MSU Coaches & Board are — Today — a Real and Present Danger to Current Student Athletes

A 15-year old, named Emma Ann Miller, showed up in court today, talking wisdom to all the wacko MSU adults involved, including MSU President Simon and AD Hollis — and Dr. Nasser.

Miller told, according to tweets by WLNS reporter Alexandra Illitch, of being bent over in the supply room, with a doctor putting his ungloved hands in her private area.

“Are you listening MSU?

“Are you listening MSU?,” Miller said. “I can’t hear you.”

This was, ostensibly medical care. In a supply room.

“You need to confess the facts”

“You need to confess the facts,” Miller concluded, as if an angel sent to get Nasser and MSU to recognize their sins. “You can help others, and if you do, if you help my sisters, it

might help with your forgiveness.”izzoII

She might have been prompted by the bizarre statements made by MSU coaches over the weekend. Basketball coach Tom Izzo, and football coach Mark D’Antonio (both of whom I have previously admired, for their plain-spokenness, and lack of airs), solemnly declared that they had “the utmost faith” in MSU President Simon.

Izzo wandered much further, suggesting that he wanted to make sure “they convicted the right person.”  This is eye-in-the-middle of the forehead stuff, making Izzo appear as though he’s convinced that Spaceship Ruthie is going to appear in 2019 on Iron Mountain, Michigan. It would be humorous, if it were not a window onto MSU’s appalling failure to provide any training, on Cleary Act or sexual abusetopics , to any of its coaches — who are all still entirely lost-at-sea, apparently unaware of their duties, and lacking in the kinds of training which so many athletic departments have provided to coaches on these topics. This absence of training, and odd cluelessness, is the work, or non-work, of athletic director Mark Hollis.


But women’s basketball coach Amy Merchant outdid Izzo, declaring in a video interview on January 19 that no one can prevent these “Act-Alone Monsters” from inflicting their damage.

If there were two lessons from the Sandusky scandal which erupted at Penn State in 2011, the primary one was that what appear to be “Act-Alone Monsters” are often allowed to inflict damage upon young people because of a lack of institutional awareness and control, and the tendency of athletic bureaucracies, so as not to jeopardize wins and eligibility for the Learfield Cup, to bury transgressions. (The second lesson from Sandusky was: if athletic personnel will cover-up pedophilia, then they will cover up anything, including the much more prosaic NCAA rules of behavior.) Merchant, apparently, never got any training at all.

“Tell us who knew what and when,” Miller pleaded. “Tell us about the signs that MSU, Twistars and USAG should have seen, but didn’t.”

Old Baby Boomers, Circling the Wagons

Instead, MSU has told us, over the last four or five days, much more new information, including:

  1. President Simon (hired 2003); AD Mark Hollis (hired 2007); football coach Mark D’Antonio (hired 2007); basketball coach Tom Izzo (hired 1995); women’s basketball coach Suzy Merchant (hired 2007) — have been around much too long.
  2. They are old, outworn Baby Boomers, who need to go. Just as every state legislature has been dominated by Boomers reluctant to let go, so has MSU athletics been dominated.
  3. All those in charge are circling the wagons. It’s a dead bureaucracy, lacking oxygen, but maneuvering to save itself, by covering up.
  4. No one at MSU has received any training at all about Cleary Act or sexual abuse reporting. If Suzy Merchant can claim that “Act-Alone Monsters” explain these Nasser depradations, then she needs to be relieved of her duties, immediately. And if iconic head coach Izzo can claim that the wrong person has been convicted, then he needs considerable new training.


AD Mark Hollis Had the PSU CookBook on His Desk, All Along

None of this is difficult. MSU AD Hollis had the entire road map laid out for him by Senator Mitchell, between 2012 and 2016.  It was if Hollis had the Joy of Cooking cookbook, with all the easy steps for compliance and prevention of harm, handed to him by PSU and Senator Mitchell back in 2012. (The Big10 and, therefore, MSU, were parties to that agreement.): Appoint a Monitor like Mitchell. Implement the ‘Athletics Integrity Agreement’ which PSU and Mitchell laid out, to insure that a big-time athletics operation does not countenance or fail to discern sexual abuse of minors. Make sure that no one meets with a minor alone, and make sure that both who are there have thorough training. Have the Monitor report quarterly to the Board. Have the Monitor independently warrant that substantive institutional change has occurred, so that no more molestation will occur.

Independent Team Monitor

Oh, and by the way, appoint an independent Team Monitor for every varsity team. Question for Mark Hollis: if you’d done all this in 2012, would that have caused your gymnastics coach Klage, perhaps, to have behaved differently, to prevent molestation?

Two persons Present When Any Male Staffer Meets with Female Athletes?

Oh, and by the way.  While you are dodging liability, MSU, AD Hollis, and Atty. Fitzgerald, you are also failing your duty to address the new issue presented by your Nasser scandal, which was not present at Penn State: should the ‘two persons present at all times” rule, which the AIA insisted apply to all PSU encounters with minors, also be imposed with respect to any MSU (and other university) encounter with females over the age of majority (age 18)?

