TIME College Sports

Yet Another Heisman Hopeful Runs Afoul of the NCAA’s Unfair System

Vanderbilt v Georgia
Georgia running back Todd Gurley (right) stiff-arms Torren McGaster of Vanderbilt on October 4, 2014 in Athens, Georgia. Mike Zarrilli—Getty Images

The University of Georgia's Todd Gurley has been suspended after reportedly being accused of accepting money for autographs. What exactly did he do wrong here?

Another year, another Heisman contender’s season interrupted by stupidity.

In 2013, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel–then the defending Heisman trophy winner–became embroiled in a cash-for-autographs controversy. The National Collegiate Athletics Association and Texas A&M said “there was no evidence” that Manziel “received money in exchange for autographs,” but Manziel was still suspended, for the first half of A&M’s opener, for an “inadvertent violation regarding the signing of certain autographs.”

The Johnny Football contretemps was a flash point in the longstanding debate about whether college athletes deserve a fairer share of the expanding revenues flowing into college sports. Love him or hate him, why shouldn’t a player who was bringing in millions for Texas A&M be able to receive autograph money if someone wanted to give it to him? What Manziel was allegedly doing was hardly illegal, except in the weird world of college sports.

Turns out, Manziel didn’t get railroaded. After sitting out that first half, he had every opportunity to compete again for the Heisman (though he lost out to Florida State’s Jameis Winston, even after an excellent 2013 season). Looks like University of Georgia running back Todd Gurley won’t be as lucky. Georgia has suspended Gurley indefinitely; SI.com reported that “a person confirmed to Georgia’s compliance office this week he paid Gurley $400 to sign 80 items on campus in Athens, Ga., one day this spring. The person claimed to have a photo and video of Gurley signing the items, but neither the photo nor the video showed money changing hands.”

(MORE: TIME Cover – It’s Time To Pay College Athletes)

Gurley is a Heisman hopeful. Through Georgia’s first five games, the junior had rushed for 773 yards and averaged 8.2 yards per carry. Georgia is ranked 13th in the AP college football poll: the Bulldogs play at Missouri, ranked 23rd, tomorrow. Not only is Gurley a Heisman candidate, but the Bulldogs still have national championships hopes. So Gurley’s success, and the possible once-in-a-lifetime success of his teammates, are now in jeopardy because he may have received $400. Georgia’s football team generates $77.6 million in revenues, and $51.3 million in profit, according to federal data.

The whole system angers Chris Burnette, who finished his career as a Georgia offensive lineman last season and is now working as a financial planner in Atlanta while finishing his MBA. He vented his frustration on Twitter last night:

Burnette, a vocal supporter of compensation for athletes during his Georgia playing days, sounded exasperated when reached by phone. He says he’s not angry at Georgia, and has no firsthand knowledge of any violations Gurley may or may not have committed. “It’s just so frustrating,” says Burnette. “If a student creates an app, no one is telling him he can’t do something because he’s paid for his talents. For these rules to just apply to athletes, it’s almost un-American, really.” Burnette calls Gurley a “stand-up” guy who would “never do anything malicious.”

“I mean, something has to change,” Burnette said.

Luckily, momentum is shifting towards a fairer system. And cases like those of Gurley and Manziel—stars under fire for breaking rules that defy common fairness—can only help speed things up. Everyone involved deserves better.

(MORE: The Long And Winding Road To Paying College Players)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIME NFL

Los Angeles Mayor Says It’s ‘Highly Likely’ an NFL Team Comes to City Soon

Key Speakers At The 2014 Milken Conference
The Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti speaks after an interview at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif. on April 28, 2014. Patrick T. Fallon—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Anschutz Entertainment Group has been working to find a team to relocate and play in its downtown stadium

Mayor Eric Garcetti said it is “highly likely” an NFL team moves to Los Angeles within the next year.

During an interview on radio station KNX, via The Associated Press, Garcetti said he thinks the NFL is “finally interested” in Los Angeles 20 years after the Rams and Raiders left. The Anschutz Entertainment Group has been working to find a team to relocate and play in its downtown stadium. AEG’s proposal for a six-month extension will be reviewed on Friday. Garcetti has said he supports the extension.

