Category Archives: The NCAA

“Jeffrey Kessler just had to pee.”

An alert reader pointed me to this piece about the lawyer driving the existential threat to the NCAA’s amateurism protocol.  The whole thing is worth a read, but there are two passages in particular worth highlighting.

First, the big bucks that are involved.  Really big bucks.

The big business of college sports, meanwhile, has only continued to explode. Today, the men’s NCAA Tournament alone provides the organization with nearly $900 million annually in television revenue, while individual conferences have television contracts worth billions of dollars over their lifespans, and schools pay coaches and athletic directors multimillion-dollar salaries. Collectively, the men’s basketball programs that make up Division I and the football programs in the Football Bowl Subdivision generate more than $7 billion in annual revenues. Big-time college sports look more like their professional counterparts than they ever have, with one major exception: The NCAA has restrictive rules in place that prevent schools from compensating athletes beyond the full cost of attending.

“The economics here are that basketball and football have become gigantic businesses,” Kessler said. “The total revenue for basketball and football in Division I is greater than the total revenue of the NBA. It’s greater than the total revenue of the NHL. … It’s the third biggest sport by revenue in this country. The idea that these are not businesses, it makes no sense. And you should allow those who are producing this revenue to be treated in a fairer way.”  [Emphasis added.]

If you continue to wonder why arguments about compensation continue to resonate, the overall context of the revenue generated by Division I football and basketball should be your answer.  Amateurism operates in a totally different financial setting than it did even 25 years ago.

The second illustrates why Kessler is so dangerous to the NCAA and its member schools.

Kessler has read the headlines and heard these arguments. He knows some believe that his case could “suck the magic out of college sports” and turn them into glorified minor leagues that fans simply wouldn’t watch. But even if he wins, he argues, the outcome won’t be nearly as dire or drastic as the skeptics predict.

Kessler’s primary argument is not against the NCAA itself, but its amateurism rules specifically. What violates antitrust law, he argues, is that the schools and major conferences band together under those rules to artificially cap the compensation an athlete can receive for his services to a school. In Kessler’s world, conferences could set their own rules regarding compensation, then compete against each other: The Big Ten might stick to the current rules, for instance, while the Southeastern Conference might elect to pay athletes above and beyond the value of a scholarship. Another might follow the Ivy League model and refuse to grant athletic scholarships at all. The result would be something of a free market for men’s basketball and football players.

Alternatively, the NCAA, its schools and their conferences could follow in the path of major pro leagues, and negotiate a new system with athletes or a body that represents them.

“I know what they’re going to argue in court,” Kessler said, sitting up in his chair and clapping his hands together, his voice nearly cracking from excitement ― and frustration. “They’ll argue what they’ve always argued: that amateurism is this holy grail. The new version of it is that if you pay one penny more than the full cost of attendance … the world will come to an end.”

There are obvious parallels to his previous cases, where the NBA, Major League Baseball and the NFL all contended that more rights, and more money, for players would spell doom for their products. Free agency, of course, has had none of the dramatic and devastating effects the owners once predicted: Salaries have risen tremendously, sure, but so have revenues. Leagues, owners and players are all vastly richer today than they once were.

“It’s utter and complete nonsense,” Kessler said. “Allowing baseball, football, basketball and hockey players greater economic freedom and compensation did not destroy the NFL or NBA. It did not destroy the NHL or Major League Baseball. It made those sports fairer and better. It did not decrease popularity or interest in the Olympics.”

That’s some tough precedent for the NCAA to argue against.  Even tougher, if it tries to claim that college sports have a special attraction and value because of amateurism, how does it explain away the trends that have driven those same college sports in the general direction as those same pro sports from which it wants to distinguish — conference expansion, postseason expansion, conference networks, massive increases in coaches’ and AD’s salaries, etc.?

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Filed under See You In Court, The NCAA

Hell hath no fury like a YouTuber scorned.

Donald De La Haye’s response to being declared ineligible is pure gold.

Like I said, 24-carat.

