Category Archives: The NCAA

“What the heck are we doing here?”

Dudes, when even ESPN can’t come to grips with college basketball giving in to the reality of one-and-done, you’ve got a serious amateurism problem on your hands.

Keeping players focused on the current season rather than future ones is a chief challenge for coaches. Jim Haney, executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, said: “Our guys — and they’ve done a good job on this — have had to strike the right balance. You have to be concerned about getting your degree. Even if you are a one-and-done, you have a responsibility to meet your obligations to be on this team.”

Unless you’re in denial, that is.


Filed under The NCAA

O’Bannon, still going

Interestingly, it’s the plaintiffs and not the NCAA that seek a rehearing by the Ninth Circuit.  Jon Solomon lists their reasons.

* Comments by Thomas, the chief judge, in his dissenting opinion that “there was sufficient evidence in the record” and the testimony of at least four experts to support injunctive relief. Two of the three appellate judges wrote that an “offhand comment” by former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson appeared to be the only reason for Wilken’s $5,000 figure and that Pilson was not prepared to given an opinion on whether consumer demand would be impacted by payments to players.

* Thomas’ observation that the majority “improperly substituted” the NCAA’s amateurism term in place of the relevant antitrust inquiry. By eliminating or assuming away the core question of consumer demand, the majority created further conflicts with Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court decisions, the O’Bannon plaintiffs wrote.

* The majority judges, Bybee and Quist, created a “new legal standard” for the Rule of Reason analysis in antitrust cases without citation or support from any other legal opinions. By not allowing the $5,000 payments as a less-restrictive alternative to the NCAA’s rules, the majority “adopted a new standard that few antitrust plaintiffs could ever satisfy,” the O’Bannon plaintiffs wrote.

* The majority “mistakenly” brought up dicta from the NCAA v. Oklahoma Board of Regents Supreme Court case to guide its review of less restrictive alternatives to the NCAA’s rules. All three appellate judges disagreed with the NCAA’s interpretation of a 1984 Supreme Court decision that the association has used as a defense for decades in relation to its amateurism rules. But the majority wrote they “accept Board of Regents’ guidance as informative” regarding the pro-competitive justifications served by the NCAA’s amateurism rules. “This is an unprecedented role for the Supreme Court’s dicta, fashioned from thin air,” the O’Bannon plaintiffs. “… This is immunity in another guise for conduct that would be per se price fixing in any other industry.”

As Solomon notes, it’s rare for a request for an en banc rehearing to succeed, so it’s hard to say what Hausfeld sees here, other than that he had the Circuit’s chief judge on his side.  If it’s granted, you’d think that wouldn’t be such good news for Donald Remy.  The question would be if it turned out to be bad enough where the NCAA would risk trying to take it to the Supreme Court.

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Filed under See You In Court, The NCAA

“Ole Miss is lucky to get Laremy Tunsil back at all.”

Quite the laundry list here.

… The list of impermissible benefits Tunsil has received in Oxford is lengthy and more than just the one loaner car which had been previously reported. It was about three of them, over a six-month period without payment. A four-month interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle, two nights of lodging at a local home, an airline ticket purchased by a friend of a teammate and one day use of a rental vehicle were also among the impermissible benefits Tunsil has received in Oxford. Tunsil was also apparently less than truthful with the NCAA when first asked about all these things, and the NCAA is a lot like a mother in this regard: lying only makes it worse.

Which begs the question:  how is Tunsil back?


Filed under The NCAA

Ole Miss is set to recover from its Tunsilectomy.

The NCAA sets a seven-game suspension for the gifted offensive tackle.  Yeah, there was the usual finding of accepting impermissible benefits, but the reason for the lengthier time period was because “the NCAA determined that Tunsil was not completely forthcoming with initial questioning by NCAA investigators”.  In other words, he lied.

Hope Freeze enjoys the few games Tunsil’s got left to give the program.  This isn’t a kid who’s coming back for his senior year.


Filed under The NCAA

When it’s not a good thing to hear your lawyer’s name mentioned

One of the more curious developments in a season that’s had more than its share of curious developments is how long it’s taken for the NCAA investigation of Laremy Tunsil to reach its conclusion (although reports surfaced over the weekend that things may finally be coming to a head).  It’s curious because the usual approach taken by SEC teams not in Athens, Georgia defending their star players is to take a fairly aggressive approach with the NCAA.  That doesn’t seem to have happened in Ole Miss’ case.

Perhaps there’s a reason for that.

