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Volume 24 No. 156

Leagues and Governing Bodies

While MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "hopes to expand the playoffs by two teams next season, several major league owners and executives voiced skepticism Wednesday that it will occur before 2013, if at all," according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf said, "I'm not sure I'm in favor of the expanded playoffs. If it happens, I don't think it will take place in 2012. I'm not even sure there will be realignment." Nightengale notes MLB has discussed shifting an NL team to the AL, "creating two 15-team leagues with five playoff teams each." But no NL team "has shown interest in switching; no team can be moved without its consent." Selig noted that he "has been surprised" by support for a one-game playoff (USA TODAY, 8/18).'s Jayson Stark reported MLB and the players "need to figure out a whole bunch of details" before implementing playoff expansion, and that discussion "isn't going so hot." The players "view expanding the postseason as just one piece in a much larger jigsaw puzzle." MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner last month indicated that the players "see the expanded postseason as part of an extensive redesign of the regular-season schedule, the October schedule and the whole league and division structure." Stark added, "The players want to see a radical adjustment to the schedule. If it matters that much who wins the division, shouldn't all the teams in each division be playing basically the same schedule? Of course they should. And what would have to happen to make that possible? Realignment" (, 8/13).

Under the new NFL CBA, the league has "three years to convince players to agree to an 18-game schedule" for the '14 regular season, but it "might first want to make sure all the owners are on board, particularly those in cities where the winter winds blow brutally cold," according to Jason Cole of YAHOO SPORTS. Steelers President Art Rooney II said, "If we're talking about just adding two or three weeks to the end of the season, I'm not interested in that." Rooney indicated that any change "would have to include the league adding at least one of those weeks at the front of the schedule and forcing the NFL to once again collide with Labor Day weekend." He said, "We have to add at least one week at the front, otherwise all of the weather problems you're talking about in January are too much, in my opinion." Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy expressed similar concerns, saying, "If you're talking about starting the playoffs in the third week of January and playing into February, that's a concern for us and our fans." Cole noted the resistance from Rooney and Murphy is the "most significant pushback to date from ownership." Those involved with cold-weather teams "worry about the weather adversely impacting the game" and are concerned about "public safety with fans having to travel in potentially treacherous conditions." There also is a "concern that the mediocre teams or ones projected to be so could see season-ticket sales plummet." In addition, the league's current TV contracts are set to expire after the '13 season, and the networks "likely will put different offers together to the NFL on the upcoming TV deals." Cole noted, "In other words, there will be one price to a 16-game schedule and another for an 18-game schedule." The eventual goal for the league and the networks "is to move the end of the NFL season back to President's Day weekend." Murphy said, "We're already creeping toward that with the Super Bowl in February, so it's not that much farther to go." The networks "prefer the later date because it could make the Super Bowl part of sweeps week and impact ad rates." In addition, the NFL "envisions a situation where it can sell a four-day Super Bowl experience to cities interested in hosting the game by including the Monday holiday that goes with Presidents' Day" (, 8/17).

OK TO PLAY: reports the NFL today declared former Ohio State Univ. QB Terrelle Pryor is eligible for Monday's supplemental draft, but "ruled that he will not be able to play in the first five games of the 2011 season after he signs a contract." David Cornwell, Pryor's attorney, said that he and his client "were happy with the NFL's decision but said the NCAA must be challenged on its 'amateurism' rules." Pryor withdrew from OSU in June after he was "suspended by the school and the NCAA for the first five games of what would have been his senior season this fall for accepting improper benefits, such as cash and discounted tattoos" (, 8/18).'s Mike Freeman yesterday reported the NFL, NFLPA and college football were "considering a series of actions that would discipline players who are busted in college for violating NCAA rules, then skip to the pros unscathed." Sources said that the NFL "would like to enact fines and possibly even suspensions for a player once he enters the NFL if that player was found to have broken the rules while in college." Such an action "would be unprecedented in American professional sports." One "potential proposal is that if it's determined that a player, after he is drafted and subsequently makes an NFL roster, was shown to have violated NCAA rules, the player would be fined by the NFL." The money "would go to paying the school's legal fees or to a scholarship program." Freeman noted while the proposal "seems unlikely to survive legal challenges, it's an indication the NFL sees the increasing college scandals as a threat to its image" (, 8/17).

In London, Jonathan Russell reports F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone is "facing a multi-million pound lawsuit over the controversial sale of the sport six years ago." The case pits former F1 Owner Constantin Medien against Ecclestone, "his holding company Bambino Holdings, his business partner Stephen Mullens and the German investment banker Gerhard Gribkowsky." The case reportedly involves "allegations that the deal to sell F1 to CVC Capital Partners" for US$1.7B in '05 was "manipulated by the defendants resulting in Constantin missing out" on more than US$100M in payments (London TELEGRAPH, 8/18).

THE WAITING GAME: IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard confirmed on Saturday that a "bodywork kit program that will make the new Izod IndyCar Series cars look different from one another was delayed a year." Bernard "pinned the chassis platform on the kits during last year's high-profile announcement at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, but he said pressure from team owners to contain costs in a year of overhauling the equipment forced his hand." The manufacturers building the aerodynamic kits have said that it "will cost up to $4 million if done for next season." IndyCar "has established a $75,000 price point for teams, but teams will need several kits per car" (Curt Cavin, INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/15).

PICKING UP THE PIECES: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "expects the league to review its substance abuse and behavioural health program following the death" of two players -- Rick Rypien and Derek Boogaard -- this summer. Bettman yesterday said, "My guess is we'll talk at the appropriate time with the players' association, making sure that we're comfortable with all of the mechanisms and programs we have in place, which are extensive." The death of both players "has made it a difficult summer for the league." Bettman: "It's tragic, it's sad. Both instances, while they're different in terms of what happened and why, they're still tragedies any time you lose young people in the prime of life" (CP, 8/17).