Simple. But MSU AD has been sound asleep. If MSU AD Mark Hollis had been awake, he easily could have prevented much of the MSU/Nasser molestation which occurred since 2012.

So the scope of this MSU/Nasser scandal is much worse than it first appears.

It’s Not Over. The Risk of Harm is Still There

Why? It is not over. The scandal continues. The risk is now still as raw and real as it was 6 years ago, or 3 years ago, or six months ago. Coach Suzy Merchant, in all her bewilderment, believes that “Act-Alone Monsters” cause all this damage. Tom Izzo dreams that maybe someone other than Nasser committed all this molestation. And, apparently, no coach has gotten training, or has ever even seen or read the ‘Athletics Integrity Agreement’ to which MSU was a party.

MSU is still out-of-control.

If you are a prospective female student-athlete, go elsewhere. If you are a current women’s basketball player, operating under a coach who hasn’t a clue how sexual molestation or harrasment develops: good luck to you, because MSU is busy burying the facts and covering the tracks. MSU student-athletes: confirm everything in a followup email, because these people are not to be trusted. They are busy covering their tracks and circling the wagons.

The MSU board and coaches today represent a real and present risk to the health and welfare of MSU student-athletes.

But all these old Baby Boomers — Simon, Hollis, Izzo, D’Antonia, Merchant — are insisting they know what’s best, and that their million-dollar jobs should never be jeopardized.

“Please,” Emma Miller said, “help my sisters. This would be a redeeming act.”

Are you listening MSU? I can’t hear you.”

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MSU AD Hollis Must Come Clean: Nasser Scandal is a PSU Re-Run, Because Hollis Ignored the PSU ‘Integrity’ and Mitchell Reports

The testimony has been heart-breaking: all these girls, many now women, recounting the shame of their childhoods, the assaults by a monster.


MSU AD Mark Hollis

But I felt like I was watching, in some fashion, re-runs. Penn State went through much of this. PSU allowed their iconic coach Joe Paterno to bury, for two decades, what he knew about pedophilia.

But MSU’s anemic reaction to this Nasser scandal makes PSU look good, in retrospect. PSU ordered an independent review by Louis Freeh, and released it to the public. This response — the only responsible one for a public university — is one which MSU’s board (which met on Jan. 19) has shunned, choosing instead to take their cues from Baylor, a private school. And as a result of PSU’s swift action after the Sandusky scandal, the school signed an “Athletic Integrity Agreement.”

MSU is a Party to the PSU Athletic Integrity Agreement

That AIA was signed by Penn State and the NCAA, but it was also signed by the Big Ten Conference, of which MSU is a member. MSU, therefore was, and still is, a party to that PSU Integrity Agreement.

There were many elements to that agreement. One was to hire former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (he of the Northern Ireland Good Friday accord) as the ‘Monitor’ to implement and oversee all of PSU’s work in response. As a result, Mitchell wrote three years of quarterly reports, which recorded in careful detail the efforts PSU undertook to to comply with the AIA. The great majority of Mitchell’s comments were favorable, because PSU, to their credit, worked so damned hard to change their culture.

How?: PSU effected two major changes (among the hundreds).

Two Fully-Trained Adults with Minors, At all Times

First, as regards any contact between PSU-related personnel and minors — those below the age of 18 — PSU committed — pursuant to Monitor Mitchell’s direction — that there would always be two adults present. PSU also committed that any of those characters who might have contact with minors would also be required to have had thorough training about their duties as “reporters” under state child abuse and federal Clery statutes.

Independent Team Monitor

Second, PSU committed to appointing an independent “Team Monitor,” for every one of its varsity teams, to report periodically and independently about each team’s steps to insure compliance with the AIA. (The University of Michigan has had, I believe, based upon reporting I saw about their tennis team, one assistant athletic director assigned to each team, to provide direct reporting to the AD.)

Pretty simple, right? Two trained adults while interacting with minors. And an independent Team Monitor for every sport.

MSU AD Mark Hollis was appointed to his position in 2008, so he watched the whole PSU Sandusky scandal unfold. He’s ostensibly competent and respected, and was appointed to the March Madness selection committee four years ago — which requires him to travel all over the country, at MSU’s cost. He also came up with the idea of having the MSU basketball team play a pre-season game on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, for which he gained much notoriety. He also donated some of his fantastic salary, in combination with a donation from a Mr. Skanadalaris, for a recruiting center on the MSU campus, with this lofty name on the front: “The Mark & Nancy Hollis Family /The Skandalaris Family Engagement Center” This is a recruiting hub, which contains a large front-lobby sign which asks, “ARE YOU THE ONE?,” with a subtitle pronouncing, “Respect, Focus, Accountability, Positive Attitude.

