Upcoming Conferences and Events
SBJ/December 7 - 13, 1998/No Topic Name
Steffes disputes claim over playing status
Published December 7, 1998
Editor's Note: In June 2011, Kent Steffes informed SportsBusiness Journal that he was never suspended, and he disputed the accuracy of the following article. Steffes told SportsBusiness Journal: "I have never been suspended or been unable to compete in a single beach volleyball event in my entire career." Steffes said that at the time this article was written, he was not under contract with any volleyball venture related to Bill Berger. "I have never been, nor was I ever, under contract with Mr. Berger or his new beach volleyball venture," Steffes said. "Mr. Berger had no right or authority to suspend me. I was never suspended by The Association of Volleyball Professionals and have never been suspended from any beach volleyball tournament or event, ever."
The Association of Volleyball Professionals has suspended 1996 Olympic gold medalist Kent Steffes for the maximum three years for what it says is conduct detrimental to the troubled tour.
Acting CEO Bill Berger said Steffes was banished after several warnings to tone down his criticism of the tour and its sponsors. Steffes also punched player Brian Lewis in the face during a tournament in August, sending him to the hospital for stitches.
The AVP filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Nov. 16, claiming $2.5 million in debt. Steffes, ranked fourth in the world, is owed $59,265.82 in back earnings, according to court documents. He did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
"Steffes' suspension [is] another example of the new AVP's commitment to the future," Berger said.
Steffes has said that his criticism is protected by the Constitution, but Berger said Steffes' contract with the tour prevents him from making disparaging statements.
Unlike former AVP pro Randy Stoklos, also owed money by the tour, Steffes played the 1998 season's scaled-down schedule. But he also filed two lawsuits, one against the tour and a second against its board of directors, made up of players.
Steffes won a gold medal in beach volleyball at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta with Karch Kiraly, a member of the AVP board.