SBD/Issue 241/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • Paul Kelly "Stunned And Saddened" By His Dismissal From NHLPA

    Kelly Will Wait Until Later This Week
    To Give His Interpretation Of His Ouster
    Ousted NHLPA Exec Dir Paul Kelly said he is "still stunned and saddened" by his removal from office earlier this week, according to Tim Wharnsby of the GLOBE & MAIL. Speaking publicly for the first time since Monday's developments, Kelly indicated that he "wants time to sort out his sentiments," and will "wait until later this week to give his interpretation of the events." Kelly: "I want to take some time to let my emotions settle before I talk about this. ... I need a little time to figure out exactly what I want to say to the players and to the public." Several NHL players yesterday "shared Kelly's reaction of shock at the news that Kelly had been sacked after just 22 months on the job." One player said, "This came out of left field. The decision has most of us scratching our heads. But we don't know any of the facts." Wharnsby notes the NHLPA Exec Board has "tried to keep the precise details that led to Kelly's removal a secret until the rest of the players are informed." But it is "clear that there was a disconnect between Kelly and the players that made the executive board uneasy." There also was a "rift between Kelly and some of the high-level NHLPA employees," including General Counsel Ian Penny, now serving as interim Exec Dir, and former Ombudsman Eric Lindros (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/2).

    LOOKING AHEAD: Maple Leafs D and Exec Board member Garnet Exelby yesterday said that the NHLPA will have "much more resolve and unity" when the current CBA expires. The current deal expires after the '10-11 season, with the union holding an option to extend it for one more year, and Exelby said, "I don't think anyone is planning for a work stoppage. But we definitely intend to hold together and stay strong." He added, "The last time we gave up a lot. I think it's a fair statement that ownership got what it wanted in the last agreement. We definitely have a problem with the escrow issue." In Toronto, Mike Zeisberger notes some believe that Kelly's "warm relationship with the league was one of the many factors that led to his dismissal." Exelby: "We need a strong leader. We need to find someone who understands we are in charge, someone who understands decisions go through us" (TORONTO SUN, 9/2). But former NHLPA Dir of Business Relations Vincent Damphousse yesterday said that the union's next leader "must be free to work and make decisions without the fear of being fired at any moment." Damphousse: "For the new guy coming in, the players need to let him work. There was maybe too much leeway before and now it's like the guy is in handcuffs. He's got to be able to work with confidence." Kelly's successor will be the union's fourth Exec Dir in five years, in addition to Bob Goodenow, who left in '05, and his replacement Ted Saskin. Damphousse: "A lot of players and even people within the office want someone who is like Bob a bit -- more of a iron fist and being confrontational with the league. I feel it's much better to work with the league" (CP, 9/1).

    THE FUTURE SEEMS OMINOUS: In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason writes, "Danger lies ahead, and there's no telling how much carnage will be left behind. Recent history has shown the dysfunctional union is way over its head when it comes to making decisions that require common sense." The reasons for Kelly's departure are not known, as the NHLPA "offered no explanation." However, it "sure looks like it's preparing for another long labor dispute." Free agent LW Andrew Peters, the Sabres' player rep, said, "You're going to hear more down the road. People are going to respect players for their decisions and their strength. We have guys in that room and on that board that are very smart guys, very intelligent. Give it time." But Gleason writes, "People should remain skeptical until proven otherwise about a union that hasn't done much right in recent years" (BUFFALO NEWS, 9/2). In Toronto, Damien Cox wrote NHL players, with "no unity of collective backbone, are in no position to stand up to the league, but they may be driving themselves" toward another work stoppage. Union membership "won't be honest with their plans, and the skullduggery which unseated Kelly is an ominous sign of the civil war that is still being waged within that organization" (, 9/1).

    CRUEL, CRUEL SUMMER: In Montreal, Pat Hickey writes the NHL "desperately needs to create a buzz on the ice, because it's coming out of a summer-long public-relations disaster." In addition to Kelly's dismissal, the NHL "continues to wrestle with the future" of the Coyotes, while the "latest hot spot is Tampa Bay," where Lightning co-Owners Len Barrie and Oren Koules are feuding. In addition, the league's TV deal with Versus "continues to bite the NHL" as DirecTV this week "pulled the plug on Versus in a dispute over carriage fees" (Montreal GAZETTE, 9/2).

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  • NFL To Study Adjusting Blackout Policy, But Change Not Likely

    Goren Expects NFL To
    Tweak Blackout Rules
    The NFL "will study to see if they need to make any adjustments" to the current blackout policy with as many as 12 teams facing at least one home non-sellout this season, according to ESPN’s John Clayton. Blacking out games is “not going to be popular,” but the “most important thing they want in the NFL is to fill the seats.” If the league can “find a way to make some accommodations, then they may try to do it.” However, the likely scenario will be more blackouts “than there's been in recent years" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/1). Fox Sports President Ed Goren yesterday said that he "expected the league to make at least a minor change in its blackout rules, perhaps helping one team fill a stadium for one week during the season by donating a certain number of tickets to charity." But when asked about Goren's comments, NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy in an e-mail said, "There is no discussion concerning changing the blackout policy." CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus said Goodell "is not a believer in making an adjustment to a rule just because there's a short-term problem." McManus: "He believes long term that the blackout rule is good for the NFL and good for its partners and (he) probably isn't going to make any major adjustments this year" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/2).