Accountability. Respect. Focus. But as best I can tell Mark Hollis never appointed an independent team monitor for each varsity team,  and did not insure that two persons  of adult age and with thorough Cleary Act and child sex abuse reporting training were always present when interacting with minors. Hollis needs to answer a few questions:

1) did you ever read the PSU “Athletic Integrity Agreement,” to which you were a party?

2) did you ever read any of the thorough quarterly reports filed by Senator Mitchell for three years, which set a stake in the ground, defining the state of the art for handling issues having to do with pedophilia and sexual assault reporting?

3) why were underage athletes getting medical care in MSU facilities without, apparently, the attendance of two fully trained adults, as required by the AIA state of the art?

4) was a “Team Monitor” supervising, on site, the operations of the MSU gymnastics (and track and field, and other sports where girls were apparently molested) to be enabled to file periodic independent reports, but also to immediately alert you, as athletic director, about any specific, serious issues — such as those about which we are now so belatedly, and tragically, being told by girls/women who are now the effluent of Nasser’s libido?

That Athletics Integrity Agreement, issued six years ago, was and is a cookbook the for handling and prevention of pedophilia and sexual abuse at large universities. But it appears that MSU ignored it. And that failure to abide by an agreement to which MSU was a party may have been a direct cause of much of the horrific damage done to females by Nasser.

“ARE YOU THE ONE? — “Respect, Focus, and Accountability

MSU is in crisis. What must it immediately do, on a triage basis?

  1. MSU’s Hollis needs to report to the public on the above questions and, more generally, all steps which MSU took, since the AIA issued years ago, to comply with the state of the art standards so clearly outline in the Athletics Integrity Agreement to which PSU, MSU, and the Big Ten were parties.
  2.  MSU must appoint someone like Louis Freeh to conduct a thorough review of what has occurred during Nasser’s tenure. It cannot mimic Baylor, by having its law firm conduct that review, and render no report, for two reasons: a) MSU has a duty of public transparency. (Baylor is a private school, MSU is public; b) the assaults at Baylor were by students, not paid or controlled by the school. The assaults at MSU were by an MSU employee.
  3.  MSU needs to then appoint its own Global Monitor, like George Mitchell, to come in and oversee MSU’s ongoing compliance, over the coming years, with the Athletic Integrity Agreement to which it is a party, and any other recommendations rendered by the Freeh-type review described above.
  4. MSU must immediately impose the AIA rule that no MSU-related personnel can have contact with minors without a second such MSU person present, and that such persons have thorough training.
  5. Immediately appoint an independent Team Monitor for every sport, to report directly to the athletic director.
  6. Consider immediately imposing a rule that no athletic department-related personnel can meet alone with female students without a second such person being present.

Respect. Focus. Accountability.






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Notice to Every Auburn BKB Player and Recruit: Run, as Fast as You Can, From Auburn

Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl has just announced that he will not cooperate with any NCAA investigation. He has a contractual duty to cooperate.


In addition, the ‘vicarious liability’ principle embraced by the NCAA 2 years ago establishes that the head coach is presumed responsible for any violations committed by his assistants. (Pearl’s assistant Chuck Person has been indicted for conspiracy and fraud.) If Pearl will not cooperate, then there will be no evidence to rebut the preumption that Pearl has violated NCAA bylaws.

Pearl has previously been seriously sanctioned by the NCAA, for his recruiting violations at Tennessee, and was the subject of an NCAA show-cause order after those transgressions.

Odd are that Pearl is going down, hard. And that Auburn basketball is going down, hard. Any recruit considering Auburn should no longer do so. Find a program which is not in peril of heavy NCAA sanction.

As to any current players, get out. Tell the AD that, if Pearl will not comply with his contractual duty to cooperate fully with an NCAA investigation, then you should be immediately released by Auburn from your NLI, so that you can immediately transfer elsewhere.

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NLI Signing: Two Written Questions Every D-1 Basketball Recruit Should Get Answered First

Today is the start of the NLI signing period. This is not a normal signing period in D-I basketball, because of the recent indictments of assistant coaches, agents, financial advisors, and Adidas marketers.

Things may be very different by the time you enroll next fall. Many more indictments may issue. Many coaches may resign or be fired. Many new ‘scandals’ may be exposed, at many other schools. The men indicted so far know alot, and are talking to the feds. The school, program, coach, or team you think you are signing up with may be very different next fall, and you may be looking to get released from the NLI you sign this November.

Two Questions for Each Coach, in Writing

Before you sign the NLI, insist that any coach who recruits you, including assistants or head coaches (each of them), respond to these two questions, in writing (by email):

ONE: are you aware of any significant violations of NCAA legislation involving your basketball program? If so, list them.

TWO: Have you reported through the appropriate individuals on your campus to your chancellor/president any knowledge of violations of NCAA legislation involving your institution?

[The second question is lifted from Form 17-2, shown below, which all D-II and DIII coaches have to sign every year, and which D-I coaches had to sign — until the requirement was removed on 8/1/17.]


