Category Archives: The NCAA

What if the NCAA sees a drawn out investigation as a feature, not a bug?

A couple of posts at Red Cup Rebellion caught my eye this morning.

This one charts the hit Freeze took with this year’s recruiting class, while this one sounds a bit wistful about Ole Miss’ predicament.

Yea, the NCAA situation hurt Ole Miss this recruiting cycle. A couple of hours after piecing together the country’s No. 30 overall class on National Signing Day, Hugh Freeze himself referred to 2017 as “a penalty” and griped about other schools using the ongoing investigation for negative recruiting.

It was a decent class considering the limitations, but the reality is that the Rebels can’t have another like it and continue to compete with the top of the SEC (this year’s class ranked 12th in the conference). Ole Miss needs a bounce-back cycle in 2018.

Whether or not the NCAA will break camp by next Signing Day is anyone’s guess, though it’s hard to believe they can drag this thing out for another full year.

It’s the NCAA, sunshine.  I wouldn’t be too sure about anything, when it comes to the NCAA.

And that’s the thing.  We all know in an age of enormous conference television contracts, no program is ever going to get slammed with the death penalty again.  But slow playing an investigation so that a program’s recruiting suffers over a period of a few years while the sword of Damocles dangles overhead?  Yeah, I can see that.  If you think about it, that’s a pretty effective penalty in its own way.

The only thing I’m not sure of is if the NCAA is actually that clever.  If it is, though, that’s something an overly aggressive head coach might have to factor into his approach on the recruiting trail.  Assuming there’s a next time, of course.



Filed under Recruiting, The NCAA

Amateurs. What are you gonna do?

In a classic late Friday afternoon news dump move, the NCAA announced it settled the Alston case.

Thousands of college athletes who received traditional sports scholarships rather than a new version that covers the full cost of attending school will be compensated for the difference under a $208.7 million settlement reached Friday night between the NCAA and plaintiffs in a presumptive class-action antitrust lawsuit against the association and 11 major conferences.

The deal, which must be approved by a federal judge, would be the second-largest legal settlement in the NCAA’s history. Similar litigation in a case led by Stanford football football player Jason White ended in 2008 with an agreement worth just under $230 million.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers sound pretty darn happy.  And why shouldn’t they be?

“We’re very pleased that we could get a 100% settlement for these kids,” Steve Berman, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s very unusual to get 100% in a settlement.”

The NCAA would have you believe it paid 100 cents on the dollar because it’s all about helping the kids.

“The agreement maintains cost of attendance as an appropriate dividing line between collegiate and professional sports,” the NCAA said in a statement. “In fact, the NCAA and conferences only settled this case because the terms are consistent with Division I financial aid rules, which allow athletics-based aid up to the full cost of obtaining a college education. Whenever possible and appropriate, the NCAA prefers to provide benefits to student-athletes rather than incur the ongoing cost of lawyers and legal processes.”

If only it were possible and appropriate a few years ago.

Of course that’s a load of crap.  The real reason was the NCAA stood to lose a lot more than 100% of the claimed damages.

While the settlement (if approved) will require the NCAA to pay $208.7 million, it will not require the NCAA to admit any wrongdoing. This is not surprising. A settlement is not an admission of guilt. It is a contract where the defendant and plaintiff agree on an arrangement that both find preferable to continuing the litigation. It is possible, if not likely, that NCAA attorneys were confident they would have ultimately prevailed in a trial against Alston and other players. But any such confidence would have come with a major risk—the risk of losing. Along those lines, we know it is worth at least $208.7 million for the NCAA to terminate this litigation, otherwise the NCAA would not have agreed to the terms of this settlement.

So what does the NCAA gain from a settlement that, if approved would require the NCAA to pay such a hefty fee? Perhaps most important, the NCAA eliminates the possibility of the “worst case” scenario occurring: losing the case, having to pay much more than $208.7 million and being forced to radically change its governing rules. The NCAA also cuts off any further obligations to share evidence or partake in depositions that might reveal damaging information about the NCAA and its officials.

The NCAA’s done a lot of agreeing recently in antitrust cases, more than $300 million’s worth in just the last three years alone.  And for all its brave talk that it will “continue to vigorously oppose the remaining portion of the lawsuit seeking pay for play”, the more it settles these, the more the lawyers in the outstanding litigation — which includes Alston, by the way, as those plaintiffs are seeking an injunction that would nullify the current limits — smell blood.  Jeffrey Kessler is still out there and he’s not going away.


Filed under See You In Court, The NCAA

Eh, what’s the worst that could happen?

You can trust Hugh Freeze, son.

Murchison said he was most concerned about the ongoing, and seemingly never-ending, NCAA investigation into the Ole Miss football program. Murchison was satisfied with the answers provided by Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze.

“Coach Freeze explained the investigation to me. He explained it well enough that I know to be smart about this decision,” he said. “Just what would be the worst that would happen. The worst thing would probably be a bowl ban, and it’s not likely to happen. That’s the only thing I had a question about, and they answered it. It was all right.”

