I'll have a postgame blog on the men's team's win later tonight. Got a party to attend after I file my game story.
Among the fuss surrounding Saturday afternoon's home men's basketball game against Florida Gulf Coast will be the retiring of jersey No. 22.
No, not Elvis Lopez nor Keith Greer. Senior guard Jerica Coley, the shining light of the women's basketball program and, right now, the athletic department, will get the honor at halftime of Saturday's game. Coley's putting up 26.0 points per game this season for team she's had to carry all the more because of the ineligibility of center Marita Davydova.
Be one of the first 300 students into the arena and get a blue basketball tank top. And there will be a Greek Row Tailgate outside the student gate from 1:30-3:30. The first 10 organizations to e-mail Maegan Azpiazu at email@example.com get to pound their food there.
Not everything we write makes it to print or online. An editing decision made on today's FIU football story cut an important part.
I tried to talk to FIU athletic director Pete Garcia Wednesday. My opinion was he was the one who pulled the trigger on Mario Cristobal's firing, he should be the one to give his point of view on where things stand with the football prgram a year later. Whether you agree with the firing of not, this wasn't a normal sacking with an easy, by-every-number explanation, but one that still has some people around the country shaking their heads. This is one that's going to be revisited.
I requested to speak with Garcia at 12:16 p.m. At 5:55 p.m., an FIU athletic department spokesman got back to me that Garcia preferred not to comment for this story. I wrote that at the close of the story. That line was removed in the editing.
Greetings from Camp Mitch, where December 5 must be on the calendar as Firing Day.
A year less a day after a much larger sacking in the football program, FIU has fired linebackers coach Tom Williams.
Don't expect to see 6-3 center Marita Davydova on the court this season. Word out of Camp Mitch is last year's Third Team All-Sun Belt center is ineligible this year after a Compliance screw up, but should be able to come back next season. If she was also ineligible last year, FIU could face school fines or forfeits.
Sophomore Aleksandra Trifunovic shares November's Conference USA Player of the Month Award with Tulsa senior Samantha Vickers.
Trifunovic went 3-0 in November without losing a set.
Call it Lime Court if you want. Getting drubbed 77-59 at The Branch seems more like a lemon of a performance by the men's basketball team.
Especially getting drubbed by Division II Nova Southeastern. The Sharks didn't even have a win against a Division I team in their history! They've had radio in their recent past (something certain Division I teams in South Florida can't say), but not a win against a Division I team.
That can't help the crowd for Saturday's game against Florida Gulf Coast.
Moving right along...
Jake Medlock's response to my direct questions about him transferring is on the blog posted after FIU's loss to FAU in the season finale. He says he's not transferring and has never considered it.
Based on what different sources have told me, IF Medlock were to transfer for his senior year, THEN Valdosta State would be a likely destination.
FIU head coach Anthony Evans said the team hadn't heard anything about fifth-year senior point guard Raymond Taylor's eligibility. The last few games, they've forged ahead with freshman Jason Boswell at point guard.
Boswell, 6-6, stands a foot taller than Taylor, which can help defensively, although Taylor's quicker. Once he gains Taylor's vision, it'll add to his play quickness, which Taylor uses to get into the paint and to the line.
"I didn't come in with any expectations," Boswell said. "I came in ready to work hard. Right now, I've got to work extra hard because I'm the starting point guard."
Evans said, "I think he had a tremendous amount of respect for Ray. Coming into this, he was trying to learn how to become a Division I point guard. Now, he has to grow up a little quicker than he wanted to. But I think he's doing a good job."
In Boswell's three games starting in place of Taylor, he's gone nine of 13 from the field, including five of six Saturday night against Georgia State; three of four from three-point range; six of six from the line, all against Bethune-Cookman; six assists, eight turnovers, a 3/4 assist to turnover ratio; and averaged 9.0 points per game. By comparison, Taylor's last three games saw him go 11 of 29 from the field; two of eight from three; nine of 14 from the line; 22 assists, six turnovers, an 11/3 assist-to-turnover ratio; and averaged 11.0 points per game.
Limited single-game tickets for the Dec. 21 men's basketball home game against defending national champion Louisville will go on sale -- at a jacked up price, of course -- Monday at 9 a.m. via http://www.FIUSports.com or calling 305-FIU-GAME.