    PART OF CHALLENGE LEAGUE FACES: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday indicated that the problems faced by the Jaguars, who may have all of their home games blacked out this season, "highlight the challenges the entire league faces." Goodell: “I think it reflects two things, what you're seeing in Jacksonville. One is the quality of preseason games. ... Additionally, they are one of the markets where we're seeing some challenges for ticket sales coming into the 2009 season. And we'll have other markets where we'll have those challenges. It's all part of the challenges we're seeing in the economy and what our fans are going through" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/2). ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said of fans in Jacksonville: “To tell those fans, ‘You know what? Because you can’t afford to buy tickets to those games, we’re not going to put them on television,’ I think there will be people who will resent that” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN2, 9/2).

    LEAGUE SHOULD MAKE EXCEPTION: ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said of the blackout policy, “There's an exception to all rules, and this year ought to be that year.” Wilbon: “All these leagues say we want to work with our customers. We want to work with our fans. We want to work with the community. Lift the blackout. That's how you can work with the community" (“PTI,” ESPN, 9/1). Greenberg said, “Here’s a little unsolicited advice. … In a down economy, don’t punish fans because they can’t afford to buy tickets to a game.” ESPN’s Mike Golic: “It would behoove the NFL to find a way to not have games be blacked out” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN2, 9/2).’s Jay Mariotti: “The NFL is making a mistake in not waiving its blackout rule for the upcoming season. … All you're doing by blacking-out games is cheating fans in those towns. The NFL is still rolling in money" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 9/1). ESPN’s Michelle Beadle: “It would be a nice move on the NFL's part. Say what you want about the economy, but a lot of people are affected. It is expensive to go to an NFL game.” But ESPN’s Colin Cowherd said, “Using the economy is a lame excuse. … The economy's not great in Buffalo. They sell out their games in a huge stadium. It's not great in Pittsburgh. They sell out their games” (“SportsNation,” ESPN2, 9/1).

    NOT EXPECTED TO HURT RATINGS: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reports CBS and Fox both said that they "did not expect the blackouts to significantly affect ratings or cause them to provide givebacks to advertisers." Goren in an e-mail said, "Very simply, it's about the overall ratings. A few blackouts may not have any real effect on our full-season ratings." CBS Sports Senior VP/Communications LeslieAnne Wade said blackouts will not occur "in every market, so we don't expect blackouts to affect the rating we're selling for national advertising" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/2).

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  • McNair Denies Having Secret Meetings With Players About Union

    McNair (c) Firmly Denies Having
    Meetings With Players About NFLPA
    Texans Owner Bob McNair firmly denied having secret meetings with NFL players in order to influence the direction of the NFLPA, charges made in a lawsuit filed last week by former NFLPA director of human resources Mary Moran. "Those allegations are absolutely false and there is no truth to this whatsoever," McNair spokesperson Tony Wyllie said. The lawsuit claims McNair met with former NFLPA President Troy Vincent and then-Texans TE Mark Bruener and Texans K Kris Brown, both senior members of the union, "in order to give the owners access to critical confidential information before the negotiations between the union and the owners re-opened next year." The lawsuit also alleged a similiar meeting last year between Vincent and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The NFL says Goodell has met with many players on a wide range of issues, but not on labor. The U.S. Department of Labor is currently investigating the NFLPA on these charges, the union said. A DOL spokesperson said, "My response is we cannot comment on this matter at this time" (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal).

    Suit Says Vincent Illegally
    Released Player Information
    LAWSUIT CLAIMS PLAYERS' DATA LEAKED: The lawsuit also claims the widely publicized data breach at the NFLPA affected not just agents, but NFL players as well. Players were never told that their personal financial information was transmitted outside of the union offices. The NFLPA earlier this year disclosed that Vincent had compromised the personal information of player agents in December '07 by sending them to his business partner Mark Mangum. But according to the discrimination lawsuit filed by Moran, an investigation undertaken by NFLPA Dir of Security Tim Christine “uncovered ... that Vincent had illegally released social security numbers and banking information of the players, agents and financial advisers to Mr. Mangum, his business associate, for their personal financial gain and the gain of their financial services company, Eltekon.” The NFLPA had no immediate comment. Lynne Bernabei, Moran’s attorney, said, “I think the players have a right to know their private financial information was breached in the way it was breached. … My understanding is that Mr. Vincent gave (Mangum) his password (to the NFLPA computer system) so that he could do it directly.” Vincent declined to comment, saying he had not heard of the lawsuit. Mangum did not immediately return a phone call for comment. Vincent and Mangum are not named as defendants. At the time the NFLPA launched the investigation earlier this year, Vincent was the leading contender to win the NFLPA Exec Dir job. The data breach was portrayed by his supporters as an innocent error. But the lawsuit portrays it as illicit and said Christine uncovered “50 potential illegal activities of Mr. Vincent.” The lawsuit alleges the data breach violated the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act (Kaplan & Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal).