The San Diego Chargers are opposed to a team relocating to Los Angeles because they receive 30 percent of their local revenue from the market. The Rams and Raiders have the ability to leave their current stadium leases at the end of this season.

Mike Florio of NBC Sports reported the NFL is planning to have one or two teams move to Los Angeles by 2016. New York Giants co-owner John Mara said he believes a team will move to Los Angeles in the near future. Fellow co-owner Steve Tisch, however, said the situation hasn’t moved forward or backwards.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was hesitant earlier this week to discuss relocation to Los Angeles.

“I’ve always been reluctant until we have a solution to project where we are,” Goodell said. “There are reasons for optimism, but that can change quickly also. What we want to do is make sure we’re doing the work to evaluate those alternatives, understand those alternatives, and if there’s an alternative that makes sense, bring that to the membership.”

Three-quarters of the league’s owners must approve of any team relocating.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Business

Why You Can’t Find the Baseball Playoff Game on TV

Baseball Matt Carpenter
St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Carpenter hits an RBI single during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers in Milwaukee on Sept. 7, 2014. Morry Gash—AP

Big events, like the final games of the Major League season, are moving to harder-to-find cable networks. And cost of your cable bill is only getting biggger

At a Bay Area retirement community this past Monday, a group of elderly baseball fans gathered in a room to watch their San Francisco Giants take on the Washington Nationals in the National League playoffs. One problem: the game was nowhere to be found on the TV. The MLB Network, a league-owned cable outlet that requires a special subscription in many areas, was airing the game. The old folks were out of luck, until a worker called the cable company for a quick fix. “An associate and I were able to negotiate a deal (probably not such a good one) to get the game and the channel instantly,” a worker at the retirement community told the San Francisco Chronicle, “for an additional $18/month.”

These retirees weren’t alone: the Chronicle reported that its sports desk fielded over 150 calls from fans trying to find a playoff game on TV. The migration of sports programming away from free TV is nothing new. But now even the crown jewels are on cable. For the first time ever, the bulk of baseball’s two league championship series will air on cable channels. TBS will carry the American League Championship Series between the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals, which starts Friday; Fox Sports 1, the network Rupert Murdoch launched in August 2013 to compete with ESPN, will handle Games 2-5, and Game 7, of the National Championship Series between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals, which starts on Saturday. The Fox network will broadcast Game 1 and Game 6.

The baseball playoffs have moved way down the dial. I, for one, never thought I’d be watching a league championship series on Channel 99, home of Fox Sports 1 in my New York City neighborhood.

TBS broadcast the Final Four national semifinal games last season, will do so again this coming season, and will add the title game in 2016. The Super Bowl still rotates between CBS, NBC, and Fox: the Super Bowl of college football, the championship game of the new College Football Playoff, will be on ESPN. The sports cable boom isn’t going anywhere: on Monday, the NBA announced that it extended its rights deal with ESPN and TNT through the 2024-2025 season. These networks will pay the NBA a combined $2.66 billion a year, almost triple what they pay in the current contract.

Such lucrative agreements fatten the wallets of players and owners. But they do consumers no favors; they’re driving up the cost of cable. An FCC study shows that the average monthly cable bill for expanded basic service grew 30%, to $64.41 between 2008 and 2013. According to SNL Kagan, a media research firm, sports networks account for 40% of the fees that operators pay cable network to carry their programming.

Operators pass those costs along to consumers, while building in some margin for themselves. So if ESPN and TNT are tripling their investment in the NBA until 2025, they’re going to charge operators more to finance this investment, further spiking your bill. According to SNL Kagan data, ESPN and TNT are already the two most expensive national basic cable networks: operators pay an average of $6.04 per month per subscriber to carry ESPN, and $1.44 per month for TNT. That’s right: ESPN can command a price that’s three-times as high as the second most-expensive national basic cable channel. Four of the top-10 most expensive basic cable networks are sports channels (ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN2, Fox Sports 1). Two others — TNT and TBS — feature high-profile sports content like the NBA regular season and playoffs, the baseball playoffs, and March Madness. (Disney Channel, Fox News, USA, and Nickelodeon round out the Top 10, according to SNL Kagan).