One other thing that cropped up of the weekend was the news that the NCAA was preparing to bring the hammer down on Louisiana-Lafayette over allegations of a former assistant coach’s engaging in exam fraud and providing recruits payments for living and educational expenses, as well as failing to comply with an NCAA investigation.  (That last thing always makes it worse.)  But what’s interesting about that matter can be found in this timeline of the investigation.  Read through it, and notice that the phrase “legal counsel for the University of Mississippi” crops up more than once.

I doubt that was because somebody was bored and looking for a little entertainment on the side.

As we saw when McGarity was fighting a two-front war with the NCAA about the problems stemming from Todd Gurley and Jack Bauerle, an athletic director’s gotta choose how best to play the hand he’s dealt.  It would seem fair to say that between an existential threat to a school’s athletic program and a suspension of a player who’s likely turning pro after the season anyway, it’s not hard to see where priorities might lay.  I have no proof that’s what’s going on with Ole Miss now, of course.  I’m just sayin’.


Filed under SEC Football, The NCAA

Hey, whatever happened to Laremy Tunsil?

His absence is starting to make the Green and Gurley suspensions look quick by comparison.


Filed under The NCAA

O’Bannon appeal: winning the battle, losing the war?

By now, I assume you’ve learned of the appellate ruling on Judge Wilken’s order.  If not, here’s the gist:

The N.C.A.A. may restrict colleges from compensating athletes beyond the cost of attendance, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Wednesday in an apparent victory for the college sports establishment as it fights efforts to expand athletes’ rights.

As college football and, to a lesser extent, men’s basketball have generated millions of dollars in revenue through television broadcast deals and merchandise sales, some critics, including former and current athletes, have lobbied for greater financial compensation. The appeals court bluntly said that limiting compensation to the cost of attendance in exchange for use of the players’ names, images and likenesses was sufficient under antitrust law.

The use of the word “apparent” in the first sentence shouldn’t be glossed over, because the plaintiff’s lawyers established the beachhead they were looking to take.

The ruling upheld a federal judge’s finding last year that the N.C.A.A. was, in the panel’s words, “not above the antitrust laws” and that its rules had been too restrictive in maintaining amateurism.

More specifically, the panel smacked down the main legal underpinning of the NCAA’s argument.

Since 1984, when a group of universities sued the N.C.A.A. over restrictions on their television broadcast rights in a case known as N.C.A.A. v. Board of Regents, the association has cited a passage written by Justice John Paul Stevens that declared that banning payments to athletes was essential to the “revered tradition of amateurism.”

That was kicked to the curb.

In the opinion, the panel acknowledged that “the Board of Regents Court certainly discussed the NCAA’s amateurism rules at great length, but it did not do so in order to pass upon the rules’ merits, given that they were not before the Court. Rather, the Court discussed the amateurism rules for a different and particular purpose: to explain why NCAA rules should be analyzed under the Rule of Reason, rather than held to be illegal per se. The point was a significant one.”

The appellate judges wrote that the 1984 Supreme Court case “did not approve the NCAA’s amateurism rules as categorically consistent with the Sherman Act. Rather, it held that, because many NCAA rules (among them, the amateurism rules) are part of the ‘character and quality of the [NCAA’s] product … no NCAA rule should be invalidated without a Rule of Reason analysis. The Court’s long encomium to amateurism, though impressive-sounding, was therefore dicta.”

So, the big question remains:  where do things go from here?  In the short run, there’s no doubt that this is a win for the NCAA and the schools, in that they’re not on the hook for anything more than what they’ve already agreed to pay out to student-athletes.  (“This provides some level of uncertainty, but also a welcome level of certainty,” Mr. Bowlsby said…) But their problem is that the people they’re fighting with over amateurism aren’t playing a short game.  That’s why Sonny Vaccaro was crowing after the ruling came out.

“They specifically went in and said the N.C.A.A. violated antitrust law,” said Sonny Vaccaro, a longtime N.C.A.A. critic who helped start the O’Bannon lawsuit. “That opens things up, and it’s tremendous.”

And Hausfeld, more interestingly, isn’t going to pursue an appeal.

O’Bannon attorney Michael Hausfeld said he was “thrilled” with the decision and has no interest appealing to the Supreme Court. He noted that it was Wilken’s idea to allow $5,000 per year to players, not O’Bannon’s.

“I think this is an even worse position than the NCAA has been in,” Hausfeld said. “Remember, the court did not strike down the unlawfulness of the regulation. They just said the relief wasn’t necessarily a less-restrictive restraint. So is there other relief? Now they’ve opened it up to us to propose reforms of relief. This opinion shakes up the entirety of the relationship that the NCAA has had with the athletes. They can no longer exercise economic dominion over athletes’ values. it clearly underscores the responsibility of the schools and the association to make sure athletic participation does not diminish academic success.”

If that’s the case, look out for Jeffrey Kessler, NCAA.

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