You deserve to know these things, in writing, before you sign. (If a coach will not answer these questions, that is a red flag that you should not commit to the school.) And if things later blow up at the school, based upon some NCAA violations which the coach knew about and failed to disclose in his answers, you have a much stronger case for being released from the NLI.

Big-time college basketball may be in the process of blowing itself up. Protect yourself with these two simple written questions.



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The College Basketball Indictments: NCAA Doing ‘As Little as Possible’

In the movie Chinatown, Jake Gittis, private eye and former police detective in Chinatown, is in bed with Evelyn Mulwray, who asks him, “What did you do when you worked on the police force?” Gittis’ answer?

“As little as possible”.

In response to the recent college basketball indictments, Mark Emmert and the NCAA have done “as little as possible.” Sure, Emmert’s appointed a committee, with some big names which have generated flash. Sure, they’ve asked D-1 programs to ‘review’ their programs to insure compliance is up to speed. Otherwise the NCAA is doing a whole lot of looking the other way. A giant dodge.

On-the-plane, in-the-field, and on-site enforcement — just like 911

Ask Nerlens Noel, or Ryan Boatwright about the NCAA ‘looking the other way.’ Both basketball players were high school seniors over the past decade, who the NCAA somehow suspected were receiving some benefit which should disqualify them as ‘amateurs’. As a result, the NCAA sent investigators out in “the field”: home visits, lengthy interviews with all manner of characters, asking outrageous questions of unwitting relatives and friends – private citizens — all of them un-lawyered, and most of whom wrongly assumed that the NCAA was some kind of law enforcement, and all of them unaware that they should tell the NCAA gumshoe-bullies to go suck a lemon. This was NCAA robust, pulsating, on-the-plane, in-the-field, and on-site enforcement, with 911-like alacrity – to trammel-down those private-citizen 18 or 19-year-olds. Was the NCAA then doing ‘as little as possible’ to investigate alleged wrongdoing?

Or ask OSU’s former head coach Jim Tressel, who worked a fraud on the NCAA for almost a year, by disclaiming any knowledge of ‘eligibility-threatening’ trinket sales (horrors!) by his players.There had been much discussion, hand-wringing even, as OSU and the NCAA (and Tressel!) all seriously conferred about whether malefactors Terrelle Pryor and five teammate should be allowed to play in OSU’s January 2011 bowl game. (They were, though the players were required to serve a 5-game suspension the following season – and OSU immediately, in late December, filed an appeal of that decision.)

But when OSU found, ten days after that bowl game, a string of Tressel emails over the previous year, which strongly suggested that Tressel had been lying, the school forwarded those emails to the NCAA on the first Friday in February. What happened? The NCAA gumshoes were on-campus at OSU that Monday. The next business dayOn-the-plane, in-the-field, and on-site enforcement, just like 911.

Basically, Nuthin’

But when the feds announced in late September 2017 their indictments of four college coaches, some agents and financial ‘advisors,’ and a couple of Adidas ‘sales’ people, what did the NCAA do?

Basically, nuthin.

You would think that those same NCAA gumshoes who glommed all over Boatwright and Noel, or who jumped right on OSU and Tressel, would have been on-the-plane, in-the-field, and on-site at Auburn, USC, Oklahoma State, Arizona, and Louisville, with that good-ole NCAA alacrity.

Nope. NCAA, As Little As Possible.

Wait. But did someone claim it has to be ALAP, while a criminal investigation unfolds? Well, that can’t explain it. After all, when the NCAA swooped in on OSU in 2010 and 2011, there was a pending federal investigation. And civil and criminal – and yes, even NCAA – investigations can, and often are, concurrent, if only because the civil (and, presumably, NCAA) standard of proof – a preponderance – is so much easier to satisfy than the criminal ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard. In addition, the NCAA loves intermediate remedies, imposed to preclude continuing harm or wrongdoing — just ask the two Auburn players who just got suspended using that very rationale.

Moreover, Louisville has had an appeal pending (just as OSU had an appeal pending) of the NCAA decision rendered in June 2017 – a decision which refused to apply the NCAA’s ‘vicarious liability’ standard to strictly impute the ‘stripper violations’ to head coach Rick Pitino, and also refused to find that Pitino’s claimed ignorance of the violations was not credible. The facts alleged in the September indictments (many of which are, on their face, highly reliable, since they derive from tapped conversations, or accounts from a ‘state’s evidence’ witness) provide a thumping suggestion that: 1) Pitino’s involvement in all the events was significant; 2) those events unfolded prior to the time the NCAA rendered its June 2017 Louisville decision; and 3) there are many more reasons to doubt Pitino’s  credibility — which was the central issue in the NCAA case decided in June! At a minimum, haven’t the new indictments generated sufficient new evidence suggesting that the NCAA must immediately re-open that case? Is it not time for the NCAA to get on-the-plane, in-the-field, and on-site, to Louisville?