In some areas, the regional sports networks are among the most expensive for operators to carry. For example Fox Sports North, which serves Minnesota, Wisconsin, and other states, costs $4.67 per subscriber per month. Comcast SportsNet Washington (DC) costs $4.60 per month. NESN, in New England, costs $4.22. The rates dwarf the top-tier, non-ESPN basic cable nets like TNT ($1.44), CNN ($0.61), MTV ($0.47) and AMC ($0.39). The network that shows Minnesota Twins games is nearly 12 times more expensive than the one that airs “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad.”

Over the past five years, ESPN’s carriage fees have jumped 48%. NFL Network fees are up 100%. CNN’s have spiked 22%; fees for Lifetime Television are up 18%. Two forces have driven — and will continue to drive — the accelerated growth in sports cable prices.

First, sports remain DVR-proof. You can record a great TV show, and catch up to it later while fast-forwarding the commercials. (Just stay away from spoilers.) A great sporting event is perishable: going back three days later to watch a Super Bowl just doesn’t make much sense. “Sports is an anomaly,” says Derek Baine, research director at SNL Kagan. “People watch it live.” So ESPN and other sports networks can still attract advertisers, and this ad revenue allows these networks to keep upping the ante for sports rights.

Second, blame Murdoch. If the Fox chairman is going to mount a serious run at ESPN, Fox Sports 1 needs big events. This year’s NLCS, in many respects, is a dress rehearsal. Murdoch’s presence alone made ESPN and TNT pay a premium for the NBA; the networks knew that if they didn’t ante up, Fox would likely swoop in. Fox Sports 1 and other new outlets like NBCSN (NBC Sports Network) increase competition for rights, which create bidding wars that drive up cable bills.

The more expensive monthly bills may not be a bad deal for avid sports fans. For less than $10.00 per month, ESPN comes out to pennies on the hour. But if you don’t want sports, you’re getting rooked. Since cable companies bundle channel packages, you have to pay premiums for ESPN and other sports networks in order to get the stuff you want. Sen. John McCain has pushed for “a la carte” cable — just pay for the channels you know you’ll watch. He won’t get his way any time soon though. The cable industry is fine with their bundled revenues, thank you. The sports boom is just too good. No matter how it costs you.

 

 

TIME NFL

Ex-NFL Manager Says Teams Ignore Hundreds of Domestic-Abuse Cases

Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo speaks at press c
Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo speaks at press conference about the one-game suspension of Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson in Chicago on Dec. 19, 2006 Charles Cherney—Chicago Tribune/MCT/Getty Images

Former Chicago Bears manager Jerry Angelo regrets not taking stronger action when he had the chance

As the NFL grapples with a colossal backlash over its attitude towards domestic violence, a former team executive has revealed that hundreds of cases of domestic abuse by players were swept under the rug during his 30-year league tenure.

Jerry Angelo, a former general manager of the Chicago Bears, told USA Today that his perspective changed with the controversy around Ray Rice, and he regrets not taking stronger action against players when he was in a position to do so.

Rice, the running back for the Baltimore Ravens, was shown knocking his then fiancée unconscious in an elevator with a punch to the face, in a video released in August by TMZ.

“I made a mistake,” said Angelo. “I was human. I was a part of it. I’m not proud of it.”

Angelo, who had earlier worked in different capacities for the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants, said his typical approach after any violent incident involving a player was simply to enquire whether everyone involved was O.K. “And then we’d just move on,” he said.

A statement from the Bears, released later on Thursday, denied any knowledge of Angelo’s claims: “We were surprised by Jerry’s comments and do not know what he is referring to.”

TIME Football

Watch an NFL Punter Recover His Own Onside Kick

In a game against the Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee recovered his own onside kick in a game against the Houston Texans on Thursday night. The ball dribbled forward 10 yards before any other player besides McAfee got close to it.

It’s the second time McAfee has helped the Colts convert an onside kick this season. The Colts took advantage of the play and went on to score a quick touchdown, putting them ahead 10-0 early in the game.

TIME College football

Georgia Indefinitely Suspends Heisman Hopeful Todd Gurley

Georgia v South Carolina
Todd Gurley #3 of the Georgia Bulldogs looks on during the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Columbia, South Carolina. Joe Robbins—Getty Images

The player is reportedly being investigated for allegedly selling his image

Georgia Bulldogs tailback and Heisman trophy frontrunner Todd Gurley has been suspended indefinitely, pending an investigation into the possible violation of NCAA rules, the University of Georgia said Thursday.

