SBD/6/Leagues Governing Bodies

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  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 179: LOOMING 5 O'CLOCK SHADOW

         While President Clinton has set a 5:00pm EST deadline for a
    settlement, no new negotiating meetings were scheduled as of last
    night, according to Mark Maske in this morning's WASHINGTON POST.
    Clinton has asked Special Mediator William Usery for a
    recommendation if an agreement is not reached by the deadline.
    Owners and players "remain so far apart they spent much of
    yesterday preparing suggestions to present to Usery, not each
    other" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/6).  While there was talk of a "late-
    night push ... tempers flared and negotiations appeared to break
    down" when the players lifted their signing freeze and the owners
    countered with a freeze of their own (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore
    SUN, 2/6).
         MORNING UPDATE:  At 10:05am EST, CNN's Mark Morgan reported
    that Usery will first meet with Clinton about the "finer" points
    of his recommendation.  He then will meet with player and owner
    reps to "possibly make a few changes" that both sides can agree
    on, and then continue talks from there.  Morgan notes that Acting
    MLB Commissioner Bud Selig joins the talks this morning.  Morgan
    said if Clinton can come up with terms of a recommended
    settlement and both sides can agree to continue talks from that
    point, then "that is obviously meaningful progress. ... But as
    far as a settlement today, that's highly unlikely" (CNN, 2/6).
    Labor Secretary Robert Reich appeared on "Good Morning America"
    to discuss the basbeall situation.  While he stressed that the
    Clinton administration's desire that the two sides settle the
    dispute without the need for Congress or President to get
    involved (ABC, 2/6).  Orioles Owner Peter Angelos appeared on
    "CBS This Morning."  On the possibility of a deal by 5pm: "I
    believe it's possible.  Will it happen? I believe there's a 50/50
    chance" (CBS, 2/6).
         USERY'S PLAN:  Usery conducted separate meetings with
    players and owners, asking them for their "bottom-line positions
    on the critical issues."  From that, he will draw up a settlement
    and submit it to Clinton (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 2/6).  ESPN's
    Peter Gammons: "There are some definite hammers over the owners.
    First of all, if they don't make a deal right now, they're likely
    to have to go back to the old system, which they said they would
    never live another day under.  I got the distinct impression that
    the players were a lot happier with their preliminary meetings
    with Reich and Usery than the owners were" ("SportsCenter," 2/5).
    In Denver, Tracy Ringolsby writes, "An eventual settlement can be
    expected to include a salary tax along the line of what the
    owners have been seeking, although at a lesser rate, with
    concessions to the players that could include expanded
    unrestricted free agency to replace arbitration, involvement of
    the union in such matters as selection of a commissioner, and
    possibly a waiver of the owners' antitrust exemption in regard to
    labor matters" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 2/6).  In New York, Murray
    Chass reports that the players "have gridgingly accepted the idea
    of a tax, but they have no desire to see it be so high that it
    would inhibit clubs from spending freely on salaries" (N.Y.
    TIMES, 2/6).  Mike Lupica:  "I don't think [both sides] want the
    president to settle it.  But I think they're afraid of what the
    president might do if they don't settle it" ("Sports Reporters,"
    ESPN, 2/5).  The largest stumbling block appears to be the
    percentage of taxation on payrolls (Jayson Stark, PHILA.
    INQUIRER, 2/6).  There is speculation Usery will include a tax of
    approx. 25% above a payroll threshold of $37M (WASHINGTON POST,
    2/6).
         LIFTING THE BAN:  MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr said
    management's signing freeze "represented collusion under terms of
    the old agreement," and there are a "multitude of legal avenues
    the union can pursue and will, starting with the NLRB."  MLB
    General Counsel Chuck O'Connor said management was acting as one:
    "This action is taken at a point in time when clubs do act in
    concert -- it's called collective bargaining" (Ross Newhan, L.A.
    TIMES, 2/6).
         REEBOK TOUR:  Peter Gammons notes the players' barnstorming
    deal is close to being done.  "They have 90 percent of their
    insurance in place. ... They have four spring training sites in
    place, and by the middle of this week hope to have completed
    their barnstorming venues across the country and announce a
    schedule" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/5).
    