A Teeny-Weeny Baby-Step for NCAA Enforcement

Finally, let’s compare the ‘scorched earth’ NCAA investigations of Nerlens Noel and Ryan Boatright with the easy, simple, and cheap baby-step which Mark Emmert and his suddenly mute and paralyzed enforcement-goons could immediately take to minimally “investigate” some of the disturbing allegations in the indictments: require that every coach immediately file a signed affidavit which includes this statement:

By signing and dating this form, you certify that you have reported through the appropriate individuals on your campus to your chancellor/president any knowledge of violations of NCAA legislation involving your institution”

[This is the very language which Jim Tressel signed-onto in September 2010, which the NCAA later used to show that Tressel was “not credible” and had “purposely hid” evidence. It is Form 16-2 language, but the NCAA-Chinatown coaches and administrators acted on April 26, 2017 (six days after Rick Pitino testified before the NCAA) to eliminate Form 16-2, effective August 1, 2017. The coaches and administrators apparently wanted to do “as little as possible” with regard to reporting violations, within an NCAA system which touts its heavy reliance upon self-reporting.]

To mandate that every coach file such an affidavit by the end of today would impose almost no burden on anyone. It requires no commission, no meetings, no manpower, no outlay. No on-the-plane, in-the-field on-site investigations. Simple. Pretty close to As Little As Possible.

Emmert won’t do it. Neither will the NCAA.

A Giant Step for University Presidents and Athletic Directors

It is the end of the movie Chinatown, after the wreckage of events results in the shooting death of Evelyn Mulwray, at the hand of a police detective. And PI Gittis, who unwittingly got drawn into events to try to save Evelyn and her daughter/sister, is heard to utter, almost inaudibly, “as little as possible.” To which the detective responds, “Forget about it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

This story about the new college basketball indictments, though, has a different coda. Mark Emmert and his NCAA will continue to do as little as possible, and will not re-impose the coach duty to sign Form 16-2.

But if you are a Power 5 university president or athletic director, justifiably worried a tad about some criminal (or NCAA violation) liability putting you in personal or professional jeopardy, you shouldn’t just forget about it.  Your ass is on the line.

 Here’s a suggestion: immediately demand that every basketball and football coach fill out a signed affidavit which includes the above Form 16-2 “any knowledge of violations’ language. (If he refuses, well, that tells you a whole lot, and is probably grounds for employment sanction.) It’s a tiny form, but a giant step. Make the coach commit. Don’t ‘forget about it.” Don’t do “as little as possible. Draw a line, which separates you from Chinatown, now. Get affidavits from every coach, because we’ve not seen the last of the indictments. 

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How the NCAA’s Mark Emmert is a Madam in a Whorehouse

In late September, the sheriff raided the House of Emmert.


NCAA President Mark Emmert

The town folk now are now all a-Twitter at the suggestion that Madame Emmert’s charges may not, as it turns out, have been conducting NCAA Bible-readings there in her house of entertainment.

Had money been flowing, all along — they all want to know — for illicit acts?

But Madame Emmert — she of the puffy blown-dry hair, the smarmy air of genuine earnestness, and the perfumey seductions — has been in the business for a while.  She knows many people around town.

And so she has appointed some Pillars of the Community — a respectable group, with whom she is well-acquainted, who know they need not do any investigation at all, because they know Madame Emmett has always been above reproach — to come forth with a respectable report about all the fuss.

In the meantime, Madame Emmert has also whispered, sotto voce, to the Sheriff that she has fired a few of her lowly assistants – room attendants, really: Chuck Person, and a few other assistant coaches across the country. She’s also arranged for the firing of a few of her low-level girls. Good girls — very good girls — but very misguided. Why — just today — Madame Emmert arranged for the firing of a few Auburn basketball players.

But Madame Emmert is a woman of loyalty: her managers all remain. Bruce Pearl. She’s known him forever. And he’s so much fun and such a bright light when he bellies up to the bar, and all gather merrily around to sing while the piano player bangs out the Stein Song and other old standards. Andy Enfield, the USC head basketball coach whose assistant has been suspended, and who preened, as-creepy-as-can-be, to reporters at a press conference when he was hired that, “if you question my recruiting ability, just look at my wife.” These are the kinds of gentleman with whom townsfolk like to do business.

And Pearl and Enfield are, after all, fine upstanding characters who have helped Madame Emmert to achieve her position of prominence and respectability in the town. (Yes, it’s true that Mr. Pearl did some time for promotion of prostitution, but that was a long time ago.) But these are gentleman who deserve the benefit of the doubt. Leaders of men. Protectors of women. Madame Emmert could not possibly jeopardize their livelihood. These are respectable men.

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Auburn Players Suspended — But Not Head Coach Bruce Pearl?

Auburn just announced that it will be “holding out” mens basketball players Austin Wiley and Daniel Purifoy ”indefinitely.” This is, Auburn says, to “avoid any potential eligibility issues.”


Auburn skipped a step.

The indictment a month ago of Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person moved Auburn to quickly suspend Person without pay. But because of the NCAA’s head coach ‘vicarious liability’ adopted in 2014, Auburn should have, at the same time, suspended head coach Bruce Pearl, without pay.

