Category Archives: The NCAA
The NCAA’s investigation of Ole Miss is turning out to be quite the story.
Now officially on the record that August, Sheridan asked if Lewis understood that immunity would only cover past events, not any potential future violations, and that if he was found to have provided false or misleading information, he could still lose his grant.
“Yes sir,” Lewis replied.
Finally, Lewis’ lawyer, John Brady, stepped in to clarify how far his client could go.
“I just want to make sure we’re clear that the immunity extends to everything that you may ask Leo today, is that correct?” Brady asked.
“That is correct,” Sheridan replied.
Then Lewis started talking. About money. About free hotels, free rides to visit college campuses, hundred-dollar handshakes, free apparel, and even more money, bags of cash he says he received from multiple SEC programs totaling over $21,000 during the final week before National Signing Day in February 2015.
“Multiple SEC programs”? Please, continue.
Additionally, new documentation submitted to the Committee on Infractions by attorneys for Ole Miss claims Lewis told NCAA enforcement he took $11,000 in benefits from his current school, Mississippi State. Unlike Lewis, Mississippi State cannot receive conditional immunity for any former, current, or future statements its current player makes.
11 grand? Pfffft. Loose change.
… an audio tape of an alleged conversation between Farrar and Lewis’ mother, Tina Henderson, was submitted by Farrar’s counsel after the November interview. In the audio tape, recorded on Feb. 2, 2015, a day before Lewis says Allen paid him $10,000 to sign with Ole Miss, Henderson allegedly told Farrar that she had received multiple cash offers for Lewis, including $650,000 from LSU and $80,000 from Mississippi State.
In the third meeting, Lewis confirmed his identity in the Snapchat video submitted by Ole Miss. Sheridan asked Brady and Lewis to listen to the tape alleging cash offers from LSU and Mississippi State and asked Leo, “were you personally offered any money from a school other than Ole Miss?”
At that moment, Brady requested to go off the record. When the meeting resumed, Lewis confirmed the questions.
“Yes sir,” he told Sheridan.
Lewis confirmed his mother was offered and received money as well, at which point the NCAA requested to go off the record. [Emphasis added.]
That’s called not wanting to show your hole card.
I have no idea where this is going, but if Greg Sankey’s not already shitting bricks, he will be soon.
By the way, for those of you who continue to wonder how would schools figure out what to pay players in a post-amateurism world, it seems like they’ve already done their prep work on that.
This is quite the screw up.
Enjoy your unplanned redshirt season, kid.
I’ve long thought this would be a cool thing to do.
Kirby Smart appears open to the idea of holding an offseason or preseason scrimmage with another college football program.
Appearing on 680 The Fan’s The Front Row Wednesday, Smart was asked about this concept, which came a day after Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said he would love for something like this to come into fruition.
“We did that in the NFL when I played and coach, and it was great,” Smart said. “Now, every now and then it gets a little heated with some scuffles. It’s much more enjoyable for the players than the same monotonous thing. They get to each other, they get to scrimmage, play somebody else.”
… NFL teams have practiced with one another during the preseason for quite awhile.
And as Smart noted, high school programs are practicing and scrimmaging with one another too.
“They do it all over the state of Georgia,” Smart said. “They have a day where they come in with two or three teams, and they share. If you do it the right way and the coaches understand it’s really not about who wins the drill, it’s about getting better, then it’s very productive.”
High schools do it. The NFL does it. But not the colleges. Why? Well…
The NCAA does not technically prohibit this sort of thing from happening. But if two teams did agree to a scrimmage, they would each lose a regular-season game.
NCAA bylaw 220.127.116.11 states that a member institution “shall limit its total regular-season playing schedule with outside competition during the permissible football playing season in any one year to 12 contests (games or scrimmages).”
Given the numerous factors at play in a 12-game season, this all but shuts down the opportunity for teams to scrimmage each other before a new season begins.
