Satellite trackers help fight vultures’ extinction in southern Africa

first_imgBirds, Conservation, Conservation Solutions, data, GPS, GPS tracking, Human-wildlife Conflict, Monitoring, Renewable Energy, Tagging, Technology, Tracking, Vultures, Wildtech Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Vultures in southern Africa are being killed, mainly by eating carcasses poisoned by farmers, and in collisions with power lines and wind turbines.Concerned about population declines, the Maloti-Drakensberg Vulture Project began tracking vulture movements with small GPS transmitters, only to find them dying at a rapid rate.The three-dimensional tracking data showing the overlap between vulture breeding and roosting areas resulted in cancellation of a pair of proposed wind farms in Lesotho and a call for more ecologically informed siting of needed renewable energy infrastructure. CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Every other hour, Sonja Krüger logs onto her website and checks the birds’ status. Pharoah is taking a mud bath in the mountains, Jeremia is on a roost site viewing the Maloti mountain range, and Mollie is scouring the grasslands for a fresh carcass.“A GPS location of the birds is taken very hour, and it shows where the vultures are flying to, at what speed, their favorite cliff roost sites, and where they feed,” Krüger, an ecologist with the NGO Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, told Mongabay.Data have told us a lot about these birds’ movement and population trends, she added.Ezemvelo runs Maloti-Drakensberg Park, a World Heritage Site within the mountain range of the same name. The range is home to vultures in Lesotho and the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Free State in South Africa.An immature bearded vulture posing. Image by Sonja Krueger.The isolated southern African population of bearded vultures (Gypaetus barbatus meridionalis) has declined by more than 30 percent over the past few decades, with fewer than 350 individual birds and 109 breeding pairs remaining in the region.Cape vultures (Gyps coprotheres), found only in southern Africa, are endangered, with 2,900 breeding pairs. Approximately 1,450 individuals, roughly 20 percent of the population, live in the Maloti-Drakensberg mountains.The roll callIn 2006, Krüger started the Maloti-Drakensberg Vulture Project to address the decline in vulture populations within the mountains. She said the vultures feasted on carcasses and thus kept the environment clean, so a decline in numbers was a huge loss for the ecosystem.With support from several environmental institutions, including Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Programme, Wildlands Conservation Trust, and the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the project began tracking the birds’ movements and habits.“Catching the vultures was not easy,” Krüger said. “It was challenging, but rewarding.”Sonja Krüger and the project team takes measurements before fitting each bird with a backpack GPS transmitter. Image by Shannon Hoffman.The project tracked 25 bearded vultures and a few Cape vultures, of both sexes and various age groups, by designing and fitting miniature backpack harnesses for the birds to carry satellite GPS transmitters. It also used the tags to assess the birds’ survival rates and causes of mortality to assist efforts to recover the populations and build awareness of the importance of vultures in ecological systems.“Numbers were declining, and we wanted to know what was causing the mortality of the vultures,” Krüger said. “We sought a better idea of where the vultures move, and [wanted to] get a full ranging territory, providing data on feeding and breeding sites.”Ben Hoffman, a falconer based in Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal province, fitted the transmitters. Two years earlier, he had started Raptor Rescue, providing specialist treatment to injured, sick, and orphaned birds of prey.“I have used radio trackers on my birds when I flew them for many years,” he said, “so I had some experience in the field of tracking raptors.”The transmitter on each 6- to 11-kilogram (13- to 24-pound) bird costs $3,000 and is powered by a tiny, lightweight solar panel, with a combined weight of about 70 grams (2.5 ounces). The transmitter relays a bird’s location data hourly between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. through the Argos satellite network to a website where Krüger accesses the data. The researchers pay $68 per vulture monthly for data processing.Krüger fits a backpack GPS transmitter on a vulture. Covering the bird’s eyes calms it down as the miniature harness is put in place. Image by Shannon Hoffman.The transmitters have been sending back data on the birds’ movements for the past decade, longer than the maximum seven-year life span specified by Microwave Telemetry, the U.S. manufacturer of the satellite trackers.Some vultures, however, started falling off the radar only a few months after their trackers were fitted. Krüger and her team went to investigate.They found them dead, often in very inaccessible locations on commercial farms, communal land, and even in protected areas. The main cause of death was poisoning from lead and agricultural chemicals.