The vicarious liability rule is simple: any wrongdoing by an assistant coach is imputed to the coach.  What’s Person’s wrongdoing, is Pearl’s wrongdoing. And, just as the lack of final, complete proof of wrongdoing did not prevent Auburn from suspending Person, so also does the lack of final, complete proof of Pearl’s wrongdoing prevent Auburn from suspending Pearl. Person’s suspension requires Pearl’s suspension.

That’s the step which Auburn skipped. Instead, Auburn jumped straight ahead, to quickly sanction two players. This is because of that old NCAA rule that if there exists some colorable question about a player’s eligibility, the school must hold that player out, until the question is resolved. If the school fails to do so, and the player is later found by the NCAA to have been ineligible, then all games in which the player participated will be fofeited or ‘vacated.”

But the suspension of the two players should have made Pearl’s suspension all the more necessary, suggesting as they do that, based upon Auburn’s own internal initial review, there existed some good faith basis for believing that Persons alleged wrongdoings have both some apparent basis, but also some connection to the players.

(It is not unfair or irrelevant that Pearl had previously been subject to NCAA sanction, and show cause order, for circumstances when he was head coach at Tennessee, and had been found to have lied to NCAA investigators. This proven predilection to lie ought to make Auburn and Tennessee all the more suspicious of any protestions now by Pearl that he knew nothing about the transgressions alleged about Person.)

At this point, Pearl has to be suspended without pay.

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The NCAA is Kodak – and the Knight Commission is MySpace

I watched all the proceedings for the half-day of Knight Commission ‘hearings’ in Washington on October 30. These people are lost at sea.


Arne Duncan

The recent basketball indictments told Mark Emmert that he’s been heading up a rudderless organization, which is now jet-skiing around its harbor, making churn and a big wake, with no direction home. The NCAA is Kodak: 25 years ago, it dominated an entire market, and its producers and consumers were happy to have the NCAA leading the way. Kodak is now shut down. Rochester lost 15,000 workers, because Kodak failed to anticipate the future, and whiffed at any opportunity to radically remake itself.

Radically Re-made Itself

IBM radically re-made itself. Twice. And it wasn’t Thos. Watson the first who did it. It was Junior who forced his father’s outfit to remake itself. Sons of great achievers usually despoil their father’s product, but Thos. Watson, Jr, instead, rammed change down the throat of his father’s blue-ribbon market leader — twice. And each time, it became a radically better organization.

The recent basketball indictments told the Knight Commission that they have been whiffing for years now, so that Knight is now MySpace: old and not even in the way. Irrelevant. Spinning its wheels. Look at the videos of their meeting. They are at a podium, still talking about decimal points on grade-point averages. Clueless.

And the Knight Commission has climbed in bed with an entirely mercantile trade group — LEAD1, the collection of buccaneers who call themselves Athletic Directors, but are panting to engage in influence-peddling in Washington, all in secret, without the kind of transparency and openness which should attend their every move in their capacities as public (mostly) university AD’s.

Somehow, for example, we are told, by some fellow (extraordinarily bright) who used to be an athletic director, but has been assigned — by LEAD1, in concert with the NCAA — to prepare a secret summary as to how some NCAA schools can enter into a joint venture of some sort for purchasing better player health insurance, that he cannot tell us with any explicitness what he has been doing.

But — get this — this fellow shows up and says: 1) we really haven’t finished our work; but 2) we can’t tell you anything about what our work has concluded, anyway, because it “needs to be vetted” by the LEAD 1 members. LEAD1 and the NCAA, apparently, cannot trust any other stakeholders to be involved with developing some position on this issue — better health insurance for players. The NCAA and LEAD1, both private outfits, will bless the rest of those stakeholders with some input when NCAA and LEAD1 have decided what is right, proper, and suitable for those others.

But note what this private citizen, hired by two private outfits (NCAA and LEAD1) did and did not say.  He seemed to endorse, first of all, the current ethic among AD’s and athletic departments, to shop for health coverage based solely upon a lowest-cost standard!  And he said this with a straight face, as though no one could ever argue for some other standard for measuring the need for, and advisability of purchasing, decent health coverage for players (particularly in football) who encounter staggering risk of physical injury, with every play!

The man went on to describe the extraordinary difficulties associated with ‘pooled’ purchasing, among all D-1 schools, of suitable health coverage for players — as if this was the only possible option for retaining such coverage.

But this was not the primary defect in his presentation, because it was devoid of moral, public health, or other principle. Nowhere (and he presumably was speaking on behalf of all those AD’s and former AD’s, all members of a trade group) was there any articulation of some fundamental moral or public policy principle.

What do I mean? If this head of this private, still-secret NCAA/LEAD1 effort had any moral compass, he would’ve told that august assemblage there in D.C. (and all of us who watched the stream) that no school with gross football receipts more than — what? — $1 million? — maybe $10 million — should ever be allowed to avoid providing the complete cost of top-notch health coverage for their football players.