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Filed under The NCAA

The NCAA’s always gonna NCAA.

I’d say words fail me about this story, except you know there’s something coming ’round the next bend that’ll be even stupider.

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Filed under The NCAA

He fought the law. And the law won.

The NCAA, keeping the college world safe from players earning money:

UCF kicker Donald De La Haye has been ruled ineligible after he refused to give in to the NCAA’s demand for him to stop monetizing his popular YouTube channel.

De La Haye, a junior kickoff specialist, has a YouTube channel with over 90,000 subscribers that has amassed nearly five million total views. The NCAA took issue with the fact that the videos bring in advertising revenue and said he was no longer allowed to make money off his athletics-related videos if he wanted to continue playing college football. UCF lobbied the NCAA to allow De La Haye to continue to profit off his channel provided he did not collect any revenue from videos related to athletics. The NCAA approved those conditions but De La Haye declined to move his sports-related videos to a non-monetized account and the school suspended him to avoid a conflict with the NCAA.

All this over, what… a couple grand a month, maybe?  So much for getting student-athletes ready for the day when they go out in the real world to make a living.

In any event, the NCAA took De La Haye’s defiance very, very seriously.  I know that because Stacey Osburn emerged from her secluded “no comment” cocoon to issue a very, very serious qualification.

Meaningless ass covering, for the win.  The NCAA is just an innocent bystander in all this, y’all.

Amateurism lives to fight another day.  What a relief.

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UPDATE:  I wasn’t expecting this reaction.

12 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Tuesday morning buffet

Opening day of practice means there are plenty of tidbits to share:

  • Get ‘yer new players’ jersey numbers here.
  • Booch on new graduate transfer Shaq Wiggins“I love Shaq, but Shaq’s got a long way to go in terms of the intangibles, our practice habits, our style of play, working through some things,” Jones said. “But I know this about Shaq: He’s very prideful, he’s very willing and he wants to do it.”  It’s the beginning of a bee-yoo-tee-full friendship, I tells ‘ya.
  • In case you didn’t get the subtle message, Akhil Crumpton’s been assigned Isaiah McKenzie’s number 16.
  • It’s the first day of practice, so of course the quotes reflect the usual hunger, happy talk and anti-hype.
  • If you think fall practice is starting earlier than before, you’re not alone.  It’s the fallout from the new two-a-days ban.  Many coaches are unhappy about that, and, surprisingly, they have a point.
  • Roll ‘Bama Roll grades the SEC’s non-conference schedules.  Not surprisingly, ‘Bama is graded on a bit of a curve, but overall, pretty solid analysis.
  • Player weights here.  Note that Chubb and Michel have dropped a few pounds.
  • Read the comments about how Georgia would have used 2018 o-line commit Warren Ericson five years ago versus now.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football, SEC Football, The NCAA

The NCAA needs to talk to you, son.

Mississippi State linebacker Leo Lewis gets an invitation.

In a letter obtained by SB Nation dated May 17, 2017, Xavier athletic director Greg Christopher, Chief Hearing Officer of the NCAA Division 1 Committee on Infractions, instructs counsel for five former Ole Miss football staffers and one current assistant coach, as well as NCAA Vice President of Enforcement Jon Duncan and Ole Miss Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter:

The panel will request student-athlete Leo Lewis attend the infractions hearing. Mr. Lewis’ grant of immunity related to this case is predicated on his full cooperation in the infractions process. In addition, Bylaw 19.2.3 establishes a responsibility to cooperate. Part of that duty to cooperate is ‘to make full and complete disclosure of any relevant information, including any information requested by the … relevant committees.’ More specifically, Bylaw 19.7.7.5.1 authorizes the panel to request specific individuals to attend the infractions hearing, including enrolled student athletes.

Mr. Lewis’s participation at the hearing is consistent with the expectation of cooperation on which his grant of immunity was predicated. … Mr. Lewis will receive an appearance letter.

The letter also states that the panel can ask questions of Lewis at the hearing “that it believes necessary to decide this case.”