“Farmers trying to protect their sheep or cattle from being attacked by jackals often laced carcasses of dead animals with poison,” Krüger said. “Vultures ate poisoned carcasses and were found a distance away from the feeding spots.”In one particularly severe incident, more than 50 Cape vultures and a jackal were found dead near a sheep carcass on a farm. “This was a clear case,” Krüger said, “and [the perpetrator] was prosecuted.”An immature bearded vulture flies off carrying its new backpack GPS transmitter. Knowing in which areas and at what altitudes the vultures spend their time enables researchers to assess the risks of energy infrastructure. Image by Shannon Hoffman.Only six of the original 25 tagged vultures survive. One died from a power-line collision, nine were poisoned, and another was shot. One was found dead as recently as this past November; tests have not yet confirmed the cause of death.Vultures were also used for traditional medicine, Krüger said. “Vulture body parts are believed to be potent for enabling psychic abilities, foresight, and increased intelligence.” Since numbers of all vultures in southern Africa were on the decline, any use of these birds was unsustainable, she added.The raptors’ survival is also threatened by electrocution on poorly designed power poles and collisions with electrical cables and, more recently, wind turbines.Controversial Lesotho wind powerIn 2012, the government of the landlocked kingdom of Lesotho approved wind farm operations in the country’s northeast, proposed by PowerNET Development. This first-ever large-scale development of two wind farms in Lesotho, consisting of 42 and 100 turbines, respectively, was controversial. The site lay within the breeding, roosting, and foraging grounds of important populations of both bearded and Cape vultures.The company planned to set up multiple wind farms throughout the Lesotho highlands, ultimately aiming to produce about 6,000 megawatts from up to 4,000 turbines.In 2014, Ken Mwathe, then BirdLife International’s Africa policy program coordinator, warned in a statement that African governments needed to approach renewable energy projects carefully to ensure they did not threaten birds and biodiversity.An adult bearded vulture at a feeding site. Found in various parts of Asia, bearded vultures have disappeared from most of their range in Africa. Image by Shane Elliott.The wind farm developer proposed mitigation measures, including the use of radar linked to a system that would automatically shut turbines down when birds were at risk of colliding. But the impact assessment’s avifaunal report indicated that the project would have severe negative effects on vultures and other sensitive bird groups, even with mitigation.The project would not be feasible if these measures were implemented, said Samantha Ralston, birds and renewable energy manager at BirdLife South Africa, because wind turbines would not generate electricity when not turning.Ralston said the conservation community lacked sufficient information to know whether proposed mitigation measures would be effective in substantially reducing the risk to the vultures. She called for more research to understand “how often, at what height and under what conditions the birds move through the site.”An application of tracking dataThe outcomes of Krüger’s team’s research then became handy.A study using data from 2009 to 2013 of the three-dimensional movements of 21 of the 25 bearded vultures fitted with the solar-powered GPS tags was published in 2015.“We used data collected in Lesotho and South Africa to create [collision] risk models,” said raptor biologist and co-author Arjun Amar, of the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town. “The models were further refined by incorporating flying heights at risk of collision to predict areas prone to impact with wind turbines.”The transmitters generated data, logging the vultures’ location, altitude, and speed every hour during daylight, allowing the team to develop different models for birds of different ages.Close-up of the backpack GPS transmitter. Fitting a tracking tag on a large bird like a vulture takes a team. Image by Stephanie Walters.The sites proposed for the two wind farms were in areas heavily used by vultures and therefore likely to damage the vulture population through collisions, the study concluded. “Altitudes of fixes of adults and non-adults,” the authors said in their paper, “showed that they spent 55 percent and 66 percent of their time, respectively, at heights that placed them at risk of collision.”“We did not want to stand in the way of development,” Amar told Mongabay. “Our aim was to produce maps that could be used to promote sustainable development.”The wind energy developers and financiers backing the wind farm cancelled their project. Four years later, in early 2018, the U.K.-based firm AGR-Renewables resurrected the project.“We have delivered a number of wind and solar energy projects in the UK over the last years, all in line with the environmental standards required under the UK planning system,” Tom Forsyth of AGR-Renewables told The Star, a South African newspaper, in February 2018.The company was aware of the concerns raised about the project, Forsyth added, and it had employed a team of bird specialists to carry out “an intensive programme of bird monitoring — something that has hitherto not been carried out … to evaluate the potential impact of the project and the suitability or otherwise of the site to accommodate the proposed wind farm,” he told The Star.An adult bearded vulture with a backpack transmitter. The tag weighs around 1 percent of the bird’s weight. Image by Rickert van der Westhuizen.In the end, the new developer also withdrew from the project, Krüger said. “They took heed of our concerns.”Krüger’s team still tracks four bearded and two Cape vultures from the original group, and she checks on them regularly.“The design of the project has managed to get excellent results,” Krüger said, adding the technology has been adapted for tracking other bird species, including hornbills.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Article published by Sue Palminterilast_img read more

