Photo of Hank Aaron, 1952, Leaving to Join Indy Clowns

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Don’t Copy this Free-Throw Form

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Louisville Ban –Lesson for the Recruit: How to Protect from Effect of a Later Post-Season Ban

Louisville just announced a self-imposed sanction, in the form of a post-season ban imposed on its basketball program, associated with the charges made by a stripper that she had performed for players and recruits at the player’s Louisville dorm. The penalty is, presumably, a blow to the players on the team, but also to the two graduate-transfer players who transferred in with the obvious hope of making a run in the March Madness tournament during their one year of service on the Lousiville team.

Pitino

So the events raise the question: Does the player have any recourse? The answer for the two grad-transfers is, probably not (though I don’t know enough about the facts to answer.) But there are steps which every recruit should take before signing an NLI, to protect themselves and to increase their chances of having options in these kinds of situations.

First of all, the contract which players sign is complicated, and includes (at a minimum), the NLI and the SAS (Student-Athlete-Statement.)  The NLI, traditionally, is signed while the player is still in high school, while the SAS is signed on campus. Those documents require that the player state that”to the best of [his] knowledge, he “[has] not violated any amateurism rules” and has “not provided false or misleading information concerning [his] amateur status to the NCAA.”

Because the NLI and SAS are drafted to protect the schools and the NCAA, though, there is no parallel provision on those forms where the coach (or AD) has to make a similar affirmation that no NCAA violations have occurred, and that they are unaware that any violations have occurred. (The omission is inexcusable, but the whole process of getting the player to sign can be described in one word: predatory.)

To remedy that hole in the documents, before signing an NLI, every recruit should request, in writing, a copy of the Disclosure form (by each coach in his sport) which every coach is required to file with the NCAA each September, which includes the coach’s signature making clear that he is aware of no NCAA violations. This form is shown here.

Men’s Basketball Coach Disclosure

Why bother with this, and why ask for the forms in writing? So that you can later show that you relied upon the coach’s being truthful when filling out that form. It’s called ‘detrimental reliance’: I relied on your statements, and you weren’t truthful.

So let’s see how that plays out, using, not the two grad-transfers at Louisville, but Donovan Mitchell, a new freshman on the Louisville team. (For this example, I’m going to assume Mitchell never had anything to do with the strippers at Louisville.)  Suppose, before signing his NLI, Mitchell had asked for a copy of all the Coach Disclosure forms signed by Louisville coaches. And then this self-sanction is imposed, and Mitchell wants to transfer.  He can rightfully claim that he relied on those Coach Disclosure forms in making his decision to sign, and ask a court to void the NLI, based upon fraud or material misrepresentation. (Trust me, there are many other grounds for arguing that the NLI is void, but no need to get into those right now.) Upon filing an action for that kind of relief, in turn, he has an opportunity to engage in ‘discovery’, including the taking of depositions of fact witnesses — like Pitino, or McGee. Because the very last thing in the world that Pitiino wants to do is to testify in a deposition, under oath, he will be very anxious to settle the matter by releasing Mitchell from his NLI, and letting him go play — immediately — at the school of his choice.

Summary: Every recruit should always ask in writing for a copy of those Coach Disclosure forms.  I will go further. If I were the recruit, I would ask every coach to countersign those same forms, as of the date or week that I am going to sign the NLI — as an update.

 

 

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NDSU Students Say ‘No’ to Student Fee Increase for Athletic Dept.

It might be a relatively small school, and the vote may seem minor, but it actually was fairly important in the grand scheme of “Why-Pay-Less?” spending in college athletics departments across the nation.

The North Dakota State athletics department had sought to increase student fees in order to fund what the department claimed were increased travel costs. But the Student Advisory Board voted last week to reject the department’s request. Over the last several decades, many Athletics Directors have been quick to use additional student fees to pay for the ever-expanding size of athletic budgets — and the NDSU decision by the its students is one of the few in which the student body has vetoed any such effort.

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Jason Maxiell Cranky About Getting Fouled in Chinese BKB League

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College FB and BKB Player Name Mis-Appropriation Class Action Filed Against FanDuel and Draft Kings

Akeem Daniel, a former Northern Illinois running back who graduated in 2015, has filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, claiming that fantasy sports sites Fan Duel and Draft Kings violated the name-usage and other related rights of thousands of college basketball and football players. The suit claims Lanham Act violations, along with violations of laws in New York and Massachusetts, where the two defendants are incorporated. The action against FanDuel claims violations since November 2011; the action against DraftKings claims violations for players who have been on college rosters since 2012, for use of names beginning in 2013.

The action seeks damages, disgorgement of profits, and injunctive relief proscribing further use of the player’s names or images.

(The cases are Akeem Daniels v. DraftKings Inc., case number 1:16-cv-01220, and Akeem Daniels v. FanDuel Inc., case number 1:16-cv-01223, both in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.)