Courtside seats that usually go for $100 will be $150. The usually $10 lower bowl reserved seats will be $30. The usually $5 (when it's open) upper level festival seating will be $20. Give the school credit for trying to milk all they can out of the one home game with any appeal beyond the schools involved or hardcore hoops geeks.
Before you start to put Florida Gulf Coast in that category, consider college basketball's status in this town. FIU's selling general admission tickets to The Branch's version of Uptown for that one, too, just in case.
SWIMMING & DIVING
The fifth-place team performance at the Mizzou Invite last week got FIU up to fifth in the mid-major rankings by CollegeSwimming.com and 39th in the nation overall, both program highs. Rice and East Carolina rank higher among Conference USA schools.
If FIU ever shores up weaknesses in the sprints and diver depth and doesn't lose more swimmers to the burnout common in this sport, the pool Panthers will start to hurt some feelings.
It appears tight end Cory White will apply to the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility, arguing his 2011 redshirt sophomore season being wiped out by injury shouldn't count on his elibility clock.
Jake Medlock will start this week against FAU. It could be his last start at FIU. Word around the campfire is Medlock will transfer after this season. Though Medlock and the offense against Louisiana Tech made an abandoned Packard plant look productive, I'm hearing there's something truly malodorous about E.J. Hilliard getting the start against East Carolina.
Those asking about this year's academic ineligibles...they can be officially redshirted and, if they become eligible again, play next season. If they don't become eligible, time to pay for school or enter the real world.
While the Naismith Award folks name Jerica Coley to their Early Season Watch List on the women's side, the FIU Compliance folks seem to have trouble figuring out whether or not the women's basketball team's second best player, Marita Davydova, is eligible to play.
Here's the statement I received from FIU's non-sports media relations:
"FIU's Athletics Compliance Office identified a potential question regarding women’s basketball student athlete Marita Davydova’s eligibility status. At the time, the University took the proactive step of withholding Marita from further intercollegiate competition until her eligibility status could be confirmed. Based on the information present at this time, it appears that Marita will be eligible to represent the university in intercollegiate basketball competition pending ultimate approval of the NCAA Student-Athlete Reinstatement staff. Given that the issue involves the eligibility status of a currently enrolled student-athlete, there are no further details that we can provide."
Hold on NCAA Reinstatement staff? To be reinstated, you have to be booted. And why should her eligiblity status be a question now? Shouldn't this have been cleared up long ago? She didn't just get here. She was a Third Team all-conference center last year.
Then again, why should the eligibility of a point guard who has been on your campus over a year and a half be an issue (Ray Taylor)? Either he is eligible or he isn't. And, if he isn't, why was he given a scholarship the last two years?
Sounds like Compliance needs to get into compliance with its job description.
Columbus linebacker Nick McBeath decommitted from FIU, he announced via Twitter Monday night. McBeath's got several other options and might head for a school with a stronger academic reputation (don't jump down my throat. For the many good things happening academically, let's not act like FIU's Stanford-by-the-Turnpike).
If fifth-year senior point guard Ray Taylor was found to be ineligible for this season -- he didn't play in Thursday's win over Bethune-Cookman, FIU's sixth in a row, after eligibility questions arose -- FIU might have to forfeit the four wins in which Taylor played.
Taylor declared for the 2012 NBA Draft in March 2012. He withdrew his name after the April 10, 2012 deadline for doing so and transferred to FIU later. Thus, the question.
From the 2011-12 NCAA Manual:
"In men’s basketball, an enrolled student-athlete may enter a professional league’s draft one time during his collegiate career without jeopardizing eligibility in that sport, provided:
(a) The student-athlete requests that his name be removed from the draft list and declares his intent
to resume intercollegiate participation not later than the end of the day before the first day of the
spring National Letter of Intent signing period for the applicable year. (April 10 in 2012 -- DJN)
(b) The student-athlete’s declaration of intent is submitted in writing to the institution’s director of
(c) The student-athlete is not drafted."