New Entertainment Offering for Pandora – The World of Avatar

first_imgShare This!Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is getting a brand new form of entertainment in for form of a Pandora Utility Suit, which is inspired by the Amplified Mobility Platform (AMP) suits of power armor from the film AVATAR.Take a look at what this new agile suit will look like in action:According to the story, while the AMP suits that were found in the movie were created for missions of destruction, the Pandora Utility Suit is designed for restoration and it makes the perfect tool to collect plant samples, study flora and survive Pandora’s wild terrain. Guests will be able to interact with its pilot who will share details about the land’s landscape, and highlight the importance of preserving nature.The Pandora Utility Suit continues the collaboration between Disney and Lightstorm Entertainment and it will debut on April 22 as part of the 20th anniversary celebration of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.last_img read more

Branding South Africa with one message

first_imgThe purpose of the conference is to ensure that South Africa communicates with one voice both domestically and internationally leading up to and beyond 2010.“We are already looking beyond 2010 to where we want to position South Africa in the next decade,” says Yvonne Johnston, the CEO of the IMC. “A major event such as the soccer World Cup attracts global attention but it has to be supported by strategies and structures to ensure a lasting legacy.”“Our objective is to establish Brand South Africa as one of the most prominent and desirable global brands,” says Johnston.Germany 2006 has shown that making the best of the opportunities offered by such an enormous event entails more than hosting soccer games successfully. The host country must brand itself at the same time, as was done so well by the Germans.Therefore one of the key-note speakers at the conference will be the man who did just that for Germany, Mike de Vries. He is the CEO of the branding company FC Deutschland GmbH.Another speaker is internationally renowned Raul Parelba from Spain, who will focus on the branding and marketing opportunities provided by a major event. He is Director Partner of Trout & Partners, the global positioning specialists.The speakers and their topics include:Minister in the Presidency, Essop Pahad, who will look at opportunities for the continent brought about by the World Cup.The CEO of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), Themba Maseko, who will spell out the government’s commitment to and expectations for 2010.Danny Jordaan, CEO of the Local Organising Committee, who will highlight marketing opportunities for local corporates.Thaninga Shope-Linney, NEPAD’s general manager for communications and outreach, who will add to Minister Pahad’s continental perspective on the 2010 World Cup.Wolfgang Grulke, CEO of FutureWorld will look at Africa and South Africa in the 21st century. Yvonne Johnston, CEO of the IMC, will also be speaking at the Conference – spelling out Brand South Africa’s future strategy in her address. She has very high expectations of the Conference, describing it as “a tremendous opportunity for the world view South Africa even more positively and Alive with Possibility than it does now.”This conference is being hosted in collaboration with the 2010 National Communications Task Team.last_img read more

10 months agoWolves boss Nuno hails matchwinner Neves after Liverpool shock

first_imgWolves boss Nuno hails matchwinner Neves after Liverpool shockby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveWolves stunned Liverpool to dump them out of the FA Cup on Monday night.Ruben Neves’ superb second-half strike sent Wolves through to the FA Cup fourth round at the expense of a Liverpool side that featured three teenagers making their full debuts.Reds boss Jurgen Klopp made nine changes to his starting XI, which included 17-year-old midfielder Curtis Jones and 18-year-old Rafael Camacho. They were joined by Dutch defender Ki-Jana Hoever – at 16, the club’s third youngest debutant – in the sixth minute following an injury to Dejan Lovren.Raul Jimenez fired Wolves ahead following an error by midfielder James Milner.Divock Origi levelled for the visitors six minutes after the break with the side’s first effort on target. But that parity lasted four minutes as Neves launched a venomous dipping shot from 31 yards that beat Simon Mignolet at his near post.Wolves boss Nuno stated: “I am very pleased, the team performed very well in a tough game. We took our chances.”He (Neves) has talent, he has done it before and we encourage him to shoot from range. It was a good strike and the fans were very special.”The draw is the draw, next we have Manchester City so we are focused on that.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