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Izzo Swept Off His Feet

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Player-Sustainability and Duke-Miami: Curb Injuries by Promoting the Forgotten Underhand Pass

The ‘forward pass’ – an over-the-top throw — revolutionized football in 1910, and has dominated it since. During the ensuing centur — the zany Duke-Miami last-minute play reminds us, football has forgotten the other pass — the underhanded lateral.

DukeMiami110115

The ACC suspended the refs for blowing several different calls during that play. Duke coach David Cutcliffe proposes the radical notion that the game outcome be changed, because of those refereeing errors. I’ll leave these issues to others, and focus on the neglected lessons from that game.

First, if the referees were confused and unprepared, I guess I don’t blame them. But, if they were, shouldn’t Duke’s Cutcliffe, one of the brighter, more open-minded college coaches, also recognize that almost any opponent is going to be confused by any repeat-lateral play? — and that his team should begin using those plays on a regular basis?

Second, that play, along with the famous Stanford band play, shows us that:

a) every fan loves the repeat lateral play;

b) those two plays were different, not just because of the laterals, but because the players had to adopt different spacing. To advance with repeat laterals, the players automatically spread out.

c) that spacing then automatically decreases the current need for beefy, blow-away blocks, and increases the need for foot-speed and catching (hand/eye coordination.)
As a ripe example, then, the nasty Ricardo Lockette NFL hit on Sunday might actually have been less likely to have occurred, if the game were tweaked to increase the frequency of lateral plays. Jeff Heath (the Dallas player who hit Lockette) might have been more focussed on positioning to receive a lateral, rather than looking to level an opponent with a block.

The wider spacing which the Miami players automatically adopted on that last play is, I might guess, a phenomenon which both college and pro leagues should encourage, because it will help decrease injuries by opening up the play, encouraging foot speed and catching ability, and decreasing the emphasis on brute-force blocking.

So the leagues need to explore methods to promote such lateral-repeating plays. One way might be to limit substitutions, so that endurance and lighter players become more valuable.

This is an argument that limited substitutions, and promotion of lateral-based plays, should be adopted, not just because ‘speed sells’ (perhaps as much as violent hits), but, more importantly, to decrease injuries and promote safety. Bring back the forgotten underhanded pass.

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How the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics Has Jumped the Shark

The Knight Commission has: 1) ignored the”intercollegiate sports” club-sport “student-athlete,” and 2) allocated its time and resources to largely ignore the interests of the big-time “student-athlete.” Both these sectors — the club sport and ‘big-time’ student athlete need representation at, and direct support from the Knight Commission, along with a place in its agenda-setting. 

KnightComm

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, established in 1989, has a mission explicitly focused on “intercollegiate athletics” and the “student-athlete.”  It’s home web page declares that its goal is to “to ensure that intercollegiate athletics programs operate within the educational mission of their colleges and universities.”

But the Commission has, in many ways, lost sight of the predominant part of this defined mission, by adopting, whole-cloth, like a captive subsidiary, the NCAA’s primary de facto — and myopic — goal: the “integration” of the big-time Power 5 “student-athlete” with the student body. This narrow goal, which makes manifest the NCAA’s desperation to try to save itself from its own baser impulse to “segregate” that “student-athlete,” runs in only one direction, and ignores the predominant majority of “student-athletes” on campus. The Knight Commission, according to its defined mission, must also spend much of its time and work on “integrating” the “ordinary” non-scholarship student-athlete into athletic pursuits.

Unless the Knight people redefine that mission, they need to immediately re-allocate their manpower and resources to promote and protect “club sports” at every college and university. Club sports — according to every definition, including those generated by Knight — are “intercollegiate athletics,” involving, at every campus, “student-athletes,” and are, therefore, central to the Knight mission — though you could never tell from the Knight Commision’s spending, or their publicly-sponsored events.

It appears that few at Knight understands this. As a result, Knight has been preoccupied with — and its substantial resources have been often wasted on — entertaining and even sponsoring discussions which are dominated by the fabulously-paid colleges sports business managers who run college conferences, and the ‘big-time’ schools of the Power 5 (and other conferences) — all of which dwell in great detail upon how the billions of dollars of gross income ought be spent on all the “scholarship” sports,” to insure that they are properly “integrated.”

But never a word about club sports…

Knight Commission administrators, all of whom are well-intentioned, have missed probably the predominant portion of their assigned task:  to protect and promote those college students who play college ‘club’ sports. The Knight endowment, according to the strict terms of its mission, should be much more actively advocating to promote spending of some fair portion of the mammoth sums received by universities for ‘big-time’ athletic live and TV contests, on club sports. As Tom Farrey has so aptly identified — when he presented at the Knight Commission’s own proceedings in 2014 — youth sports participation has declined; his more nuanced, but spot-on point was that the “chase for athletic scholarships,” in the small, non-revenue sports, at a very early, even elementary school age, has exploded, and has been dominated by (predominantly white) upper-class kids whose parents have the resources to purchase training and access for their children.  This, as Farrey says, does not “necessarily serve the public health,” which therefore might suggest that the “small sports,” which have developed as scholarship avenues for so many upper class white kids, do not serve the Knight mission. By this logic, one might even argue that Knight ought open up their discussion to the question as to whether this “chase for college scholarships” ought to be abandoned, and — as an alternative — universities should stop awarding small sport scholarships, and work to beef up club sports venues, competitions, and participation — none of which require scholarship.

