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Ty Russell / OU Athletics

Patty Gasso has spent her last 24 years in the dugout, coaching Oklahoma’s softball team to 12 Women’s College World Series appearances.

But she’s an anomaly in the Big 12 Conference: one of only three women heading a softball team. Among the Power 5 conferences (Big 12, SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12), the Big 12 is the only one to have more men running softball teams than women.

Phil Roeder / Wikimedia Commons

The underground economy of amateur college sports — where agents, boosters, and other deal-makers pay to play — has long been an open secret, to coaches, student-athletes and even fans. But now that someone — specifically, the Justice Department — is making a federal case of it, could a real cleanup be on the way? Commentator Victor Wishna explains in this month’s edition of “A Fan’s Notes.”

Shane Adams / Flcikr - CC

Segment 1: Adidas and KU have been implicated in an FBI investigation of collegiate basketball.

Ian Echlin

In December, Kansas Jayhawks coach Bill Self did not have reassuring words about the men’s basketball team.

“This is the softest team that Kansas has had since I’ve been here,” Self said.

Those remarks came after the Jayhawks suffered a home loss to Arizona State on Dec. 10. Just four days earlier, Kansas lost to Washington in front of a friendly crowd at the Sprint Center.

KU’s play, even in some wins this season, left Self frustrated. 

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

As they advanced over the first two weekends of the NCAA tournament to reach the Final Four, the University of Kansas Jayhawks played inside arenas relatively close to Lawrence, which gave them some friendly crowds.

But at the Alamodome in a dome in San Antonio, it’ll take more of an effort to win over Texans in the crowd who aren't dressed in Villanova, Michigan or Loyola colors.

Jeff and Laura Jacobsen / Kansas Athletics

Coming out of the weekend, lots of fans in Lawrence and Manhattan were thrilled as their basketball teams advanced in the NCAA tournament.

But that also means some coaches are putting extra money in their pockets.

Most big time college coaches have lucrative bonuses in their contracts.

Kansas State University's Bruce Weber has already done very well.

He has earned an additional $344,000 dollars for making the Sweet 16, according to his contract.

Weber’s contract calls for a 16 percent bonus on top of his $2.15 million salary.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Prairie Village's mezzo-soprano presents music of Berlioz and Bernstein  with Kansas City Symphony.

Joyce DiDonato has performed on famed stages from Beijing to Barcelona. Today, we sat down with the Prairie Village native to talk about bringing her "In War & Peace" tour to Moscow, working with prisoners at Sing Sing Correctional Facility and her upcoming performance series at Kauffman Center.

MU Athletics

For the first time in 17 years, the Missouri Tigers are playing in the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Check out the rosters, and you’ll find one surname listed five times: Porter.

There are the brothers likely bound for the NBA, Michael Porter Jr. and Jontay; sisters Cierra Porter, a junior forward, and graduate assistant Bri Porter; and the patriarch, Michael Porter Sr., an assistant coach for the men’s team.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Updated at 7 p.m. March 9 with updated travel details — Kansas men’s basketball team is just down the road from home this week for the Big 12 conference in Kansas City. Mizzou only had to go to St. Louis.

UMKC, on the other hand, traveled more than 1,300 miles to Las Vegas for the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) tournament. The WAC is a far-flung conference: UMKC’s closest competitor is Chicago State. Otherwise, they’re going to places like Seattle and Bakersfield, California, and paying for the travel.

The White House

Segment 1: How the U.S. presidents stack up against each other.  

With a membership of just 45, it's an elite club. But how does this selective group of Americans compare to each other? C-Span's 2017 Presidential Historians Survey tackled that subject for us, and one of the survey's experts told us why our former commanders-in-chief rank where they do. 

MU Athletics

Mizzou’s Michael Porter Jr. is the type of player coaches build a team around, and many wanted to. Even Kansas.

“The things that people say about him being a potential top-3 pick or the No. 1 pick, totally accurate,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said last fall about Porter likely landing in the NBA. “I’d be shocked if he’s not. I think he’s every bit as good as advertised.”

Greg Echlin / KCUR

The four-lane road that connects Manhattan, Kansas, and Interstate 70 is wider and busier now than it was when Bill Snyder took over as Kansas State’s football coach in 1989. So much so that it’s named after Snyder, who has more than 200 wins at K-State, making him only the sixth person to do that with one football program.

Snyder is 78, the oldest coach in the top division of college football. And while his 26th season with the team ended Tuesday on a high note with a 35-17 win over UCLA in the Cactus Bowl, he says he isn’t sure whether he’ll return next season. And that uncertainty makes K-State fans apprehensive.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

Updated Dec. 1 with score of semifinal, date of title game — The undefeated Central Missouri Jennies women’s soccer team is hoping to earn its first NCAA Division II national championship.

But this season, which continues Saturday with the title game matchup against Carson-Newman, wasn’t without challenges: The team has been affected by an increasing national trend from high school athletics to the pros — concussions.

Al Chang / StanfordPhoto.com

This year’s NCAA women’s volleyball final four will be held at Sprint Center next month, and players with Kansas City roots are hoping for a homecoming.

Five volleyball players from Kansas City-area high schools are hoping to repeat last year’s success in the tournament. Their teams—Stanford, Minnesota and Texas—made it to the final four in 2016.

