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Volume 24 No. 113

Leagues Governing Bodies

          SPREE TO BE YOU & ME: NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter, asked
     if he could have helped Latrell Sprewell better prepare for
     his recent media appearances: "I would have probably --
     hopefully -- better prepared him.  I would have probably
     been a little more selective in terms of what shows I
     permitted him to go on."  The tour was scheduled by
     Sprewell's agent, Arm Tellem.  Hunter, meanwhile, "distanced
     himself -- and the union -- from the interviews."  Hunter:
     "It probably doesn't play too well with some people"
     (BLOOMBERG/PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 3/11)....Sprewell, on
     whether he feels a weight has been lifted from him since the
     ruling: "I'm starting to feel that as I can get out and tell
     people what really happened" ("Inside the NBA," TNT, 3/10).
          NOTES: Pilot Pen CEO Mike Davies is "seeking a four- or
     five-year lease with an option for another five years" from
     the USTA to bring the U.S. Women's Hardcourt Championship to
     New Haven, CT.  In Hartford, Greg Garber reports that if a
     deal is reached, Davies' organization "is prepared to
     piggyback local advertising for the women's event" with the
     men's Pilot Pen tournament (HARTFORD COURANT, 3/11)....Also
     in Hartford, Jerry Trecker previews the upcoming MLS season,
     and writes that the league "faces a continuing battle to
     gain acceptance beyond the already committed fans."  Trecker
     reports that the '98 season will open with "some positives,"
     including two new teams and a "better television package,"
     which includes games on ABC, ESPN, Univision and regional
     sports nets.  Trecker adds that "sponsor interest remains
     high, too, suggesting the business world has more confidence
     in" the sport, but that "in the meantime, a low profile is
     still the operative mode for MLS" (HARTFORD COURANT, 3/11).

          "Many of the [NBA's] referees say they think the IRS is
     mounting another charge at several of them," according to
     Dwight Jaynes of the Portland OREGONIAN.  One NBA ref:
     "There are still about 25 of us under investigation, and we
     think another 15 could be indicted by April 15."  But Jaynes
     wrote that "there is an assertion by some that the actual
     amount of taxes owed is not enough to merit the heat of this
     investigation."  One ref said George Tolliver, a former ref
     indicted last year, "owed tax of about $10,000.  But he lost
     his job and his ability to repay the debt. ... People owe
     much more in taxes than that all the time and don't get
     prosecuted."  Two refs also told Jaynes that the NBA "had a
     part" in the investigation and added, "They knew what we
     were doing and, in fact, used it against us in collective
     bargaining.  It was a way for them to pay us more money
     without having to pay various payroll taxes on that money. 
     Now they are doing nothing to help us."  But Jaynes wrote of
     "speculation" that NBA Commissioner David Stern is waiting
     for the investigation to end and "then will contemplate some
     kind of amnesty program."  NBA Senior VP Rod Thorn: "David
     has said publicly this isn't necessarily a death sentence. 
     But he hasn't said it isn't either" (OREGONIAN, 3/10).
          THE OTHER REF: NEW YORK's Barbara Campbell profiles
     Sandra Ortiz-Del Valle, who filed a $1M gender
     discrimination suit against the NBA, "which declined to hire
     her as a ref despite her seventeen years of experience." NBA
     League Counsel Jeffrey Mishkin said that Ortiz-Del Valle
     "did not" meet the NBA's standards.  Ortiz-Del Valle has
     rejected two NBA settlement offers, first $25,000, then
     $75,000, "in favor of her day in court" (NEW YORK, 3/98).

          The Professional Hockey Players' Association (PHPA) and
     the AHL announced the ratification of a new, four-year
     Collective Bargaining Agreement.  The CBA, extending through
     August 31, 2002, was approved by the AHL players. 
     Components of the deal include: a PHPA sponsored 401(k)/
     Group RRSP; revised Standard Player's Contract; increased
     player per diem; increased pension contributions; player
     benefit program enhancements; and increased minimum salary
     for players recalled from lesser leagues (PHPA).

          The USOC "is not ready to announce specific punishment
     for the room-trashing episode" involving U.S. hockey players
     in Nagano, but Joe Lapointe of the N.Y. TIMES writes that
     the USOC "appears to be moving away from threats, hoping for
     a settlement in the form of a group apology and a
     significant payment by team members."  The USOC had
     "threatened possible sanctions" against the entire team for
     the incident, possibly banning all players from future
     international competitions.  Lapointe: "The new strategy
     seems to be based, at least in part, on a feeling that the
     USOC may be on uncertain legal ground trying to punish the
     hockey team as a whole" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/11).  In N.Y., Ira
     Berkow writes under the header "Hockey Team's Stonewalling
     Is Childlike Behavior."  Berkow, in response to Brian Leetch
     who recently said the threat of a team penalty sounded like
     "elementary school": "If they act like children, it is only
     proper that they be treated like children" (N.Y. TIMES,
     3/11).  USOC President Bill Hybl and USOC Exec Dir Dick
     Schultz will hold a news conference today (USA TODAY, 3/11).