Category Archives: See You In Court

Today, in amateurism

Apologies for missing this when it was announced a couple of weeks ago, but Judge Wilken approved the settlement agreement reached in the Austin case.

A federal judge in California on Friday orally granted final approval to a $208.7 million settlement that will compensate tens of thousands of college athletes who received traditional sports scholarships rather than a relatively new version that covers the full cost of attending school, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys told USA TODAY Sports…

Speaking after a hearing that U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken held in Oakland, attorney Steve Berman said about 43,000 current and former athletes will get checks from the settlement, and they will do so without having to file a claim form. Although 11 major conferences are co-defendants, the NCAA has said all of the money in the settlement pool will come from the association’s financial reserves.

The math works out to a check of about $6000 to “scholarship athletes in Division I men’s basketball, Division I women’s basketball or the Football Bowl Subdivision whose award was limited by NCAA rules to basically tuition, room, board, books and fees”, and if you’re wondering…

Athletes who have remaining NCAA eligibility when they receive a check will be able to accept the money without any impact on their eligibility.

This, no doubt, will mean the end of college athletics as we know it.  I mean, Title IX, player jealousy and teenagers spending NCAA money on tats and video games can only lead to chaos, amirite?

The remarkable part of this is that Berman’s gotten his clients millions from the NCAA and still has his bigger gun cocked and ready to fire.

The deal wraps up the damages portion of a suit that, along with another case, is still seeking to upend the NCAA’s new compensation limits altogether…

“I’m thrilled with how this came out, and we’ve saved the best for the next trial,” Berman said, referring to the quests for an injunction against the compensation limits that currently is going through bids from the plaintiffs and the NCAA for a summary judgment ruling by Wilken.

More realistically, those efforts come down to the NCAA trying to get the cases dismissed and the plaintiffs trying to move the cases to trial. “One hundred percent we will get there,” Berman said.

I assume Stacey Osburn has no comment.

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There’s a reason Stacey Osburn never comments.

When you’re suing the NCAA and its member schools, there’s nothing more effective than using their own words against them.  This is brutal.

The plaintiffs later noted news reports last month in which Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer and Washington football coach Chris Petersen took issue with the late start times for games.

“I understand TV contracts are kind of ruling,” Meyer said, “but when you start talking about student-athletes, they shouldn’t have to play four night games on the road . . . . I talked to [Ohio State Athletic Director] Gene Smith about it and I’m going to bring it up to [Big Ten] commissioner, [Jim Delany]. We’ll find out if we really do care about getting home at four o’clock in the morning four times. You don’t do that.”

Citing The Seattle Times’ story on Petersen’s comments, he said late start times have been “painful for our team,” but “so much of this and what we do comes down to money . . . TV contracts are big. They tell us when to play.”

The plaintiffs added: “Far from arguing to the contrary or claiming that schedules are meant to be minimally disruptive, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott told ESPN during a live broadcast a few weeks ago that while ‘late night games are . . . tough on student athletes, . . . there’s no doubt that playing late at night . . . ha[s] been beneficial for the Pac-12.’ ”

The plaintiffs argued that schools’ quest for revenue creates a situation in which “it is nothing short of delusional for Defendants or anyone else to believe that Division I basketball and FBS football players have ‘normal’ collegiate experiences.”

I half expect the NCAA to counter by arguing about students pulling all-nighters for exams.

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Prohibition

I’m a little surprised nobody brought up the subject of what I was hinting at in the header of yesterday’s post about the announcement of federal prosecution of several basketball coaches.  No doubt it was easy to be distracted by the fact that, yet again, Auburn finds itself enmeshed in another recruiting scandal, but let’s not lose sight of the underlying cause of the (alleged) criminal activity.

It is from the NCAA’s system of amateurism that the criminal investigation became possible: law enforcement became aware various persons broke NCAA rules in ways that violated criminal law. If the NCAA had adopted a system where players were compensated for their labor and compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness, perhaps all or some of these “under the table” payments would not have occurred. We’ll never know. But some will ask.

Blow it off, if you like, but that is a typically real world result of market distortion.  If you want an uncomfortable analogy, it’s kind of like how they caught Al Capone.

The NCAA has a problem here, as well, that’s probably beginning to dawn on its member schools.  The problem is, unlike the usual investigation of such matters, it has no control over the proceedings.  Even worse, the federal investigation is far from toothless.  Unlike the NCAA, the feds have subpoena power and the threat of jail time to play in order to get cooperation.  That can turn over a lot of rocks that normally would stay in the shade.

Along those lines, the fact that such extensive corruption allegedly occurred raises questions as to whether the NCAA is even capable of stopping any of it. The NCAA, like any organization, has a limited bandwidth. Further, since it is a private actor, the NCAA lacks subpoena powers and other investigatory capabilities enjoyed by law enforcement.

