“It’s not a fine. It’s not a threat. It’s a tool.”

Okay, it turns out I was wrong about something.  NCAA rules do allow for player fines. (h/t John Infante)

Institutional financial aid based in any degree on athletics ability may be reduced or canceled during the period of the award or reduced or not renewed for the following academic year or years of the student-athlete’s five-year period of eligibility if the recipient:

… (e) Violates a nonathletically related condition outlined in the financial aid agreement or violates a documented institutional rule or policy (e.g., academics policies or standards, athletics department or team rules or policies).

So, it means that Virginia Tech and Cincinnati can pursue a course of fining players, if they so choose.

And if they’re careful to read the fine print there.

In order to avoid legal repercussions, the use of these funds for discipline must be written into the grant-in-aid agreements that are the basis for any athletic scholarship. The option must be a part of the scholarship transaction from the moment the athlete agrees to attend the university.

Unless the possibility of a fine is an express provision, there can be no withholding of such funds regardless of the conduct. Just like expulsion from the school or suspension from the team, the penalties for misconduct must be described in the agreement with specificity. If not, the school that fined a player would be subject to legal actions for breach of an agreement or for money damages as the result of tortious (wrongful) treatment of a player.

In addition, the grant-in-aid agreement must include a procedure for an appeal by the athletes just as it does for other disciplinary actions. The appeal is a bit of due process that is of benefit both to the athlete and to the school.

Munson goes on to note that it seems Cincinnati has indeed crossed all its Ts and dotted all its Is in that regard.  The Hokies, however, I’m gonna guess not so much, based on the athletic director’s comments.

Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock said he “had no idea” that football players were being assessed fines for violations like missing team meetings or being late for meals, and says the practice has been “discontinued” effective immediately.

Images from a television monitor outside the Hokies’ players’ lounge on Wednesday night listed what appeared to be a fine structure and named players who had already been assessed fines.

Now, a couple of things come to mind here.  The first is that while it may be within the NCAA rule structure to do this, following the rule is a lot different from being smart.  I can only imagine the hay waiting to be made on the recruiting trail with this news from, say, an Auburn recruiter chasing some élite prospect from the Virginia Beach area.  Indeed, now Virginia Tech is likely to face the fallout of defending a practice it no longer follows.  Have fun with that, Coach Foster.

But here’s the tough part to understand.  Munson says for the protocol to fine players to comply with NCAA rules to be permissible, it has to be clearly set forth in the financial aid agreement the school has the player sign.  Except the player isn’t allowed to have legal representation at that point.  How something like that might stand up in a court of law, I’m not sure.  And you’d think somebody like Jeffrey Kessler would want to know.

Then again, Kessler might be successful enough waiving pictures of the TV screen from the VT players lounge in support of his clients’ lawsuit that it would be a moot point.

The really funny thing is that coaches like Foster and Tuberville really don’t care if the law sees these kids as student-athletes or players getting paid, i.e., employees.  They just care that they’re allowed to have enough control over them, in whatever form or fashion works.  But I doubt their bosses see that the same way.  Which probably explains why Whit Babcock got his ass in high gear when he got the news.

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Filed under Look For The Union Label, The NCAA

Chubb, the stud

The thing that comes through in this Murf Baldwin piece about Nick Chubb is how polished he was last season – amazingly so for a true freshman.

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Filed under Georgia Football

The Montana Project lives!

Shared with me yesterday on the Twitter…

If you are that car’s owner and you read this blog, please accept my praise for your good taste.

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Filed under Georgia Football

It’s about time you gave us some tea leaves to read.

Hey, with a week or so to go in preseason practice, Mark Richt finally uttered more than two sentences about the quarterback competition.  Here’s how he assessed the three yesterday:

On Lambert: “Day one, I got a little nervous for a minute there because he struggled. But I think he was a little nervous, had a little nervous energy and all. But he’s settled in now and he’s throwing the ball well as far as fundamentally. For the amount of time he’s been here and been in the system, he’s done a good job of learning what to do and gotten himself in the competition.”

