College Corner: Liza Corso, MTSU Football & Bonnaroo, Hall Of Fame Tip-Off Tournament

Lipscomb Freshman Liza Corso Wins Silver At Tokyo Paralympics 

Liz Corso. Photo: Courtesy of Lipscomb Athletics

Lipscomb track & field runner Liza Corso took home the Silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics in the 1500m T13 on Saturday (Aug. 28). Corso finished with a personal best time of 4:30.67 to claim the medal.

Corso, a graduate of Portsmouth Christian Academy in Dover, New Hampshire, is the first Lipscomb student-athlete to compete and/or win a medal in the Paralympic Games. The 18-year-old is legally blind and has been running and participating in team sports since she was a young girl.

Corso will come back to Nashville with her Silver medal and is set to compete with the Bisons Track & Field and Cross Country programs this fall.



MTSU Football Offers Free Entry To Season Opener For Bonnaroo Ticket Holders 

MTSU is giving Bonnaroo ticket holders free entry into Saturday’s football opener between the Blue Raiders and Monmouth University on Sept. 4. The Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival was cancelled on Tuesday (Aug. 31) due to campground conditions from rain caused by Hurricane Ida.

“Our athletic department hurts for our friends in the Middle Tennessee community because of this setback,” says Director of Athletics Chris Massaro. “MTSU has a long history of the university and its alumni supporting Bonnaroo every year, both as guests and in its operation, and we hope that this offer to come to our campus and enjoy some Blue Raider football this Saturday can help those affected make the best out of an unfortunate circumstance.”

Ticket holders can show their Bonnaroo tickets at box offices located at Gates 1, 3 and 4 the day of the game to receive reserved seat tickets, while supplies last. Fans can enjoy many of the game day amenities around Floyd Stadium, including tailgating in the Grove, the Family Fun Zone, and the Blue Raider Beer Garden.



Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tickets On Sale September 10

Tickets for the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament will go on sale to the general public Friday, Sept. 10. The tournament will feature four teams, including the University of Tennessee.

The Volunteers will face Big East powerhouse Villanova while the University of North Carolina takes on Purdue in Connecticut from Nov. 20-21.

The Vols’ opening game against Villanova tips off at 12 p.m. CT on Saturday, Nov. 20 and will be televised on ESPN News. Also on Saturday, Purdue is slated to face North Carolina at 3 p.m. CT.

Pending the outcome of those two games, Tennessee will be matched up with Purdue or North Carolina on Sunday, Nov. 21 in either the championship game, televised on ABC at 12 p.m. CT, or the consolation game at 2:30 p.m. CT on ESPN.

Belmont Partners With INFLCR To Help Student-Athletes In NIL Era

Belmont University has announced a multi-year partnership with content platform company INFLCR to help its student-athletes prepare and transition into the Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) era. Belmont’s men’s and women’s basketball programs will leverage INFLCR’s content delivery platform and mobile app to help grow Bruin student-athlete brands. The partnership allows for additional Bruin teams to be added in the future.

“We are excited to announce our partnership with INFLCR to support Belmont student-athletes and celebrate team successes,” says new Belmont Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Corley. “INFLCR will strengthen our ability to tell the Belmont story, providing tools and educational resources in the Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) landscape, streamlining the process for student-athletes to engage in compelling social media content.”

Belmont is the latest institution to partner with INFLCR to seamlessly share digital media with its athletes through the INFLCR app. The Bruins join over 100 colleges and universities that are using INFLCR’s technology to power messaging, student-athlete brand-building and NIL education.

“We’re thrilled to launch partnerships with the men’s and women’s basketball programs at Belmont,” says INFLCR founder and CEO Jim Cavale. “Through internal creative teams and national media, Bruin athletes will have access to vast amounts of digital content that they can easily share across their social feeds from their INFLCR app.”

INFLCR allows athletes and brand ambassadors better access to their content galleries through the INFLCR mobile app and can then share the content to their personal social media accounts. After the fact, schools are able to measure the increased audience engagement coming from the much-larger collective audience of those athletes and brand ambassadors.

Belmont Athletics Partners With Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant

Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant has partnered with Belmont Athletics, becoming the official barbecue of the Belmont Bruins. Central to the partnership are several new initiatives that will enhance the ticket package offerings for Belmont fans this season as well as give fans an opportunity to enjoy their favorite Puckett’s classics.

In addition to the official barbecue designation, Puckett’s will have use of official marks and logos and receive brand visibility via Belmont Athletics in-venue signage, broadcast media rights as well as digital and social channels.

“We’re excited for the opportunity to be the Official Barbecue of the Belmont Bruins and align our brands as two Nashville community staples,” Andy Marshall, CEO and Owner of A. Marshall Hospitality says. “We are excited to provide several new ticket enhancements for Belmont fans to enjoy a game at Curb Event Center and look forward to seeing Belmont fans in all of our area locations after a big win!”