There's a Compliance Department that doesn't fall under athletics, but is listed among the athletic department's staff. The NCAA puts the responsibility of Compliance on a much bigger back. From this year's manual:
"The president or chancellor is responsible for approving the procedures for certifying the eligibility of an institution’s student-athletes under NCAA legislation. The president or chancellor may designate an individual on the institution’s staff to administer proper certification of eligibility. Certification of eligibility must occur prior to allowing a student-athlete to represent the institution in intercollegiate competition (see Bylaw 14.01.1). A violation of this bylaw in which the institution fails to certify a student-athlete’s eligibility prior to allowing him or her to represent the institution in intercollegiate competition shall be considered an institutional violation per Constitution 2.8.1; however, such a violation shall not affect the student-athlete’s eligibility, provided all the necessary information to certify the student-athlete’s eligibility was available to the institution and the student-athlete otherwise would have been eligible for competition."
A statement from FIU media relations -- not athletic department media relations -- e-mailed to me at 12:15 Friday said:
“Late Thursday afternoon, the University received information related to men's basketball student-athlete Raymond Taylor's eligibility status. As a result of the information presented, the University has elected to withhold Ray from intercollegiate competition until the impact, if any, this information has on his eligibility status can be determined. A review is being conducted and will conclude as quickly as possible. Given that the issue involves student-athlete eligibility, there is no further information that we can provide at this time."
I've asked and am waiting to hear about women's basketball 6-3 center Marita Davydova, the second most important player on the team coming into the season, who hasn't played yet, wasn't dressed at the home opener, was left behind on the last road trip and looks perfectly healthy. Translation: last year's Third Team All-Sun Belt center is probably ineligible, too, which would be a huge hit to the women's team.
Former Compliance director Val Sheley has been fired in the last month, although not over these two issues. The assistant director in charge of APR? To be determined.
So, there's no director of the Student-Athlete Academic Center since Dr. Phil Moses took a job in North Carolina months ago. He made $105,000 a year. And two major positions in Compliance sit open. Sheley made $102,000 a year. Neither of these fall directly under the athletic department, so that's not the department saving money. It is, however, the department looking bad.
Not a good look for a school whose two highest profile athletic programs, football and men's basketball, demonstrate serious academic and compliance problems.
If fifth-year senior point guard Ray Taylor was found to be ineligible for this season -- he didn't play in Thursday's win over Bethune-Cookman after eligibility questions arose -- FIU might have to forfeit the five wins in which Taylor played.
I guess Tymell Murphy's OK.
The senior forward came out of Monday night's win against Stetson looking a little hoppy and was a game-time decision. Murphy scored 24, including 13 of 14 from the line (why you practice free throws, folks) and came down with 11 rebounds in FIU's 82-67 win at Bethune-Cookman. The sixth win in a row for the men's basketball team included 17 points and 15 rebounds for senior forward Rakeem Buckles.
Now the Panthers take their winning streak to South Carolina, coached by Miami native Frank Martin (FIU '93). To see the basketball Cocks, the school's offering free food to students, a Gamecock towel giveaway and double Loyalty Points for attending the Sunday afternoon game. Huh...
The women's team has spent the last few days in the Boston metropolitan area. I hope they got a chance to soak up some history (Revolutionary War, War on Busing, etc.), enjoy some fall colors before the town goes totally gray and black, hang out with some of their chronological peers from the many local universities. I hope they did that because the basketball's been rough.
FIU's 0-4 after an 89-69 loss to Boston College Thursday. Senior guard Jerica Coley put up 28 shots, never a good sign for FIU. Coley went four of 10 from three-point range and 12 of 12 from the line in putting up 36 points. Redshirt freshman Brianna Wright actually scored FIU's first seven points. The Eagles landed right on FIU's head, jumping out 15-4 and leading 51-32 at the half.
Not everybody enjoys going to Cambridge.
FIU's women's basketball team lost 64-52 to Harvard after holding a 32-23 halftime lead. A 22-8 run over the first 10 minutes of the second half took the Panthers from 11 in the black to three in the red and a 10-0 Crimson run over 1:03 late in the game buried FIU.
Jerica Coley had a game-high 24 points on nine of 27 shooting from the field, but had six turnovers to go with her six assists. Taylor Shade went one for seven from the field in 30 minutes with no assists and two turnovers.
No hanging drummers Monday night at The Branch. The athletic department threw another postgame party, though, which helped pack the students into the lower portion of the arena for the win against Stetson.
Early in the game, FIU's movement without the ball on offense could be described as "statuesque" and not the way you'd use the word for fashion models. It was Taylor who eventually got things and people moving.
