- Tuesday, December, 05, 2017
Cal to Pay Consultant $75K to Help Shore Up Finances
The University of California, Berkeley, has retained the services of Collegiate Sports Services to help put the athletic department's financial house in order.
Chancellor Carol Christ hired the sports consulting and search firm last month, according to The Daily Californian. The CSA team, led by vice president of consulting and former Boston College athletic director Bradley Bates, will receive $75,000, plus expenses, which aren't expected to exceed $15,000 and will be covered by private donations.
The action comes on the heels of back-to-back fiscal years (2016 and 2017) in which Cal Athletics needed separate $20 million bailouts. Moreover, football, the department's top revenue-generator, saw a 22-percent decline in attendance this season.
Cal is currently paying interest on debt incurred during the 2012 renovation and seismic retrofitting of Memorial Stadium as well as construction costs associated with a new athletics complex. In all, Cal Athletics holds $400 million in debt, more than any athletic department in the nation.
CSA's external review, which will come as Cal athletic director Mike Williams prepares to step down in May, will also “develop additional recommendations for the Intercollegiate Athletics department to build a long-term sustainable financial model for (Cal Athletics).”
- Friday, December, 01, 2017
Pitino Suing Louisville for $35M over Termination
Former University of Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino is suing the school's athletic department for the more than $35 million in compensation that remained on his contract.
Louisville fired Pitino in October after it was determined he had knowledge of and supported a system whereby the university's sponsor shoe company Adidas was paying recruits to sign with the Cardinals. By claiming it had "just cause" for the termination, Louisville relieved itself of honoring the remainder of Pitino's contract. On Thursday, Pitino filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit in U.S. District Court, claiming the University of Louisville Athletic Associaton did not have a case for the "just cause" firing. It also claims that Louisville did not properly inform Pitino that he had been placed on administrative leave, which his lawyers claim was tantamount to termination.
According to Louisville Courier Journal, Pitino seeks $4.3 million per year, the value of his contract, from the date of the school's last payment through his contract's end in June 2026, or the value of his actual losses, which includes his personal Adidas contract. Adidas terminated its personal services contract with Pitino after he was fired.
Three causes were cited for the firing. One, the university asserted that Pitino was involved in or had knowledge of the illegal recruiting tactics. Secondly, Pitino failed to alert the athletic department to the presence on campus of Christian Dawkins, a rogue agent. And third, Pitino failed to exercise control over his program in the wake of allegations that escorts had been purchased to entice recruits, the university claimed.
Pitino's legal team counters that the former coach never admitted to wrongdoing, even when wiretapped, and that he had insufficient knowledge of Dawkins to warrant reporting his presence to the athletic department.
According to Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann, Pitino's lawsuit faces long odds of succeeding. "This is mainly because Pitino’s contract contains expansive and vague language for the university to construct a valid rationale for firing with just cause," McCann writes. "For instance, he would have violated his contract by failing to: diligently supervise compliance of his assistant coaches; promote an atmosphere of compliance; or avoid disparaging media publicity. In order to conclude that Pitino did not violate his contract, one would likely have to believe that Pitino was unaware and uninvolved in any of the corruption that was both around him and that appeared to benefit him."
- Thursday, November, 30, 2017
Athlete Ally's Hudson Taylor Discusses Athletic Equality Index
AB first spoke to Hudson Taylor in 2012, a year after the former collegiate wrestler had launched a nonprofit advocacy group for LGBT student-athletes called Athlete Ally. In the five years since, the group has gone from no staff members to eight (five full-time). There are now 32 Athlete Ally chapters on campuses across the country, and more than 150 professional athletes have signed on as organization ambassadors. The group has helped influence LGBT policies and practices within the NCAA and the IOC, and branched out to advocate for more women in FIFA governance and for the wearing of hijabs to be allowed in FIBA women's basketball competition. On Sept. 12, Athlete Ally released its first Athletic Equality Index, a scoring of LGBT polices within the 65 NCAA Division I athletic departments comprising the Power Five conferences. AB senior editor Paul Steinbach caught up with Taylor to talk progress.
- Monday, November, 20, 2017
Rutgers Again Confronts Abuse Allegations, Fires Coach
Rutgers University last week fired women's swimming coach Petra Martin amid allegations by team members that her tactics were abusive.
- Friday, November, 17, 2017
Will New Tax Bill Curtail College Athletics Giving?
Americans of all economic stripes were left wondering where they stood financially after the House of Representatives passed its tax bill Thursday by a 227-205 vote. Division I college athletics administrators represent one group with serious concerns about the bill’s potential impact.
According to ESPN, Section 1306 of the bill eliminates deductions associated with charitable giving tied to season-ticket purchases — gifts that athletic departments rely on heavily to fortify their operating budgets. Duke University athletic director Kevin White told ESPN that elimination of such deductions will cause “a dramatic sea change in the college sports landscape.”
“We need to put speed bumps up now to slow this thing down,” White said, “because I don't think the politicians have any idea how much this will pull apart our system."
