Category Archives: The NCAA

Is the NCAA starting to wise up?

There are encouraging signs that the parties to the cost of attendance lawsuit filed by Steve Berman may be on the verge of settling.

Lawyers for the NCAA, FBS conferences and plaintiffs involved in a cost of attendance lawsuit filed a motion Monday to “indefinitely” delay their case, strongly suggesting they’re close to reaching a damages settlement.

Settling the case could pay former and current NCAA athletes for cost of attendance stipends the NCAA previously didn’t allow them to receive. The lawsuit, filed in 2014 by former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston and later consolidated with other cases, claimed the NCAA and the conferences violated antitrust law by capping the value of an athletic scholarship at less than the actual cost of attending college.

In a joint motion Monday, the NCAA, conferences and plaintiffs wrote, “The parties agree that it is in the interests of justice and efficient management of the litigation to continue indefinitely the remaining dates related to the proceedings on Plaintiffs’ motion for certification of damages classes.”

That would be nice.  But it’s only one case and the big mother is still out there swimming around.

In a separate part of this case and a related lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken already granted class-action status to groups of athletes challenging the NCAA’s new cost-of-attendance limits. That case, which is jointly led by Berman and prominent sports attorney Jeffrey Kessler, is commonly referred to as the Kessler case. One of the lead plaintiffs is current Wisconsin basketball star Nigel Hayes. The Kessler case seeks an injunction that would eliminate the NCAA’s new limits.

Kessler, who said he is unaware if the damages case has been settled, said his case would not be impacted by such a settlement. Additional depositions are trying to be scheduled in January for the injunctive case, and discovery will likely end by late January or early February, Kessler said.

“We’re going full forward with our discovery and moving forward with injunctive relief,” Kessler said.

Of course, that’s a much tougher pill for the NCAA and the schools to swallow.  But I suspect discovery will be as embarrassing for them as it’s been before.  Glad I’m not in Stacey Osburn’s shoes.

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Filed under See You In Court, The NCAA

Oh, so NOW they’re not talking.

Barney Farrar, the dude who came to national attention on NFL draft night when some of Laremy Tunsil’s texts about needing money were exposed, has been placed on administrative leave.  And suddenly, the sounds of silence emanate from Oxford.

Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork declined to comment on the situation, as did a university spokesman. Attempts by The Clarion-Ledger to reach Farrar were unsuccessful.

Hugh Freeze wouldn’t comment on the matter Wednesday.

I guess all that’s left to find out is if Farrar turns out to be the scapegoat or the canary in the coal mine.

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Filed under SEC Football, The NCAA

“They don’t have rules to cover four-year, multiyear scholarships.”

This looks like it has the potential to be one big, ugly lawsuit.

Why was Vassar’s athletic scholarship revoked? The lawsuit quoted a letter purportedly from Northwestern’s deputy general counsel that said Vassar breached his July 2015 “contract” because he worked fewer than 8 hours per week and submitted fraudulent timecards to the athletic department.

Vassar appealed the decision to Northwestern’s Athletic Aid Appeals Committee. At the hearing, Northwestern submitted what it claimed to be Vassar’s fake timecards, even though somebody else’s name was crossed out on one timecard and Vassar’s first name was misspelled on another. The lawsuit showed copies of the timecards, including one that misspelled the player’s name as “Johnie.”

“One timecard said he worked on March 26, but we showed credit card payments that he made purchases in California that day while there for his father’s funeral,” Cherise said. “They knew then they had no case.”

Vassar won his appeal on May 4, 2016. The appeals committee wrote that Northwestern’s athletic department “has not provided sufficient information for a removal of your athletics scholarship,” and Vassar didn’t come to Northwestern “with the expectation that you would be doing maintenance work.”  [Emphasis added.]

Given the history, that’s spectacularly tone deaf, Northwestern.  Brilliantly played.

Cherise said the NCAA, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, told her it’s never been in a situation quite like this with an athlete in such limbo.

For once, I don’t blame Stacey Osburn for keeping quiet.

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Filed under Look For The Union Label, See You In Court, The NCAA

Sexual assault, with honor

Good to see the healing in Waco proceeds.

Billionaire businessman Drayton McLane, who name adorns the Baylor University football stadium, said Thursday he wants to see fired football coach Art Briles’ honor “restored” and any evidence that led to his dismissal publicly released by the school’s board of regents.

Yeah, because if nothing else comes out of the whole mess, at least they can see to it that Art Briles gets his mojo back.

Fortunately, the NCAA is willing to pitch in and do its part to help the process along.

With Baylor University at war with itself over the firing of its football coach in the wake of a sexual-assault scandal, this qualifies as good news: The NCAA is not planning to bring the hammer down on Baylor the way it did Penn State.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has notified Baylor that it won’t exert its executive authority to impose sweeping sanctions against the school for broad institutional failings, and will instead follow its normal investigative process, according to people familiar with the matter.

Honestly, no one should be surprised by that.  Some of Mark Emmert’s chickens have come home to roost, that’s all.

The NCAA decision indicates Baylor—at least for now—will not be subject to the sort of harsh sanctions the NCAA imposed on Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child-molestation scandal. That case, in which the former assistant football coach was convicted of abusing boys over a 15-year period, was viewed by many as a potential precedent for Baylor since it also involved alleged criminal activity within the athletic department but not clear-cut NCAA violations.

