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  • DETAILS BEGIN TO EMERGE ON INVESTIGATION OF DEBARTOLO

              A Federal grand-jury investigation of 49ers co-Owner
         Edward DeBartolo Jr. is "focusing on a $400,000 cash payment
         he made to former Gov. Edwin W. Edwards less than three
         weeks before his company obtained a casino license in
         Louisiana, according to people with knowledge of the probe"
         and cited by Laurie Cohen of the WALL STREET JOURNAL.  The
         investigation began in fall '96 when the FBI wiretapped
         Edwards' home and law office (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/4).  A
         source told the S.F. CHRONICLE that Federal agents "were
         listening" when DeBartolo "offered to pay" as much as
         $400,000 for the license and that he "got caught in an
         elaborate federal sting" aimed at Edwards.  The source
         added: "There's no question who the government was after. 
         Then along comes Eddie" (Fagan, Pimentel & Dietz, S.F.
         CHRONICLE, 12/4).  In Baton Rouge, former Gov. Edwards said
         that the $383,500 that the FBI seized was paid to him by
         DeBartolo to "watch out for his interests."  Edwards:
         "DeBartolo never asked me or intimated or suggested that I
         do anything improper, out of line, or unethical.  And no one
         can say otherwise."  He added that DeBartolo paid him the
         money this year, "well after" he left office (Peter Shinkle,
         Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 12/4).  If convicted, DeBartolo "could
         be banned for life" from the NFL (S.F. EXAMINER, 12/3).
              SPEAKS TO THE TEAM: 49ers President Carmen Policy said
         that DeBartolo had spoken to the team in a "closed meeting." 
         He said a "somewhat emotional but controlled" DeBartolo told
         players that he was "committed to the team's future and
         would be back" (S.F. EXAMINER, 12/3).  Policy added that
         DeBartolo's "pending indictment" would not affect the team
         and that "there would be no impediment" to the team's new
         stadium project.  Policy: "The DeBartolo Corp. is doing
         quite well.  They will be able to withstand whatever
         ramifications."  He "rejected" suggestions that DeBartolo
         and his sister, Denise DeBartolo York, who is a 50% partner
         in the team, "would be forced to sell because of the legal
         problems" (Fagan, Pimentel & Dietz, S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/4). 
         In San Jose, Mark Purdy calls DeBartolo's resignation
         "overrated," and quotes one NFL team exec as saying, "Around
         the league, I think most people will believe that Ed
         DeBartolo is still going to play some part in major 49er
         decisions" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 12/4).  In S.F., Ray
         Ratto wrote under the header, "Business As Usual?  If So, It
         May Get Rocky."  Ratto: "One wonders if York's ambitions are
         contained by her familial ties.  One wonders if DeBartolo
         really did resign in more than just name.  One wonders
         whether the NFL would bother to do anything to him even if
         he is convicted. ... I think we're going to have to let this
         play out a while" (S.F. EXAMINER, 12/3). 
              NOTES: A SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS editorial states:
         "Whatever the legal outcome of this matter, [DeBartolo's]
         image in the Bay area will never be quite the same" (MERCURY
         NEWS, 12/4)....Also in San Jose, Herhold & Carey examine the
         NFL's guidelines on gambling.  DeBartolo's ownership of the
         49ers as "he embarked on a bold, two-year venture into the
         gaming industry was made possible by the [NFL's] lenient
         restrictions on gambling, as far as owners are concerned." 
         NFL execs said yesterday that while they were "concerned"
         over his gaming initiatives, they had taken "no firm stand
         against his activities" (MERCURY NEWS, 12/4).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, NFL, San Francisco 49ers
  • FRANCHISE NOTES

              NHL: With NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman saying that he
         hopes a bid for the Oilers comes "by Friday," Owner Peter
         Pocklington is "skeptical" that a local group will produce
         an offer.  Pocklington: "I'm not sure the locals want to
         sign on the dotted line.  The scrutiny you undergo (by the
         league) nowadays because of the money involved is pretty
         rigorous" (David Shoalts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/4)....In
         Philadelphia, Timothy Dwyer writes that Flyers Chair Ed
         Snider's contention that his team can't afford Eric Lindros
         "means he is either going to let Lindros go when he becomes
         a free agent ... or he is banking on holding the owners
         together in a coalition that is solidly against raiding one
         another's rosters."  Dwyer: "That stinks of collusion.  If
         Snider can't afford Lindros, then it is time to get Comcast
         involved. ... Comcast, after all, owns two-thirds of the
         Flyers and surely ... recognizes a good programming
         commodity when it sees one" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 12/4).
              NOTES: The Steelers ended a 64-year tradition by
         announcing that practices leading up to Sunday's home game
         against the Broncos would be closed to the media (USA TODAY,
         12/4)....In Providence, Sean McAdam wrote that in their
         contract talks with Mo Vaughn, the Red Sox "reportedly are
         insisting on a degree of control over Vaughn's community
         work in Boston, with the opportunity to direct him toward
         certain charities and events" (JOURNAL-BULLETIN, 12/3).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Boston Red Sox, Comcast-Spectacor, Denver Broncos, Edmonton Oilers, Franchises, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • HELP WANTED: CANADIAN NHL TEAM SEEKING COO

              The Maple Leafs are "searching across North America"
         for a new COO, according to Marty York of the Toronto GLOBE
         & MAIL.  Sources told York that the new COO will have "at
         least the same level of authority" as team President & GM
         Ken Dryden, and "may even rank higher than Dryden."  The
         Leafs have already hired a head-hunter, and sources say that
         the "leading candidate" is former Trail Blazers President
         Marshall Glickman.  Glickman was "reluctant to discuss" the
         Leafs yesterday, but "did confirm" that he has had "recent
         conversations" with the franchise, specifically with Chair
         Steve Stavro and Minority Partner Larry Tanenbaum.  Others
         who have been approached "either directly or indirectly"
         include IHL Aeros President Richard Adler, CFL Chair John
         Tory and Blue Jays Counsel Gord Kirke.  Tory "confirmed" the
         position was brought up to him; Adler was unavailable and
         Kirke declined to comment (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/4).
    
