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Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig denied a story that MLB is investigating whether exiled Reds Owner Marge Schott is "meddling" in the day-to-day affairs of the franchise. Selig did say NL President Len Coleman will be "monitoring the situation very closely." Coleman is in Cincinnati today to review compliance with MLB's edict (USA TODAY, 6/28). On Thursday, the DAYTON DAILY NEWS reported that Schott has been upset with new policies enacted under interim CEO John Allen. One Reds employee: "She was on a rampage, just sticking her nose into what everybody was doing and wondering why she didn't have any checks to sign." Another employee: "I've seen her ranting and raving and waving her arms in protest" (Hal McCoy, DAYTON DAILY NEWS, 6/28). An NL spokesperson told ESPN "they will not begin an investigation unless someone in the Reds organization issues a complaint" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/27). NEWS & NOTES: Former minor league ump Craig Compton, fired in October '94 after being named the top umpire prospect a year earlier by Baseball America, has filed suit against the NL, AL, their counterparts in the minor leagues and the MLB Office for Umpire Development, alleging he was denied promotion because he is white. Compton, who has filed similar complaints with the EEOC and a PA state agency, seeks $100,000 in damages (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 6/28). ....BASEBALL AMERICA notes the White Sox's upcoming contract talks with No. 1 pick Bobby Seay have put Owner Jerry Reinsdorf in an "interesting position: either pay more for Seay's services than he might think they're worth, or let him go for the fiscal sake of the industry." Reinsdorf has called for limits on scouting budgets, including signing bonuses (BASEBALL AMERICA, 7/8-21 issue).
Negotiators for the NBA and its players "were working overtime last night" to resolve the remaining issues regarding the to-be-signed collective bargaining agreement in hopes of averting the second lockout in as many years, according to the WASHINGTON POST. Sources from both sides said talks were likely to continue today. Meanwhile, NBA Commissioner David Stern told BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS that he will "ban" free agents signings if there is no deal by Monday, July 1 -- the day players can begin negotiations with teams. Mark Asher reports, "Neither side was predicting a deal will be struck" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/28). On the issue of payment for the use of the players' logo, USA TODAY's Roscoe Nance reports the union originally asked for $31M, but has lowered that demand to $29M -- money which will go to the players, not the union (USA TODAY, 6/28). BAD DREAM TEAM: USA Basketball spokesperson Craig Miller said they have not heard from any Dream Team member that he will not report in the event of a lockout. One NBA GM, saying said an Atlanta boycott would be "tragic": "I understand wanting to put pressure on the NBA, but that just isn't the right thing to do. You're supposed to be playing for your country in an international competition. What does that have to do with the amount of money you make or the benefits you are receiving?" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/28). OPINIONS: In Chicago, Lacy Banks calls the owners' threat of a lockout a "bully tactic that can be costly for all parties because I don't think the players will surrender like they did last year." He continues, "With TV money, foreign commitments and the league's image at stake, I believe the players are better able to call the owners' bluff." Banks calls the players' demand for $29M from group licensing "chump change" and indicates he would support a player boycott of the Olympics should the league lock out its players (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/28). In New York, Peter Vecsey is "convinced they'll avert a lockout. Why? Because David Stern always has said, 'If money is the only obstacle [which, Vecsey notes, it is] preventing us from reaching an agreement, we can work it out'" (N.Y. POST, 6/28).
In a teleconference yesterday, NBA Commissioner David Stern, NBA VP/Business Affairs Val Ackerman and NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol announced a five-year TV rights agreement between the new Women's NBA with NBC presenting weekly coverage beginning June '97. Stern cited NBC's track record and the NBA's "comfort" level with the network as key reasons. Ebersol indicated the deal is based on revenue and profit sharing and that NBC expects WNBA coverage to produce at least a 3.0 rating by the third year. Stern said a cable deal, airing two prime time games a week, would be announced within three weeks, with Lifetime and Turner among those considered. Any local TV deals will be negotiated by the teams (THE DAILY). Ebersol: "In the last three years, the two sports that have shown the most growth are NASCAR and women's basketball. Knowing what the NBA can bring to this, it can really develop into something" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/28). CABLE: INSIDE MEDIA's Mike Reynolds reports Lifetime and ESPN are the front-runners for the cable package (INSIDE MEDIA, 6/28). ESPN's Dan Quinn: "We're very interested and discussions are taking place" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/28). DETAILS: Stern said the eight teams would play in NBA cities, in NBA arenas, and would be operated by NBA team front offices. He added the WNBA's access to those resources -- including "the best marketers in all of sports" -- coupled with the NBC deal, are two differences between the WNBA and past failed women's leagues. The NBA's Val Ackerman said the best players will get "top salaries," but they would likely be lower than the ABL's considering the ABL has a longer season. Stern does not see the ABL as "a competitive issue" since the ABL will play in the fall and the WNBA in the summer. The WNBA has a Labor Day timetable to announce cities and player signings (THE DAILY). REAX: Stern: "If we can't do it, it can't be done" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/28). In Baltimore, Milton Kent writes, "One can't help but think that NBC has taken a big step toward protecting the second most valuable television sports property, after the NFL" (Baltimore SUN, 6/28). In St. Pete, Brian Landman writes, "No women's league -- amateur or professional -- has commanded such coverage, which bestows a credibility to the fledgling league" (ST. PETE TIMES, 6/28).