The school did not immediately say what the possible violation was, but Fox Sports and ESPN, citing unnamed sources, report that the investigation will look into whether Gurley accepted extra benefits from memorabilia brokers for the use of his likeness.

“I’m obviously very disappointed,” head coach Mark Richt said in UGA’s statement. “The important thing for our team is to turn all our attention toward preparation for Missouri.”

Gurley, a junior at the college, leads the Bulldogs with 773 yards rushing and eight touchdowns in five games this season. The No. 13 Bulldogs are set to play No. 23 Missouri on Saturday.

[Fox Sports]

TIME NFL

Report: Adrian Peterson Could Face Arrest After Pot Confession

Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings plays against the St. Louis Rams on Sept. 7 in St. Louis. Michael Thomas—Getty Images

NFL player's admission he 'smoked a little weed' could violate bond conditions

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson could be arrested again after admitting he used drugs, which would violate his bond conditions, reports FOX 9 in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

According to the report, Montgomery County prosecutors have filed documents to have Peterson arrested again after Peterson admitted to a staffer that he “smoked a little weed” before giving a urine sample on Wednesday.

The district attorney has reportedly asked the judge to set aside Peterson’s $15,000 bond.

FOX 9 reports that there likely won’t be any action on Thursday, because the judge presiding over Peterson’s case has a hearing scheduled for Friday morning.

Peterson was arrested and indicted in September on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child after authorities said he hit his 4-year-old son with a switch.

A tentative trial date for the week of Dec. 1 was set on Wednesday. On the same day, Peterson appeared in a Montgomery County, Texas, courtroom, but did not enter a plea.

The 29-year-old faces up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted on the charges. He agreed to be placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list while his investigation is ongoing.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Soccer

U.S. Soccer Produces Moving Tribute to Landon Donovan’s Career

Landon Donovon prepares to play against Costa Rica during the 2014 World Cup Qualifier at Estadio Nacional on Sept. 6, 2013 in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Landon Donovon prepares to play against Costa Rica during the 2014 World Cup Qualifier at Estadio Nacional on Sept. 6, 2013 in San Jose, Costa Rica. Kevin C. Cox—Getty Images

The ceremonial end to Landon Donovan’s U.S. national team career is nearly upon us. On Friday, Donovan’s token appearance as captain against Ecuador in East Hartford, Connecticut will signal the end of a glittering career in which Donovan cemented his status as the greatest — or at least the most influential — American soccer player of all time.

There may be some controversy surrounding Donovan’s relationship with U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann at the moment, but U.S. Soccer showed its appreciation for Donovan with a moving mini-doc about Donovan’s career in the sport and on the international stage.

The seven-minute video starts with clips of Donovan as a child making other children look absolutely foolish, and ends with his seminal extra-time goal against Algeria. Along the way are a pretty incredible amount of career milestones to fit in to a seven minute video. To wit, U.S. Soccer also released a couple shorter features on individual moments: His time with the U-17 national team (teenage Donovan goes to DisneyWorld), his first cap & first goal (teenage Donovan scores vs. Mexico, freaks out), and his record-breaking goal against Sweden.

Watch the full feature below:

The article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME NFL

Vikings’ Adrian Peterson Disputes Claims About His Charity

Adrian Peterson Makes First Court Appearance On Child Abuse Charges
From left: NFL player Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings enters the courtroom with his wife Ashley Brown and his attorney Rusty Hardin on October 8, 2014 in Conroe, Texas. Petersen is facing charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. Pool—Getty Images

The running back went on Twitter to defend himself

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson went on Twitter late Tuesday night to defend himself after an article was published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Sunday detailing some improprieties with his charity and claims of a wild sex party that was paid for with the charity’s credit card.

Peterson says his charity, the All Day Foundation, sent donations to two different charities, despite what the newspaper reported and that the foundation fired an accounting firm that listed recipients on the charity’s 2009 tax returns.

As for the sex party claims, Peterson says his foundation never owner a credit card. Prosecutors looked into an alleged sexual assault from that night but did not pursue charges against anyone.