    

    Print | Tags: CFL, Franchises, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Portland Trail Blazers, Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vulcan Ventures
  • WILL LEGAL ACTION BEGIN AFTER WARRIORS CUT TIES TO SPREWELL?

              The Warriors "terminated" the contract of Latrell
         Sprewell last night, "in essence, firing him" two days after
         he attacked Coach P.J. Carlesimo in practice, according to
         David Steele of the S.F. CHRONICLE.  GM Garry St. Jean made
         the announcement following the team's game last night at the
         Oakland Arena: "It was not an economical decision.  It was
         about morals and ethics and the right thing to do.  And the
         organization stands very strong with its moral beliefs." 
         Sprewell will lose the remainder of his salary for this
         year, which is $7.7M, and the $17.3M he was due for the
         following two seasons.  He was placed on waivers and can
         sign with any team if he is not claimed within 48 hours. 
         The team "invoked clauses concerning good conduct and
         citizenship included in the standard player contract" and
         the CBA.  The NBA had no comment last night, but the
         "possibility remains that Sprewell could be banned by the
         league from playing for part of this season or longer." 
         NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter said the union would appeal the
         termination.  Steele: "It was the first time an NBA player
         has had his contract terminated for insubordination" (S.F.
         CHRONICLE, 12/4).  The AP reports that "some NBA players
         have a personal conduct guarantee in their contracts that
         prohibits teams from terminating them based upon their
         behavior.  Sprewell, however, had no such protection"
         (AP/ESPN SportsZone, 12/4).  In N.Y., Mike Wise writes that
         the action "sets the table for a bitter legal battle"
         between the team and the NBPA (Mike Wise, N.Y. TIMES, 12/4). 
              SPRE-SPEECH: In his first public comments yesterday,
         Sprewell "refused to apologize" to Carlesimo, and added
         that, "All the frustrations had built up to the point where
         I couldn't take it anymore."  More Sprewell: "I totally
         don't condone this behavior, but I just got to the point
         where I couldn't take it anymore" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/4). 
              FROM THE WARRIORS: More from St. Jean: "There is no
         issue to compromise.  Outrageous misconduct by players in
         professional sports has been tolerated for too long.  We are
         drawing the line.  Some things are more important than
         winning or losing games" (Ric Bucher, WASHINGTON POST,
         12/4).  In San Jose, Ann Killion writes that the Warriors'
         move "makes sense to average folks, and it will probably
         help" the team's PR profile, but "that doesn't mean this is
         the end of the Warriors' problems.  First, the Warriors
         don't even know if their action will stand up legally."  St.
         Jean: "We have confidence in the NBA" (MERCURY NEWS, 12/4). 
              NATIONAL REAX: In Chicago, Lacy Banks writes under the
         header, "Sprewell Incident Wounds League" (SUN-TIMES, 12/4). 
         In Akron, Terry Pluto writes under the header, "These NBA
         Guys Need A Swift Kick."  Pluto, on Sprewell and Scottie
         Pippen: "I'm just sick of some of these guys. ... Maybe if
         you play in the NBA, you know that the rules of common
         decency and respect for your employer and co-workers don't
         apply" (BEACON JOURNAL, 12/4).  USA TODAY's Mike Lopresti,
         under the header, "NBA Could Soon Choke On Its Troubles,"
         writes "here in a sport with one more bruise on an image
         that has been defaced enough. ... Something ails the NBA and
         its world of quick money and quick tempers.  Sprewell is not
         the sickness, only the latest symptom" (USA TODAY, 12/4). 
         In Seattle, Steve Kelly wrote under the header, "Hey, Kids 
         -- NBA Isn't So Fan-Tastic Anymore."  Kelly: "Don't believe
         the slick commercials. ... [T]his NBA season is off to a
         foundering start. ... The NBA has problems" (SEATTLE TIMES,
         12/3).  On ABC's "Good Morning America," the Warriors' move
         was discussed by host Lisa McRee and Mike Lupica.  After
         watching a video clip of the Warriors' St. Jean announcing
         Sprewell's termination, McRee noted, "Boy, even crew members
         are saying 'Yes!' when they hear that" ("GMA," ABC, 12/4). 
              CONVERSE SUPPORT: Converse said it "doesn't plan to
         fire" Sprewell as a spokesperson, according to BLOOMBERG's
         Scott Newman.  Converse signed Sprewell in '94 to a deal
         that the company says contains "a morals clause that would
         allow it to end the agreement."  Converse VP/Marketing &
         Communications Jennifer Murray: "Latrell's behavior is
         inexcusable, unsportsmanlike, and something that we in no
         way condone.  But he remains one of our endorsers and is
         still under contract with us" (CONTA COSTA TIMES, 12/3).
    
    

    Print | Tags: ABC, Converse, ESPN, Franchises, Golden State Warriors, NBA, Walt Disney
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