SBD/December 15, 2010/Leagues and Governing Bodies

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  • Billy Hunter Says NBPA Decertification Still "Pretty Far Off"

    Hunter Expects To Meet With NBA Officials During All-Star Weekend

    NPBA Exec Dir Billy Hunter yesterday said that the union "had discussed decertification but that it was 'pretty far off,'" according to Chris Mannix of Hunter: "Decertification is just one of the options that the union would have in the event of a protracted lockout, that's all. When you look at what your options are, you've got to look at everything and so it's just one of the things we may have to contemplate. But it's pretty far off. It's nothing immediate." Hunter said that he "expects to meet with representatives from the league early next month and indicated that he should have a better idea as to the feasibility of a new deal over All-Star weekend in Los Angeles in February, when the two sides are expected to have extensive discussions." However, he added that with "so many players and owners present during the All-Star festivities, it makes things 'pretty difficult to negotiate'" (, 12/14).

    ROCK THE VOTE: In N.Y., Jonathan Abrams noted teams started voting on decertification this week, and the Knicks were "scheduled to vote after Tuesday's practice" (, 12/14). In L.A., Elliott Teaford notes the Lakers are "tentatively scheduled to meet" tomorrow in Philadelphia to discuss decertification. Lakers G and NBPA President Derek Fisher said, "As far as I'm concerned, we're still focused on getting a fair deal done. That's what our focus is, but we have a responsibility to cover all available options with our players. That's an available option. It's mostly about preparing ourselves about what may come. There hasn't been any final decision on our part as far as that's something we're definitely going to do" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 12/15).

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  • NFLPA's Smith Remains Pessimistic About Potential For CBA Deal

    Smith Says Union Reviewing Agent Certification, Disciplinary Process

    NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith told 30-40 NFL agents yesterday during a conference call that he still believes the NFL is planning to lock players out and said the union is reviewing its agent certification and disciplinary process, sources said. Smith updated agents on NFL CBA negotiations, saying that while the union continues to negotiate and has offered to extend the current deal to avoid the economic problems already being caused by the labor uncertainty, the NFL has refused. The NFL CBA expires on March 3. Smith "was not optimistic" about a deal being done, said one agent who was on the call. Smith also told agents that the union is reviewing its current process for certifying and disciplining agents. "He wants to make sure there is integrity all around," said the agent. Another source said a reason for the review of the certification process is to answer questions being raised about how Teague Egan, an undergrad at USC, was certified when the union requires most agents to have an advanced degree. The union's Committee on Agent Regulation & Discipline recently revoked Egan's certification after USC RB Dillon Baxter was declared ineligible for one game after Egan gave him a ride in a golf cart (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal). The AP's Barry Wilner noted the call "came 11 days after agent Gary Wichard was suspended for nine months by the union for his role in a recruiting scandal involving" former Univ. of North Carolina DT Marvin Austin (AP, 12/14).

    BOOK OF THE MONTH CLUB: Smith took issue on the call yesterday with recent public comments by NFL Exec VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash about the union's demands that league open its books to justify players taking a pay cut when the NFL is profitable. Smith during the call said recent comments that Pash made in a Q&A in SportsBusiness Journal regarding the union’s demands that the league open its books to justify their proposal were false. In that interview, Pash was asked if the union during the negotiations had made an issue out of the league rejecting requests for the audited financial books of NFL teams. Pash said, “Not really with us. … We have said all along we are prepared to make disclosures that document and justify what our bargaining proposals are.” When asked in the interview if this is “not something that the NFLPA brings up in negotiations,” Pash replied, "We are not hearing, ‘If you don’t do this, we will not sign an agreement.’” According to sources on the call, Smith told agents yesterday, “If anyone is saying the NFL is opening the books to you, or that the NFL is inclined to open the books, or that we have ceased asking them to open the books, it's absolutely false." Smith added, "It boggles the mind how they could say that." NFL Senior VP/Communications Greg Aiello responded to Smith’s comments in an e-mail, saying, "We believe in accountability and transparency. No one is saying what is alleged. The facts are the union has access to all league revenue. They have complete information on the league's biggest cost -- player compensation and benefits -- and we have provided more information on stadium and other costs than we are required to give. But of course they will ask for more information. It's a negotiating tactic" (Mullen).

    RISING OPTIMISM: In DC, Mark Maske notes both the NFL and the NFLPA "say they remain focused on" the CBA negotiations. There was a "glimmer of hope last week when the league and union agreed that the NFLPA could postpone filing a collusion accusation against the owners." Maske: "It wasn't a labor settlement, but it showed the two sides could agree on something" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/15). Meanwhile, Pro Football HOFer Dan Shula said, "I just don't believe that there is going to be a lockout" (, 12/14).

    GRASSROOTS LEVEL: In L.A., Jack Dolan reports the NFL is "lending its public relations muscle to a proposal that would require California student athletes who leave a game after a head injury to get written medical clearance before returning to the field or court." Parents also "would have to sign a 'concussion awareness fact sheet' before their kids could play in a sports program in any league covered by the California bill." The NFL in total is "backing legislation in 44 states this year" that deal with head injuries for young players (L.A. TIMES, 12/15).

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  • Whan Marks First Year As LPGA Commish; Traveled To All Tourneys

    Whan (r) Continues To Preach Patience On LPGA Turnaround

    It has been "nearly one year" since Michael Whan took over as LPGA Commissioner, and he has been "busy living the lives of his players," according to Jill Painter of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. Whan "attended all 24 official LPGA events on a whirlwind tour that spanned 20 states and 15 countries." Whan: "I didn't originally have that plan. I got to the second tournament and realized how incredibly different it was than the first tournament. They may have the same promoter but they were fundamentally different. The title sponsors had different objectives. I realized that what I would've guessed would have been so wrong. Now, I don't have to have a conference call having not been to a tournament." He added, "It's not a job you do from an office. You can't be a good business partner to somebody if you're in Florida all the time." Painter writes Whan "has already done more good" than former LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens "dreamed." Bivens "hurt the Tour and put it in danger of closing business," while Whan is "helping in an economically challenged environment that has stung even the PGA Tour." The LPGA "needs a face that players and sponsors and fans can trust." Whan: "One thing I'm working on is patience. ... I told people this would be a two-year turnaround, but in my head I was thinking six months. I'm learning I have to have patience I didn't know about coming in." Meanwhile, Whan said of the parity at the top of the rankings, "I like it, but it seems a lot of media people disagree. Maybe they're right. Golf doesn't need one consistent face. No one questions the NFL. I don't know if they have one consistent face. I have three boys, and one would say Drew Brees and another Peyton Manning and another Tom Brady. I'd say they're right. There's a lot of people to root for" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 12/15).

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