6 days agoBurnley striker Chris Wood upset VAR denied equaliser

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Burnley striker Chris Wood upset VAR denied equaliserby Paul Vegas6 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveBurnley striker Chris Wood felt they deserved a point-saving goal in a controversial finish at Leicester City.Wood put Burnley in front with his fourth goal in as many games and then with the Clarets pressing for a late leveller, Jonny Evans bundled the ball into his own net under pressure from Wood, whose initial effort had been saved by Kasper Schmeichel.City centre-back Evans looked to have no chance of clearing the ball and went to ground yards after the two players had come together.But following consultation with the VAR, referee Jon Moss disallowed the goal for a foul by Wood – to the frustration of the striker and his team-mates, whose four-game unbeaten run came to an end with a 2-1 defeat.“In my opinion it should stand,” said Wood to the club’s website.“The ball has bounced off Jonny and gone in and I hear there might have been a little accidental clip of the heels.“But my eyes are looking at the ball, straight ahead or up, nowhere near him. When the clip happens the ball is already on the line, if not over.“There is no way he is getting back to clear it and is it clear and obvious enough to overrule the referee?“In my opinion, no. I don’t think that was in the least clear and obvious and it’s frustrating.“I’m a big fan of VAR and it’s been brought in for a reason. When it is done right and it is clear and obvious, then ok.“But in my opinion, if everyone doesn’t see it as clear and obvious, them it’s not clear and obvious. Hopefully it will keep on improving over the years and we can go on from here.” last_img read more

Prince Charles Attends Comedy Gala For Charity

first_imgUS comedian Joan Rivers was among the stars who welcomed The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at the Prince’s Trust annual comedy gala this week.Duchess of Cornwall Meets Rowan Atkinson and Miranda HartCredit/Copyright: Royal Highnesses arrived at the Royal Albert Hall in central London after a host of comedians walked the red carpet to perform at The Prince’s Trust Comedy Gala – We Are Most Amused.The royal couple were greeted at the door by Rivers, the creative director of the show, Ben Elton, and fellow comics Rowan Atkinson and Miranda Hart.The Prince’s Trust helps disadvantaged young people to get their lives on track. The Trust supports 13 to 30-year-olds who are unemployed and those struggling at school and at risk of exclusion.Rivers said she was looking forward to performing at the charity event but still got nervous when performing.“I’m always very, very nervous before a performance,” she said. “I’m happy after a performance, I’m terrible before.”British comedian Stephen K. Amos said that “When The Prince of Wales asks you to perform at the Royal Albert Hall, you don’t say no!“It’s a wonderful cause, The Prince’s Trust helps and encourages young disadvantaged people – it’s amazing,” Amos said.The Prince’s Trust gala series launched in 1982 with The Trust’s first Rock Gala. We Are Most Amused is The Trust’s 11th gala event.The Trust’s programmes give vulnerable young people the practical and financial support needed to stabilise their lives, helping develop self-esteem and skills for work. Three in four young people supported by The Prince’s Trust move into work, education or training.The Prince of Wales’s charity has helped more than 700,000 young people since 1976 and supports 100 more each day. Many of the young people helped by The Prince’s Trust are in or leaving care, facing issues such as homelessness or mental health problems, or they have been in trouble with the law.Their Royal Highnesses thanked each performer after the show. Comedians including Sanjeev Bhaskar, Milton Jones, Omid Djalili and Jimmy Carr briefly chatted to the royal couple.Director and host of the show Ben Elton said he was pleased with the performances.“We raised lots of money for charity and we seem to have gotten lots of laughs,” Elton said. “The Prince told me he enjoyed it very much and thanked me for my bit in organising it.”Miranda Hart, star of the BBC sitcom Miranda, said: “I was delighted to be here tonight and to be doing my bit to help.“The Prince’s Trust does a fantastic job in supporting the most underprivileged young people and at a time when the jobs market is uncertain, it has never been more important to ensure they have all the help they need.”Martina Milburn, The Prince’s Trust chief executive, said: “It has been fantastic to have the support of so many incredible comedians.“Money raised by We Are Most Amused will help us to change the lives of disadvantaged young people at a time of high youth unemployment.” read more