On Ramsey: “Brice has really improved his preparation skills. Starting in the spring I saw a difference in him. I think it had a lot to do with him thinking ‘I’m in this thing.’ I don’t know if he was mature enough before to really be preparing for the moment.’ … I saw a big change in the spring in how he was preparing.”

On Bauta: “Faton is a preparation machine. I mean, the guy works. He may be the hardest-working guy I’ve ever seen. And he really cares about his team and teammates and making others better around him. He’s probably made the least amount of mistakes than anybody out there. He’s been very good about having a purpose every time he throws the ball, which I appreciate.”

I think we just got confirmation about why Ramsey hasn’t been able to lock down the starting slot and how Bauta’s managed to stay in the mix.  (Not to mention that it again makes me wonder how different things might be right now if Mike Bobo were still in Athens.)

I can’t figure out where Lambert fits in, though.  I’ve heard the rumors out there about how he’s Schottenheimer’s guy, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense, to be honest.  Richt makes it sound like they’ve made progress cleaning up his fundamentals, which, considering where he came from, has probably taken some real effort both by Lambert and the coaches.  And by all accounts, Lambert’s a smart kid.  But I’m truly skeptical that a month in the program is enough time to grasp what is known to be a fairly complex playbook, even if it involves handing off to Nick Chubb half the time.

Bottom line, it sounds to me like there’s still a whole lot of motivating going on.  And that’s not something we’ve seen a need for at that position in a while.

43 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

“They’re becoming these public personas at these universities, and why not capitalize on that?”

The NCAA won’t let a student-athlete make money on his or her likeness, but there’s no rule against protecting them.

Like their counterparts in the pros, more college football stars are starting to snatch up trademark rights to their names, nicknames and fan slogans.

The NCAA generally forbids its players from cashing in on their athletic success, but by gaining legal ownership of phrases tied to their personal brands, players can pave the way for lucrative licensing deals in the future and can prevent others from exploiting their names.

This month, Ohio State University running back Ezekiel Elliott applied for trademarks to use his nicknames “Zeke” and “Eze” on merchandise, according to records in a public database kept by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Elliott also filed for a trademark on the restaurant name “Zeke’s Crop Top Bar and Grill,” a nod to the junior’s preference to roll his jersey up like a crop top. Elliott was unavailable for comment, and his father declined to explain the trademarks.

At Mississippi State University, quarterback Dak Prescott applied for the trademark on his name last fall, along with “Dak Attack” and “Who Dak,” phrases that fans have waved aloft on game-day signs.

It’s unclear to me where this is headed.  Obviously, it could mean more in a post-O’Bannon world, but we’re not there yet.  The article mentions that some schools have begun suggesting that their star athletes take steps to protect their names.  There’s also this:

Many universities, meanwhile, have stopped selling jerseys with the numbers of current players, in part because of legal concerns.

Hilbert predicts that, as universities shine the spotlight away from individual athletes, more players will step in to take ownership of their own brands.

“It’s a gradual move toward commercializing the sport,” Hilbert said. “As the demarcation between amateurism and professionalism further erodes, you’re going to see these guys get even more savvy about branding matters.”

It makes you wonder if we’ll see a day when a star athlete takes steps to preclude his school (or the NCAA) from using his name or likeness in a promotion.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Strength of schedule, 2015 edition

Talk about your picture being worth a thousand words… take a look at this graph, particularly the overlap between the top two teams:

I guess that’s what everyone who’s talking about the SEC’s decline must be referring to.  Jeez.

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Filed under Stats Geek!

“I’m searching for a word here,” he said. “It’s unbelievable. It’s incomprehensible.”

Dude, the word you’re looking for is “Auburn“.

50 Comments

Filed under Academics? Academics., Auburn's Cast of Thousands