The NCAA: It’s The Same Old Song…

It has been a while since the geniuses who run the NCAA have been in the news but the drought is over. The NCAA is holding a hearing in Seattle – behind closed doors of course lest “the bad guys” find out what the NCAA is planning to do in the name of truth, justice and the American way. The question before the august panel of NCAA sages is whether or not Indiana University needs to have additional sanctions rain down on their heads in the aftermath of the Kelvin Sampson rule-breaking rampage. Indiana University in the person of its AD, Rick Greenspan, issued a statement thanking the NCAA for allowing IU to present its case from an institutional perspective as part of the hearing. Wow, he actually thanked these goofs for due process. Imagine how low one’s expectations must be if you thank the inquisitors for listening to your side of the story.

The NCAA accuses Kelvin Sampson of rule breaking with regard to phone calls to potential recruits and with providing false information to NCAA investigators. An NCAA spokesthing said that sanctions could range from loss of scholarships to a ban on any post-season play for the school.

Here is some free advice for the NCAA wizards; it might actually make future miscreants take notice. The bad guy here is Kelvin Sampson and not the current coaching staff or the kids on the present team. So how about including the following sanction:

    Any member school that hires Kelvin Sampson as a coach/assistant coach or in any capacity within the athletic department of that institution prior to January 1, 2017 shall be banned from participation in any post-season basketball tournaments for five years from the date of Sampson’s hiring.

    Moreover, such sanction shall not – repeat NOT – be foreshortened if that member institutions wakes up, slaps itself on the forehead, screams something akin to what the hell were we thinking and fires Sampson’s ass.

While thinking about basketball and Seattle, it comes to mind that the lawsuit between the city of Seattle and the new owners of the Seattle Supersonics over where the Sonics shall play next season has begun. In case you aren’t following this suit deposition by deposition, the suit is not just about the Sonics “deserting the city”. The team acknowledges that they have a lease with the arena in Seattle and they offer to pay the rent in any circumstance. Nevertheless, the city wants more; they want the team to play in the arena in Seattle whilst the team pays the rent. The city claims that the team has to be held to a standard of “specific performance” meaning collecting the rent for nothing is insufficient.

I guess I have to ask why that is important. Attendance at Sonics game last year was mediocre; how can it be anything more than that in the next two years if the city prevails? The new owner of the Sonics is from Oklahoma City and he will eventually take the team there – whether or not that is a sensible decision – despite the outcome of this suit. So what does the city gain from having the team play there in lame duck status for two seasons?

And if the city really decides that it has to have a basketball team after the Sonics leave town, the only way they will get one is to build a new arena for the new team – be it an expansion team or a transplanted franchise. Can you say Portland or Sacramento? If the city fathers find a way to do that, then one might have to ask them why they went through all of this grief with the Sonics when a new arena would have kept that team in town for the next two decades at least.

Continuing to focus on Seattle, the Mariners recently fired GM Bill Bavasi. I thought the Mariners had a chance to be really good this year; instead, they have the worst record in major league baseball and more than a small measure of that blame has to land in the GM’s office. The Mariners are four games worse than the Washington Nationals and the Nats would not necessarily be favored to win the Minor League World Series this year. In recent years, Bavasi has signed some free agents who have just landed with a thud in Seattle such as Adrian Beltré, Richie Sexson, Jeff Weaver and Carlos Silva. Sexson’s contract is up this year granting the team a bit of relief but the other guys are signed long term. No one else in MLB wants any of these guys on a long-term basis.

I do not know if the financial gurus who run the major sports here in the US have focused on this question yet, but what is going to happen when/if Budweiser is sold to a European/Brazilian consortium? Bud and its allied brands are huge sports sponsors here in the US; if they are not the biggest spenders, they have to be in the top five. Now suppose the new corporate masters decide to cut the ad budgets by 75% or to devote 75% of the current ad budget to overseas sports such as soccer and cricket. What will happen to ad revenues and TV rights fees here in the US after that event? Cue the Fifth Dimension; it could be the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…

Oakland Raiders’ wide receiver, Javon Walker, was found unconscious on a street corner in Las Vegas. He had been robbed and he suffered a fracture to his orbital bone – - that’s the eye socket for those of you who never paid attention to human anatomy in high school biology classes. According to the LV Review-Journal, Walker was seen spraying high priced champagne on the crowd at an upscale club at the Wynn Resort in Vegas the night before this incident. The Raiders signed Walker as a free agent for 3 years/$27M; in no way do I think he is worth anywhere near that pay level. Now he may have a serious injury that could cost him much if not all of the 2008 season.

They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Javon Walker probably wishes that the eye socket fracture would stay behind him in Vegas…

Finally, here is a thought from Jay Leno relative to the NFL Draft:

“Cincinnati, they did pretty good. They took a bail bondsman in the first round and a probation officer in the second.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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