    REASONS FOR OUSTER: In N.Y., Judy Battista reports Moran brought the suit because she "claims she was harassed by union officials and was wrongfully removed from her job" with the NFLPA "when her role as a confidential informant" in the DOL's investigation of the NFLPA came to light. However, a person with knowledge of the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that Moran was "put on administrative leave only after she made it clear to the union that she intended to sue over the suspected harassment" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/2). YAHOO SPORTS' Jason Cole cited two sources as stating that Moran was "recently placed on 'administrative leave' with the intention of the union firing her." The NFLPA's thinking was that Moran was a "divisive person in the building and was a source for numerous stories which shed a bad light" on Vincent. An NFLPA source: "We all know there were a lot of people working behind the scenes to undermine Troy, and she was one of them" (, 9/1).

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  • Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Back On LPGA Schedule For '10


    The Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic this afternoon will announce a one-year extension with the LPGA to continue holding its event in Toledo through the '10 season. The event will be staged June 28-July 4 in its traditional spot the week before the U.S. Women’s Open, but the purse will drop from $1.4M this year to $1M next year. The tournament will not air on television under the one-year extension, making it the only domestic LPGA event without television coverage in '10. The event had aired three-round coverage on ESPN2. This becomes the 16th confirmed event on the '10 schedule, though that total should swell to 18 in the next month as extensions are completed with the P&G Northwest Arkansas Championship and the Navistar LPGA Classic in Alabama (Jon Show, SportsBusiness Journal). In Toledo, Dave Hackenberg reports it is expected that Owens Corning "will remain the title sponsor and that the event will again be held at Highland Meadows" in Sylvania, Ohio. The tournament was "one of seven U.S.-based tour stops operating without contracts beyond 2009." Hackenberg notes former LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens, prior to her resignation in July, "seemed intent on making greater financial demands on tournament sponsors during a difficult economic climate." But the LPGA "apparently has softened its stance" under Acting Commissioner Marty Evans. The Wegmans LPGA event "broke off negotiations with the LPGA during its event in late June," but last month both sides announced a new three-year deal "with options for additional one-year extensions." The Farr Classic began negotiations with the LPGA "less than one month ago" (TOLEDO BLADE, 9/2).

    SOUTHERN EXPANSION? The LPGA is in discussions to bring an event to the Charlotte area, and in Charlotte, Ron Green Jr. wrote local organizers are "bullish about their ability to make this happen though they admit there are still sponsorship issues to finalize." The event "would have to get most of the top players, something that didn't always happen for the Fieldcrest Cannon Classic at the Peninsula Club in the '90s." Getting Michelle Wie is the "ticket but she's still planning on attending college in the fall which could knock her out of playing" (, 9/1).

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  • Several USL Teams Unhappy With Sale, Could Form New League

    Joey Saputo One Of Eight Team
    Owners That Formed TOA In '08
    The USL Team Owners' Association (TOA) yesterday "reconfirmed its commitment 'to achieving a team-owner controlled league' and is prepared to pursue all avenues to make it happen," according to Randy Phillips of the Montreal GAZETTE. The group is upset that Nike's "surprise sale" of the league to Atlanta-based NuRock Soccer Holdings was "concluded while it was in the bidding process." The TOA, formed 18 months ago with "owners wanting more of a stake and say in how the USL operates," consists of eight team owners, including the Montreal Impact's Joey Saputo. Saputo said, "I can tell you the other teams that are not part of this group have expressed verbally that they're interested in taking our lead and moving forward. If we decide we're breaking away and starting our own league, so be it. We'll have eight to 12 teams that will be with us next year." The TOA contends that the "previous structure -- with the USL operating as a single corporate entity responsible primarily for governance of the league -- stifled the growth of the league in general, and its teams [in] particular, during the past 25 years." The group has pressed the league to "change how it operates, but to no avail," and Nike's decision to sell the USL to a "non-USL First Division team owner effectively was the last straw." Saputo: "It's very disappointing that Nike decided to sell to a group that was unheard of instead of selling to the group of owners. ... I hope they have a plan that makes sense for all of us. But right now, nothing shows me that that's where they're going" (Montreal GAZETTE, 9/2). Nike chose NuRock over an offer from a group of USL team owners led by Brazil-based Traffic Sports, which controls Miami FC. The bid group also reportedly included the Carolina RailHawks and Minnesota Thunder, among others (Vancouver PROVINCE, 9/1).

    STARS STILL SHINING: In Cleveland, Bill Lubinger reports the USL Cleveland City Stars faced a deadline yesterday to commit for next season  but that "came and went with no action" primarily because last week's sale of the league "bought them time." City Stars Exec Dir Aaron Tredway: "Most teams have been waiting to see what was happening with the league." The Cleveland Soccer Foundation "continues to seek a buyer" for the club, which has been "struggling financially off and on the field." The owners "haven't set a specific asking price, but seek at least $400,000" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 9/2).

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