Daily Archives: April 1, 2014

First thing, let’s call all the lawyers.

Vanderbilt:

Vanderbilt athletics has consulted with its lawyers about the dynamics of a union, what it might mean for the school and how to best serve students, AD David Williams told CBSSports.com.

In other words, time to prepare in case more schools are targeted.

“We’re in very close contact with (lawyers) to help us understand what all this means and what we should or shouldn’t be doing,” Williams said. “First thing we did.”

Stanford:

Stanford University sent a memorandum to its coaches and various staff members, asking them to use care in discussing union-related matters and to avoid making any public comments on the National Labor Relations Board ruling, including in social media.

“If you have been following the NLRB testimony you know that every seemingly innocent comment by university representatives takes on heightened importance in that environment, and is dissected and scrutinized,” said the note, which directed employees to send all media inquiries to Kurt Svoboda, a university spokesman.

In the memo, Stanford provided various suggestions to help its staff “avoid liability.” Here’s what it said:

“To avoid liability you must not:

  • Threaten actions against student-athletes if they join or vote for a union (e.g., threaten loss of playing time, being cut from team, loss of scholarship, extra conditioning, etc.).
  • Retaliate against student-athletes for actually supporting a union.
  • Promise benefits to student-athletes to discourage union support.
  • Monitor athlete’s union student-activities.
  • Question student-athletes about their union sympathies or activities.
  • State that Stanford will not deal with a union.”

Sounds like somebody needs to make sure David Shaw got the memo.

By the way, if you’re looking for new leadership who might be able to dig college athletics out of this mess, maybe Wolverton talked with some decent candidates.

Following the ruling last week that football players at Northwestern University could organize, I called a handful of private colleges to see how they were dealing with the prospect of a broader union movement.

Some athletic directors did not appear concerned, saying they were more worried about other legal challenges facing the NCAA.

Honestly, that almost sounds refreshing.

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Wrong holiday

I thought today was April Fools’ Day, not Groundhog Day.

Jenkins admits now that last spring — when the defense got the better of the offense in some scrimmages, including G-Day — led to some false confidence.

“After all those practices, we might have got a little too over ourselves, we thought a little too highly, then we slacked off a little bit,” Jenkins said. “Then when it came down to putting the work back in, we were a little bit off, a little behind.”

This spring, the focus is more on technique and fundamentals, as players and a new defensive staff get to know each other. The talk is less brash — at least for the most part.

“Our goals are way different from last year,” linebacker Ramik Wilson said. “We know what we’ve gotta do. No more talking, we’ve just gotta go out there and get better.”

Said Jenkins, “It’s a fresh start. But it feels like it’s a different vibe around here. Guys want to be holding everyone else accountable for something. We’re not letting guys get away with the small stuff, and the coaches certainly aren’t, either. They’re getting on us. I feel like we’re doing a lot of the small things now. We’re doing the technique work. … The coaches really just want to see us succeed. They’re always available for us. They’re just going the extra mile, compared to last year.”

You know how a stopped clock is still right twice a day?  Maybe it’s that time.

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