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Volume 24 No. 158

Leagues Governing Bodies

          In his Sunday BOSTON GLOBE column, Peter Gammons
     reported that the "rumblings among [MLB] owners is that
     there may be two commissioner candidates presented at the
     Executive Council meeting this week, but while the sentiment
     in the NL may be strongly against Bud Selig taking the job
     full-time, there is little chance that either candidate will
     be accepted and so one way or another Selig will be asked to
     remain in power" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/11).  One NL Owner is
     quoted in Gammons' ESPN SportsZone column as saying, "It's
     not that we don't like Bud; we like and respect him.  But we
     need a fresh voice.  We need to break away from the clique
     that's run the game for so long, the old Cold War warriors. 
     But now the executive council will get names from [Search
     Committee Chair] Jerry McMorris, no one will agree on one
     and Bud will survive" (ESPN SportsZone, 1/10). 
          

          On CNN/SI, Jackie MacMullan discussed the controversy
     surrounding 2ball, the new All-Star Weekend event which
     pairs NBA and WNBA players: "The players were upset that the
     league had not notified them that they were getting rid of
     the slam dunk and going to this 2ball set, and they also
     felt a little chagrined that the NBA, who of course is
     controlling the WNBA, was using their venue to promote the
     women's basketball.  And so there was some talk this week
     ... of actually boycotting this event.  Now, the league and
     the players and the union all got together and I think the
     players have decided that this isn't the battle that the
     union wants to fight. ... But clearly, it's just a preview
     of the skirmishes to come ("This Week In The NBA," 1/11).
          THE BUTLER DID IT: Riverdale, NY, high school
     basketball player Niesha Butler said yesterday that she will
     likely attend GA Tech in the fall, where she "would
     consider" playing one year before challenging the WNBA's
     eligibility requirements, according to Ron Dicker of the
     N.Y. TIMES.  The WNBA requires players meet one of four
     criteria to be eligible for its draft: Players must be at
     least 22- years- old, complete college eligibility, have a
     college degree or complete at least two seasons in another
     professional league (N.Y. TIMES, 1/12).  Butler added that
     even if she played in the WNBA, she would still attend
     classes during the school year (N.Y. POST, 1/12).  

          Soccer Leagues of America, Inc. (SLA), an organization
     formed to develop and manage professional minor indoor
     soccer leagues across North America, will begin operation
     with the '98-99 fall/winter indoor season.  The OH-based
     group has also entered into a major league/minor league
     working relationship with the NPSL.  OH-based attorney, and
     former NPSL franchise owner, Richard Chernesky was named SLA
     President.  The SLA's plans include the formation of soccer
     leagues comprised of a minimum of six to eight teams to
     begin play this fall.  It will also look to develop players,
     referees and front office personnel for major league pro
     soccer.  SLA will target cities that may not have the arena
     or population size to support an NPSL team (SLA).
          MORE SOCCER: The NPSL Philadelphia Kixx drew a
     franchise-record crowd of 12,239 at CoreStates Spectrum for
     their game against the Edmonton Drillers on Saturday
     (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/11)....MLS Commissioner Doug Logan
     was in Philadelphia and said, "We make no bones about the
     fact that we are vitally interested in Philadelphia as a
     place to expand to during the next round of expansions. 
     But, we need a facility where we can play our game and none
     presently exist" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 1/10).

          The NFL "has asked its" five TV partners to pay a
     "combined increase of nearly 70%, for a total of about $1.85
     billion annually, to retain broadcast rights," according to
     sources of Stefan Fatsis of the WALL STREET JOURNAL.  The 
     incumbents -- ABC, Fox, NBC, ESPN and Turner --"have been
     summoned" for meetings today and tomorrow at the NFL's N.Y.
     offices and league execs "have told the networks they want
     to announce a final deal Wednesday."  Sources add that the
     league "plans to let CBS enter the bidding if any of the
     incumbents seeks to switch from their current programming." 
     Fatsis writes that the NFL "is demanding a longer contract,
     for either five or six years, with the league holding an
     option to extend the deal to a total of eight years." 
     Fatsis also reports that the Monday night package "should
     have extra allure because the NFL has decided to move its
     starting time" from 9:00pm to 8:00pm ET, giving it "the
     entire prime-time evening in the East" (WALL STREET JOURNAL,
     1/12).  In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reports that the NFL "is
     seeking eight-year deals, according to participants in the
     talks."  Sandomir writes that the league "would have the
     option of opening up the contract during the deal, which it
     could exercise to get more money if the advertising market
     gets better than it already is" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/12). 
          MORE SOURCES: In DC, Leonard Shapiro writes that league
     sources said CBS Sports "is still very much in the running
     for a piece of the action," and that it is "reportedly very
     interested in the Monday night schedule," as well as "other
     packages" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/12).  
          NO CBA DEAL: On Sunday, NBC's Will McDonough reported
     that Steelers Owner Dan Rooney told him that "there's going
     to be no" extension of the current CBA ("NFL on NBC," 1/11).

          The AVP Board of Directors announced that Harry Usher
     has been named the AVP's interim CEO, effective immediately. 
     Usher replaces previous CEO Jerry Solomon.  In a statement,
     the AVP announced that Solomon's consulting agreement was
     mutually terminated by his management company, P.S.
     StarGames, and the AVP Board.  Usher was COO of the '84
     Summer Olympics in L.A., and also served as Commissioner of
     the USFL and President & CEO of Dorna USA.  The AVP
     celebrates its 15th anniversary in '98 and the Miller
     Lite/AVP Tour's six-month season starts in March (AVP).  
          CALIFORNIA DREAMING: BRANDWEEK's Terry Lefton reports
     that Solomon is "out" after "a player uprising."  Lefton
     adds that sources said "players were distressed about the
     league's financial condition and its hq being in Boston,
     where Solomon lives," instead of CA.  Usher's post "is said
     to be on a three-month interim basis" (BRANDWEEK, 1/12).