referee after being given a yellow card. And last fall in Brazil, a referee who also is a policeman pulled out a gun after a confrontation during a match, although he never discharged his weapon.

— Maryland freshman center Diamond Stone will miss one game as punishment for his actions Saturday, when he pushed the head of Wisconsin’s Vitto Brown onto the floor after the two tangled under the basket.

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon administered the suspension, which was supported by the Big Ten office.

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Read More: Diamond Stone, Manny Pacquiao,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Broncos reportedly waiting on Peyton Manning decision

02.15.16 at 8:16 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
College basketball: LIU Brooklyn at St. Francis (N.Y.), 1 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Oakland at Wright State, 5 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: N.C. State at Virginia, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Morgan State at Hampton, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Holy Cross at Lehigh, 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Alcorn State, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB:

Peyton Manning might have more pressing matters on his hands right now — he’s taking a beating nationally since the release of legal documents suggesting he launched a defamation campaign against a onetime Tennessee athletic trainer who accused him of sexually harassing her — but he also has some business decisions to make.

The Broncos reportedly are waiting for Manning to decide whether he will return next season before they negotiate with fellow quarterback Brock Osweiler.

Osweiler, who showed promise while filling in for an injured Manning this past season, is set to become a free agent March 9. That same day, Manning’s $19 million salary for 2016 — the final year of his five-year deal — becomes fully guaranteed.

According to Denver’s 9News writer Mike Klis, the Broncos want to sign Osweiler to a multiyear extension and have him be the starting quarterback next season.

Manning has hinted that he will retire, but he has not made any official announcement.

Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated legal expert Michael McCann revealed some additional information about Manning’s issues with former Tennessee trainer Jamie Naughright, noting that in Naughright’s initial comments and legal filings, she did not initially say Manning made contact with her when he allegedly exposed himself in the training room in 1996.

Naughright was somewhat vague about exactly what happened other than to say Manning exposed himself, but she later said Manning made contact with her head with his “naked butt and rectum” — making the actions far more serious.

Manning has claimed he was mooning a teammate, although the teammate denied that assertion.

— The Memphis Grizzlies raised some eyebrows Sunday when they sent out a Valentine’s Day tweet featuring controversial forward Matt Barnes.

The tweet shows a picture of Barnes looking down at a bouquet of roses and a basketball, with the line: “Love is always the answer.”

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Read More: Matt Barnes, Peyton Manning,

Thinking Out Loud: Sliding Providence needs more support from underclassmen

02.12.16 at 5:12 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering why I can never find my glasses when I need them.

— The Friars’ drop to 20th (17th in the coaches poll) is predictable. Two losses without winning in a week will do that, even if one of those losses was to the new No. 1 team. The DePaul loss was crushing, however, and shows how fleeting good fortune can be. I blame myself. That’s the first — and only — game when I missed the pregame shootaround on the road this season.

— I’ve had several conversations with Friars fans who have asked if I’m disappointed with the team’s performance lately. Sure, you always want to win, but disappointed? Absolutely not. First of all, I’m enjoying a great ride watching this team play, and these coaches coach. Plus — a little secret here — this PC team isn’t really a top-10 team, so get over it. That’s not what this team is.

— Are the Friars still good? They probably have the two best players on the court at any given time that Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil are together. But as we can all observe, these Friars need a third or fourth wheel to consistently perform in order to be really good, and the candidates are underclassmen still learning to play at the highest level in the sport.

— Top-10 good is questionable, at best. But still pretty good, and good enough to beat a lot of other pretty good teams around the country. No. 1-ranked Villanova knows how good the Friars can be. So don’t sweat the rankings, they’re fun, but they’re also ultra-subjective. Bring on March Madness.

— Oh, got my tickets this week for the NCAA Tournament first and second rounds at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. And then realized I may not be there if the Friars make the field of 68. Teams can’t play at home (right, Dayton?) so that’s a good problem to have, I suppose.

— Admittedly, the Marquette loss in double overtime this week was very frustrating. Ed Cooley was despondent afterward, but by the time the team landed back in Providence in the wee hours of Thursday morning, sights already were set and focused on Georgetown. Development is still a key factor here, and the problem is it isn’t happening fast enough for anyone’s liking.

— Bentil’s 42-point, 12-rebound performance was eye-popping wow. Only one other player in the country has put together a 40/10 double-double this season — freshman phenom Ben Simmons at LSU (43 points, 14 rebounds vs. North Florida). If the Friars can make any kind of a run in the final six games of the regular season, he’s a legit candidate for Big East Player of the Year, with all due respect to his teammate Dunn.

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Read More: Ben Bentil, Kris Dunn,

RB Matt Forte says Bears won’t re-sign him, making him free agent

02.12.16 at 12:08 pm ET
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Matt Forte

Matt Forte

In an Instagram post Friday morning, running back Matt Forte announced his days as a member of the Bears are over.

“Despite my wishes, my days as a member of the Chicago Bears have sadly come to an end,” wrote Forte. “I was informed earlier this week from the GM that they will not be attempting to re-sign me in free agency.”

Although he seemed disappointed with the team’s decision to move on, the two-time Pro Bowler made it clear he harbors no ill will toward the organization.

“I will remain forever grateful for my time spent in Chicago and being able to play for an organization with such a rich history,” Forte said. “My only regret is not being able to win a Lombardi trophy for the best fans in all of sports. I’m excited about the next chapter of my NFL career. But, Chicago will always be home.”

Forte played eight seasons for the Bears, who drafted him out of Tulane in 2008. Statistically, he is the second-most productive running back in team history.

“These decisions are never easy, especially given what Matt has meant to our team and community. We have a tremendous amount of respect for him,” Bears owner Ryan Pace said. “Matt is one of the all-time great Bears and did an excellent job for us on and off the field last season. He was a tremendous teammate. We thank him for his professionalism and wish him the very best as he continues his career.”

Forte is set to hit free agency, where he undoubtedly will be a hot commodity for teams in need of a feature running back.

Read More: Chicago Bears, Matt Forte, NFL,

Louisiana governor: Budget deficit could lead to shutdown of LSU football program

02.12.16 at 11:37 am ET
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In a televised statewide address on Thursday night, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards warned citizens of what might happen should lawmakers deny his proposal for a package of tax increases.

While the Governor had a long list of potential consequences if his proposal is not passed, some of the most significant included shutting down hospice services and taking people off of kidney dialysis.

“The health care services that are in jeopardy literally mean the difference between life and death,” Edwards said.

He did not stop there, however. He went on to add that there would be cuts to higher education in the absence of these taxes. LSU, one of the state’s most prominent universities, would suffer major blows for both education and athletics .

Writes Julia O’Donoghue of NOLA.com: The governor went so far as to say that LSU football was also in jeopardy, due to a threatened suspension of spring classes that would jeopardize college athletes’ eligibility next year. He said the state would no longer be able to afford one of its most popular programs with middle class residents — the TOPS college scholarship — without tax hikes. 

“Student athletes across the state would be ineligible to play next semester,” Edwards said. “I don’t say this to scare you. But I am going to be honest with you.” 

The Tigers have been a perennial championship contender in college football. They finished the 2015 season ranked 20th in the nation with a record of 9-3.

Read More: LSU, NCAA Football,