NBA Power Ratings And Playoff Odds The Thunder And Suns Are In

Welcome to another edition of FiveThirtyEight’s NBA Power Ratings. Teams are ranked according to a projection of their strength over the coming week using Real Plus-Minus (RPM) player ratings provided by Jeremias Engelmann and Steve Ilardi. For a more detailed explanation of the process behind these numbers, see our first rankings post.Some stray thoughts on the rankings:The Oklahoma City Thunder are in a bit of a precarious position. After losing two of their three games over the past week, they occupy the 10th slot in the Western Conference standings. And despite the talent on hand, our simulations give them just a 53.5 percent probability of making the playoffs, down 19.1 percentage points from a week ago. It’s no coincidence that over the same span, the Phoenix Suns won two of three to move four games clear of Oklahoma City. The Suns’ playoff chances rose by 10.5 points to 50.1 percent.Sandwiched between Phoenix and Oklahoma City in the West standings is New Orleans, but the Pelicans check in with just an 18.1 percent probability of making the playoffs. Why? They have neither the Suns’ advantage in the standings nor the talent edge of the Thunder. That said, New Orleans is improving on both counts, winning two of three over the past week. The Pelicans’ projected rating is 1.1 points per 100 possessions higher in this week’s power ratings, thanks to progress on offense.Why did the San Antonio Spurs drop a two slots and lose a league-high 1.9 points per 100 possessions from their rating? Blame Tony Parker (mostly). Parker is struggling to find his form after a hamstring injury earlier in the season, and he has one of the league’s worst RPM ratings this season (which only got worse after a rough performance in the Spurs’ 20-point home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday). The playing-time projections for our ratings see Parker logging more minutes this week, so the numbers view him as personally responsible for nearly half of the Spurs’ projected decline.The biggest raw gainers are the Minnesota Timberwolves, who upped their expected rating for the week to -7.0 from -10.6 a week ago, an improvement of 3.6 points per 100 possessions. A little of that is the remarkably rapid development of our buddy Andrew Wiggins, but it’s much more due to the return of Ricky Rubio. Plus-minus style statistics have always thought more highly of Rubio than the public at large, and here he carries the 26th-highest individual per-possession rating of any player in our data set. It’s doubly beneficial for Minnesota because Rubio’s return cuts into the minutes of Zach LaVine, who has been arguably the worst player in the NBA this season. (I’m at least allowed to say that, right?)As bad as my hometown Philadelphia 76ers have been this season, something jumps out about their coterie of ratings at the bottom of the table: Their defense is above average! The decidedly poor offensive RPM numbers of Nerlens Noel (-5.0), Luc Mbah a Moute (-3.6), Henry Sims (-3.5), K.J. McDaniels (-3.4) and even Michael Carter-Williams (-2.5) hides a collection of pretty decent defenders. For instance, Noel’s defensive RPM (+2.2) is roughly equivalent to that of DeAndre Jordan, who finished third in last year’s voting for defensive player of the year. Of course, the Sixers are still awful, and that means their offense must be especially bad to offset an above-average defense. Sure enough, they’re tracking for the worst offense (in terms of offensive rating relative to league average) in the history of major professional basketball. read more