For decades, schools have been requiring fans — or at least those located in certain seating areas — to make a donation for the right to purchase season tickets. The tax write-off — up to 80 percent of the donation — and the selling point it represented will disappear under the new plan, and athletics administrators fear actual donations will follow suit.
“We take in $50 million to $65 million a year in donations related to tickets,” LSU athletic director Joe Alleva told ESPN. “If even 10 percent of people say, ‘We’re not going to do that anymore,’ that’s at least $5 million to us. We have no other place to make that money up.”
"While we certainly do not know the exact repercussions, we expect that it would have a damaging effect," added Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne. "The philanthropic support of donors is instrumental, and although the amount of contributions from institution to institution varies, it is of equal importance across the board when you look at financial structures. Very few college athletics programs actually make a profit. Take that funding away, and it will be difficult to operate without making dramatic changes.”
Non-revenue sports opportunities, in particular, could be adversely impacted, said White.
Meanwhile, proponents of the bill argue that donations tied to tickets aren’t truly charitable, since the donor receives something valuable in return — the right to buy season tickets. The bill’s author, Representative Kevin Brady (R-Texas), reasons that the average fan is actually disadvantaged when wealthy fans are allowed to deduct their donations for the right to sit in the best seats. He adds that states could still allow such deductions, if they choose.
The Senate still has to pass its own bill, which at this point does not include a provision like the House’s Section 1306.
- Thursday, November, 09, 2017
Adidas Indictment: Pitino Participated in Bribery Scheme
A federal indictment released Wednesday against Adidas executive James Gatto suggests former University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino was aware of and participated in the type of bribery that has clouded college basketball in recent weeks.
According to a report at ESPN.com, the FBI recorded a July 27 meeting between a former AAU basketball coach, a Louisville assistant coach and others as they conspired to pay the family of Cardinals recruit Brian Bowen to ensure Bowen chose Louisville, a school under contract with Adidas.
"Dawkins explained that while [Pitino] and the University of Louisville were recruiting [Bowen], Dawkins asked [Pitino] to call James Gatto to request that [Adidas] provide the money requested by the family of [Bowen], which [Pitino] agreed to do," the indictment reads.
The original complaint against Gatto, released Sept. 26, stopped short of indicating Pitino agreed to the plan. It read: "Dawkins said he had spoken with Coach-2 [who has been reported to be Pitino] about getting additional money for [Bowen's] family and informed [Pitino] that 'I need you to call Jim Gatto, who's the head of everything' at [Adidas'] basketball program."
The FBI announced on Sept. 26 that 10 men — including assistant coaches Tony Evans of Oklahoma State, Chuck Person of Auburn, Emanuel "Book" Richardson of Arizona and Tony Bland of USC, along with Gatto — were charged with crimes relating to the investigation.
Louisville was not named in court documents, but interim president Greg Postel confirmed that the school was part of the FBI's investigation. Pitino was placed on unpaid administrative leave on Sept. 27 and fired on Oct. 17.
- Thursday, November, 09, 2017
How the Dallas Cowboys, Frisco ISD Share a Stadium
NFL-regulation hash marks embedded in the synthetic turf inside The Star in Frisco's indoor football stadium are colored a dark gray, bordering on black — the product of atypical negotiations during the year-old facility's design phase.
- Tuesday, November, 07, 2017
Stadium Renovation Shows Seminole Pride
Schools across the country have scaled back or eliminated altogether connections to American Indian culture — genuine or otherwise.
- Monday, November, 06, 2017
Indictments Imminent in College Basketball Scandal
Indictments stemming from the scandal that has rocked the college basketball world could come as early as next week, according to Yahoo Sports.
A grand jury is expected to bring charges against individuals ensnared by a three-year FBI investigation into how shoe companies, sports agents, financial planners and AAU coaches influence decisions regarding where recruits wind up attending college to play basketball.
The men expected to be indicted are: Chuck Person (Auburn); Emanuel “Book” Richardson (Arizona); Lamont Evans (Oklahoma State); Tony Bland (USC); James Gatto (Adidas executive)’ Merl Code (Adidas executive); Christian Dawkins (former employee of agency that represents NBA players); Munish Sood (financial adviser); Jonathan Brad Augustine (Florida-based AAU coach); and Rashan Michel (former NBA referee and current custom-suit salesman).
Sentencing history indicates that these individuals could serve 11 years or more in prison, but likely less than four. Attorneys for the coaches can now begin the discovery process to assess the evidence the government has against their clients. To date, none of the accused are believed to have cut a deal with federal authorities.
Others identified by investigators, including former University of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, have not been charged with crimes. Louisville fired Pitino on Oct. 16 after a secret FBI recording revealed a plan to allegedly have Adidas pay $100,000 to a Louisville recruit.
- Thursday, November, 02, 2017
Coach Fired Over Treatment of Athletes: 'Totally Untrue'
University of Louisiana-Lafayette softball coach Michael Lotief was fired Wednesday for subjecting student-athletes and coworkers to "violent, vulgar language and verbal and physical assault, creating a hostile learning and working environment."