(And excellent means: 1) the school, not player (or family) assumes all cost; 2) the tail provides coverage for at least five years after departure from play at that school.)

Nope. No such statement of principle. Nothing. No consideration of the player’s point of view. Instead, the entire presentation revolved around what the school might possibly afford — using the NCAA and school wacky measure for what is affordable.

This story is not told solely to illustrate the abject lack of moral compass at LEAD1, the NCAA, and the Knight Commission. Or solely to illustrate the extent to which the Knight Commission has become MySpace, left in the dust of events which have long passed.  No. It is also told to illustrate more clearly why the Knight Commission is MySpace.

Created 25 years ago, the Knight Commisison has no idea what is necessary.  So I will suggest what the Knight Commission needs to do to re-invent itself, just as IBM did.

The next meeting, get rid of the silk-tie guys who don’t matter. Invite the Big-Shoes — Nike, Adidas, and UnderArmour, who have colonized colleges sports during the precise 25 years during which Knight Commission has existed. Invite the TV networks, and the conferences, both of whom are mere media-traders, who have also colonized college sports during the precise 25 years since Knight Commission has been created. Force them to discuss issues. Hold their feet to the fire. One tiny example: do either of these behemoths who now reside, figuratively, there at the 50-yard line of every game, have some interest and willingness to fund health coverage for the player-billboards who are the major producers in their electronic or digital, nation-wide promotion-factory?

But also, and more importantly, because no one on the Knight Commission gets this:  invite players.

More important — and this is the most important element: pay for and invite a truly independent person to work for and represent the big-time players who are responsible for the tsunami of money which has flooded college sports just since the Knight Commission was created in the early 1990’s. That independent person might be Alan Sack. Maybe Attorney Rick Johnson. Economist Rod Fort. Economist Andy Schwarz. David Ridpath. Attorney David Vaughn. Ellen Staurovsky. Richard Southall. Attorney Roe Frazer. Ted Tatos. Chris Borland. Attorney Marc Edelman. Ramogi Huma. You have plenty of choices. You have plenty of money. And none of it, Knight Commission, has gone to protect the major producer in the very system you purport to monitor: the player.

Knight Commission: You are MySpace. Passe. Get with it. The indictments made a fool of you. Time to give voice to the player. Time to radically re-make yourself.

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College Basketball Indictments: Adidas, Thy Name is Banned Athlete Agent

Adidas Operated as a Player Agent 

In my previous two postings I said that the recent college basketball indictments provide a reasonable foundation for concluding that Adidas has acted as both a Booster and Runner and must, under NCAA bylaws, therefore be banned from campus, by way of an order from the NCAA to the school to ‘dissociate’ from Adidas. The necessary result is that the schools involved will need to sever their contracts and all relations with Adidas. (The same analysis obviously applied to any other apparel company which arranged any similar payoffs to players and others.) These sanctions to which Adidas is subject would be imposed by the NCAA.



NCAA Executive Director Emmert


But Adidas’ action subject it to a different criminal sanction, according to most state laws, and apart from the federally statutory violations alleged in the pending indictments.

The Uniform Athlete Agent Act

By making the payments alleged in the indictment to a recruit, Adidas functioned as an illegal “athlete agent,” as defined under state Uniform Athlete Agent Acts. These statutes were drafted and passed at the behest of the NCAA. It is the NCAA’s very own ‘pet’ statute, in many ways, since it was the prime mover in getting it adopted in 43 states. So the NCAA’s own description of the statute, and the wrongs it is meant to prevent and/or sanction, as displayed at its website, and entitled “Need For and Benefits of the Uniform Athlete Agents Act,” are a good source — and I will quote extensively from them below:

“Many athlete agents are not readily identified to the student-athlete. These unscrupulous individuals include prospective agents who are willing to use any means necessary to ensnare a student-athlete who has even a slight possibility of a professional career. The significant damage caused by impermissible and illegal inducements to student-athletes requires sensible legislation to provide protections for student-athletes and the institutions they attend. There is a real need to have access to information about the individuals who become involved with our student-athletes and to provide strong criminal, civil and administrative penalties along with the tools to ensure that law enforcement can adequately enforce the act.”

The statute requires that any agent register with the state, providing

“important information, both professional and criminal in nature,” [which will] “enable student-athletes, their parents and family, and university personnel to better evaluate the prospective agent.” [and requires that] “that written notice be provided to institutions when a student-athlete signs an agency contract before their eligibility expires.”

By making the payments described in the indictments a

(even if made through an intermediary “runner”) Adidas operated as an athlete agent — but did not register with the states as an agent.

And, as the NCAA website points out, an agency

“contract must contain a notification to the student-athlete informing them that signing a contract may make the student-athlete ineligible for intercollegiate competition.”

The mere fact that no written contract exists does not excuse Agent Adidas from the statutory duty to give this warning, and it is fair to assume (from the indictments), that Agent Adidas never gave any such warning to Brian Bowen or others. (Bowen, now in limbo and not playing basketball — but enrolled — at Louisville, seems clearly destined to be found ineligible.)