Mens basketball Amid another rough season Mattas job seems safe

OSU coach Thad Matta speaks to the Buckeyes during a timeout in OSU’s exhibition match-up against Walsh on Nov. 6. The Buckeyes won 85-67. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorThe Ohio State men’s basketball team escaped Wednesday night with a win against Rutgers, but not without some scary moments for Thad Matta’s team. The Buckeyes had to fight to the bitter end, barely scraping by a team that had just earned its first road conference win in 24 games.Follow that up with a loss to No. 21 Maryland away from home — which was less shocking — and OSU once again looks to be on a downtrend. The Buckeyes still lack a prolific scorer, and have been unable to find any cohesiveness 25 games into the season. This isn’t the first time he has struggled to find a way to win.“I was 10–9 at Xavier, and four weeks later, we were playing in the Elite Eight to go to the Final Four (in 2003),” Matta said earlier this season. “Just keep fighting, man. Just keep fighting.”Last season, the Scarlet and Gray were scrutinized for performing well below expectations, but were expected to be at least marginally better this season. OSU has just five games remaining in the regular season to try to finish above .500 in the conference and overall.And with teams like Wisconsin and Michigan State remaining, the odds of that happening are about as likely as Matta not chewing gum on the sideline. With the daunting task of trying to revive a team with little to fight for, the job security of the long-time OSU coach could come into question.Matta, who now has a career record of 437-150 after the win against Rutgers and loss to Maryland, is the winningest coach in OSU history. With 335 wins under his belt at the helm of the Buckeyes, it seems strange to think his job could be in jeopardy.Matta has missed the Big Ten Championship game in three consecutive years, and is in real jeopardy of missing it for a fourth time, barring any shocking upsets. With four seasons of less-than-stellar play, Matta’s time at the helm could be coming to an end.On the other side of the argument, Matta is in his 13th season with the Buckeyes, and has never posted a losing season in his career. Never in his entire head coaching career has he missed the 20-win mark.Although OSU looks like it will miss out on at least 20 wins, unless the team has a solid National Invitational Tournament run. Well, if they make it there, that is.Matta has made it to at least the NIT every year with the Buckeyes, except for his first year at the helm. Four conference titles and four Sweet 16 appearances, paired with a solid incoming recruiting class, might just be enough to keep Matta around. OSU currently has commitments from center Kaleb Wesson — brother of OSU freshman forward Andre Wesson — and point guard Braxton Beverly. Both players are listed as four-stars according to ESPN.In 2018, there is even more reason to celebrate, as OSU is set to haul in a pair of forwards in Darius Bazley and Justin Ahrens, and a solid shooting guard in Dane Goodwin. Matta’s incoming players could potentially bring him some success again, but only time will tell.Regardless of where fans stand on Matta, they should remember how many wins he has brought the program, and the not-so-long-ago past appearances in the NCAA tournament. That, paired with some praise from Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, should give him at least one more chance.“I shouldn’t say this, but hell, I’m happy for him,” Izzo said in January. “From the standpoint of the way people treat him around here, I’m happy for him. He’s won a lot of games here … He doesn’t have to answer to anybody and he probably doesn’t need my support, but I’ll probably need his.” read more

University groups advocate for Ohio State against ESPN suit

Several university groups came to the aid of Ohio State on Wednesday in its case against ESPN Inc., in an ongoing dispute over public records. The Association of Public Land-Grant Universities, the Association of American Universities and the American Council on Education, all provided briefs to the supreme court in defense of OSU. The files in question involve several aspects of the NCAA’s investigation of the university, which led to the forced-resignation of former head coach Jim Tressel. In the suit, ESPN said OSU wrongfully cited the Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act as a reason for withholding various documents. The university groups argued that OSU did nothing wrong. “Ohio State University has properly and necessarily protected confidential student information in compliance with the mandatory provisions of FERPA,” the statement said. In addition to complying with FERPA regulations, both OSU and the university groups argued that OSU acted legally in their response to several open records requests. OSU, in its response, wrote that “Ohio State University has not only met its Public Records Act obligations here, it has exceeded them.” OSU said it has provided every record, as required by law, and even created new records to fulfill some of ESPN’s requests. John Greiner, an attorney for ESPN, sent a letter to OSU on Sept. 16. “With respect to the FERPA defense, we simply disagree, and I believe we will need to have the Supreme Court sort this out,” Greiner wrote. ESPN stated in the lawsuit that producers at the sporting news network had made public records requests for all emails sent or received by President E. Gordon Gee, athletic director Gene Smith, compliance officer Doug Archie and Tressel, that included the keyword “Sarniak.” Ted Sarniak is a businessman in Jeanette, Pa., closely associated with former OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor. It was widely noted that Sarniak was a mentor to Pryor during both his time at OSU and in his recruitment process. OSU’s media relations department cited FERPA as the reason for not initially supplying the records to ESPN. On Aug. 12, a month after the lawsuit was filed, OSU supplied a heavily redacted file of emails and compliance forms to ESPN and other members of the media. Also included in the university’s response to ESPN was a letter containing an explanation of the release of the records, and the university’s interpretation of the misunderstanding. “Consistent with our long working relationship and many telephone conversations, we viewed the process of responding to several of those requests as ongoing,” the letter stated. “The university was unaware that ESPN thought otherwise.” The university said through its letter that the withholding of records was not a malicious effort to block the records from ESPN, but a miscommunication of the clarity of the public record requests. In July, Jim Lynch, spokesman for the university, told The Lantern that normally they do not comment on pending litigation, but due to the circumstances they released a statement. “The university believes that it has adhered to all applicable state and federal laws,” Lynch said in the email. “The university has been inundated with public records requests stemming from its ongoing NCAA investigation and the university. These include voluminous requests from ESPN, which in turn has received a voluminous amount of information.” In an email to The Lantern in July, Lynch said the department actively works with media organizations to help fulfill requests. “While the university often receives media requests that are overly broad, given Ohio’s public record laws, we generally try to work with reporters to help them find the information they are seeking,” Lynch said in the July email. “Working within the boundaries of the applicable laws.” An attorney for ESPN has declined comment on several occasions saying “ESPN does not comment on pending litigation.” read more