Under pressure from the NCAA, which cited a broad “failure of institutional integrity,” Penn State after the Sandusky scandal vacated 111 wins under Coach Joe Paterno, accepted a four-year bowl ban, reduced football scholarships and agreed to pay $60 million to fight child abuse. Many of those sanctions have since been vacated after a series of legal challenges.

The NCAA’s aggression in the Penn State case “really backfired,” says B. David Ridpath, an Ohio University professor of sports administration. “I doubt you will ever see the NCAA do anything like that again.”

As some warned at the time, there are inevitable consequences when the head of a powerful organization decides to run off on his own and disregard established rules and protocols to show the world his oversized concern about a matter.

If it all works out the way things appear to be headed, rest assured that nobody at Baylor or the NCAA will have any lasting regrets.  Nice for them.

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Filed under Baylor Is Sensitive To Women's Issues, The NCAA

A viral sensation and a random thought

Amidst the chatter about Rodrigo Blankenship’s dad’s grumbling about the family finances in the absence of a full scholarship for his son, perhaps it’s worth considering how Blankenship would be able to capitalize commercially on his new-found image if he were anyone in America other than an NCAA student-athlete.

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Filed under Georgia Football, The NCAA

“… I’m here to play, I’m not here to go to school.”

So, Ben Simmons says the obvious…

“The NCAA is really f—ed up,” Simmons said on “One and Done,” a film that will air on Showtime on Friday night. “Everybody’s making money except the players. We’re the ones waking up early as hell to be the best teams and do everything they want us to do and then the players get nothing. They say education, but if I’m there for a year, I can’t get much education.”

“The NCAA is messed up,” Simmons said. “I don’t have a voice. … I don’t get paid to do it. Don’t say I’m an amateur and make me take pictures and sign stuff and go make hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars off one person. … I’m going off on the NCAA. Just wait, just wait. I can be a voice for everybody in college. I’m here because I have to be here [at LSU]. … I can’t get a degree in two semesters, so it’s kind of pointless. I feel like I’m wasting time.”

… and Mark Emmert interprets that as an attack on the NBA.  No, really.

“I was reading today where someone who played basketball at LSU was very unhappy with the one-and-done rule,” said Emmert, speaking Wednesday at LSU’s inaugural Sports Communication Summit at the Manship School of Mass Communication. “That’s not our rule. That’s the NBA’s rule. But (he says) it’s another stupid NCAA rule.”

Emmert said he agrees with Simmons, who was quoted in a documentary about him airing Friday on Showtime saying he felt he wasted his time in college because he didn’t have any time to work toward a degree, to a point.

“The one-and-done rule is something I’ve made no secret about how much I dislike it,” Emmert said. “It makes a farce of going to school. But if you just want to play in the NBA, you can do that. You can go to Europe or play at a prep school until you’re 19.

“I’d love nothing more than for the NBA to get rid of that rule. We’ve made it really clear to the (NBA) players union and the leadership of the NBA that we very much would like it changed.”

I’m sure you would, boss.  But the NBA isn’t in the business of managing your labor standards for you.

“If someone wants to be a pro basketball player and doesn’t want to go to college, don’t go to college,” he said. “We don’t put a gun to your head. First and foremost, it’s about being a student at a university. We’re in the human development business.

“If I wanted to hire someone to play football, why would I hire a 17-year-old (out of high school)?” Emmert asked. “Why wouldn’t I hire someone who just finished playing in the NFL or the CFL? If you want to hire a team, hire a team.

“Those kids have to be students. Philosophically, they have to be representatives of the university, so what we can and should be doing, which what we are doing today, is provide them with everything they possibly need to make them successful students and athletes.”

Well, plus put them in position to make lots of money for schools and Emmert’s organization.

You don’t care?  Then why was Simmons offered a scholarship at LSU in the first place?

Every time Mark Emmert speaks, an angel throws up.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Urban Meyer asks, “what about the children?”

When it comes to a proposed early signing period, let no one say Corch’s heart isn’t in the right place.

“I hear the reasoning is because there’s so many de-commitments,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said in September about early signing periods before the Division I Council passed the oversight committee’s proposal in early October. “So because 17-year-olds are de-commiting, let’s give them a legal document so they can’t de-commit. That’s not very smart. Young people have a right to choose where they want to go to school. Period. Let them de-commit 100 times.”

Urbs may have heard that reasoning, but apparently he hasn’t heard the facts.

De-commitments and flip-flopping by highly touted recruits gets a lot of attention, but it is still relatively uncommon. The survey showed 82 percent of football signees verbally committed prior to signing. Of those, 90 percent signed where they committed.

Pesky things, those facts.

Of 55 NCAA sports, football is one of four that does not have an early signing period.

According to the NCAA, 25,316 Division I student-athletes signed a national letter of intent in 2015-16. Of those, 18,103 had the opportunity to sign early and about 66 percent did.

“Why are we treating football players different from all the other students that come to us?” Eichorst said. “There’s no good answer for that.”

Good question, but I’ve got a better one.  If the NCAA is so concerned about transparency, why not give kids and their parents the right to consult with a legal advisor before signing a national letter of intent, so they might have the opportunity to know what they’re getting into before they sign?

Hey, maybe you can have too much transparency.  Eh, maybe Corch and Saban are playing bad cop to the NCAA’s good cop here.  I mean, let’s not forget this little drop:  “And what we constantly hear from our coaches and others is often times I spend more time recruiting my next class than coaching my current.” 

Then again, maybe it’s just about protecting the lazier recruiters.

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Filed under Recruiting, The NCAA