Liberty Bowl ceremony honors grads’ resolve in ‘year like no other’

CLOSE

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

Last SlideNext Slide

Cheers rang out from the bleachers of the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium Saturday and pride filled the end zone throughout the day.

The sparse and socially distanced crowd wasn’t there to celebrate athletic prowess, however, though the University of Memphis Tigers logo adorned many of their masks.

For the college students who graduated in the spring, summer or fall semesters, in the time of coronavirus, the open-air stadium typically home to the university’s football team was transformed into a commencement venue instead. 

“In a year unlike any other… your accomplishments are unlike any other and reveal a great deal,” said University of Memphis President M. David Rudd. His remarks uplifted the students, faculty and staff for “adapting, persisting and moving forward” during the pandemic.

To align with Shelby County Health Department directives, some aspects of the event strayed from tradition — there was no celebratory music, for instance. 

Jamal Cox, 22, dons a mask made by his Mom to celebrate the marketing major’s graduation at a socially distanced University of Memphis commencement ceremony Nov. 28, at the open-air Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. (Photo: Sarah Macaraeg/Commercial Appeal)

But each of the three graduates who spoke with The Commercial Appeal voiced their support for the COVID-19 mitigation measures in place for the ceremony. And for many other aspects of commencement culture, life carried on.

Approximately 435 graduates were estimated by a university spokesperson to be in attendance at each of three ceremonies held Saturday at the stadium, which has a capacity of 58,235.

Eyes on the prize

When each of the graduates’ names were called, the shouts which rang out from loved ones across the canyon of a largely unoccupied stadium were sometimes muted. But with each graduate allowed up to six guests, the celebration was still there.

Jamal Cox, a 22-year-old Marketing major from Germantown, accepted his diploma with his family, best friend and girlfriend present. 

“It’s a blessing, just to share the special day with people that’s been there the whole way,” Cox said. The last few months, he said he’s been focused on keeping his eyes on the prize. 

“I knew out of this hard time, I would come out with something good to take away from it. And that was basically to keep working towards whatever you doing. At some point, the tough times will be over and it’ll be good in the end,” he said.

‘She laughs without fear of the future’

The graduating class didn’t collectively toss their mortarboards. But for Jessica Adams, 31, the commencement cap still served as a canvas to mark the occasion.

“I’m a Mom with two children. They’re with their grandmother today because we don’t want to take any risks,” Adams said of the picture of her family at the top of her cap, surrounded by red and white poppy flowers, as a tribute to fallen combat veterans.

Read more

Liberty vs. Massachusetts odds, line: 2020 college football picks, Week 13 predictions from proven model

A battle between FBS Independents is on tap between the Liberty Flames and the Massachusetts Minutemen at noon ET on Friday at Williams Stadium. Liberty is 8-1 overall and 5-0 at home, while UMass is 0-3 overall with all three losses coming on the road. It’s the third season in a row that these programs have gone head-to-head.

Liberty covered comfortably as 23.5-point favorites a season ago in a 63-21 win, but UMass earned an outright upset as a 1.5-point underdog the season prior with a 62-59 win. This time around, the Flames are favored by 37.5 points in the latest Liberty vs. Massachusetts odds from William Hill Sportsbook and the over-under is set at 56.5. Before entering any Massachusetts vs. Liberty picks, you’ll want to see the college football predictions from the model at SportsLine.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every FBS college football game 10,000 times. Over the past four-plus years, the proprietary computer model has generated a stunning profit of over $3,600 for $100 players on its top-rated college football picks against the spread. It is also a sizzling 44-23 on all top-rated picks through 12 weeks of the 2020 college football schedule, returning over $1,200 in profit already. Anyone who has followed it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Liberty vs. UMass. You can head to SportsLine to see its picks. Here are several college football odds for UMass vs. Liberty:

  • Liberty vs. Massachusetts spread: Liberty -37.5
  • Liberty vs. Massachusetts over-under: 56.5 points
  • Liberty vs. Massachusetts money line: Liberty -25000, Massachusetts +3000

What you need to know about Liberty

On Saturday, the Flames and the NC State Wolfpack were almost perfectly matched up, but Liberty suffered an agonizing 15-14 defeat. No one had a standout game offensively for Liberty, but the Flames got scores from WR Noah Frith and TE Jerome Jackson. The loss dropped Liberty out of the AP Top 25 but with two games left on the schedule, including a matchup matchup with No. 16 Coastal Carolina, there’s still a lot to play for.

