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Volume 24 No. 160

Leagues Governing Bodies

          Patrick Ewing's election as NBPA President "comes at a
     very pivotal time for the players association," according to
     Mike Wise of the N.Y. TIMES.  With the "growing possibility
     that the league will reopen" the CBA next year, "he could be
     at the forefront of securing a new deal and coping with a
     potential lockout."  Ewing, who led a move to decertify the
     union in '95, was accused with others "of essentially being
     a tool of what many perceived to be an agent-led movement." 
     But Ewing and others "feel that many of their predictions
     regarding the league turning into a caste system under the
     current agreement have come true" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/17).
          WOMEN'S DAY: NBA VP Rod Thorn confirmed that "the
     league is preparing for the potential introduction of female
     officials this season," according to Ira Winderman of the
     Fort Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL.  The final referee roster will
     be determined later this month, but Winderman writes that
     the league is "expected to add a significant number of new
     officials" in the wake of the IRS investigation of several
     veteran referees (Fort Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 9/17). 

          MLB Realignment Committee Chair and Red Sox CEO John
     Harrington said that "it's possible but unlikely that owners
     will vote" this week on a realignment plan, according to
     Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST.  Harrington: "If we can
     whittle them down to two or three and do more study, maybe
     you take a vote in two or three weeks.  But there can be a
     breakthrough here" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/17).  Harrington:
     "Everybody wants to do something.  They just don't want it
     to affect them.  Do open-heart surgery, but don't leave a
     mark" (Tom Haudricourt, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 9/17).
     The committee will meet this morning and then present data
     in separate NL and AL meetings (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES,
     9/17). In Atlanta, I.J. Rosenberg writes that "one thing was
     clear" from yesterday's meetings -- "a compromise will be
     tough to reach" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/17).  In N.Y.,
     Murray Chass reports that realignment "has stalled so badly
     that it may be moving in reverse" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/17). 
     ESPN's Peter Gammons: "Everyone wants something to change
     they just don't want to be affected by it, and that's really
     a serious problem" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 9/16).
          MURPHY'S LAST STAND? In N.Y., Bill Madden writes that
     Selig "is under fire ... for failing to deal with the issue"
     of MLBE President Greg Murphy, "whom the owners want fired." 
     Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner did not attend the
     meetings "because his suit with adidas against baseball
     probably won't get settled until" Murphy is "gone."  A
     Yankee source said that the suit "is close to being settled,
     with adidas getting a share of the major league apparel
     deal, but that Murphy is still holding out to cut an
     exclusive deal with Nike" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/17).
          EVERYBODY MURRAY FRUM TONIGHT: In Toronto, Jim Byers
     reports that while the sale of the Blue Jays to a group led
     by Murray Frum is on MLB's agenda, "sources said the deal
     likely wouldn't get approved and that there are still some
     wrinkles, including the lack of financial disclosures by one
     of the consortium members and perhaps even some new faces in
     the deal."  But Frum said that "there are no new faces in
     his group and that he isn't aware of any outstanding issues
     with his ownership bid" (TORONTO STAR, 9/17).

          MLS Commissioner Doug Logan pointed to four "success
     stories" and two areas of "deep concern" in looking at this
     season's MLS attendance, according to Jerry Langdon of USA
     TODAY.  MLS has seen overall attendance drop 16.3% this year
     from 17,416 to 14,573.  Logan is pleased with fan support in
     New England, Washington, DC, and Colorado, while adding the
     Tampa Bay Mutiny, who are down 3.4%, has "done well to
     basically hold its base."  Logan did "show concern" over the
     Dallas Burn, down 38.4%, and the KC Wizards, down 31.5%. 
     Logan: "We're going to analyze these two situations. ...
     [W]e should be drawing more" (USA TODAY, 9/17).  Logan added
     that "more weekday games are anticipated" next year.  The
     league had 88% of its games on weekends this year.  In other
     news, Langdon reports that a TV deal has been reached "in
     principle" with ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 on a contract for next
     year, "but no details have been released" (USA TODAY, 9/17).
          IN FLORIDA: The Broward School Board has "approved a
     tentative lease agreement" at Ft. Lauderdale's Lockhart
     Stadium for the MLS Fusion.  The team is also "continuing"
     talks with the city of Miami (MIAMI HERALD, 9/17).

          The ABL's '96 MVP Nikki McCray officially changed
     leagues yesterday and signed with the WNBA.  In a statement,
     ABL CEO Gary Cavalli said, "Nikki is an excellent player,
     and we will miss her.  But the sun still came up this
     morning, and the ABL is alive and well."  Cavalli said that
     in her contract negotiations, McCray asked for a salary that
     was more than three times as much of other '96 U.S.
     Olympians in the ABL.  She also requested the first right of
     refusal on all major endorsement deals offered to ABL
     players.  He called the demands "unrealistic, excessive, and
     unfair to the other players in the league" (ABL).
          DETAILS: McCray's attorney, DC-based Lon Babby, said
     that McCray turned down a more lucrative offer from the ABL
     but that the "key" to her decision were the "promotional
     opportunities" (Amy Shipley, WASHINGTON POST, 9/17). 
     Cavalli called McCray's request for the right of first
     refusal on endorsement deals "outrageous," adding, "There's
     no way a league could ever agree to something like that"
     (Aaron Portzline, COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 9/16). In Philadelphia,
     Mel Greenberg reports that McCray "is expected to become
     another WNBA player spokeswomen, joining Rebecca Lobo,
     Sheryl Swoopes and Lisa Leslie, who all received reported
     $250,000 deals."  McCray, "one of the few" ABL players who
     initially signed a one-year deal, on the WNBA: "Watching
     their season this year, they generated a lot of fan support"
     (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/17).  More McCray: "It went back
     and forth daily, and I pretty much decided over the weekend"
     (Bobby Hall, COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 9/17).  McCray: "The ABL was
     a success last year, but just looking at the whole situation
     ... and the two proposals that were made to me, I felt the
     WNBA was the best choice for me" (ESPN, 9/16).
          WAR, WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? In Washington, Amy Shipley
     writes the move is "yet another signal that the ABL will be
     hard-pressed to stand up to the enormous power of the NBA-
     backed WNBA."  But Shipley adds a "flurry of defections is
     unlikely to be precipitated by McCray's move" (WASHINGTON
     POST, 9/17).  Cavalli: "Is it war?  No.  But it is open
     season" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/17).  More Cavalli: "A
     number of W.N.B.A. players have contacted us about moving
     after the coming season and we will talk to them."  WNBA
     President Val Ackerman: "We are very interested in
     attracting the best players we can find, wherever they come
     from" (Frank Litsky, N.Y. TIMES, 9/17).  In N.Y., Ursula
     Reel examines the two leagues and writes, "Things aren't
     looking too good for the ABL."  Reel adds that ABL execs and
     players "wonder how they've become the 'other league' when
     their league came first" (N.Y. POST, 9/17).
          CHANGE LEAGUES AND GAMES? USA TODAY's Valerie Lister
     reports that McCray doesn't have any endorsements yet, but
     "is negotiating a contract" with Fila (USA TODAY, 9/17).