The partnership will offer fans the “Puckett’s Flex Pack,” giving fans flexibility to attend Belmont basketball games around a busy schedule, and is available to be purchased as a 10 or 20 game pack of ticket vouchers that can be used throughout the season. New this season, each purchase of a 10 or 20 game Puckett’s Flex Pack includes a $10 Puckett’s gift card.

Additionally, Puckett’s is the proud sponsor of the Military Appreciation Ticket Program. Thanks to Puckett’s and Belmont Athletics, all active and retired military personnel will receive free single game admission to any Belmont home game in the 2021-22 season with a valid military photo ID.

Vanderbilt Men’s & Women’s Basketball Season Tickets Available Now

Memorial Gym. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Season tickets are now available for the 2021-22 Vanderbilt men’s and women’s basketball seasons. Season ticket holders receive discounts at as well as the first chance at mini plans and single-game tickets before they go on sale to the general public.

Since a portion of each season ticket purchase will include a gift to the National Commodore Club, every season ticket holder will be recognized as a valued NCC member. Women’s season tickets start at $50, and Mr. C’s Kids Club members will receive free admission to women’s basketball games. Men’s season tickets start at $200. Tickets can be paid for in full or spread out with monthly payments. Season-long parking passes are also available for purchase.

The Vanderbilt men welcome back leading scorer and All-SEC first-team selection Scotty Pippen Jr. as the Vanderbilt women are set to begin their first season under the direction of new head coach Shea Ralph. Full 2021-22 schedules for both teams will be announced at a later date.

Capacity at Memorial Gym is expected to be 100 percent, but COVID-19 protocols and capacity limitations are subject to change depending on guidance from public health experts. Further details will be provided closer to the start of the season

Belmont Adds John Freeman As New Lead Broadcaster For Men’s Basketball

Belmont Athletic Department has added John Freeman as the lead broadcaster for the university’s men’s basketball team. Freeman currently serves as the radio play-by-play voice of Nashville SC and has been on the club’s mic since its inception in the United Soccer League (USL). He will continue to call NSC games along with the Bruins.

“John is regarded as one of the most versatile and hardest-working broadcasters in our industry,” says Assistant Athletic Director for Broadcasting and Media Relations Greg Sage. “His professionalism, depth of experience, and proven track record at the highest levels of sport will be tremendous assets for our program.”

Freeman’s basketball credits include serving as fill-in play-by-play broadcaster as well as studio host on the Virgina Sports Network. Most notably, he called University of Virginia men’s basketball during its 2019 National Championship campaign, including contests during March Madness. His decade-plus with the Virginia Sports Radio Network included work for Cavalier soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, wrestling, and softball. Freeman continues to serve as a lead broadcaster for several sports on ACC Network Extra, ESPN3, and ESPN+.

Freeman has also called VCU men’s and women’s basketball for RamRadio and RamTV, as well stints with the Atlantic 10 Conference, Tennessee State University, Lipscomb University, Randolph Macon University (VA), and Eastern Mennonite University (VA). He’s been honored four times by the Associated Press for Best Sports Coverage in the State of Virginia. Freeman was also named top sports broadcaster by the Charlottesville Daily Progress.

Freeman will replace longtime Bruin basketball play-by-play voice Kevin Ingram who left Belmont last season when he received the opportunity to call games for Vanderbilt University. Nashville sports talk show host George Plaster took over in an interim role for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.

Belmont Men’s Basketball To Play Drake In 2021 ESPN Events Invitational

Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics.

Belmont is set to take on mid-major powerhouse Drake in the first round of the 2021 ESPN Events Invitational on Nov. 25 at either 6 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. CST on ESPN2 or ESPNU.

On one side of the bracket, Belmont will face Drake with the winner heading to the semifinal round to play the winner of Alabama-Iona. On the other side of the bracket are Kansas, North Texas, Dayton and Miami (FL) who are all strong teams with recent success. Kansas went 21-9 last season and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, losing to eventual Elite Eight team USC.

The teams in the tournament had a combined record of 153-68 (.692) last season, with three of the top seven winningest teams in the nation, four conference champions, and five teams earning NCAA Tournament berths. Last season, Belmont went 26-4, which included 21 consecutive victories, 30 consecutive conference victories (over two seasons, including tournament), national Top 25 poll votes eight consecutive weeks, and the program’s 12th regular season conference championship in 16 years.

The ESPN Events Invitational will take place Nov. 25-28 from HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Kissimmee, Florida. All games will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks.

MTSU Men’s Basketball Receives Invite To Cancun Challenge

The Middle Tennessee State University men’s basketball team has accepted an invitation to the Cancun Challenge in November at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya. Eight teams will participate in this tournament and will be split into two separate divisions – the Mayan and the Riviera – with four teams each.