"In the beginning, I thought we were stagnant because they were playing a 3-2 matchup," FIU coach Anthony Evans said. "It was kind of a switching zone. We were stagnant because we didn't see the normal cuts, the normal post ups that we were looking for. So we had to go to the third and fourth option. Also, if we defend and get out in transition, we don't have to sit in the half court all the time."
Evans sat Taylor down 2:51 into th second half as FIU's 37-30 halftime lead was down to 37-34. Evans also sat Rakeem Buckles down for all but four minutes of the first half, dissatisfied with Buckles' defense. Also, he felt it gives the team a chance to develop a chemistry without Buckles because they can get too reliant on him. Taylor said something similar about rebounding.
"Everybody's just used to him collecting all the boards every time a team misses," Taylor said. "With him not being on the court, it's 'Oh, Rock's not here to rebound.' You've got to program yourself to go back and get the board.
Asked if Buckles' school record-tying eight blocks makes up for a six-point night offensively, Evans laughed, "No. No. He got the eight blocks, that's OK, but naw, naw, naw. I'm proud of his effort in the second half and he played close to what I was asking. So I'm happy with that."
On Dennis Mavin, who had four steals, three assists and two key three-pointers, Evans said, "We can always count on Dennis defensively. The more he plays the more confident he's become. He hit two big shots. He hit a big shot in the last game (Saturday's win against Texas Southern) to put us up two."
Taylor said he hadn't been happy with his finishing at the rim, so he came into early to work on it.
This is definitely a more athletic team overall than last year's. Defensively, they leave too many open lanes to the hoop. But, as Taylor pointed out, if the season were a game, they'd still be early in the first half. There's time to get it together.
FIU coach Ron Turner said both E.J. Hilliard and Jake Medlock likely will play this week against Marshall. Medlock was limited in Tuesday's practice after injuring a finger Saturday against UTEP.
Turner called Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato "as good as we've seen all year," ranking him with Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and Central Florida's Blake Bortles. Turner also took the time to extol the Panthers overall effort and persistence in a sudden soliloquy I'll transcribe for later posting.
The men's basketball team took out Texas Southern 70-68 at the U.S. Centuray Bank and Cabana Coliseum Saturday night to go to 4-2. Stetson's in Monday at 6 p.m. Hearing this third hand, but if an athletic department employee brings seven guests, they get complimentary tickets and a day off. No word on whether they'll get to spend a game in a cabana.
Meanwhile, up on the Tex-Mex border, the football team was getting rolled 33-10 by UTEP, which had lost its previous three games 143-21. Perhaps the less said about this, the better.
So, if Ron Turner was to escape to the NFL, where would he go? He's a West Coast offense guy, but one who likes to work behind the kind of power running game no longer in vogue around the NFL. If you don't have a dynamic offense -- and none of Turner's NFL offenses could be called that -- you better have a defense that truly sits on teams (Seattle, Carolina). Also, the quarterbacks he coached in his last two NFL stops (Indianapolis in 2011 and Tampa Bay in 2012) didn't evolve so well.
Would Norv, offensive coordinator in Cleveland, help a brotha out?
The hanging drummers present Thursday won't be there every night. FIU contracted with Galaxy Entertainment only for Thursday night's home opener, the 85-39 waxing of Florida College. Galaxy provided the drummers and the scaffold from which they sat in harnesses. Check out my Twitter feed, http://www.twitter.com/DavidJNeal, for photos of the drummers, the cabanas, etc.
"We've done it everywehre from amusement parks, bar mitzvahs, any kind of party," said David Parente, who hung and drummed along with Sean Woods before the game and during halftime. "Any place they'll have us, we'll do it."
Is the whole shebang as overdone as the name "Lime Court at U.S. Century Bank Arena?" Sure. And I'm OK with that.
(By the way, "Lime Court..." A Mexican restaurant chain founded by a white guy, who sold it to a restaurant company named after a British rock band's hit song, gets its name put the basketball court of a university largely identified with the Cuban-American community. Add in a black person somewhere and it's the epitome of diversity, Miami-style.)
