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College Sports Law Blog



Will Private Fundraising Save Eliminated Sports at Cal?

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Written by Christian Dennie   
Monday, 07 February 2011 16:39

As reported on September 30, 2010, the University of California, Berkley (“Cal”) intends to eliminate four (4) sports, baseball, men’s and women’s gymnastics, and women’s lacrosse, and demote men’s rugby to a varsity club sport.  Since the original announcement was made, Cal alums have banded together and raised substantial sums under the name “Save Cal Sports.”  It has been reported that “Save Cal Sports” has raised between $12 million and $15 million.  Cal has indicated that it is looking long-term to determine whether such amounts will translate into sustainability.  Cal Chancellor Robert Birgeneau has indicated that he is reviewing two main criteria to determine whether the sports can be saved: 1) whether the funds raised will operate the sports for the next five (5) to ten (10) years; and 2) whether there is a viable plan to build an endowment to fund the sports long-term.  A decision will be made as to the sustainability of the sports in the following weeks.

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Leach v. Texas Tech University: Texas Tech is Immune from Suit

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Written by Christian Dennie   
Friday, 28 January 2011 15:12

As previously reported on October 20, 2010, Coach Mike Leach (“Leach”) and Texas Tech University (“Tech”) argued on appeal before the Court of Appeals in Amarillo, Texas relating to his discharge as head football coach at Tech.  Leach appealed the dismissal of his claims including his whistleblower claim, constitutional claims, and dismissal of individual defendants and Tech appealed the trial court’s denial of its defense of sovereign immunity for Leach’s breach of contract claim.  On January 20, 2011, the Court of Appeals issued its opinion and found that Leach’s claims should be in all things dismissed (other than equitable relief) and Tech is immune from Leach’s breach of contract claim.

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Stafon Johnson Files Suit Against USC for Weight Room Injury

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Written by Christian Dennie   
Thursday, 27 January 2011 23:29

Former University of Southern California (“USC”) running back Stafon Johnson filed suit against USC  and a former strength and conditioning coach (Jamie Yanchar) relating to the injury he suffered while performing bench presses in September 2009.   As many may recall, Johnson was working out in the USC weight room with the football team and bench pressing 275 lbs when the bar slipped from his hands and crushed his neck.  It was initially explained that the bar simply rolled out of Johnson’s hands, but Johnson has a different story and explains the same in his lawsuit.

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Too Much Talk: Does the BCS Violate Antitrust Laws or Not?

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Written by Christian Dennie   
Tuesday, 18 January 2011 14:03
During the college football season, nothing is more commonly discussed than the Bowl Championship Series ("BCS"). Conference commissioners and university presidents argue in favor of the BCS and indicate no desire to change the current system. Whereas, journalists, fans, and universities on the outside looking in detest the BCS and threaten legal action. For over a year, we have heard that the Utah Attorney General will soon file suit against the BCS. We have even heard President Obama call for change. Now, Alan G. Fishel of Arent Fox, LLP, on behalf of Boise State University and the Mountain West Conference, has drafted Overview: The BCS' 22 Tall Tales addressing arguments to overthrow the BCS and requesting that the Department of Justice take up the fight. In Mr. Fishel's 22 point argument, he calls the BCS every name in the book and chastises nearly every conceivable argument ever made by BCS officials and institutions making up the so-called automatic qualifiers ("AQ"). Specifically, Mr. Fishel states the following are simply untrue:
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The NCAA Committee on Infractions Has Spoken: Texas Tech University

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Written by Christian Dennie   
Wednesday, 12 January 2011 17:06

The NCAA Committee on Infractions ("Committee") recently issued its findings and found that the Texas Tech University ("Tech") committed major violations of NCAA legislation. The case primarily pertains to 926 impermissible text messages sent to 62 prospective student-athletes ("prospect") and 25 impermissible text messages sent to the parent of a prospect. After the investigation concluded the case was submitted to the Committee through the summary disposition process, which is an alternative to a formal hearing before the Committee that may be utilized when the NCAA enforcement staff, the member institution, and involved individuals agree to the facts of an infractions case and that those facts constitute major violations of NCAA legislation.

