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Volume 27 No. 87

SBJ Unpacks: NCAA Delays NIL Vote Indefinitely

Tonight in SBJ Unpacks: The NCAA delays its vote on name, image and likeness indefinitely.

  • Bettman addresses challenges the NHL will face in 2020-21 campaign
  • Sixth Street Partners nears deal for majority stake in Legends
  • More NBA postponements spark meeting with NBPA
  • Twitter's Rishi Chadha on record-breaking year for videogaming

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NCAA Looking To Supreme Court Decision Before NIL Vote

The NCAA’s Division I Council delayed votes on its two biggest pieces of legislation today -- name, image and likeness rights and the one-time transfer rule. The council’s decision to indefinitely table both of those issues during a four-hour meeting this afternoon was expected after NCAA President Mark Emmert recommended a pause on voting over the weekend, SBJ’s Michael Smith reports. 

All eyes will now turn toward the U.S. Supreme Court, whose justices have agreed to hear the NCAA’s appeal on what’s known as the Alston case. The high court could place new standards on athlete compensation, including NIL rules, as it reviews this case. Any decisions are expected by the end of June.

While the NCAA’s decision to table both of those votes today wasn’t a surprise, sources say that not every member of the 40-person council agreed with it. Emmert’s call for a delay came after U.S. Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim raised antitrust concerns about proposals in the NIL legislation that could restrict competition. 

Some administrators favored voting on the one-time transfer rule because it is not as controversial as NIL legislation. Other members felt the council was overreacting to antitrust warnings from an outgoing assistant attorney general who almost certainly will be replaced under President-Elect Joe Biden’s administration.

Gary Bettman Talks NHL Financial Outlook

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman this afternoon addressed the challenges his league will face amid the 2020-21 campaign, set to begin on Wednesday.

Bettman in his media availability said, "We’re going to lose more money by playing than by not playing. But the owners are OK with that because they know how important it is for our fans & for the game. ... It would be cheaper for us to shut the door and not play.” On the impending financial hit, Bettman said: "The magnitude of the loss starts with a 'B.' We're out of the 'M' range and into the 'B."'

Other takeaways from Bettman: 

Asked if there are "nightmare scenarios" for the season: "We have to be ready to adjust and adapt to anything that may happen." He added players and staff will not "jump the line" in terms of getting the vaccine.

Bettman confirmed there will be two outdoor games at Lake Tahoe next month -- the Golden Knights vs. the Avalanche on Feb. 20, and the Bruins vs. the Flyers the next day.

Meanwhile, players will wear helmet decals in celebration of the 63rd anniversary of Willie O'Ree becoming the first Black player in the league and to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The players will wear the stickers from Jan. 16 until the end of February, to coincide with Black History Month. 



Sixth Street Partners Nears Deal For Majority Stake In Legends

Investment firm Sixth Street Partners is "nearing a deal to buy a majority stake" in Legends Hospitality, according to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal. The deal is "expected to value Legends at $1.3 billion including debt."

Founded in 2008 by a group that included the Cowboys and Yankees, Legends "partners with top sports and entertainment brands to design, plan and manage special events and live experiences." In the transaction being discussed, Sixth Street would primarily be buying a stake owned by private equity firm New Mountain Capital, with the Cowboys and Yankees "remaining sizable owners of Legends."

Minneapolis Brand Finds Warm Reception On South Beach

When the College Football Playoff canceled its fan events because of COVID, organizers and ESPN knew that sponsor activation around tonight’s championship game would be limited. But a new Minneapolis business, myBackyardStudios, saw an opportunity to promote its fledgling product and support the CFP’s teacher-focused foundation at the same time, SBJ’s Michael Smith reports.

Through their joint efforts that resulted in a unique CFP promotion, a teacher is going to win a new backyard home studio designed for people who work from home. The studio from myBackyardStudio is a modular building with an average retail cost of $20,000. Star, a Minneapolis marketing agency, produces the home studios, which range from 10x14 feet up to 20x30.

As a CFP sweepstakes partner with Disney/ESPN, myBackyardStudio used the CFP marks to promote the giveaway across the CFP site, the CFP’s Extra Yard for Teachers Instagram page and its on-site space in Miami’s South Beach. Ordinarily, they would have been right in the middle of a bustling area filled with fans from Alabama and Ohio State. “It’s been more of like a slow build of fans coming in through the weekend,” said Dave Whorton, director of sports and entertainment sponsorships.

Whorton and colleague Rich Rizzardi have been working with Disney Ad Sales’ Lauren Robinson, CFP marketer Ben Habern and CFP Foundation Exec Director Britton Banowsky on the promotion, which will reveal its winner on Wednesday.


myBackyardStudio used the CFP marks to promote the giveaway at its on-site space in Miami’s South Beach


CFP News From Sports Business Daily

Tonight, select CFP stories from Sports Business Daily are free, outside the paywall. Below are the headlines:

More NBA Postponements Spark Meeting With Union

The NBA met with the NBPA today about "modifying the league's health and safety protocols," and sources indicated to ESPN that the NBA also has scheduled a special Board of Governors meeting for tomorrow. This comes after the league "called off two more games because of COVID-19-related and contact-tracing" issues: Mavericks-Pelicans today and Bulls-Celtics tomorrow. Those moves "increase the total games postponed this season because of coronavirus-related matters to four and means the league will have three straight days of postponements."

Yahoo Sports' Chris Mannix: "Expect the league to tighten its restrictions on player movement, per sources. Also possible to see rosters expanded. A lot of small stuff on the table."

The meetings come after an ESPN report that said the NBA has "no plans to pause the season," even though some team execs have "privately raised concerns in the turbulent past several days." 

Twitter's Rishi Chadha Talks Record-Breaking Year For Videogaming

There were more than two billion tweets about videogaming in 2020, up 75% from 2019, with a 49% increase in unique authors. Twitter Head of Gaming Content Partnerships Rishi Chadha today stressed, “Gaming’s doing pretty well for itself, and it’s definitely punching above its weight.” Chadha on the latest “SBJ Unpacks: The Road Ahead” podcast joined our Andrew Levin to break down the unprecedented engagement, provide data and discuss what’s ahead for gaming content on the platform in 2021.

On Twitter’s approach to live videogame content: “I’m not going out and looking to compete with a lot of the established live platforms. … What’s unique about us is we’re just thinking about how do we bring good content to the platform that’s going to complement the conversation that’s happening, whether it’s live, whether it’s short-form clips, whether it’s highlights, whether it’s Q&As. We’ve got a whole breadth of different content formats.”

On what traditional sports can learn from esports: “They’re understanding the idea that you don’t have to geo-restrict your content. You can push it everywhere. You can push it on multiple platforms and be creative with that and still see success and build growth.”

Speed Reads

  • SBJ is pleased to introduce the 2021 Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business, our 12th class recognizing well-known visionaries in the industry. This year's honorees are Jean Afterman, Tony Dungy, Bill Hancock, Larry Lucchino, Harlan Stone and Tom Wilson. Read more here.

  • Yahoo Sports' Cassandra Negley noted Nickelodeon's simulcast of the Bears-Saints Wild Card game was a "hit on social media with its moving slime first-down line, a slime-filled red zone and an end zone dubbed the 'slime zone.'" The game "started with 'Spongebob Sportspants' and was littered with Nick references for kids and adults alike." Read SBD's full breakdown here, and also check out this review from SBD's own Rick Ellington.

  • Enjoy this week's edit cartoon from the print issue of SBJ ahead of tonight's CFP title game.