If you need a concrete example, look at former AD David Brandon’s decisions at Michigan: 18 months ago, he endorsed (as did the Regents) a $250 million expansion of “small-sport” stadiums and facilities — all the while requiring that the rehabilitation of the CCRB (the mid-campus student recreational -fitness facility) must be accomplished by a new fee to be paid by all students — in a setting where the ‘big-time’ athletics department grosses $150 millions annually! Should the Knight people be entertaining lively discussions about whether that kind of gross revenue ought to robustly support spending on campus recreation and club sports for the ‘common’ non-scholarship student-athlete?

The Knight Commission has jumped the shark. All these million-dollar-per-year fellows who come speak at their conferences need — if we are to take the Knight mission at face valiue – to be asked more serious questions.

The Knight Commission has fallen victim to the same phenomenon which overtakes many of our institutions: the persons and institutions who have money, status and power dominate the debate. And they also dominate the agenda -setting. The Knight people need  to expand their annual agenda-setting, to include this predominant portion of their constituency as defined by the Knights.. The work and the agendas need to expand to promote the integration of the non-scholarship, ‘ordinary’ student into club sports, which also means that Knight should be at the forefront of advocating that a greater portion of big-time sports’ gross revenues be spent on venues and operations for the non-scholarship student’s athletic activity.

But there is one more fundamental aspect to the Knight Commission’s ‘shark-jumping.’ Their administrators appear oblivious to the 120-year history of ‘sector-based’ labor relations, and how it affects the big-time college athlete. I will not contend here that Power 5 athletes certainly are employees, or that they are entitled, presumptively, to coverage under the NLRB; I need only contend that these are reasonable, tenable propositions. And if they are tenable, then the Knight Commmsion has some duty, if it is supposed to promote the welfare of  the sector which is defined as the “student-athlete” in “intercollegiate athletics,”  to provide both a forum and support for that sector as it advances its interests. student-athlete (and other interested parties) in assessing their viability. If that is true, then the Commision needs to promote the availability of legal and agent assistance for all college athletes, and explore issues which arise as that sector evolves alongside the management-dominated business of college athletics.

Because most of the country’s intercollegiate athletes are not on scholarship, Knight needs to shift its agendas to address and promote the “integration” of club sports with all students. And Knight needs to expand its discussions to insure that its resources and agenda include protecting the “sector-based” (and largely ignored) interests of the ‘big-time’ college athlete.

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What is the First and Most Important First Question Every NCAA Recruit Should Ask, In Writing?

Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu suffered a season-ending ACL injury during his last collegiate season in the fall of 2014. Until that injury, he had been projected as consensus first-round NFL draft pick.. Because he was eventually drafted in the 7th round, and, as a result, lost millions, he has recently recovered $3 million on a ‘loss-of-value’ insurance policy which he had purchased before the 2014 season. Apparently, Oregon paid for some portion of this policy.

Ekpre-Olomu is allegedly the first player to ever recover on one of these ‘loss-of-value’ policies, but that fact does not suggest that these policies — which are expensive, with premiums ranging between $60,000 and $80,000 — are an unnecessary waste. In fact, the opposite is true: every college player with NFL potential should carefully consider whether such a policy should be retained. (Policies which reimburse for “permanent  disability” are much cheaper, but usually even more difficult to use as a foundation for some future payout for injury.)

Ekpre-Olomu’s payout highlights two related, important issues:

  1. NCAA bureaucrats, and college administrators and coaches typically argue that paying players as employees would be impossible, due to the alleged impossibility of distinguishing pay differentials between players of differing value, or even of different positions. But those same coaches and AD’s are the very ones who are making those very kinds of distinctions when they decide which of their players will receive money from the school to pay for, or help pay for, such loss-of-value policies. (Texas Tech and many other schools have paid the entire cost for one or more of their players..)
  2. More importantly, Ekpre-Olomu’s predicament, coverage, and recovery highlight the completely ignored First Question Every  Recruit Should Ask (of every school, by email, in writing):

    Please send me a thorough written description as to the precise terms of every policy of insurance — along with a sample copy of each such policy —  which the school agrees to provide me, if I choose to attend. 

Recruiting typically emphasizes flashy ‘bling’ factors, and coaches just love to show off the increasingly lavish facilities. But facilities are way down the list of items about which a recruit should be concerned. The Recruit’s #1 concern, particularly in football, should be defining in great detail the nature and extent of insurances offered by — and paid for by — the school — and those coverages vary widely from school to school.

The offer and acceptance of a ‘grant-in-aid’ is a business transaction, and the recruit needs to make the decision based upon carefully evaluating which school will pay (“cover”) him the most.

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