The individual schools implicated in the prosecutions—including Auburn, Oklahoma State, Arizona, USC and Louisville—are also impacted by the trajectory of these cases. Employees of their schools are now accused of partaking in conduct that violates criminal law and NCAA rules. It stands to reason the NCAA could, and no doubt will, investigate the criminal cases and potentially impose sanctions on those schools.

The schools might also worry about civil liability associated with criminal acts committed by employees, as well as repercussions with their insurance companies. It stands to reason that a recruited player who loses his NCAA eligibility as a result of this criminal investigation could consider suing the recruiting school as well as others involved.

Adidas is also impacted. One of its well-known executives, Gatto, is now a defendant in a criminal case in which he is accused of peddling his position with the apparel company to advance a criminal enterprise. Even if other sneaker company executives partake in similar kinds of misconduct, Adidas is the one with an executive who faces charges. That dynamic could damage the brand and the confidence placed in it by company investors. Also, given that Adidas is a publicly traded company, allegations against an Adidas executive might attract the unwanted attention of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

All of these associated parties would likely be pleased if the defendants strike plea deals to end the cases as soon as possible. The NCAA, universities and Adidas all know the longer these cases drag out, the more likely compromising evidence will surface, whether that occurs through subpoenas, warrants or the pretrial discovery process. It’s possible many names, including of significant figures in college sports, will come to light and in unflattering ways. To that end, it seems quite possible head coaches and athletic department officials of implicated schools may have been aware of an assistant coach’s wrongdoing. Further, executives at the related universities and Adidas could all be called to testify in forums that damage their associated brands.

All this to preserve the amateurism protocol.  At some point, you have to wonder if Emmert’s bosses start to question if this a price worth paying to prevent student-athletes from being compensated for their names, likenesses and images. Down the road, we may look back on this indictment and recognize it as being as significant a turning point in the history of college athletics as NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma wound up being.

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Tuesday morning buffet

Let’s open up the chafing dishes.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Notre Dame's Faint Echoes, Pac-12 Football, Recruiting, SEC Football, See You In Court, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics, The NCAA

Thursday morning buffet

So many nuggets, so little time.

  • For Florida, it takes a village to raise a mediocre offense.
  • Distraction time:  Brian Kelly’s been sued by a former player.
  • The Jarrett Stidham hype train didn’t exactly burst out of the station in Auburn’s opener.  Eh, it’ll probably kick in against Clemson’s defense this week…
  • Strong mid-majors performance in this year’s recently concluded Fulmer Cup standings.
  • A few SEC Network insights on Georgia’s defense and Jake Fromm after the opener.
  • It sounds like the 1980 Georgia squad is as frustrated about the title drought as the rest of us are.
  • You know your program is a finely tuned machine when you first learn about your injury status on Twitter.
  • Here’s a look at our fan base from a Chicago perspective.
  • Trent Thompson is coming on like gangbusters.  “Thompson also added two tackles for a loss and a sack. In his last two games (counting last season’s bowl game) he has had 14 tackles, 5 ½ tackles for loss and four sacks. He had just two sacks in the first 12 games last season, before three in the bowl game against TCU and one on Saturday.”

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Crime and Punishment, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Notre Dame's Faint Echoes, See You In Court

Amoral

One thing about college football — winning seems to bring out the worst in some people.

Mark Lanier, Briles’ attorney, said schools have contacted his client about coaching again, and he expects Briles to be coaching in 2018. Briles was fired in May 2016 amid the school’s sexual assault scandal.

“There’s no question this is one step toward him getting back into coaching,” Lanier said. “He did not want to get back into coaching until he finished through the legal system.”

Yeah, who needs the distraction, amirite?  Any athletic director worth his salt wants a coach who’s fully focused on the job.  And if that’s what you’re looking for, Briles is your kind of football coach.

“It was definitely eye-opening because I think there were people in the room that didn’t want to fire Art Briles, but they also felt like they had to have somebody in charge who could fix the problems and it was pretty clear the guy was nothing but a football coach,” Schlabach said. “It just felt like it was the end of the game where he made a bad play call and said, ‘It won’t happen again.’ I don’t think he really understood the gravity of the problems and really just wouldn’t admit to what had happened under his watch.”

Oh, but he’s learned his lesson.

Lanier said Hernandez dropped the suit against Briles and did not request money or an apology from him.

Lanier said Briles feels “a measure of vindication” by Tuesday’s filing.

“He does feel bad for anybody who was hurt at all,” Lanier said of Briles. “Whether through Baylor or otherwise, he’s still got a soft heart for a victim of any crime at all. He’s cognizant of that.”

That we live in a world where Briles feels vindication and some school is prepared to enable that is pretty depressing.

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