I’m not sure about that whole numerous factors thing — no school wants to blow the revenue it receives from a regular season game and that would seem to be enough of a factor in itself — but it’s hard to see a downside to such a scrimmage, especially if they opened it up to public viewing.
In any event, you wonder if you’ll see more coaches join in and maybe push the NCAA to update the rule to allow it.
The plaintiffs in the Alston and Jenkins antitrust cases have filed motions for summary judgment, saying that there’s no need for a trial because the NCAA and the schools have made their cases for them.
To buttress their case, the plaintiffs cited from an array of depositions taken from some of college sports’ most prominent executives, including NCAA President Mark Emmert, NCAA executive vice president Oliver Luck, NCAA vice president Kevin Lennon and Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. The plaintiffs also attempted to turn a variety of NCAA rules back on the association, including the ones that allowed scholarships to be enhanced to cover the cost of attendance.
The NCAA’s and the conferences’ “price-fixing justification based on their ever-elusive concept of ‘amateurism’ is simply their version of a three-card Monte game in which the line defining amateurism never stays in the same place,” the plaintiffs wrote. The defendants “will not be able to carry their burden to prove that the challenged restraints are necessary to maintain consumer demand” in college sports.
The plaintiffs wrote that no defense witness “has identified any kind of study … into whether their compensation rules have any positive relationship to consumer demand for college sports.”
“Remarkably,” they added, Emmert “testified it was not even his ‘primary objection’ that ‘impact … on audiences either watching the TV’ or attending could be harmed by college athletes being paid beyond (cost of attendance). Rather, the dominant rationale Emmert has discussed with NCAA members is ‘philosophical.’ ”
… The plaintiffs cited testimony from Lennon and Bowlsby to attempt to punch other holes in the NCAA’s case. They noted that while the NCAA seeks to limit scholarships to the full cost of attendance and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the Ed O’Bannon antitrust case that allowing athletes to receive “cash sums untethered to educational expenses … is a quantum leap” that would irreparably damage its particular brand of sports, NCAA rules already allow athletes to receive benefits that Lennon testified are “not related to the principle of amateurism” and not tethered to educational expenses.
As just one example, the plaintiffs cited the gifts that football players can receive for playing in bowl games — and they wrote that Bowlsby testified, “I’m not sure how [gifts provided in gift suites] could be tethered to education.”
The plaintiffs argue that not only has the provision of cost-of-attendance-based scholarships and other new benefits like transportation and lodging for family members of athletes playing in the College Football Playoff or the Final Four has not hurt consumer demand, it also, according to an NCAA expert in the case “may actually ‘foster’ demand because consumers may feel positively about colleges doing more for students.”
Meanwhile, the plaintiffs argue, NCAA rules “ban myriad forms of benefits … that are tethered to education. For example, NCAA rules do not allow schools to offer guaranteed post-eligibility scholarships to complete an undergraduate or graduate degree at a school of an athlete’s choice, or to subsidize vocational training, or to offer financial incentives for academic progress or a degree.”
In addition, wrote the plaintiffs, while the NCAA contends that limiting athletes’ compensation helps to keep athletes better connected to an educational environment than they would otherwise be, in order to “collectively generate billions of dollars in revenues,” the conferences “surrender control over scheduling games to broadcasters.” To back this up, the plaintiffs filed a nearly completely redacted appendix comprising a multi-page table it titled “Defendant Contract Terms”; one column of the table was labeled “Scheduling Provisions.”
Referring to that that table, and again citing Bowlsby’s deposition, they wrote: “Defendants admit that their ‘stated beliefs and [their] actions are too often inconsistent with one another’ due to television- and revenue-driven conditions like ‘[late] 9:48 tip-off[s]’ on school nights, ‘three days of competition in a row’ and a host of other concessions that place TV broadcasters’ needs ahead of athletes.’ ”
Here’s some more real world tethering for you.