Liberty can get to 10 wins for the first time in program history with two wins and could also get back into the rankings if it wins out, but that has to start with a dominant performance against UMass. The Flames racked up 730 yards of total offense in their win over the Minutemen a season ago and Malik Willis will look to put together a similarly dominant performance in 2020.

What you need to know about Massachusetts

Meanwhile, UMass suffered a tough 24-2 defeat to the Florida Atlantic Owls on Friday. QB Will Koch had a tough game, throwing one interception with only 3.05 yards per passing attempt. The Minutemen have scored just 12 points so far in 2020 but defensive lineman Avien Peah has been disruptive on the other side of the ball. He has six tackles for loss already in three games.

How to make Liberty vs. Massachusetts picks

The model

Read more

McGhee hits career-high 7 3s, Liberty beats Mississippi St

It’s the first time Mississippi State has started a season 0-2 since 1967. Coach Ben Howland will have to wait until Monday for a chance to win his 500th career game.

Chris Parker — a graduate transfer from D-II Henderson State — had 10 points and 10 assists and Micaiah Abii added 10 points for Liberty (1-1), which is coming off back-to-back conference tournament titles for the first time in program history. Abii scored 19 on Wednesday for Liberty’s most points in a freshman debut since Seth Curry (23 points) in 2008.

Liberty has defeated six Power Five opponents under coach Ritchie McKay, including Mississippi State in the NCAA Tournament in 2019.

D.J. Stewart Jr. and Tolu Smith each scored 20 points for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs outrebounded Liberty 29-17, but only attempted 10 3-pointers compared to Liberty’s 39.

Mississippi State led 41-40 at halftime — a day after scoring 42 total points in an 11-point loss to Clemson. Smith had 14 points and five rebounds in the half and Stewart scored 12.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Source Article

Read more

Falwell Jr sues Liberty University, claims reputation damage

By Sarah Rankin and Elana Schor | Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. — Jerry Falwell Jr. has sued Liberty University, alleging the evangelical school founded by his late pastor father damaged his reputation in a series of public statements that followed his resignation as president and chancellor in August amid a series of scandals.

The lawsuit filed in Lynchburg Circuit Court on Wednesday includes claims of defamation and breach of contract. It alleges that Liberty officials accepted what Falwell says are false claims about his involvement in an extramarital affair between his wife and a business partner of the couple’s and “moved quickly” to destroy his reputation.

“When Mr. Falwell and his family became the targets of a malicious smear campaign incited by anti-evangelical forces, Liberty University not only accepted the salacious and baseless accusations against the Falwells at face value, but directly participated in the defamation. This action seeks redress for the damage Liberty has caused to the reputation of Mr. Falwell and his family,” the lawsuit says.

K. Todd Swisher, Circuit Court clerk for the city of Lynchburg, provided The Associated Press with a copy of the complaint, which contains a limited number of redactions in sections pertaining to Falwell’s employment agreement. Swisher said there would be a hearing within a week for a judge to consider whether an unredacted version of the complaint should remain sealed.

Liberty spokesman Scott Lamb said the school, which had not yet been served with the lawsuit, would have a formal statement in response later Thursday. The school’s board of trustees has been meeting this week.

An attorney for Falwell did not respond immediately to a telephone message left Thursday, and Falwell did not respond to a voicemail and text seeking comment.

Falwell left Liberty in August after Giancarlo Granda, a younger business partner of the Falwell family, said he had a yearslong sexual relationship with Falwell’s wife, Becki Falwell, and that Jerry Falwell participated in some of the liaisons as a voyeur.

Although the Falwells have acknowledged that Granda and Becki Falwell had an affair, Jerry Falwell has denied any participation. The couple allege that Granda sought to extort them by threatening to reveal the relationship unless he was paid substantial amounts of money.

Before his resignation, Falwell had already been on an indefinite leave of absence after an uproar over a photo he posted on social media of him and his wife’s pregnant assistant, both with their pants unzipped.

Falwell said it was taken in good fun at a costume party during a vacation, but critics saw it as evidence of hypocrisy by the head of an institution that holds students to a strict moral code of conduct.

Shortly after Falwell’s departure, Liberty announced it was opening an independent investigation into his tenure as president, a wide-ranging inquiry that would include financial, real estate and legal matters.