While I’m sure every Ole Miss fan with a grudge has visions of Jack McCoy breaking a witness on the stand, it’s not going to be that kind of show.  To begin with,“… lawyers involved in the case expect that Lewis will field questions only from members of the committee and not from lawyers representing Ole Miss coaches or the University of Mississippi.” 

You’re no fun, NCAA.

Also, there’s this whole limited immunity thing Lewis is operating under.

Lewis was granted limited immunity by the NCAA in exchange for his testimony. SB Nation has confirmed that Lewis spoke to the NCAA under immunity on three occasions between August and December of 2016.

Limited immunity protects an individual (“prospective student-athlete, current or former student-athlete or current or former institutional employee”) from certain consequences for violating NCAA legislation. Limited immunity is an investigative tool that allows information to be elicited from an individual concerning his or her potential involvement in or knowledge of NCAA violations, with the understanding that the NCAA will not put the individual at-risk in the infractions process by bringing identified allegations against him or her.

Basically, with limited immunity, Lewis can speak freely to the NCAA without his statements impacting his eligibility at MSU.

That essentially means the committee will be going over the same ground that’s already been plowed with Lewis in his three prior interviews.  (And, remember, Ole Miss’ lawyers weren’t allowed to grill Lewis in any of those; in fact, they weren’t even permitted to attend the third one.)

However, it has to be said that the Rebel Rags suit complicates things for Leo Lewis.

Lewis’ inclusion at the COI is potentially massive. Multiple legal teams involved in representing individuals named in the NCAA’s investigation, as well as the Rebel Rags civil suit, have cited inconsistencies and contradictions in Lewis’ comments to the NCAA.

If Lewis doesn’t show, the NCAA revokes his immunity, which is not an outcome you’d think he’d welcome, so it’s reasonable to expect him to appear.  It’s also reasonable to expect that he’ll be well prepped by his lawyer.  He’d better be, because you know there will be other lawyers parsing every syllable he utters at the hearing.

If you’re a Georgia fan, as someone pointed out the comments yesterday, the timing for this is fortuitous.

The date for the COI hearing for Ole Miss has not yet been determined, but multiple sources have confirmed to SB Nation that a date in mid-September or mid-October is likely. In addition, the hearing likely won’t occur at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, but instead at an undisclosed location closer to the University of Mississippi’s campus in Oxford.

Georgia hosts Mississippi State on September 23rd.  Think that could be more a little distracting as Dan Mullen gets his team ready to come to Athens?

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Filed under Freeze!, The NCAA

You realize this means war.

Sure, why not.

Attorneys representing Ole Miss and its former coaches and administrators who have been accused of violating NCAA rules have asked that two Mississippi State football players be required to attend the Rebels’ infractions hearing later this summer, multiple sources familiar with the case told ESPN.

NCAA officials have told lawyers representing Ole Miss that Bulldogs players Leo Lewis and Kobe Jones might be asked to appear at the infractions hearing to answer questions from committee members. It’s unclear whether the players have received a notice to appear at the hearing, which will probably take place sometime in late August or early September.

The NCAA previously denied Ole Miss lawyers’ requests to interview Jones and Lewis about allegations they made during the NCAA’s investigation of the Rebels. In fact, Lewis’ attorneys stopped the second of three interviews with NCAA investigators after Ole Miss’ lawyers attempted to cross-examine him. Ole Miss wasn’t allowed to have an attorney at his third interview.

Jones and Lewis were provided partial immunity by NCAA investigators before they were interviewed.

The details of what are involved with the NCAA’s partial immunity are murky, so it’s unclear what questions Lewis and Jones would be allowed to answer.  Even trickier is how those answers might affect the Rebel Rags suit against them.

I’m beginning to think that when this is all said and done, you’d be crazy to allow yourself to be recruited by both Ole Miss and Mississippi State.  Unless it was purely for entertainment value, that is.

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Filed under Freeze!, See You In Court, The NCAA