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SBD/June 20, 2014/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
The NFLPA will get to argue that the NFL pulled a fast one in getting the union to agree in '11 to drop all legal claims at that time, including that the league had colluded to restrain salaries in '10 as a condition of signing the CBA. That was the finding of the 8th Circuit Court of appeals Friday, which was considering the NFLPA’s appeal of a lower court decision denying them that chance. The 8th did deny the NFLPA’s effort to reconstitute the original White class-action settlement that formed the basis of the labor pact that governed the NFL from '93-'10. And the court noted the high hurdle the NFLPA faced in trying to revive the collusion claim, originally filed in early '11. “Our holding should not be read as in any way expressing a view on the merits of the Association’s ... motion” that the NFL had colluded and hid it to extract the '11 labor deal. “[T]he Association bears a heavy burden in attempting to convince the district court that the Dismissal was fraudulently procured. We hold only that the Association should be given the opportunity to meet this burden.” Several NFL officials in early '12 made comments about an agreement in '10 to have an unofficial salary cap, which would appear to have been a violation of the then CBA. The NFLPA filed its case in Judge David Doty’s Minnesota federal court, but he rejected its claim, noting all legal claims had been dismissed. The NFLPA tried two avenues of attack with the 8th, one that the original class-action settlement had not been properly dismissed and thus there was still standing to bring a collusion case. The 8th rejected that argument, and thus appears to have finally put an end to the White class. The court did say Doty erred in not allowing the NFLPA to argue it had been fraudulently induced to sign the '11 deal because it did not know the extent of the collusion.
NASCAR President Mike Helton this week sat for a two-part interview with FS1's Danielle Trotta and addressed the state of the sport as the midpoint of the '14 season approaches. Trotta noted the new Chase format and knockout-style qualifying "have been the two changes everyone is embracing." Helton said NASCAR has been "pleased" with the results so far, as the qualifying format "has grown a lot of interest" at the track, on TV and on social media. Helton: "It's fun to watch, and sports should be fun. The Chase format was an element to put emphasis on winning. I think that's happened early in the season." Helton noted the on-track product has been "good" this year and said, "The product is a priority and a safe product for everybody." However, race attendance is "something that the whole industry uses to judge success, and that's something that we've all collectively been working on ever since the swing through the economy." He noted there are signs attendance is increasing, saying, "We're encouraged by the uptick." Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Daytona 500 to begin the year and has his first multi-win season since '04, and Helton said fans are “very happy” with Earnhardt's success. He said, "There's a large following there, and we're well aware of that. ... But I think it's the tried and true mixed with the young blood that's always been good for NASCAR" Helton: "When you have a season where a veteran now who is so very popular has success, that brings the whole with him" ("NASCAR Race Hub," FS1, 6/18).
CHANGES COMING TO '15 SCHEDULE? Helton in part two of the interview said NASCAR is "shooting for mid-summer" to release the '15 schedule. He said the "ripple effect" of when a race is taken away from one track and moved to another is "hard to explain, but with a 36-race schedule in a matter of 40-some weeks, it's hard to move one and not impact another." NASCAR when creating the schedule works "with the racetracks, the race teams and our broadcast partners to come out with what we feel like is a reasonable schedule, if not the best one we can do." FS1's Steve Byrnes following the taped interview said, "What perked my ears up was a possible schedule change. We have a new broadcast partner next year (NBC), and I really think we could see ... the biggest shake-up in the schedule that we've seen in 10 or 12 years" ("NASCAR Race Hub," FS1, 6/19).
Women's tennis has "found its future," as the latest generation of young players is the one fans "have been waiting for, the one that can carry the sport" after Serena and Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova retire, according to Tom Perrotta of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. This group of players born in the '90s -- French Open finalist Simona Halep and two-time Grand Slam semifinalist Eugenie Bouchard -- "announced their presence" earlier this month. They are "brash ... creative and play to the crowd." Others in this group include 20-year-old Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, who beat Serena Williams at the French Open, and Americans Sloane Stephens (21) and Taylor Townsend (18). Men's tennis during the past decade "built a new audience around the other-worldly accomplishments" of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. However, women's tennis "stalled" during that time. Several different players reached the No. 1 ranking, but due to "injuries, flawed games, and crises of confidence at critical moments, the new No. 1s of the past few years haven't lasted and haven't won." It would be "too bold to predict that any young player will go on to rival" what Serena Williams has accomplished, especially since she "could add a few more major titles to her collection before she's finished." But tennis coach Rick Macci said that with Bouchard, he "sees something that he hasn't seen in a while -- something that women's tennis desperately needs." Macci: "She has Grand Slams written all over her, and staying power. I see greatness" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/20).
NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum reiterated the league's plan to have each of its 30 franchises become affiliated with its own D-League team. Speaking at Monumental Sports & Entertainment's first "Partner Summit" in DC Thursday, Tatum said he expects the number of D-League teams to grow from 18 to 30 "at some point." "Our NBA teams are realizing the true value of having development teams with a purpose of taking some of these young players and truly developing their talent," he said. "They're also understanding the value of taking the business staff and coaches and general managers, who are getting exposure to professional basketball at the minor league level." Tatum pointed to Wizards F Marcin Gortat and Rockets G Jeremy Lin as two examples of NBA players that had stints in the D-League. "There's now an option for players who otherwise would have gone overseas and played internationally to play right here in the United States." Tatum said the NBA uses the D-League to develop and train referees, as well.
ESPN.com's Paul Lukas noted all NBA teams "will be wearing" the league logo on the back of their jerseys for the '14-15 season, as opposed to the front. A league official called it a "stylistic move" but declined to comment further. Lukas noted the move is "sure to fuel speculation that the NBA is preparing to move ahead with its long-planned program of jersey advertising." Removing the league logo from the front of the jersey "will clear more space for an ad patch and remove what would otherwise be a competing visual icon" (ESPN.com, 6/19).
NHL TWEAKS FREE AGENCY RULE: In Minneapolis, Michael Russo noted the NHL "has implemented a significant change from last year regarding the free-agent interview period that begins next Wednesday." In a memo sent to all teams and subsequently forwarded by the NHLPA to all agents, the league "will now allow clubs and agents to discuss general parameters of a potential contract for a pending restricted and unrestricted free agent." This comes after NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman last year "sent a last-second memo reminding clubs that they could not discuss contract parameters at all during the interview period prior to free agency." Russo writes it will "be interesting to see if this revision leads to some quick deals as free agency opens July 1" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 6/19).
MLB FORMS PUERTO RICO LEAGUE: CBSSPORTS.com's Mke Axisa noted the MLB and MLBPA have announced the formation of the Puerto Rico Summer League, a league "designed to help spark baseball interest and development on the island." The inaugural season began June 3. A press release stated the league consists of two four-team divisions and gives players between the ages of 14-17 more chances to refine their game. Axisa: "It took entirely too long, but kudos to MLB and the union for finally putting together a league to help develop young kids in Puerto Rico into baseball players." Hopefully this is "just the start and there are more programs on the way" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/19).