Earlier this month, the school identified Baker Tilly US as the firm handling the investigation and announced the launch of a website to “facilitate

Read more

Jerry Falwell Jr. sues Liberty University for defamation regarding public pool-boy-dalliance statements

Jerry Falwell Jr., the disgraced and ousted former chancellor and president of Liberty University, is suing his former employer on the grounds that its public statements in August about several scandals, including his alleged semi-involvement in his wife’s dalliance with a pool boy, damaged his reputation.

“When Mr. Falwell and his family became the targets of a malicious smear campaign incited by anti-evangelical forces, Liberty University not only accepted the salacious and baseless accusations against the Falwells at face value, but directly participated in the defamation,” said the lawsuit, filed in Lynchburg Circuit Court and obtained by the Associated Press. “This action seeks redress for the damage Liberty has caused to the reputation of Mr. Falwell and his family.”

The lawsuit also states that “Liberty’s actions are antithetical to the teachings of Christ,” AP said.

“We attempted to meet several times with the Liberty University Board of Trustees Executive Committee but were unsuccessful in doing so,” Falwell attorney Robert Raskopf of Quinn Emanuel said in a statement announcing the suit. “Thus, we were forced to seek remedy for Mr. Falwell’s ongoing injuries and damage to his reputation through the Court.”

The allegations stem from the August ouster of Falwell, son of evangelical leader and Liberty University founder Jerry Falwell Sr., after a compromising photo that he said was taken in jest, plus a claim that Falwell Jr. had watched his wife have sex with another man.

Falwell resigned in August after a news story in which pool maintenance worker Giancarlo Granda, 29, said he’d had a six-year affair with Falwell’s wife, Becki Falwell, and that her husband liked to watch.

Jerry denied the latter claim and said it was based on the paramour’s attempt to blackmail the couple. He acknowledged that the affair had happened but said he and his wife had worked things out.

Soon after Falwell’s resignation, Liberty announced it would thoroughly investigate everything that happened during his tenure, right down to the finances, looking at “all facets of Liberty University operations during Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s tenure as President, including but not limited to financial, real estate, and legal matters.”

It has since hired the global forensic accounting firm Baker Tilly US and launched a website for reporting misconduct, the university announced Oct. 20.

“I am saddened that University officials, with whom I have shared so much success and enjoyed such positive relationships, jumped to conclusions about the claims made against my character, failed to properly investigate them, and then damaged my reputation following my forced resignation,” Falwell said in his statement. “While I have nothing but love and appreciation for the Liberty community, and I had hoped to avoid litigation, I must take the necessary steps to restore my reputation and hopefully help repair the damage to the Liberty University brand in the process.”

The university told AP that it had not yet been served with the lawsuit but would issue a response later Thursday.

With News Wire Services

———

©2020 New York Daily News

Read more

Jerry Falwell Jr. Sues Liberty University Over Firing Following Sex Scandal

Source Article

Read more

Jerry Falwell Jr. sues Liberty University, says school damaged his reputation

Jerry Falwell Jr. has sued Liberty University, the evangelical school co-founded by his father that he led for more than a decade before resigning in August after a series of personal scandals.



Jerry Falwell, Jr. wearing a suit and tie: Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. addresses students in 2015 during a convocation on the campus in Lynchburg, Va.


© Matt McClain/The Washington Post
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. addresses students in 2015 during a convocation on the campus in Lynchburg, Va.

Falwell claims Liberty damaged his reputation, alleging the university accepted without verifying what he called false statements made by a man who had an affair with Falwell’s wife and attempted to extort the couple, according to the complaint.

The complaint alleges that the man, Giancarlo Granda, worked with political operatives opposed to President Trump, including the Lincoln Project, on his “defamatory media campaign” against Falwell.

“Other than God and my family, there is nothing in the world I love more than Liberty University,” Falwell said in a news release Thursday from a law firm representing him. “I am saddened that University officials, with whom I have shared so much success and enjoyed such positive relationships, jumped to conclusions about the claims made against my character, failed to properly investigate them, and then damaged my reputation following my forced resignation.”

Falwell’s departure in August generated shock waves because of his stature in parts of the evangelical world. Liberty has long been a power center for conservative Christians, and Falwell’s endorsement of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 was seen as a pivotal moment for the candidate, one of the earliest signs of support from a prominent evangelical leader.

Jerry Falwell Jr. says he has resigned as head of Liberty University

UP NEXT

UP NEXT

Scott Lamb, a spokesman for the university, said Liberty “leadership teams have important responsibilities this week, serving the Board of Trustees who are in Lynchburg … This lawsuit will be read and reviewed in a timely manner, and I would imagine a public response will be given at that time.”