Mens Basketball Ohio State braces for change of expectations following Michigan State

Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann calls out to the Buckeyes in the second half in the game against Michigan State on Jan. 7 in Value City Arena. Ohio State won 80-64. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorPreseason expectations for Ohio State’s men’s basketball team were about as low as they’ve ever been for the program. The Buckeyes missed not only the NCAA Tournament, but the NIT last season. Even with the change at head coach from Thad Matta to Chris Holtmann and the addition of three new recruits, Ohio State was not counted on as a contender in the Big Ten.That narrative is gone.After Ohio State beat No. 1 Michigan State 80-64 Sunday, the questions turned to the postseason. Will Ohio State contend in the Big Ten tournament? Not only will it make the tournament, but what seed will it be when it gets there?But Holtmann said after the game he will not look further ahead than Thursday. There will be no talk of postseason play in the locker room. Ohio State beat high-caliber opponents in recent seasons before and struggled shortly thereafter. It beat Michigan State at home last season and lost eight of its next 14 games to end the year.“We could go in the tank here the next couple weeks. We certainly don’t want this moment to define us,” Holtmann said Sunday. “And we don’t want it to be the pinnacle of the season, as good as it is.”The grounds for pessimistic preseason predictions were warranted. Ohio State finished last season with a 17-15 record (7-11 in the Big Ten), its worst record since a 14-16 showing during the 2003-04 campaign — the year before Matta was hired. There was no reason to believe Ohio State would be a Big Ten title contender.“I think you only have to open a college basketball preseason magazine and read where we’re picked: 12, 13, 14, 11. It’s all over, but it’s near the bottom,” Holtmann told The Lantern Oct. 25.“We’re not discarding this year as kind of a throw-away year in any way. We are pouring ourselves into this team and this year, and hope that it will pay dividends.”This team is not last season’s Ohio State squad. At this point last season, the Buckeyes had an 11-7 record, were 1-4 in the Big Ten and had embarrassing losses to Florida Atlantic and Illinois. This recent win for Ohio State is not necessarily a fluke. Though it did not win games against its previous three ranked opponents, it had not been upset by a heavy underdog and it was already 3-0 in the conference with wins against Michigan and Wisconsin. Just as Matta turned that 2003-04 team around into a 20-12 record the next season in his first season of coaching, Holtmann is at the forefront of an unscheduled turnaround for the Buckeyes. “I’m surprised. Coaches get surprised. I got surprised,” Holtmann said Sunday, referring to the speed of the turnaround his team appears to be taking.Ohio State received the 29th-most points in the most recent Associated Press poll and is listed as the 33rd-best team in the nation by Ken Pomeroy, who projects the team will finish the year with a 22-9 record and 13-5 Big Ten record. Bates-Diop is now appearing to be a favorite for Big Ten Player of the Year and is in Pomeroy’s list of the top 10 best players in the nation. The Buckeyes have only beat one team considered to be in the upper echelon of college basketball, and they are still not going to be viewed as a national title contender. But winning the conference is no longer out of the question, and neither is making the NCAA Tournament. The script might not be entirely flipped on this Buckeye team, but no one is going to sleep on them anymore. Other teams will take notice, starting with Maryland at 7 p.m. Thursday.Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said the Buckeyes need to be prepared. Speaking as someone at the helm of one of the top teams in the nation, he knows what comes with the low number next to his team’s name.“This is what’s going to happen every night. It’ll happen to Ohio State. When you’re 15-2, 14-3, you know, 15-3, [the Buckeyes will] get ranked, and deservingly should be,” Izzo said Sunday. “You got to handle things a little differently because you’re going to get somebody else’s best shot.” read more