SBD/December 8, 2010/Leagues And Governing Bodies

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  • NBPA Proposes Lowering Draft Eligibility Age To 18 In CBA Counter

    NBPA Would Look To "Incentivize" Players To Attend College If Age Limit Rolled Back To 18

    The NBPA has proposed to the NBA that the age limit to enter the league be lowered to 18 years of age and has indicated that it would be willing to negotiate a decrease in the guaranteed percentage of revenues paid to players to below 57%. NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter revealed previously undisclosed details of the union’s counterproposal in an audio podcast sent to every NBA player in the league last week, according to a source. As part of the union’s proposal to roll back the age limit from the current one year removed from high school or 19 years old to 18 years old, Hunter indicated that the union would seek changes to the current system “to incentivize high school and college athletes to attend school.” The proposal would likely entail changes to the NBA rookie wage scale. Additionally, Hunter in the podcast said the union “signaled that we are willing to negotiate a modest reduction of the 57% guarantee of BRI (basketball related income) so that the teams on their own, without changes to the soft cap system, can bring spending down below 57%. We will not hold the owners to that 57% guarantee.” Hunter in the podcast said, “We proposed numerous changes that will benefit both the players and the league.” He added the union’s proposals were an attempt to craft “a reasonable proposal in an attempt to avert a work stoppage.”

    SOME GIVE AND TAKE: The NBA is seeking to reduce payments to players by 30-40% across the board. While the players union has rejected these attempts by the league, the willingness to negotiate a reduction to the 57% guarantee signals a willingness by the players to bend. Hunter said the union’s willingness to reduce the 57% of BRI going to players would not alter the salary cap escrow or tax threshold in place in the current CBA. Hunter told players during the podcast, “Simply put, we are shifting the responsibility to the teams to make better business decisions.” Another proposal the union made to the league was to eliminate the bi-annual exception, which allows teams to spend over the salary cap by $2M every year. In exchange, the union proposed there would be two mid-level exception players, instead of the current one. And, under the NBPA’s proposal, those two mid-level players’ maximum contract lengths would be decreased by one year to four years.

    TALKING THINGS THROUGH: The NBPA made its counterproposal to the NBA over the summer, but kept a tight lid on the details. Although the NBA rejected the offer, the podcast provides previously undisclosed details on the union’s position in the negotiations. The NBA CBA expires on June 30, 2011, and Hunter has said publicly there is a high likelihood that players will be locked out. The NBA did have an age limit of 18 for years, but raised the age to 19 years old in the current CBA, which took effect in the ‘05-06 NBA season. It has been criticized as the “one-and-done” rule, because, in recent years, many talented basketball players left NCAA college basketball programs after one season in order to enter the NBA Draft. 

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  • UFC Hopes To Host Record-Setting Event At Rogers Centre In April

    UFC's Ontario Debut At Rogers Centre To Be Organization's First Stadium Event

    UFC "plans a historic splashdown in Ontario," scheduling UFC 131 for Rogers Centre on April 30 with the "expectations of a world record gate for MMA," according to Neil Davidson of the CP. UFC President Dana White "made the announcement at a news conference Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre -- more than three weeks before the provincial government's Jan. 1 date to begin accepting applications from MMA promoters." UFC Dir of Canadian Operations Tom Wright said, "I can assure you that our application will be on that table (Jan. 1) and I like our chances to be accepted." Davidson noted UFC "has long planned an outdoor stadium show," and Aloha Stadium in Honolulu "was originally targeted but some taxation red tape got in the way." Toronto instead "will get to put up the big numbers." How big "remains a question mark at this stage" because neither White nor Wright "offered details on setup for the show." Wright said that UFC "has visited the venue several times already, noting there are different ways to configure the Rogers Centre." He added that UFC "plans to come back to Canada 'at least three times a year' with one of those dates an annual one" (CP, 12/7). In Toronto, Morgan Campbell notes UFC 124 in Montreal on Saturday is "expected to draw more than 23,000 spectators and a live gate north" of C$5M. White said that those are "all-time highs for the organization but expects both those records to fall when the UFC arrives at the Rogers Centre, which has room for more than 50,000 people" (TORONTO STAR, 12/8). UFC also announced plans for a Fan Expo "to be held in conjunction with the show." It will take place at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/7).