Falwell and his attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday. But in the news release, attorney Robert L. Raskopf said they had tried unsuccessfully to meet with the executive committee of the school’s board of trustees before filing the suit.

Jerry Falwell Jr. resigns as head of Liberty University, will get $10.5 million in compensation

Falwell, a lawyer and developer, had been admired by many at Liberty for transforming a college mired in debt into a booming 85,000-student university with political clout, a Division I football team and a beautiful campus.

But he generated controversies as well over the years, for comments and actions criticized as racist or anti-Muslim, and some students and alumni worried that the school had weakened its commitment to Christian values.

In August, Falwell was suspended with pay after posting on social media, and then deleting, a photo of himself with his wife’s young assistant that showed their zippers partially down and their stomachs exposed.

Pressure to resign grew intense after a young businessman publicly claimed that he had had an extramarital

Read more

Jerry Falwell Jr. sues Liberty University for defamation after scandal


Associated Press

Published 10:10 a.m. MT Oct. 29, 2020

CLOSE

The departure of Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. following revelations of a sexual relationship between his wife and a business partner have elicited mixed responses from current and former students. (Aug 27)

AP Domestic

RICHMOND, Va. — Jerry Falwell Jr. has sued Liberty University, alleging the evangelical school founded by his late pastor father damaged his reputation in a series of public statements that followed his resignation as president and chancellor in August amid a series of scandals.

The lawsuit filed in Lynchburg Circuit Court on Wednesday includes claims of defamation and breach of contract. It alleges that Liberty officials accepted what Falwell says are false claims about his involvement in an extramarital affair between his wife and a business partner of the couple’s and “moved quickly” to destroy his reputation.

“When Mr. Falwell and his family became the targets of a malicious smear campaign incited by anti-evangelical forces, Liberty University not only accepted the salacious and baseless accusations against the Falwells at face value, but directly participated in the defamation. This action seeks redress for the damage Liberty has caused to the reputation of Mr. Falwell and his family,” the lawsuit says.

K. Todd Swisher, Circuit Court clerk for the city of Lynchburg, provided The Associated Press with a copy of the complaint, which contains a limited number of redactions in sections pertaining to Falwell’s employment agreement. Swisher said there would be a hearing within a week for a judge to consider whether an unredacted version of the complaint should remain sealed.

Jerry Falwell Jr. and Liberty University: What we know

Liberty spokesman Scott Lamb said the school, which had not yet been served with the lawsuit, would have a formal statement in response later Thursday. The school’s board of trustees has been meeting this week.

An attorney for Falwell did not respond immediately to a telephone message left Thursday, and Falwell did not respond to a voicemail and text seeking comment.

Falwell left Liberty in August after Giancarlo Granda, a younger business partner of the Falwell family, said he had a yearslong sexual relationship with Falwell’s wife, Becki Falwell, and that Jerry Falwell participated in some of the liaisons as a voyeur.

Although the Falwells have acknowledged that Granda and Becki Falwell had an affair, Jerry Falwell has denied any participation. The couple allege that Granda sought to extort them by threatening to reveal the relationship unless he was paid substantial amounts of money.

Before his resignation, Falwell had already been on an indefinite leave of absence after an uproar over a photo he posted on social media of him and his wife’s pregnant assistant, both with their pants unzipped.

Falwell said it was taken in good fun at a costume party during a vacation, but critics saw it as evidence of hypocrisy by the head of an institution that holds students to a strict moral code of conduct.

Shortly after Falwell’s departure, Liberty announced it was

Read more

Jerry Falwell Jr. sues Liberty University over reputation damage

Former Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. filed a lawsuit against the school on Wednesday, accusing it of damaging his reputation after being pressured to resign following a series of scandals. 

Falwell, who left the position he had held for 13 years in August, is accusing the evangelical university founded by his father of defamation and breach of contract.

The lawsuit, filed in state court in Lynchburg, Va., and obtained by local ABC affiliate WSET, says the university violated “legal, contractual, and moral obligations not to defame” Falwell after he said he saved the university from “financial collapse” and made it “the world’s leading evangelical university.”

press release issued Thursday by Quinn Emanuel, a firm representing Falwell, said the former Liberty president is claiming that the university “needlessly injured and damaged his reputation through a series of statements.”

Falwell is accusing Liberty University of accepting claims from former family friend and business partner Giancarlo Granda that Granda had an affair with Falwell’s wife between 2012 and 2018 and that Falwell would watch.

