Today I need to clean up a bunch of items on my clipboard because I will be on hiatus after today. Upcoming will be a set of journeys such that I MIGHT be writing for a day or two the week after next and then shut down until about August 8.
The NCAA is investigating the UNC athletics for possible “irregularities”. The school acknowledged the investigation in a formal statement earlier this week and in that statement the AD said that he was allowed by the NCAA to announce the fact of the investigation but nothing more. “Sources” said it was the football program that was under scrutiny. If the investigation is so sensitive and so “on the knife’s edge” [thanks to Ian Darke here], why is it even OK for the AD to announce the fact of the investigation? Oh, I forgot, these are the NCAA super-sleuths… No matter what UNC may have done or may not have done, the odds that this investigation will be concluded prior to 2012 are long.
In other NCAA regulatory news, the organization is looking into the possibility that it will ban all scholarship offers from member schools to any athlete prior to 1 July of the summer between the athlete’s junior and senior year in high school. One good thing here is that there will be no news of scholarship offers to 9-year-old “prodigies”. The problem here is that the rule will be all but unenforceable. Coaches and university folks cannot tell the kid he has a scholarship but that opens the doors to creating even more “back-channel communication links” from schools/boosters to athletes via “street agents. I suspect the Law of Unintended Consequences will play a big role here if that rule is passed.
Normally, I do not think very highly of Bob Huggins; but on this issue, he has it right. Huggins says that only a few schools have offered scholarships to 7th and 8th grade athletes and this rule would apply to everyone. He said that no one should be offering scholarships to kids that young but making rules to limit a couple of schools is not a fruitful endeavor for the NCAA. Stay tuned to see if this one becomes NCAA Law…
Pete Carroll says that he feels “some responsibility” for the sanctions that the NCAA put on USC. While I do not think he has clean hands here by any means, consider that the sanctions came down after findings of improprieties in football, men’s basketball and one of the women’s sports at USC. Carroll had nothing to do with those improprieties in the other sports – - barring some outrageous circumstances at the school that would have come to light by now. The guy who ought to be taking grief for all this – - and who should have lost his job weeks ago – - is the AD, Mike Garrett.
At some point, I would like to see sports fans and the sports media take the very popular buzzword “accountability” and attach it to the NCAA. When a college athlete – - or a professional athlete too – - finds himself under arrest and charged with anti-social behaviors such as roughing up a wife or girlfriend, getting into bar fights, packing and discharging an unregistered hand gun or sexual assaults on a minor everyone heaps the blame on the athlete and his “enablers”. Let me be clear; most of the blame belongs right there.
HOW-EVAH, that athlete is sometimes enrolled in a university at the time of said incidents or he spent a year or two at a university on his way to a professional career and then became involved in the matters that led to his arrest. University presidents love to pontificate about the mainstream purposes of their schools to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to enrich the minds of those who participate in the university programs. So, why have the universities not been able to provide the modicum of socialization needed to keep people who had their minds enriched there from doing things like sexually assaulting minors or beating up a girlfriend? How about some accountability for the schools and the athletic departments that let those folks skate through “non-courses” to stay eligible to play without ever teaching them anything about what it means to be a civilized and socialized hominid? Some day…
With the British Open at St Andrews this year, you would think that Zane Scotland would be the local favorite in the tournament. Except, Zane Scotland was born in England…
According to an AP report, the season ticket sales for the Buffalo Bills are down significantly this year. After selling 55,000 season tix for the last couple of years, this year’s sales project to something less than 50,000 season tickets. The team is looking at potential blackouts for several of its home games at Ralph Wilson Stadium. [The home game played in Toronto is defined to be a sell-out and will be televised locally no matter what the ticket situation is.] This is not good news for this small market team and that means it is not good news for NFL fans because that is one of the issues that needs to be resolved in the upcoming CBA negotiations.
Oh, the fact that the Buffalo Bills have missed out on the playoffs for the last 10 consecutive seasons is not helping ticket sales there …
Here is a comment from Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle regarding the recent arrest of JaMarcus Russell on charges of misusing a cough syrup with a narcotic:
“Could JaMarcus Russell’s drug bust work in his favor? Despite rumors of interest, no NFL team would have signed him. Now he has a route back: Claim drug addiction, go through rehab and emerge as the new, enlightened JaMarcus.
“Memo to any doctor who prescribed cough medicine for Russell: Doc, there has been a mix-up. Russell’s problem was choking, not coughing.”
The Golden State Warriors have been up for sale and the story is that a deal has been reached to sell the team for $450M. The current owner, Chris Cohan, has “financial problems” according to reports and one of them supposedly is that the IRS says he owes them $160M in unpaid taxes – with penalties and interest – based on his sale of a cable TV company in 1998. Cohan bought the Warriors in 1995 for $120M; presumably, he will remember to include this capital gain on his tax return for 2010.
The Los Angeles Dodgers ownership picture is cloudy. Frank and Jamie McCourt are in one of those monstrous Hollywood divorce actions; Frank claims he owns the team; Jamie says she is a co-owner. Reports project the lawyer fees in the case to approach a total of $20M. According to a recent report in the LA Times, the judge in the matter made an interesting suggestion in a recent proceeding.
Both parties claim that they are low on cash and bills are piling up. Frank uses the argument to try to reduce the huge monthly check he has to write to Jamie until all this is resolved; Jamie uses it to say she needs more money from Frank. The judge suggested that the way to resolve this is to put the Dodgers up for sale. He said:
“The parties are unintentionally pushing the court toward an interesting position — selling the asset which is being fought over.”
According to arguments made to the court, Frank and Jamie owe their lawyers a total of more than $1.8M at the moment – and things are still in a preliminary stage.
I read a report that the TV ratings for the All-Star Game were lower than the TV ratings for last February’s Pro Bowl. I find that astonishing – - and the MLB execs ought to find that chilling.
Finally, in honor of the British Open, here is an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
”Golfer Sandy Lyle, to the London Guardian, after shooting his career-worst round — an 86 — at the Masters: ‘For the first nine holes I thought I was playing with a square ball.’ “
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…