Sophomore Jerome Frink said it'll be a while before he gets used to the courtside cabanas. Both he and Rakeem Buckles felt the team got too distracted by what FIU head coach Anthony Evans called a "festive" atmosphere. Once they started rolling Florida College at 10-0, the Panthers tried to be as flashy as the show around them. Didn't work.
Evans said he was fine with it -- "We're in Miami. So, sometimes, you have to do things that kind of stand out. I guess we did that" -- but he always comes off as the kind of guy who thinks including Crunch Berries ruins Cap'n Crunch. I think he'll be happier Saturday
He's definitely a man-to-man defense kind of guy.
"I've always been a man-to-man coach," Evans said. "But it seems like they play well in the zone. It seems like I'm going to have to shift it a little until we can become a better man-to-man team. I don't like to play a lot of zone, but if we're good at it, then we're going to continue to play it."
Thursday, FIU went to a zone late in the first half when they took over the game.
"I thought when the younger guys came off the bench, they really gave us a boost with their athleticism and their length because it gave them problems in the zone," Evans said. "Once they started missing shots, we wre able to take the ball in transition and get some layups."
I asked Buckles, once again the team's leading scorer, if he's surprised with what he's been able to do so far. He replied, "No, I feel like I should be doing it. I'm 23 years old, this is my fifth year in college (basketball). I had lofty goals for myself, so I'm happy with the way I'm playing...it's expected, let's put it like that."
Evans said, "I'm very impressed with Rakeem. With everything he's gone through, he still has a true passion for the game," Evans said. "I really didn't know what we were going to get because he hasn't played basketball in two years. Once we started practicing, you could see he was trying to work the rust off. The first game, he was still trying to work the rust off, get into game shape. Then, he started getting into a rhythm. That's what you see now."
As for what they think of the team after five games, Frink said, "I think we're more talented than last year's team, we just have to get everything together, combine our talents and be unselfish."
Buckles assented: "It's going to take a while. Hopefully, we get it quickly. We're not the team that we should be right now, we'll say that."
I Tweeted at Herald high school sports scribe Andre Fernandez while he was covering tonight's Coral Gables-Hialeah game "How's Henry Bussey look?" He answered, "Legit fast. Speed back."
By that point, Bussey already had exploded for an 85-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage. He finished with 141 yards on 10 carries, so he averaged 6.2 yards per carry on his other nine carries. That ended his season with 1344 yards and 19 touchdowns on just 133 carries (10.1 yards a pop). He also caught eight passes for 199 yards (24.9 yards per catch) and two touchdowns.
That's the kind of explosiveness FIU needs in its offense. It'll be interesting if Bussey can bring that combustibility to college.
If you want to know the team invited to the unveiling of the cabana at the men's basketball home opener Thursday night...
Florida College plays in the United States College Athletic Association, a group of 86 schools (Tuesday's FIU opponent, Warren Wilson, was the 2013 Division II national title winner...of the USCAA). The Falcons got routed 101-73 by Jacksonville in their most recent game. The game beforehand, however, against Warner (University, not Bugs, Daffy, Wile E., Porky and MJ), freshman Anthony Allen provided one of the highlights of the young college basketball season.
He does that Thursday night, Florida College might get a bill.
Fifth-year senior Rakeem Buckles put up double doubles in his first three college basketball games since suffering his second season-ending knee injury two years ago, while at Louisville. The 20-point efforts in the second and third games boosted his average to 17.7 points per game while being consistent in pulling down rebounds -- 12, 13 and 11.
All that let Buckles share the Conference USA Player of the Week awards with Marshall's Elijah Pittman.
Thursday night, the men's team officially opens the cabanas adjacent to the painted beach on Lime Court at U.S. Century Bank Arena with a game against Florida College. The athletic department's going all out for a decent crowd for the home opener, down to calling it "LIV it Up at the FIU Basketball Beach Bash."
Club LIV's not actually involved, although the site of the real LIV (as opposed to the offshoot at Sun Life Stadium), The Fountainbleu Hotel, sponsors the suites and cabanas. There will be, however, a postgame student party with free food, a photo station playing on the basketball and bench themes, a mechanical surfboard (that would be amusing if some of the users tailgated before the game) and giveaways.
Knowing better than to rely on students, especially on a weeknight, it's also FIU Faculty, Staff and Retiree Appreciation Night. Each person who fits the above can buy up to four tickets for $1 each.
Sunday beat Friday.