The lawsuit says the university “set out to destroy Mr. Falwell’s reputation through numerous defamatory statements that affirm the outrageous lies of an unstable individual who attempted to extort the Falwells.”

Robert Raskopf, Falwell’s lawyer, said in the release that they attempted to meet with the Liberty University board of trustees executive committee “but were unsuccessful in doing so.”

“Thus, we were forced to seek remedy for Mr. Falwell’s ongoing injuries and damage to his reputation through the Court,” he said.

Falwell released his own statement saying he was “saddened” that Liberty officials “jumped to conclusions about the claims made against my character, failed to properly investigate them, and then damaged my reputation following my forced resignation.”

“While I have nothing but love and appreciation for the Liberty community, and I had hoped to avoid litigation, I must take the necessary steps to restore my reputation and hopefully help repair the damage to the Liberty University brand in the process,” he added. 

Liberty University spokesperson Scott Lamb told The Hill in a statement that “the Board of Trustees are busy at work in session for the next two days for their Fall meetings.”

“The University would need to read and review a lawsuit before making comment, and as of this moment we have not been served,” he said.

In the lawsuit, Falwell goes on to allege that Granda “appears to be supported financially by political opponents of Mr. Falwell in the midst of a heated presidential campaign, likely including the anti-Trump political action committee called The Lincoln Project.” 

The lawsuit cites reports that Kurt Bardella, a senior adviser to The Lincoln Project, was representing Granda pro bono. Falwell, a supporter of President TrumpDonald John TrumpHillary Clinton responds to Chrissy Teigen tweet: ‘I love you back’ Police called after Florida moms refuse to wear face masks at school board meeting about mask policy Supreme Court rejects Trump effort to shorten North Carolina mail-ballot deadline MORE

Read more

Jerry Falwell Jr. sues Liberty University for defamation

Jerry Falwell Jr., who resigned as president of Liberty University in August after a sex scandal and other controversies, is now suing the evangelical school for defamation and breach of contract.



a man wearing a suit and tie: Former President of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr., delivers a speech during the Republican National Convention in 2016.


© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Former President of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr., delivers a speech during the Republican National Convention in 2016.

The suit was filed Wednesday in the Circuit Court for Lynchburg, the Virginia city that Liberty calls home.

Loading...

Load Error

Falwell Jr. is attempting to seal portions of the suit, which are redacted, because it would breach a confidentiality clause in his contract with Liberty.

Falwell’s suit emerges from a scandal that erupted this summer, after a young man in Miami went public with claims that he and Falwell Jr.’s wife had sexual liaisons for years, sometimes while the evangelical leader looked on.

Falwell Jr. acknowledged their affair in a statement, but said he was “not involved.”

The allegations precipitated a dramatic fall from grace for one of the country’s most prominent evangelicals and a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump.

“Other than God and my family, there is nothing in the world I love more than Liberty University,” Falwell Jr. said in a new statement.

“I am saddened that University officials, with whom I have shared so much success and enjoyed such positive relationships, jumped to conclusions about the claims made against my character, failed to properly investigate them, and then damaged my reputation following my forced resignation.”

A Falwell accuser denies any political motive

Liberty University declined comment on the suit. School spokesman Scott Lamb said Thursday, “The University would need to read and review a lawsuit before making comment, and as of this moment we have not been served.”

In the suit, Falwell says his downfall was cooked up by operatives at the Lincoln Project, a political group dedicated to defeating Trump in the November presidential election. Falwell Jr. has been one of Trump’s most loyal evangelical backers.

The Lincoln Project denied a connection to the allegations. “The Lincoln Project has had nothing to do with the public finally learning about the true character of the Falwell family,” the group said in a statement.

Giancarlo Granda, the Miami man who came forward with the affair allegations, also denied Falwell’s assertion.

“There is no connection to the Lincoln Project,” Granda told CNN on Thursday.

“I have received no financial compensation — none — for coming forward and telling the truth about the long-term affair with (Falwell’s wife), Jerry’s knowledge and participation in the affair; Jerry’s hypocrisy; and the Falwells’ abuse of power,” he added.

Falwell Jr.’s suit claims that Liberty University “directly participated in the defamation” and accepted “the salacious and baseless accusations against the Falwells at face value.”

But Falwell cites just one specific example of alleged defamatory statements: A school assembly in August at which David Nasser, Liberty’s senior vice president for spiritual development, called the former president’s behavior “sinful.”

The lawsuit says Liberty repeated similar statements in a press release and its

Read more