Chris Dawson and Tom Rathbun launched their company, Trailheads Apparel, Feb. 2, followed a few days later with a GoFundMe page that raised $645 in two days.
Not bad for college student entrepreneurs.
The only problem was Dawson and Rathbun are University of Iowa swimmers, who, as college athletes, are prohibited by the NCAA from using their names, photos or athletic links to promote their own businesses.
“We tried our best not to put anything about swimming in it,” Dawson, a UI senior and freestyle swimmer from Centennial, Colo., said about their online pitch for the company that produces T-shirts with slogans like “Camping? It’s in-tents.”
But the GoFundMe page included the founders’ names and bios saying they met as swimmers at Iowa, which resulted in a report to Lyla Clerry, UI associate athletics director for compliance. [Emphasis added.]
They are being punished for literally using their names. There’s an education in that, somewhere. Maybe Emmert can explain his philosophy to them.
Meanwhile, at Nebraska, they’ve decided to use some of the athletic department profits to pay students. Not student-athletes, students.
Nebraska Athletics will provide $5 million in scholarships to nonathletes, potentially providing additional aid to hundreds of students each year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Chancellor Ronnie Green and Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst unveiled the Husker Scholars program Friday during a meeting of the NU Board of Regents. It will provide the first scholarships for incoming freshman in the 2018-19 school year.
… NU President Hank Bounds said if the $5 million were divided into full scholarships, more than 500 students would be able to attend college at little cost. Dividing it further could provide college aid to more than 1,000 students, which would elevate the degree attainment in Nebraska.
And if that $5 million were divided among the student-athletes who helped generate the revenue in the first place? Crickets.
It’s certainly laudable that the school is making an effort to ease the financial burden on some students. The method is ironic, though, to say the least. It should make for a great future soundbite if Nebraska finds itself having to pay players market compensation one day and takes the money for that out of this new scholarship fund. Of course, if the school were that upset about it, it could always take the money out of coaches’ and administrators’ salaries… er, never mind.
Hey, if I were a college football head coach and realized that the market for my services was inflated because of artificially cheap labor costs, I wouldn’t want to pay the players, either.
For some reason, Ole Miss decided to release the NCAA’s case summary and the enforcement staff’s written response to its own response to the NCAA’s notice of infractions.
“The facts uncovered during a fair and thorough investigation substantiated numerous violations and revealed a culture of noncompliance infecting the football program, both internally among personnel and externally among boosters,” the enforcement staff’s written response stated…
The enforcement staff doubled down on Lewis’ statements.
“The institution, certain involved individuals and others have speculated that [redacted] fabricated statements implicating the institution to redirect attention away from his current institution,” the enforcement staff’s response read. “These suggestions are baseless and should be disregarded by the hearing panel. The enforcement staff finds [redacted] to be credible and notes his various incentives to provide truthful information in the infractions process. Furthermore, when possible the enforcement staff tested information [redacted] shared and found it to be reliable.”
… The enforcement staff claimed former staffers Chris Kiffin and Barney Farrar arranged for those three to receive the free merchandise.
“The enforcement staff determined the independent, matching reports from [redacted] [redacted] and [redacted] were compelling and corroborative of one another,” the enforcement staff’s response stated, “and show the systematic way in which Kiffin and Farrar arranged the provision of free merchandise.”
… During the hearing, the university will also have to defend Hugh Freeze’s compliance record, but the enforcement staff laid out its case for why he was charged with violating his head coach responsibility legislation.
“Freeze could rebut the presumption by demonstrating that he both promoted an atmosphere of compliance and monitored his staff,” the enforcement staff’s response stated. “He failed to do both. The atmosphere was anything but compliant and Freeze’s monitoring efforts, as noted above, were many times deficient.”
Er… for example?
That’s by Freeze’s own admission, mind you. Yeah, not a good look at all.
The hearing before the Committee on Infractions is scheduled for September 11th and Freeze will be there. A fun time will be had by all, no doubt.