SBD/September 12, 2013/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
NASCAR is "investigating communications between" the teams of drivers Joey Logano and David Gilliland during Saturday night's Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Int'l Raceway, according to Jeff Gluck of USA TODAY. Penske Racing's Logano, who got into the Chase for the Sprint Cup "with the help of Michael Waltrip Racing's cars, may also have been aided by Front Row Motorsports' Gilliland." Gilliland "may have given up his position to let Logano pass him in the final laps." From radio communications between Gilliland and Logano's teams, it "seems Gilliland's spotter is passing along a request to let Logano pass him on the closing laps while Ryan Newman was leading the race." Logano "passed Gilliland on a restart and finished 22nd." Gilliland's spotter following the race said, "Good job, good job, man. Hopefully we'll get something out of that." But Penske Racing President Tim Cindric last night said that there "was no conspiracy." Cindric: "There was no bribe. [Team Owner] Roger Penske is not involved in trying to manipulate the outcome of a race or what have you. In fact, the first time Roger heard any of this stuff was this afternoon" (USA TODAY, 9/12). The AP's Jenna Fryer wrote it is a "tried-and-true practice in NASCAR, where teammates have long swapped position to allow a teammate -- or even a driver from the same manufacturer -- to lead a lap and earn a needed bonus point." Other "lower-profile moves occur throughout the season" (AP, 9/11).
GORDON SPEAKS OUT: Driver Jeff Gordon, who was eliminated from the Chase field by Logano's finish, yesterday said that he "felt he deserved to be in the championship-determining field." Gordon said, “I haven’t heard the audio, I heard about it. All I can say is I really feel like we deserve to be in it based on everything that happened Saturday night" (FOXSPORTS.com, 9/12). In Charlotte, David Scott notes Gordon "warned Wednesday that the repercussions" of MWR's manipulation of last weekend's race "are only beginning." Gordon said, "It's way beyond you and me, way beyond the sport and the fans. It reaches out much further than that. It has affected far more people than we can understand. It's going to happen again. So it has to be addressed in a big way." He added, "When the time comes, we want to see what we can do to help our teammate win the championship. The difference is there are lines that are drawn, and this crossed over the line. ... It's the integrity of the sport. What level do you go to win?" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/12). Gordon: "When I found out later how they manipulated it, that was anger on a whole 'nother level. It's hard to describe and it's disappointing" (USA TODAY, 9/12).
NOT GOING AWAY: In Charlotte, Scott Fowler writes, "We are dealing with the juiciest, ugliest NASCAR scandal of the past decade." It has "called into question the very integrity of the sport," and it will "continue to hover as the biggest story of the Chase." This is a "body blow to the sport." NASCAR "didn't do enough to penalize MWR," and "most notably, Clint Bowyer got away almost Scot-free." But what NASCAR "didn't do, MWR's sponsors might." Fowler: "What company really wants its name plastered all over a car for an outfit that would do something like that?" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/12). A CHARLOTTE OBSERVER editorial states, "Drivers are critical to their teams’ and NASCAR’s revenues. But if you truly want to remove a stain on your sport, you have to make the consequences of it sting." NASCAR wants to "convince people that it’s a legitimate sport, one that won’t tolerate the 'if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t tryin’' mindset that has long been part of its culture." But sports fans "know leniency when they see it, again and again." If NASCAR "really wants to get somewhere, it’ll stop driving in circles" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/12).
NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver on Tuesday at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit said that no teams in the league currently "are for sale," according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Several teams including the T'Wolves "have been pulled off the market recently." The Bucks and Raptors also had been "rumored to be available." This is a "significant departure from the last three-plus years, when teams were selling both cheaply and quickly as nine franchises sold, many at reduced values." Meanwhile, Silver said that for the "first time there will be a committee of owners formed to oversee the TV contract talks." It is "believed to be the start of a new era in the NBA where the commissioner will be more open to input from owners on league-wide deals than was previously the case" with NBA Commissioner David Stern running the league. Silver: "There's probably calls for more owner involvement than we've had historically. There's a new generation of owners who've become involved in the league. There's more a sense of activist owners ... these days led by [Mavericks Owner] Mark Cuban and others there are more full-time owners. It's a recognition that even for very wealthy people, it's a much larger percentage of their portfolio" (ESPN.com, 9/10). BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK's Ira Boudway wrote Silver "presents a smoother and less acerbic personality" than Stern. Silver also "brings a softer approach to his most important constituents -- the NBA’s 30 team owners." Where Stern has handed out more than $1.8M in fines to Cuban over the last 13 years, Silver "name-checked him today as part of a new generation of more active, savvy ownership." Silver added, "It’s a different time. Owners are more sophisticated about the business of sports than they were years ago." He said that as franchise values have climbed, owners have "focused more on day-to-day operations" (BUSINESSWEEK.com, 9/10).
STILL IN PLAY: Silver on Sunday said that former NBA Kings bidder Chris Hansen's "secret contribution to a group opposed to a new arena in Sacramento will not hurt the billionaire’s efforts to deliver an NBA team to Seattle." Silver: "I would say it won’t affect Seattle’s chances. I haven’t talked to Chris since those allegations came out. I think as he said, he got caught up in the moment." Hansen and his two political consultants on Monday "agreed to pay a $50,000 fine" in California "for failing to disclose a donation to a group hired to help in an attempt to block a new Sacramento sports arena" (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/12).
CONCERN OVER COLLINS? SI's Phil Taylor notes free agent C Jason Collins "is still unemployed" with NBA training camps opening in less than three weeks and many teams' rosters "all but set." A "number of reasons have been quietly offered by NBA personnel people." Those include him being "too old," and "too expensive." But being an "aging, low-scoring center didn't stop Collins from being signed last year, or the year before that." There is "only one thing teams know about him now that they haven't always known -- that he's gay." Is that why he is "still working out at home" in L.A., "waiting for the phone to ring?" It is "impossible to know for sure, but it's also impossible to ignore the obvious question" (SI, 9/16 issue).