I mean, if there’s anybody in America who’s had his finger on the NCAA’s pulse, it’s Hugh Freeze, amirite?


Filed under Recruiting, The NCAA

Moar wussification coming

For safety reasons, the NCAA Sport Science Institute has recommended eliminating the popular two-a-day preseason practices and reducing contact at all practices, including limiting full contact to once a week during the season.

No doubt the Bear is turning over in his grave about now.

Here are the details:

  • In-season practices: Allow three days per week of non-contact/minimal contact, one day of live contact/tackling, and one day of live contact/thud. Currently, the recommendation is no more than two live contact/tackling days. Live contact means tackling to the ground and/or full-speed blocking. Non-contact/minimal contact practices don’t involve tackling, thud (in which players hit but don’t take each other to the ground), or full-speed blocking.
  • Preseason practices: Allow up to three days of live contact per week (tackling or thud) and three non-contact/minimal contact practices per week. One day must be no practice. A non-contact/minimal contact practice must follow a scrimmage.
  • Postseason practices: If there’s two weeks or less between the final regular-season game/conference championship game and the bowl game, in-season practice recommendations should remain in place. If there’s more than two weeks, then up to three days per week may be live contact and three days of non-contact/minimal contact.
  • Spring practices: Eight of the 15 allowable practices may involve live contact, including three that can be scrimmages. Live contact should be limited to two practices per week and not on consecutive days.

There is a caveat.

Of course, these changes are just recommendations. Even if the NCAA writes these guidelines into legislation, “you can choose to do what you want,” Hainline acknowledged. “But culturally, to ignore this public document that has such widespread endorsement, I don’t think it makes any sense from any point of view that you can point to.”

Especially if you don’t want to get your ass sued off.


Filed under The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

“… dark, cloudy and a lot of uncertainty.”

I’d say pity the poor Rebels, except Hugh Freeze deserves every bit of karma he’s reaping from this.


Filed under Recruiting, The NCAA

“This bill has nothing to do with the current investigation at Ole Miss – nothing.”

Gridiron Now posts an interview with the doofus… er, Mississippi legislator… who’s pitching a bill that would fine the NCAA $10,000 a day for every day an investigation lasts past a year.

It’s as muddled as you’d expect someone who thinks a private, voluntary organization has to apply due process in dealing with its membership would sound.  Although it feels like he knows he’s not going far with his bill:

Q. Have you talked to people in other states that have had similar situations with the NCAA, and if so, what has been the feedback from those people?

A. Recently, I have had calls as far away as Connecticut to California, and in my preliminary research, I didn’t find where any other state had looked at it from this angle.

I think the conversation is ongoing, and that’s the goal, which is to raise awareness and create conversation on this topic.

Conversation?  Not until Stacey Osburn sings, skippy.


Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

The NCAA calls a time out.

Father Emmert knows what’s best for you, kids.

Only the five wealthiest conferences could debate what a day off means for their employees … er, “amateur” athletes. Before the Power Five passed some sensible rules Friday to loosen up athletes’ time a little bit, some amendments were proposed by the adults.

USA Today reported one amendment, which overwhelmingly failed, would have allowed athletes to host a recruit on their day off provided they gave prior consent. Another amendment, which closely passed, allows life-skill activities to be held on athletes’ off days. Some player representatives at the NCAA Convention weren’t buying the amendments, recognizing how the system was trying to control days off for unpaid players who are supposedly students first.

The integrity of the day off?  Son, wait ’til you get married and are presented with your first Saturday honey-do list.  But I digress.

The NCAA actually posted this quote from a student-athlete on its web site announcing the votes, which tells you the degree of disconnect that still exists.  Control, baby!

“It’s about owning your time. Coaches need to understand that student-athletes aren’t on call at all times,” Darlington said. “This is about changing the perception of coaches: Our time is our time.”

Good luck with that.  Because… well, you know the because.

What remains untouched: The number of games and when/where they are played. If NCAA members really want to make athletes closer to traditional students, play fewer 9 p.m. games on a Tuesday night a couple hours away from your campus. But that won’t happen because this is pro sports masked as amateur.

“We all know games are the elephant in the room, especially basketball,” said one Power Five athletic director, who asked to remain anonymous.

“I agree it’s an issue,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. “I think that’s a more complex, sport-by-sport set of discussions we may have in the future. I think in this first round of time demands legislation we’re focusing around the practice schedules.”

“You mean we should be the adults in the room and play fewer games?” quipped another anonymous Power Five AD. “We can try to make amends where we can that helps. But the travel for all the games really is what changes their lives. The games seem to be sacred among the athletes.”

Hey, as long as you’ve got a sense of humor about it, it’s all good, amirite?

And on a similar note, Eleven Warriors argues that if the NCAA is all about student-athlete welfare when it comes to extending the season with a second bye week, giving those young bodies more time to heal during all those weeks of play, why not go further and return to an eleven-game schedule?

As I said, as long as you’ve got a sense of humor about it, it’s all good.


Filed under Look For The Union Label, The NCAA