Lotief, who amassed a 729-174 career coaching record while leading the Cajuns to five straight NCAA Super Regionals between 2012 and 2016 and three Women's College World Series appearances (2003, 2008, 2014), denies the allegations, claiming his 30-plus-year battle with throat cancer and resulting tracheotomy precluded him from such behavior. "Having a trach and not being able to breathe and a tube in my stomach, pretty much prevents me from physical confrontations," he said, according to ESPN.com.
Lotief's attorneys allege that the coach's termination has more to do with his advocacy for gender equality in athletics at Louisiana-Lafayette. "This matter arose out of a passionate discussion between Coach Lotief and several other persons within the university's athletic department wherein he complained of gender equality issues adversely affecting UL's female athletes, specifically the softball team," said attorney Glenn Edwards. "In response to a complaint of at least one participant in that conversation, Coach Lotief was immediately placed on administrative leave even though the written statements obtained about the conversation present completely divergent descriptions of what occurred."
Lotief had been on administrative leave since Oct. 6. He addressed his termination Wednesday with several team members in support behind him. "It's surreal, how unfactual it's been. It's totally untrue," said Lotief, whose assistant coach and video coordinator were also fired to — as a university statement put it — "allow the new coach to assemble their team." After the news conference, student-athletes discovered that they had been locked out of the team's facilities.
The team went 47-8 last season, winning Lafayette's 12th Sun Belt Conference title under Lotief.
"The allegation is that I poked someone in the shoulder, which seems like a very liberal interpretation of physical assault," said Lotief, who called accusations of verbal confrontation "a stretch. I'd even go so far as to say it's a lie."
Lotief and his attorneys said it was too soon to comment on future pursuit of legal remedies.
- Wednesday, November, 30, 2016
AB Show 2016: The Magic of Orlando
There’s something about Orlando, Fla., that stirs the nostalgia in this AB Show-goer. It’s where the conference and expo (as it used to be known) was held my first eight years at Athletic Business, and it has been there another four times since. In all, Orlando has served as the annual home away from home for AB roughly half the time in our show’s 35-year history.
- Monday, November, 10, 2014
Get to Know Your Peers When Attending ABC
This is a story about a conversation Lou Holtz and I never had.
- Tuesday, August, 12, 2014
Robin Williams Drew Attention to Inaugural Augie’s BASH
Robin Williams possessed the kind of frenetic magnetism that dared you to look away. For me, it wasn’t possible. The actor/comedian’s larger-than-life persona was tailor-made for a movie screen.
- Thursday, January, 17, 2013
Blog: The Tangled Webs of Lance Armstrong, Manti Te'o
The twisted tales of Lance Armstrong and Manti Te'o are now intertwined. Heroes to many, these athletes have lived lies before our eyes, and now those lies are unraveling within the same week.
- Monday, December, 03, 2012
Blog: The Life and Death of Rick Majerus
The first time I saw Rick Majerus in person, he was sitting in seldom-used end-court bleachers that had been wheeled into position for a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Class C basketball sectional at my high school alma mater's field house. I was there to cover a game for my hometown newspaper, The West Bend News. Majerus, an assistant coach at Marquette at the time (this was the mid-'80s), was there to scout Kohler, Wis., phenom Joe Wolf, who would eventually attend North Carolina.
- Friday, August, 17, 2012
Blog: Cheer These Pro Athletes for Giving Back
Assuming your membership in the Latrell "I have a family to feed" Sprewell Fan Club has expired, may we suggest a couple of options.
- Sunday, January, 17, 2010
Blog: Still Believing, 34 Years (and Counting) Later
Editor's Note: AB Senior Editor Paul Steinbach authored this piece in January 2010, but with February 22nd marking the 34th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice and the U.S. men's hockey team facing off against Canada on Friday, the message still rings true.
For nearly 30 years now, the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team has been an off-and-on obsession of mine.
- Thursday, December, 10, 2009
A Choice to Make
There's precedent for a Catholic institution sticking with a coach despite his pro-choice stance on abortion. Rick Majerus is in his third season heading the St. Louis University men's basketball program after admitting during a TV interview at a January 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign rally that he is "pro-choice, personally." But will a Catholic institution hire a pro-choice coach? Somehow, during speculation that University of Cincinnati head football coach Brian Kelly is next in line to bear the Notre Dame football cross, the rumor spread that Kelly, an Irish Catholic who decades ago campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, is pro-choice. But no one seems to know for sure. "I searched online media archives all day today trying to find one reputable media reference to Kelly's stance on abortion," read a Tuesday post by Brooks at sportsbybrooks.com. "I found none."
- Wednesday, November, 11, 2009
Hit 'Em Straight
When the AB editors dedicated our July issue to best environmental practices in the athletics, fitness and recreation industries, we managed to overlook one egregious hazard to our planet's health: golf balls.