As the NCAA’s website states, the act

“provides for criminal, civil and administrative penalties with enforcement at the state level.”

Adidas, it appears, is wide open to prosecution by one or more states for violation of the UAAA, with potential criminal, civil and administrative penalties in play.

Adidas Liability for Louisville Damages?

But here’s a very interesting kicker, in the NCAA’s own words:

“the act provides institutions with a right of action against the agent or former student-athlete for any damages caused by a violation of this act.”

Let your imagination fly here: Louisville’s damages caused by these events (if the school can avoid any finding of its own participation in the alleged bribes, fraud, and conspiracy — which is a bit of an ‘if’) are staggering. And the statute places responsibility for those damages upon Agent Adidas.

Adidas, Thy Name is Banned Athlete Agent


Copyright William Wilson 2017



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College Basketball Indictments: Adidas, Thy Name is Banned ‘Runner’

Adidas’ head of worldwide marketing, Jim Gatto, was one of the ten people indicted last month for involvement in what was alleged to have been conspiracy, fraud, and bribery surrounding four named schools, and several other schools which were unnamed, but implicated. Gatto, according to the indictment, allegedly committed to funnel a total of $100,000 to recruit Brian Bowen, as a part of a scheme which apparently encouraged Bowen both to sign to attend and play for Louisville, but also to hook-up with one or more agents or financial advisors. (Louisville has long had an apparel-supply contract with Adidas; that contract was renewed this year, providing for an Adidas payment of $170 million over ten years.)



Adidas Worldwide Head Of Marketing Jim Gatto


In response to these indictments, NCAA president Mark Emmert has appointed an independent commission, headed by Condoleeza Rice, to recommend changes in the NCAA system. But Emmert and his NCAA may be getting a little ahead of themselves, by not recognizing the need to act with some swiftness to address issues raised by Adidas’ conduct (and, possibly, the conduct of Nike, since Nike has recently been served with a subpoena for production of documents.)

Yesterday I wrote that, if it is true that Adidas made payments directly to a player, the company probably functioned as a Booster under NCAA bylaws, which would necessitate banning the company from any further contact with Louisville and, therefore, require Louisville to sever its contract with Adidas.

Adidas also mostly likely functioned as a “runner” under NCAA rules.


First, a little background. A number of NCAA enforcement decisions have roundly condemned the on-campus presence of “runners”: persons paid by a third party to ‘run’ after players on campus, in order to persuade the player to do something of benefit to that third party, who is usually an established professional players’ agent. Most often the runner’s persuasion of the player includes a gift, payment, or loan to that player, to encourage him to eventually sign an agency contract.

In a 2011 NCAA enforcement case involving Georgia Tech, for example, an NCAA staffer had received a tip that such a runner had been spied on campus, providing free clothing (the horror!) to two prominent Tech football players. The decision by the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions excoriated those ‘runners,’ and sanctioned the school and its athletic department employees. And in a March 2012 decision involving the University of North Carolina, as another example, the NCAA Committee on Infractions gravely warned of a shady world inhabited by agents and their runners.

The situation involving agents and their ‘runners’ supplying impermissible benefits to the seven student-athletes is a window into the often unscrupulous world inhabited by those who look to cash in on potentially lucrative future professional contracts to be signed by gifted & talented student-athletes.

Pursuant to Bylaw 12, any ‘student-athlete’ (anyone participating in or who may be eligible in the future to participate in a sport) may not agree verbally or in writing to be represented by an athlete agent in the present or in the future, for the purposes of marketing the student-athlete’s ability or reputation.

Adidas As Two Kinds of Runner

Gatto likely functioned as such an illegal (under NCAA bylaws) runner, in two respects. First, he can be seen as having been a “runner” for his employer, Adidas, by locating and paying Brian Bowen money, as a means of encouraging Bowen not only to sign with Louisville, with whom Adidas has a promotional contract, but also as a vehicle to encourage Bowen to sign with Adidas after his departure from Louisville (whether after a ‘one-and-done’ year there, or after some lengthier period.)

Second, depending upon factual detail which may become more clear as the indictments proceed, it appears that Gatto may also have been simultaneously “running” for Snood and Dawkins (the agent and financial advisor linked to the schemes described in the indictments.) Using this theory, the money passed by Gatto to Bowen had the same aim as the clothing provided by the runner at Georgia Tech whose actions were so heavily criticized by the Committee on Infractions in 2011: to encourage a player to eventually sign with a third-party who held himself out as a classic player’s ‘agent’. (The difference in scope is more than relevant: the Tech players got some apparel; Bowen would, apparently, be receiving $100,000.) In this scenario, Gatto and Adidas were, like the runner in the UNC case, presumably “looking to cash in on a lucrative professional contract” which they expected Brian Bowen would soon be signing.

The NCAA does not like Runners. Like Boosters, they are frequently banned from campus. Adidas, thy name is also Banned Runner.


Copyright William Wilson 2017

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