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Guillory v. NCAA: Defamation Suit

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Written by Christian Dennie   
Tuesday, 11 January 2011 23:49

In recent years, the NCAA has been hit with a rash of lawsuits relating to findings and information gathered during the enforcement process. The NCAA has defended against claims for antitrust (Gaines v. NCAA), tortious interference with a contract (Harrick v. NCAA), and defamation (Keller v. NCAA).  Most recently, the NCAA fought off University of Alabama boosters following the 2002 infractions case in which Logan Young, Wendell Smith, and Ray Keller (not named specifically) were labeled “rouge boosters.”    In the same vein, Rodney Guillory has filed suit against the NCAA seeking $25 million in damages.

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The NCAA Committee on Infractions Has Spoken: Arizona State University

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Written by Christian Dennie   
Wednesday, 29 December 2010 14:30

The NCAA Committee on Infractions ("Committee") recently issued its findings and found that Arizona State University ("ASU") committed major violations of NCAA legislation. The case involved ASU's baseball program and primarily dealt with violations pertaining to impermissible telephone calls consisting of at least five hundred (500) impermissible telephone calls, improper reductions to financial aid during the term of the award, violations of coaching staff limits including the improper categorization of coaches as managers, the improper use of an outside consultant, and payment to student-athletes for work not performed. The NCAA enforcement staff and ASU were in agreement as it relates to many of the violations committed, but disagreed as it pertains to charges for lack of institutional control, failure to monitor and promote an atmosphere of compliance (in some respects), and that many of the violations had elements of secondary violations rather than major violations.

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Strict Penalties for Violators?

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Written by Christian Dennie   
Tuesday, 28 December 2010 22:04

The media and fans all across the country have not been shy in their disgust for the NCAA’s decision to levy penalties on violating institutions.  The common response is something to the effect of why me? or everyone is doing it.  Although everyone may be doing it, the NCAA enforcement staff is charged with eliminating the membership of rampant violations of NCAA rules, which leads to an abundance questions and concerns.  Simply put, the question is do the NCAA’s enforcement policies work?  These questions are not uncommon in the legal field and often revolve around jail time and capital punishment.  Is jail really a deterrent?  Is the death penalty really a deterrent? These questions are debated at length in about every forum imaginable, as are those related to NCAA enforcement and penalties.  Some would argue the fear of facing the NCAA Committee on Infractions is a deterrent that keeps bad actors at bay.  However, Illinois State University professor Chad McEvoy's research data indicates institutions that have been sanctioned by the NCAA are actually more successful than the institutions that have not been sanctioned.

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Is the Coach-in-Waiting Designation a Thing of the Past?

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Written by Christian Dennie   
Thursday, 16 December 2010 16:17

There is no question that serving as a college football coach is a difficult job that is both time consuming and stressful.  How many people would really take a job where their employment fate hinged on 18-22 year old young men?  There probably are not many people that would accept such a circumstance.  However, college football coaches are compensated handsomely and there are plenty of able coaches waiting in line for a seven figure contract.

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Mike Leach Sues ESPN for Slander

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Written by Christian Dennie   
Monday, 06 December 2010 20:15

Mike Leach is back in the media, but not for wins or losses and not for his unquestioned desire to be a pirate.  Coach Leach has sued ESPN for slander surrounding comments during the Alamo Bowl by an ESPN television personality that seemed to indicate that Coach Leach required a student-athlete to practice while having a concussion or face harsh treatment.  Several comments made during the Alamo Bowl game drew the concern of the ESPN ombudsman in which the statement was made that some of the commentary was not neutral. 

Read more... [Mike Leach Sues ESPN for Slander]
 
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