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  • COURT DECISION SAVES NHL MILLIONS IN PENSION PAY-OUT

         An Ontario Court of Justice chose the NHL's method of
    accounting and saved the league at least $2.4M in pension surplus
    payments to former players.  Under the NHL's figures, the former
    players, who sued and won control of surpluses from the NHL
    Pension Society, will get $33.3M as of June 30, 1993 -- the last
    date for which audited financial statements were available.  The
    payout will grow with time.  The next step is to determine where
    the money will come from.  The NHL claims its teams owe $24.7M to
    the pension fund, which would be added to the $8.4M already in
    the fund and then reallocated.  The NHLPA will argue that the
    $8.4M be left to go toward pensions of current players (Kevin
    McGran, CP/Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 2/4).
         REVENUE SHARING:  The NHL has hired Denver-based Bortz & Co.
    to determine a formula for compensating small-market clubs.  But
    in Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont notes that "some clubs might not be
    able to float" even with some form of revenue-sharing.  NHL
    Commissioner Gary Bettman, on Winnipeg:  "If there's no new
    building, and the team is averaging 8,000 or 9,000 a game, we
    shouldn't knock ourselves out trying to save them" (BOSTON GLOBE,
    2/5).
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NHL
  • NEXT NBA LABOR AGREEMENT TO CONTAIN A ROOKIE CAP?

         On ESPN's "SportsCenter," Jackie MacMullan reported, "Nearly
    everyone is expecting a rookie salary cap to be a part of the new
    NBA contract with rookies signing either a two-year or a three-
    year pact and unrestricted free agency awaiting them at the end
    of that deal.  That has a large group of college under classmen
    considering coming out a year earlier than planned" (ESPN, 2/3).
         COACHES SENDING A MESSAGE WITH ALL-STAR PICKS?  In San Jose,
    Ric Bucher writes that NBA coaches "clearly sent a message" with
    this year's all-star selections -- "That coaches are tired of
    supremely talented players holding them hostage by demanding
    preferential treatment" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/5).  In New
    York, Shaun Powell recommends having Johnson & Johnson Baby
    Shampoo sponsor the "No More Tears Crying Competition" for all
    those who believe they were "cheated" out of going to Phoenix
    (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 2/5).
         SI JINX?  ESPN's MacMullan reports that NBPA Exec Dir
    Charles Grantham plans to lodge an official complaint with SPORTS
    ILLUSTRATED, "charging, among other things, that SI is biased
    towards hockey and, 'Anytime they can knock basketball, they do'"
    (ESPN, 2/3).  In Chicago, Sam Smith writes, "Don't fool yourself
    into believing the past was any different.  Great players have
    always put up a fuss to get what they wanted."  He cites Julius
    Erving, who held out until the Nets traded him, Magic Johnson,
    who helped get coach Paul Westhead fired, and Kareem Abdul-
    Jabbar, who got traded by the Bucks "because he didn't think
    Milwaukee matched his cultural level" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/6).
    

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  • OWNERS REACT TO POSSIBLE NFL PLAYOFF CHANGE

         In the wake of last week's report the NFL may consider a
    change to its playoff format, writes Don Pierson of the CHICAGO
    TRIBUNE.  "Why would Fox forfeit a Dallas-San Francisco NFC title
    game in order to benefit a possible Dallas-San Francisco Super
    Bowl for ABC?  The answer is obvious.  So unless a radical change
    in bidding for rights fees occurs, there is no chance of a change
    in playoff format."  TV considerations aside, "there appears to
    be virtually no conviction among owners or Commissioner Paul
    Tagliabue that any change is necessary."  Bengals President Mike
    Brown: "I'm for the traditional format."  Giants Owner Wellington
    Mara: "I'm happy with the current setup" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/5).
    Bills Owner Ralph Wilson: "I've never heard of any such proposal,
    and it has no chance.  It will never happen" (Will McDonough,
    BOSTON GLOBE, 2/5).
    

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  • TRYING TO DISTINGUISH THE REAL COMPETITIONS IN SKATING

         "It has become increasingly difficult to distinguish the
    real championships [in figure skating] from the myriad skatefests
    already held this season," writes Mark Starr in the current issue
    of NEWSWEEK.  The '95 Nationals, which takes place this week in
    Providence, RI, follows the recent U.S. Open, North American Open
    Skating Championships, Ice Wars, Challenge of Champions, Gold
    Challenge and Rock 'n' Roll Skating Championships.  Once the
    "premier event on the skating calendar," the Nationals remain
    "the one path to future Olympic glory."  But they are being
    "obscured" by a made-for-TV competitions featuring the same
    skaters in a  a variety of formats.  Evy Scotvold, coach of Nancy
    Kerrigan and Paul Wylie:  "Right now it's somewhere between
    wrestling and American Gladiators" (NEWSWEEK, 2/13 issue).
    

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