After collapsing Saturday against Youngstown State, FIU men's basketball hung on to beat Kennesaw State 66-58 to get their first win of the season and the first win under head coach Anthony Evans. Rakeem Buckles had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Point guard Ray Taylor put in 15 and distributed five assists. Tymell Murphy had three steals. FIU, 1-2, can get back to even with a win against Warren Wilson Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the volleyball team (11-5, 5-8 in conference) took out Southern Mississippi 3-1 (24-26, 25-22 cubed). Sophomores Lucia Castro and Gloria Levorin led the Panthers with 20 and 13 kills, respectively, Senior Kimberly Smith had five blocks and sophomore Adriana McLamb had 24 digs.
In the NFL, former FIU safety Johnathan Cyprien recovered Tennessee's onside kick to clinch the first win of the season for Jacksonville in addition to his three tackles. Former defensive end Tourek Williams made his first NFL sack a true highlight by chasing down Denver quarterback Peyton Manning for a strip sack that set up a San Diego touchdown in the Chargers 28-20 loss.
Everybody got some. The football team hopes it doesn't continue Saturday.
Men's basketball started first. Or, rather, started slowly first. Two first half statistics say it all: four of 13, 28.6 percent, from the free throw line and 11 turnovers. Unless you're playing the Southwest High JV, the second half's just to make everything official. FIU was playing Eastern Kentucky and the men from EK didn't play. FIU got down 45-24 and eventually lost 83-61 despite double doubles from Rakeem Buckles (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Tymell Murphy (14 and 10).
A half-hour into the men's basketball game, up at Middle Tennesee State, where the football team plays Saturday, the volleyball team charged into Middle. Or, maybe, more Charge of the Light Brigade. FIU got swept 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-21) to the team that was the Sun Belt's best or second best with Western Kentucky over the last few years. Redshirt junior Jessica Egan had 22 assists for FIU.
As the men's game slogged through the second half and Middle drove spikes into the volleyball team, the women's basketball season opener against Florida Gulf Coast tipped off. I got the idea afterwards that FIU coach Cindy Russo was ticked off. Marita Davydova, expected to be perhaps the second most important player on the team behind senior guard Jerica Coley, was in FIU warmup pants and a polo shirt the whole game. Russo just called it a "coach's decision" and didn't say definitively whether or not Davydova would be back in the lineup for the next game.
Sophomore point guard Taylor Shade darted around Gulf Coast and created her own shot long enough to keep FIU in it while Coley stayed cold enough to keep Quarter Pounder meat frozen in the first half. Shade finished with a team-high 18 points, but Russo said her 36 minutes were about 10 minutes too long. Eventually, Gulf Coast pulled away with a 15-0 run to end the first half and continued in the second half as FIU seemed to fade. I don't know if fatigue makes cowards of us all, but, in the second half, the Panthers looked just fatigued enough to foul. Some truly bad defense was played.
Those filing out of The Branch could've stopped by FIU Soccer Stadium ("stadium"...heh heh) where Charlotte was spanking FIU 3-0.
Before you get all nastied up for Halloween -- or, heck, maybe after -- you can double dip athletic events at The Branch and the soccer field.
At U.S. Century Bank Arena, the men's basketball team is having an intrasquad scrimmage that'll begin at 4:30. There's a women's hoop team autograph session, too.
Then, you can pop over to see the women's soccer team's 7 p.m. season finale, against Marshall. The men's soccer team tied SMU 0-0 Wednesday night and plays it's finale next Friday at home against Charlotte.
Senior cornerback Sam Miller didn't practice again Thursday, making him doubtful for Saturday's game against East Carolina. Walk-on freshman Brad Hyman-Muhammad might start in place of Miller. East Carolina throws the ball 45 times a game.
Sophomore linebacker Patrick Jean has rejoined the team after dealing with a family issue. He'll be available to play Saturday. Substitute "Davison Colimon" in this paragraph's first sentence. Colimon won't, however, play Saturday.
Senior guard Jerica Coley, last year's Sun Belt Student-Athlete of the Year, is one of 60 college basketball players of either gender to be named candidates for the Senior CLASS Award in basketball.
Eligibility goes to those who have achieved great things with work in the community, classroom, competition and demonstrated high character. CLASS stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for STaying in School.