Falco Ermert / Flickr - CC

There was a time when the phrase "armchair quarterback" was a put-down, but the armchair may be exactly where a new breed of competitor will be making a living or earning a scholarship. Victor Wishna explains in this month's 'A Fan's Notes.'

It’s amazing, and silly, how some ’80s movies managed to predict the 21st century.

Yassie / Wikimedia Commons

As Mun Choi approaches six months on the job as president of the University of Missouri System, the challenges keep coming.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' state budget for fiscal year 2017 included a $37 million cut to the university system and the potential for $57 million more in permanent cuts in 2018.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Jacie Hoyt grew up in the basketball gym.

She watched her mother, Shelly Hoyt, build a program, emphasizing the importance of passion and work ethic. Only then came Hoxie High School's 107-game winning streak and four straight state championships. 

"Sometimes people get caught up in the big plays and the big moments and the state championships, but what I watched her do was start the foundation of that long before it came to fruition with the state titles," Hoyt says.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Jacie Hoyt is making waves in the coaching world. At just 29, she's one of the nation's youngest Division I head coaches. Today, she talks about her playing days, coaching influences and vision for UMKC women's basketball.

Zach Bland

Independence, Missouri, native Paige Parker, a pitcher for the Oklahoma Sooners, is again competing in the Women’s College World Series. Last year, she was named the Most Outstanding Player in last year’s Women’s World College World Series.

Parker, a junior, is making a name for herself beyond Oklahoma.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

When their spring adjournment ends, Kansas state lawmakers will look to resolve a $1 billion budget gap, adopt a school funding plan, modify taxes, and maybe even vote on Medicaid expansion — again.

Todd Weddle / Northwest Missouri State University

Northwest Missouri State junior Justin Pitts was named the NCAA Division II Player of the Year this week by Basketball Times magazine. He’s a 5-foot-9-inch point guard from Blue Springs South High School.

UMKC

This story has been updated to reflect some comments made by UMKC officials.

The 92-82 win Wednesday night by the UMKC men's basketball team over Green Bay was its first post-season appearance and victory in the 30 years the Kangaroos have played in Division I.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

The Big 12 men’s basketball tournament begins Wednesday downtown at the Sprint Center. Top-seeded Kansas doesn’t play until Thursday in the quarterfinals, but KU has already put itself in elite company winning its 13th consecutive regular season Big 12 title. That ties the Jayhawks with UCLA.

KU faced challenges on the court, but even more trouble off the court en route to this year’s title.

Miguel Vieira / Flickr - CC

During the 20th year of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, outside of Strong City, Kansas, a new documentary explores how the park was created and is sustained. Then, we learn about the life of Forrest "Phog" Allen, who amassed 590 wins in 39 seasons coaching the KU men's basketball team.

Ian Echlin

The Northwest Missouri State football team won its second straight NCAA Division II championship on Saturday, but the shine from that trophy wore off when the university announced just a few hours later that football coach Adam Dorrel was leaving. He accepted an offer to coach at Abilene Christian University in Texas.

Richard Wright, the newly-named coach, has hardly had time to think about the big shoes he’ll fill. In six years, Adam Dorrel took the Bearcats football team to a level the university had never seen before.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

The City Council is considering an $800 million bond that may improve Kansas City, Missouri, infrastructure. Today, Mayor Sly James discusses that proposal, and the city's increasing murder rate. Then, we speak with Todd Graves, Governor-elect Eric Greitens' pick to lead Missouri's Republican Party.

Dale Grosbach

The Baker University football team will try to accomplish something no other athletics team at the school in Baldwin City, Kansas has pulled off—winning a national championship. The Wildcats (14-0) will play Saint Francis (12-1) of Fort Wayne, Indiana, for the NAIA title Saturday in Daytona Beach, Florida.

In the highly competitive world of football recruiting, the approach at a small school like Baker is different.

www.famousidahopotatobowl.com

As you’re out doing your holiday shopping this month, you certainly don’t want to forget your favorite sports fans — a team hat, a scarf, a jersey, maybe even some season tickets. Yet as commentator Victor Wishna details in this edition of 'A Fan’s Notes,' his own wish list is a little longer than that.

Well, it’s that time of year again. By which I mean, the time of year when there isn’t much time left in the year. It’s a time when everyone, it seems, is making lists — best-ofs, in-memoriams, resolutions — and, you know, checking them twice.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Before Allen Stallings started work in a NASCAR pit crew he was a linebacker for Greensboro College in North Carolina. The transition from the playing field to the race track is becoming more common. In fact, NASCAR is recruiting former college athletes for these high pressure jobs.

Stallings and the other race teams on the NASCAR circuit stopped at the Kansas Speedway over the weekend for the Hollywood Casino 400.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The NCAA has put off its December announcement on future championship sites to give itself the chance to monitor what happens in state legislatures this fall.

When the Missouri legislature re-convenes, it’s possible that a so-called "religious freedom" bill may pop up again on the agenda. That concerns Kansas City Sports Commission Executive Director Kathy Nelson. Especially since the sports commission submitted a record of 55 bids to the NCAA to host championships.

“For us, we have 55 have chances to get shot down if someone decides to vote for this,” said Nelson.

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