    KING OF THE RING: The GLOBE & MAIL's Stephen Brunt writes, "The fact is, there is no boxing match imaginable that could fill the Rogers Centre right now, and professional wrestling (from which UFC draws at least some of its audience, and its packaging) is pretty much a dead issue." Those who "operate UFC, most prominently, the ultra-loud and ultra-coarse tub-thumper Dana White, have distilled something from the attraction to fighting contests that may well be part of our genetic code, from video game violence and wrestling showmanship and the reality of boxing (minus the self-defeating promotional free market of boxing)." It is "blood sport for the short attention span set" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/8). White: "People just don't want to sit around and watch a 12 round boxing match with two guys jabbing. UFC is three rounds, everything's fast, you can punch, kick, knee, elbow, slam to the ground, do submissions. It's the Now Generation" (TORONTO SUN, 12/8).

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  • Favre-Sterger Investigation Turned Over To Goodell's Office

    The investigation into whether Vikings QB Brett Favre violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy when he was a Jet in '08 by allegedly texting obscene photos, in addition to other conduct, to then Jets employee Jenn Sterger has been sent to Commissioner Roger Goodell's office for review, Sterger’s attorney Joseph Conway said. Conway said that Joseph Hummel, Dir of Investigative Services in the NFL’s Security Department, called him yesterday in response to calls Conway placed regarding a report that Favre would not be disciplined. When he asked Hummel about it, Conway said, “His answer back to me was that the case was out of their hands. He sent it upstairs and it is in the Commissioner’s office and the lawyers were looking at it.” NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello confirmed in an e-mail that the Favre-Sterger matter was now under review in the Commissioner’s office. Aiello said, “We have not reached a conclusion. When we do, we will communicate it to the appropriate parties.” Conway said he would be “extremely disappointed” if a report by SI.com’s Peter King that Favre would receive little or no discipline was true and accurate. But the idea that the alleged transmission of the obscene photos was the only act that violated the conduct policy is wrong, Conway said. “If anyone portrays this as a one-time incident, that would be completely incorrect. This is a pattern of behavior on his part that took place over a very long period of time. There were repeated attempts to contact my client.” Deadspin.com first published the photos and voicemails allegedly from Favre in October in a report that caused the NFL to launch the investigation. But Conway said that the NFL was provided with much more information than was contained in the Deadspin report. “We were extremely cooperative with the NFL,” Conway said. “We provided them with the names of others they could contact. I believe, based on what we turned over to them, that there is sufficient evidence to find he was in violation of the personal conduct policy.”

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  • League Notes

    Smith Upset About Appeals Process Of Fines For Helmet-To-Helmet Hits

    ESPN.com's Scott Burnside reported NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday at the conclusion of the league's BOG meetings took "issue with the suggestion that if the cap does go up, it puts more pressure on small-market teams that struggle to get to the salary-cap floor." Bettman: "Actually if the salary cap goes up it means revenues are going up. It means revenue sharing goes up. You've got to look at the system in its totality. It's a little premature for us to be worrying about those things." Meanwhile, Bettman said that the league is "still working through what will happen next fall" with the NHL Premiere series games in Europe "in terms of which teams will be asked to go and how many will be sent." The NHL sent six teams to Europe to open this season, and Bettman "would not say whether he favors the six-team model or the four-team version that had been the case the previous two years" (ESPN.com, 12/7).

    TIME FOR A CHAT: NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith yesterday said that he "plans to meet soon with commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss the NFL's increased fines for helmet-to-helmet hits and the way those sanctions are appealed." The "high-level meeting, which Smith said would take place 'in the near future,' would address a sensitive issue that has grabbed attention league-wide." Smith said that "of particular concern ... is the appeals process and what he saw as inconsistency in the way penalties and fines -- some as high as $75,000 -- have been handed out" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 12/8).

    UNDER REVIEW: The AP reported British soccer "will be investigated by a parliamentary inquiry following concerns about the high level of debt at Premier League clubs and the ownership troubles at Manchester United and Liverpool." The U.K. House of Commons Culture, Media & Sport Committee "will assess whether clubs should face government intervention and look at the regulations used by overseas leagues." The legislators "will examine the structures of the four soccer associations in Britain, with the English FA facing questions about its lack of leadership after the country's failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup" (AP, 12/7).

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