Peterson also mentioned a story from ESPN.com in August, saying he had changed his way after being promiscuous in the past. The Star-Tribune said Peterson, who got married earlier this year, has fathered at least six children out of wedlock.

“Do not repost the ESPN story from August when I admit I was promiscuous, made mistakes and had to change my ways,” Peterson said in the Twitter post. “Instead repost the story about fathering children out of wedlock…create more buzz and retweets.”

Peterson is expected to plead not guilty on Wednesday to charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child after authorities said he hit his 4-year-old son with a switch. He faces up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted on the charges.

Peterson is currently on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list until his court case is resolved. He will continue to collect his $11.75 million salary this season while he is inactive.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME College Sports

The Long and Winding Road to Paying College Players

The man who helped win free agency for NFL and NBA players is seeking the same for college athletes

Over the past few months, the movement to pay college players has gained unprecedented momentum. In August, a federal judge ruled that college football and basketball players can earn a share of licensing revenues from the use of their name, image, and likeness. (The NCAA has since appealed the ruling.) An athlete can access these funds, which will be placed in a trust, when he or she has graduated or left the school. Schools can cap the pay, but the minimum cap is $5,000 per year.

This verdict in the so-called “O’Bannon” case – a former UCLA hoops star filed a lawsuit in 2009 after realizing he wasn’t being compensated for his likeness being used in a college basketball video game – came a few days after the NCAA voted to let schools in the Big 5 power conferences – the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC – have autonomy to write their own rules. These schools are prepared to give all their athletes a stipend that covers the full cost of attendance, which amounts to anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 above the value of their athletic scholarships.

In March, a regional director for the National Labor Relations Board said that football players from Northwestern University could form a union, since these students act as employees of the school. Northwestern appealed the decision; the NLRB’s national office has yet to rule on the appeal. One just-released paper, to be published in the Hofstra Labor and Employment Law Journal, argues that the players should win.

(MORE: TIME Cover Story — It’s Time To Pay College Athletes)

However, an even bigger threat to the amateur model looms ahead: the lawyer who helped win free agency for NFL and NBA players is seeking the same open market for college athletes. Jeffrey Kessler, a partner at the Winston & Strawn law firm, filed an anti-trust lawsuit in March that could fundamentally alter college sports. The O’Bannon suit was limited to intellectual property rights: could athletes profit from their names, images, and likeness?

“We’re aiming to enjoin the restrictions placed on Division 1 basketball and major college football players from being compensated for their services, given the huge amount of revenue generated from these sports,” says Kessler, one of the top sports labor attorneys in the country. “What will be decided is whether it’s legal to have a rule that schools cannot compensate athletes at all.”

Kessler’s case won’t go to trial until fall of 2015, at the earliest. If he prevails, the courts may force the NCAA to adopt a true pay-for-play system, which the organization has long dreaded. The mechanics of paying players — do you just pay the football and men’s basketball players, and no one else? Should there be any limits? — are daunting. But the O’Bannon ruling sets some strong precedent for Kessler. The judge in that case, Claudia Wilken, may not have torpedoed the college sports model with her ruling. But she seems to invite someone else to do so.

Her opinion condemns the NCAA, and knocks down some of the most common justifications for limiting compensation for athletes to the value of the scholarship. “The evidence … demonstrates that student-athletes are harmed by the price-fixing agreement among FBS football and Division 1 basketball schools,” Wilken writes.

“It is also not clear why paying student-athletes would be any more problematic for campus relations than paying other students who provide services to the university, such as members of the student government or school newspaper,” Wilken writes in another section.

(MORE: College Athletes Need To Unionize, Now)

There’s nothing amateur about college sports. Conferences own their own television networks. Schools switched conferences to capture more revenues. Coaches salaries have skyrocketed: Newsday just reported that the average compensation for coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision – the top tier of college football schools – is $1.75 million per year. That number has spiked nearly 75% over the past seven years. Athletes deserve their fair share.

Kessler picked the right time to mount a challenge. “There’s a growing recognition from the courts, the public, the fans, and even the schools that the current system is fundamentally unfair,” says Kessler. “We think change is coming.”

 

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