San Diego State men's basketball coach Steve Fisher following the team's win over New Mexico State in the NCAA Tournament Thursday night publically complained about the NCAA's policy forcing teams to fly home immediately after a loss regardless of time, according to Mark Zeigler of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Fisher said that he earlier in the week had requested that if SDSU lost to NMSU, the team's players spend the night in Spokane, Wash., where the game was being played. The squad would then "fly home on the NCAA-supplied charter Friday morning." Fisher instead "was told no and called NCAA officials in the hours before Thursday’s game to protest." Fisher said in his postgame press conference, "New Mexico State has to do this. They didn’t want to go home, either. But they have to go home tonight. It’s disgraceful -- for the billions of dollars that we have here, for them not to find a way to accommodate these kids, the student athletes. You can’t tell me they couldn’t find charter planes (Friday). We can say we want to do all these things for the benefit of the student athletes, but you play a game like we did tonight and you get to the airport at 1 in the morning? Come on, come on. I would like to have (an NCAA administrator) at every site and say, ‘You’re going to ride home with that losing team.’ And see what it’s like to get home at 5 in the morning" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/21).
COMING TO FISHER'S SIDE: ESPN’s Jay Bilas, who has been outspoken against the NCAA, agreed with Fisher’s comments and said, "It's a multi-billion dollar property. We can and should do better." Bilas: "In fairness to the NCAA on this, I heard from a former employee from the NCAA that said that there is a reason for this, even though he tends to agree with this as well, that there are 16 teams to move around in pretty short order. Men’s teams, 16 women’s teams, some NIT teams that have to be moved around, and there are not as many charters available since 9/11. They’re greatly reduced." While the "excuse or reason that a charter wasn’t available is true," Bilas wonders if that should "take precedence" for a multi-billion dollar property. Bilas: "Should that be the first thing that’s done? I think so, but reasonable minds could differ on that” (“Mike & Mike”, ESPN Radio, 3/21).
The NCAA recorded a nearly $61M surplus for FY '13, a smaller total than the organization "had in each of its two previous years," but the "third consecutive year in which the annual surplus has exceeded" $60M, according to a financial statement cited by Steve Berkowitz of USA TODAY. This pushed the NCAA's "year-end net assets" to more than $627M, "just less than double where they stood" at the end of FY '07. The documents show that the NCAA had nearly $913M in total revenue in FY '13, and also "had a little more than" $852M in total expenses, including a record $527.4M distributed to Division I schools and conferences. For the NCAA's '13 revenue, $681M "came from the multimedia and marketing rights agreement with CBS and Turner Broadcasting that primarily is connected" to the NCAA men's basketball tournament. The new financial statement -- dated Dec. 4, 2013 -- "continued to include a statement of the NCAA's confidence in its ability to prevail in, or settle, various lawsuits without a major impact on its assets" (USA TODAY, 3/21).
STRIVING FOR WHAT'S RIGHT
: Former UCLA F Ed O'Bannon and attorney Michael Hausfeld Friday appeared together on the online "Larry King Now" broadcast to discuss their efforts to sue the NCAA for using O'Bannon's image while in school. O'Bannon said the efforts by players at Northwestern Univ. to begin unionizing was great because they were "speaking out and speaking up for themselves. ... It's about time." Hausfeld said, "In order to exercise a voice you have to first realize you have a voice and that is a step … to bring the athletes together." He added, "There is an effort that is gaining momentum to form an association of athletes at the college level across divisions and across sports so that they can have a level playing field and balance the enterprise itself with an equal voice on behalf of the athletes." O'Bannon said, "My biggest thing is to right a wrong. If someone uses your likeness, then you should be compensated for it." Host Larry King said if O'Bannon and Hausfeld win their lawsuit, "this will be historic." King: "This could revolutionize sport as we know it in America." Hausfeld said it "would revolutionize college sports because it does include current players as well as former players" ("Larry King Now," ORA.tv, 3/21