MTSU will be in the Mayan Division alongside Bucknell, Mercer, and Rider, while the Riviera Division features Buffalo, Illinois State, Saint Louis, and Stephen F. Austin.

“We’re really excited about the opportunity to compete in the Cancun Challenge,” says Head Coach Nick McDevitt. “The bracket for this year’s event boasts some strong competition and we expect it to be a great experience for our players and Blue Raider fans.”

The event opens in the U.S. with four cross-divisional games hosted by the teams in the Riviera Division. The Blue Raiders will open in Nacogdoches, Texas at Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 19 before traveling to the Yucatan Peninsula for the remainder of the event. MTSU will then move into bracket play within the Mayan Division as they face Rider on Nov. 23 and either Bucknell or Mercer on Nov. 24.

The Blue Raiders’ two contests in Cancun will be played at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya, where teams and their fans are within walking distance from their rooms to the games as well as restaurants and the poolside. Both games will be broadcast by FloHoops.

MTSU had a rough season in 2020 as they went 5-18 overall and 3-13 in the conference.

College Corner: Rick Byrd, Vanderbilt Basketball Olympics, MTSU Basketball Schedule

Rick Byrd To Be Inducted Into Atlantic Sun Conference Hall of Fame

Rick Byrd. Photo: By Bronte Lebo/Courtesy of the Belmont Vision

Former Belmont Coach Rick Byrd will be inducted into the Atlantic Sun Conference Hall of Fame later this year. This is Byrd’s latest addition to his impressive list of inductions, including the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, NAIA Hall of Fame, and the Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame. He will also be formally enshrined into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame this November in Kansas City.

Byrd retired from Belmont in 2019 after 25 years of coaching, taking Belmont from NAIA to NCAA Division I and winning 805 career games, ranking him 12th all-time among NCAA DI coaches. He led the Bruins to eight NCAA Tournament appearances and won 17 conference championships. Two players from his program, Ian Clark and Dylan Windler, also went on to reach the NBA.

Byrd will inducted into the Class of 2021 alongside current Miami Marlin pitcher Richard Bleier from Florida Gulf Coast University, former basketball player Ben Smith from Jacksonville State, volleyball star Stefine Pease from Lipscomb, and two-time National League Cy Young award winner Jacob deGrom from Stetson University.



Former Vanderbilt Basketball Stars Darius Garland, John Jenkins Invited To USA Olympic Team

Darius Garland. Photo: Courtesy fo Vanderbilt Athletics

Former Vanderbilt basketball stars Darius Garland and John Jenkins have been invited to join the USA Men’s Basketball team for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. Miami Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra will serve as head coach of the USA Select Team.

Jenkins, who twice led the SEC in scoring and set an SEC record with 134 made threes as a junior, was drafted with the 23rd overall pick in 2013. A member of Bilbao Basket in Italy, Jenkins played for Team USA during the November 2019 World Cup Qualifying window and the November 2020 AmeriCup Qualifying window, helping Team USA to a combined 4-0 record.

A native of Nashville and the fifth overall selection in the 2019 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Garland recently completed his second season with the team. In 54 games last season, he averaged 17.4 points, 4.9 assists, and 1.0 steals per game while shooting 45% from the field and 40% from 3-point range.

“This USA Select Team continues the legacy established by previous Select teams of helping prepare our USA National Team for the Tokyo Olympic Games,” says Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball Men’s National Team managing director. “With all the uncertainty of how many of our Olympic Team members will be available for the USA training camp because of the overlap with the NBA Finals, we chose a USA Select Team consisting of many of the top young NBA players and four players who not only own international experience, but who played recently for USA Basketball in important national team qualifying competitions. If we need to add players to fill out our roster for any of our exhibition games, we feel this USA Select Team has an excellent variety of skilled players to choose from.”

Additional members of Team USA include Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Draymond Green, Jayson Tatum and James Harden among several other NBA All-Stars.



MTSU Men’s Basketball Team Announces 2021-22 Conference Schedule 

Photo: by Carina Eudy/Courtesy of Belmont Vision

The MTSU men’s basketball team has released its schedule for the 2021-22 season with the new and updated Conference-USA formatting.

The difference from past C-USA schedules prior to the 2020-21 season (which was changed drastically due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols) is the divide into East and West divisions. This new format will see each team play their divisional opponents at home and away while facing only six of their seven cross-divisional foes, three at home and three on the road.

MTSU opens the conference slate on Dec. 30 when it hosts UTSA in Murphy Center before welcoming UTEP to town on New Year’s Day. The 2021-22 Conference USA Championships will be played on March 9-12 and will return for the fifth consecutive year to the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.

Here is the full conference schedule for the Blue Raiders: