Look: Auburn coaches speak at AMBUSH Huntsville

Auburn’s coaches had plenty of good news to talk about at AMBUSH Huntsville.

Auburn’s coaches have been across the state of Alabama to speak at this year’s AMBUSH alumni tour. The latest stop was in Huntsville, Alabama on May 5, and there were several notable speakers.

[autotag]Bryan Harsin[/autotag] and [autotag]Bruce Pearl[/autotag] both made their normal appearances and addressed the sold-out crowd. However, they were joined by gymnastics coach [autotag]Jeff Graba[/autotag], Director of Athletics Allen Greene, and incoming president Chris Roberts

All three coaches have received positive news about their teams recently. Pearl and the basketball team landed transfer Johni Broom, one of the best players to enter the portal this offseason. Harsin addressed a weakness at wide receiver with the addition of Miami transfer Dazalin Worsham.

Graba has had the best week out of them all though. He announced that superstar Suni Lee is planning to return for next season during the event and Friday morning Derrian Gobourne announced she would be returning for her super-senior season.

It is a good time to be an Auburn fan as it shows it truly is an “everything school.” Here are the best photos from the event on Thursday.

Auburn gymnastics phenom Suni Lee expected to return

It’s looking like the Tigers will get their star all-around gymnast back.

It’s looking like the Tigers’ gymnastics team could retain its key piece.

Head coach [autotag]Jeff Graba[/autotag] told Auburn alumni on Thursday night that gold medal Olympian and Auburn all-around star [autotag]Sunisa Lee[/autotag] told him she intends to, at the moment, return to the Plains for her second season of college gymnastics according to a report by the Montgomery Advertiser.

Lee’s decision comes in part due to preparation for the 2024 Olympics and whether she wanted to commit to both elite gymnastics and collegiate gymnastics. According to Graba, Lee currently believes that she can do both at the moment.

“NCAA gymnastics has been good for her in a lot of ways,” Graba said before an Auburn alumni event. “But she’s going to have to balance it out. She’s going to have to make decisions in the future, but right now the decision is: ‘I think I can still do both.’ So I think that’s where we are.”

Lee’s return to Auburn would be big to Auburn gymnastics. The Tigers posted a 1-7 record in 2021 and missed out on NCAAs without Lee, but when she arrived at the Plains, she helped propel Auburn to a 22-8-1 record and an appearance in the NCAA gymnastics Final Four.

With senior Derrian Gobourne returning to the team as well, Graba has a squad that looks primed to return to the Final Four for the 2023 season. The 2023 gymnastics season should begin in the first week of January.

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ESPN and University of Oklahoma announce multi-year agreement to launch ‘SoonerVision’ on ESPN+

The University of Oklahoma and ESPN have reached an agreement on a new partnership, which will launch “SoonerVision” for on the streaming platform ESPN+.

The college athletics landscape is forever changing and shifting in many ways from conference realignment to NIL to media rights.

The Oklahoma Sooners have been directly affected by all three in recent years and now they get to be a part of it once again.

After years with Bally Sports, the Sooners will enter a multi-year agreement with ESPN+ with an Oklahoma specific channel called “SoonerVision.”

The partnership with ESPN+ is the most expansive of its kind for a university athletics program. Oklahoma athletic director and Vice President Joe Castiglione in a release by the official athletics website says, “SoonerVision on ESPN+ builds upon our previous media successes by offering over 1,000 hours annually of live OU sports events and other programming to ESPN+’s growing subscriber base of more than 21.3 million. As a result, OU fans will now have an easily accessible year-round media home on all their screens.”

In many ways, it sets the stage for Oklahoma as it will make its way to the SEC in the coming years and become a part of the SEC Network also tied in a tight partnership with ESPN.

The infamous Oklahoma pay-per-view football game that’s become an annual occurrence will be no longer as that game likely slots into the “one regular season OU football game” category for those who carry an ESPN+ subscription.

The spring football game will also be accessible via ESPN+. The rest of Oklahoma’s football games will still be found on the ESPN family of networks or on Fox.

Oklahoma basketball will have 25 or more games found on ESPN+ along with other Olympic sports live games like track and field and more.

An ESPN+ subscription also includes access to professional sports like MLB, NHL, LaLiga, Bundesliga, and many other college sports competitions.

The deal allows the Sooner fans access to content from years past and also grants access to OU’s pro day, pregame shows, and a more immersive Sooner experience across the board.

Beginning in August, the content will be available on ESPN+ via the “SoonerVision” landing page, with live events beginning at the start of the fall athletics season.

Pricing for ESPN+ is $6.99 a month (or $69.99 per year) at ESPN.com, ESPNplus.com, or on the ESPN App (mobile and connected devices). It is also available as part of The Disney Bundle that gives subscribers access to Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu for $13.99/month (Hulu w/ads) or $19.99/month (Hulu w/o ads). Subscribers to Hulu + Live TV also receive ESPN+ at no additional cost.

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Neff discusses newest athletic facility projects

Construction is imminent on a pair of on-campus facilities that are designed to enhance the student-athlete experience at Clemson. A 100-yard wellness center and the Clemson Athletic Branding institute are being built in and around the Allen N. …

Construction is imminent on a pair of on-campus facilities that are designed to enhance the student-athlete experience at Clemson.

A 100-yard wellness center and the Clemson Athletic Branding institute are being built in and around the Allen N. Reeves Football Complex. Clemson athletic director Graham Neff told The Clemson Insider that both projects, which have a price tag of $5 million each, are expected to be completed sometime this fall.

Neff said the wellness center, which is an add-on to the football complex, has already started construction.

“It’s an expansion of the training room and some of our applied science and then just growth of those services from a health and wellness standpoint,” Neff said.

The athletic branding institute, which will total more than 12,000 square feet, is being built in conjunction with REIGN, the school’s multi-faceted name, image and likeness (NIL) program. When it officially announced the program last month, Clemson touted itself as the “first athletics program in the nation” to dedicate a space solely to the education and development of athletes’ NIL activity.

Neff acknowledged there’s a lot of focus on football with the facility, which is being constructed adjacent to the football team’s indoor practice facility and weight room. But Neff said the space will also include a photo shoot area, audio studio and media work room in addition to “just some swing space and growth space for future needs of NIL” that all athletes will be able to access.

Neff said the idea of becoming the first athletic department to have a dedicated NIL space happened somewhat by accident. The department, he explained, was in the midst of a fundraising campaign for facility enhancements last summer when the NCAA introduced an interim policy that made NIL profits legal for college athletes. Many states, including South Carolina, followed with their own NIL bylaws soon thereafter.

“July 1 (of 2021) was when NIL was allowable from an NCAA standpoint, so it became one of those where it was like, ‘Gosh, we have an opportunity here to be intentional and focused on what that facility can be right when everyone is trying to figure that out,’” Neff said. “It just kind of evolved.

“There’s other utility with it. There’s an NFL locker room for former players. … We just kind of grew it into having some use for branding and creative studio there that speaks to an NIL standpoint. It just kind of all came to a head with a need for space from a football standpoint, the fundraising aspect of it and then NIL going into effect and how we could be leaders and the first to have bricks and mortar and dedicated space to that from an NIL standpoint.”

Later this year, Clemson will begin expanding the facilities for rowing, lacrosse and gymnastics. Neff said construction on those $27.5-million projects will continue throughout most of next year. The school announced the addition of lacrosse and gymnastics as women’s sports last year.

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Clemson names first gymnastics head coach

Clemson Director of Athletics Graham Neff named Amy Smith Head Coach of the newly-formed women’s gymnastics program on Tuesday. Smith, a UCLA graduate, All-American and National Champion, has spent the past five seasons as the head coach at Utah …

Clemson Director of Athletics Graham Neff named Amy Smith Head Coach of the newly-formed women’s gymnastics program on Tuesday. Smith, a UCLA graduate, All-American and National Champion, has spent the past five seasons as the head coach at Utah State. Smith has more than 20 years of experience coaching collegiate gymnastics, which includes stops at North Carolina, UCLA, Missouri, Florida and Kentucky.

The Aggies have finished in the top 25 in consecutive seasons, the first time the program has accomplished the feat since 1998-99. Her 2022 team finished 23rd nationally, the highest among non-Power Five programs, and ranked 14th nationally on balance beam and 21st in floor exercise. The Aggies set a program record for the highest team score at an NCAA regional meet, and brought a conference title back to Logan, Utah for the first time since 2005.

Prior to her time at Utah State, she spent five seasons at North Carolina as an assistant coach and assistant head coach, which culminated in earning 2017 East Atlantic Gymnastics League Assistant Coach of the Year honors. During her stint at UCLA as an assistant coach, the Bruins had a third consecutive top-three finish at the 2012 NCAA Championships.

Smith was an assistant coach at Missouri from 2007-11 and helped guide the Tigers to their first-ever NCAA Championship appearance in 2010. Smith was a volunteer assistant coach at Florida from 2003-06, where she became an established choreographer, specializing in floor exercise. During her time with the Gators, Smith choreographed routines for six All-Americans. Smith also served as Kentucky’s choreographer from 2003-05.

She earned first-team All-American honors on both vault and floor in 1997, and also captured a Pac-10 Conference title on floor and an NCAA West Regional title on vault on the way to the 1997 Team National Championship. Smith was a team captain in both 1996 and 1997.

Smith started her athletic career at Oklahoma, winning the Big Eight vault title.

Director of Athletics Graham Neff:

“We’re fired up to have Amy Smith lead our women’s gymnastics program. She understands what it takes to win a national championship, and her experience within the ACC, SEC and PAC-12 really stand out. Amy knows college gymnastics inside and out, and has demonstrated the ability to help student-athletes achieve both in and out of the gym. We are attempting to build this program the right way, and Amy and our administration share a vision for how great Clemson Gymnastics can be, and that she can help create a strong culture. We had an unbelievable level of interest in this position and program, and we can’t wait to see Littlejohn packed for our first event in 2024.”

Head Coach Amy Smith:

“This is an absolute dream come true – to have the trust to start a program of this caliber is an absolute honor. I would like to thank President Clements, Graham Neff, Stephanie Ellison Johnson, and everyone who was part of the interview process here at Clemson. Everywhere I turned there was somebody telling me what an incredibly special place this is and everyone I met absolutely backed that up. The sense of family, being “all in,” and absolutely wanting to do this the right way was incredibly apparent and invigorating through the process. I cannot wait to get started building this program – the level of support and the buzz about Clemson Gymnastics is already off the charts and I cannot wait to keep that rolling and build on that momentum. Additionally, it is beyond cool to be a part of the inaugural ACC Gymnastics group – It is so exciting for collegiate gymnastics to bring another Power 5 conference into the mix.”

–Photo and press release courtesy of Clemson Athletics 

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Suni Lee finalist for Honda Sport Award for Gymnastics

Suni Lee is up for another honor after her stellar debut season with the Tigers.

Auburn freshman Sunisa Lee’s season may be over, but that won’t stop her from getting recognized for her efforts.

Lee was named as one of four finalists for the Honda Sport Award for Gymnastics on Tuesday, sharing the honor with Florida’s Trinity Thomas, Oregon State’s Jade Carey and Lexy Ramler of Minnesota. The Honda Sport award is given across 12 different collegiate women’s sports to the best athlete of their respective sport.

Awards haven’t come scarce to Lee this year. She won four All-America nods at the NCAA championships and four in the regular season, and she was named both the SEC Freshman of the Year and the WCGA Regional Gymnast of the Year for her efforts. Lee also became an SEC champion earlier this year when she earned a perfect 10 on the bars at the SEC championships meet.

Her competition will certainly be tough to beat, however. Florida’s Trinity Thomas has been a particular roadblock for Lee this year, beating her out for the all-around at the NCAA championships and taking the individual SEC championship in the all-around, the vault and the floor. Minnesota’s Lexy Ramler was a finalist last year when Oklahoma’s Anastasia Webb took the title, and Oregon State’s Jade Carey also competed with Lee in Tokyo and was named the PAC-12 Gymnast of the Year.

Lee has not said whether she wants to come back to Auburn next year or move on. Regardless, her freshman campaign is one Tigers fans are sure to remember.

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Oklahoma edges out Florida for NCAA Gymnastics Championship

Florida came up just 0.112 points away from a fourth national championship. It finished in second place behind Oklahoma.

Oklahoma ignited a furious rally in the second and third rotation after emerging in last place after the first rotation to grab the NCAA title. Florida almost overcame a two-tenths deficit in the final rotation, using a senior [autotag]Trinity Thomas[/autotag] 10 and four other scores 9.9s or better but still fell just 0.112 short. The Sooners defeated the Gators, Utah and Auburn for the 2022 NCAA gymnastics championships on Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas.

Florida dug itself a hole on Friday after struggling on the vault during the semifinals. The Gators’ adventure forced them to emerge from the first rotation dead last. On Saturday, they fared a little bit better.

Head coach [autotag]Jenny Rowland[/autotag] and her team recorded a score of 49.35, putting itself in third place recorded a team score of 49.35, putting itself in third place ahead of Oklahoma but behind first-place Utah and second-place Auburn. The Gators also only found themselves 0.163 behind the Utes.

Thomas and freshman [autotag]Leanne Wong[/autotag] both delivered scores greater than 9.9s.

The Gators had a fall on the uneven bars just like they did during the semifinals. Freshman [autotag]Riley McCusker[/autotag] sailed through her routine but fell on the dismount, putting Florida in immediate danger of being eliminated if it suffered another fall on bars. But once again, the rest of the Gators lineup came to her rescue.

Thomas just missed perfection with a 9.975 while senior [autotag]Savannah Schoenherr[/autotag] scored a 9.925 and super senior [autotag]Megan Skaggs[/autotag] recorded a 9.9125. However, they still trailed Utah by a measly tenth, heading into the final two rotations.

Oklahoma made some serious ground up after struggling on the floor to start the meet. The Sooners used five scores of 9.9 or greater to take a two-tenths lead over the second-place Gators.

Florida wasn’t too shabby in the third rotation, either. Skaggs, Thomas, super senior [autotag]Alyssa Baumann[/autotag] and senior Leah Clapper all recorded scores of 9.9 or better.

The Gators then headed to the floor exercise, arguably their best rotation. Florida posted all 9.9s or better, including a 10 from Thomas but Oklahoma’s massive comeback in the second and third rotations helped them edge the Gators 198.2 to 198.0875.

Rowland and Co. will have to say goodbye to Skaggs and Baumann, but Clapper, Reed, Schoenherr, Thomas, seniors Halley Taylor and Sydney Johnson-Scharpf could all elect to return for a fifth year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Auburn places fourth in NCAA gymnastics championship

Auburn’s fourth-place finish is the highest in program history.

Auburn gymnastics’ stellar season has come to an end.

The Tigers finished fourth overall in the NCAA gymnastics championship in Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, with a final score of 197.3500. The No. 1 seeded Oklahoma Sooners took the championship with a 198.2000, SEC-rival Florida finished second with a 198.0875 and the Utah Utes placed third with a 197.7500. The fourth-place finish for Auburn is its highest in program history.

The Tigers started out the meet strong on the bars, with Olympic gold medalist [autotag]Sunisa Lee[/autotag] and senior [autotag]Derrian Gobourne[/autotag] both netting scores in the 9.9s to help Auburn start the day off with a score of 49.425, good for second place. Lee would go on to place second in the all-around for the event.

After that, though, the Tigers started to fall back. Auburn found itself in fourth place after some missteps on the beam, and the Oklahoma Sooners began their stellar charge that would end up bringing them home the championship. Lee scored a 9.9 to close out the beam, her second of three scores in the 9.9s on the day.

Lee would do even better in the floor rotation for Auburn’s third set, where her routine netted her a 9.95. Gobourne shined as well, scoring a 9.9375 herself as the final Tiger on the floor.

Auburn’s final rotation was on the vault, where junior [autotag]Cassie Stevens[/autotag] put in the team-best score on 9.9375. The Tigers would remain in fourth place, and the Sooners would clinch the gymnastics championship with their final rotation on the beam.

Auburn’s fourth-place finish, highest in the program’s history, is a major turnaround from posting a 1-7 record last season. The gymnastics team could face some tough departures, but it certainly has much to be proud of as this season concludes.


2022 NC women’s gymnastics team finals, live stream, TV channel, time, how to watch

The NCAA NC women’s gymnastics will be held on Saturday afternoon in Fort Worth, Texas while a new champion will be crowned.

The NCAA NC women’s gymnastics will be held on Saturday afternoon in Fort Worth, Texas while a new champion will be crowned. With Auburn, Florida, Oklahoma, and Utah competing for the 2022 team title this will be one that you won’t want to miss

This will be a great day of women’s gymnastics, here is everything you need to know to watch and stream the action today.

NCAA NC Women’s Gymnastics Championship

  • When: Saturday, April 16
  • Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: ABC
  • Live Stream: fuboTV (watch for free)

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Auburn places second in gymnastics Semifinal II to advance to Final Four

The Auburn Tigers gymnastics team isn’t done yet.

The Auburn Tigers are still alive.

Auburn’s gymnastics team defeated both the defending national champions in the Michigan Wolverines and the SEC-rival Missouri Tigers with a score of 197.837 to be one of the two teams from the Semi II to advance to the Final Four. In an all-too-familiar sight, the Florida Gators managed to rally from behind to take the overall victory with a score of 197.975.

The Tigers began the night with a 49.5125 on the beam, which was good for second place. A stellar second rotation on the floor, however, propelled Auburn into the leading spot — four of the five gymnasts competing on the floor scored a 9.9 or higher, with senior [autotag]Derrian Gobourne[/autotag] landing a 9.9625.

Auburn carried that lead into the third rotation, the vault, with a 49.2375. The Tigers were unable to call themselves the winners of the meet at the end of the day, though, as Florida rallied with a very impressive 49.7500 that Auburn was unable to best on the bars. Although the Tigers’ 49.4750 in the last rotation couldn’t seal the victory, it did seal Auburn’s ticket to the last round of the NCAA gymnastics championships.

Freshman [autotag]Sunisa Lee[/autotag] also dazzled at the event. She won the individual national championship on the beam, but she was unable to nab the all-around title from UF’s Trinity Thomas. Despite this, her 39.675 all-around score was a driving force in helping the Tigers make its first finals appearance since 2015.

Auburn will face off against Florida, Oklahoma and Utah on Saturday at 12 p.m. CT in the Final Four.

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