Why the new GOP tax law is setting off a dash for cash at many major college sports programs

The letter made a plea for donations, and urged those receiving it to consider stepping up giving before the end of the year, through a new “Pay It Forward” program. Sent earlier this month, the letter came from a nonprofit with a few traits that distinguish it from the soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other charities trying to capitalize on the holiday season. This nonprofit is not quite cash-poor — it raked in $150 million last year — several of its top employees make $1 million or more, and it’s about to be featured on a wildly successful television program that will generate hundreds of millions of dollars. The nonprofit here is the University of Oklahoma’s athletics department, and the letter is one of several urgent notes going out this month to boosters of big college sports programs across the country grappling with impact of the tax overhaul. The legislation contains two measures that will squeeze college athletic departments: It eliminates the long-running — and much-criticized — deductions boosters have been able to take on donations tied to season tickets, while also imposing a tax on seven-figure salaries. “It’s going to have a huge impact,” said Tom McMillen, chief executive of Lead1 Association, which advocates for athletic directors at Football Bowl Subdivision schools. “I conservatively estimate it’s going to cost our schools in the hundreds of millions of dollars.” The bill doesn’t go into effect until Jan. 1, however, creating a scramble at some schools to get boosters to donate as much as possible while they can still write off a chunk of the money. Oklahoma’s letter, which went to members of its “Sooner Club” on Dec. 7, is similar to directives that have gone out to boosters at Clemson, Florida State, Auburn, Alabama, Kentucky and others as the tax bill took shape. [From the archives: Why college athletic department Continue Reading

What if universities didn’t run college sports? Delaware Voice

Scandals hurt collegiate athletics every year.Recruiting violations and illegal payments. Passing grades for courses student athletes never attended. In 2017, a Federal grand jury indicted multiple college coaches for taking kickbacks for directing players to sign with agents and apparel companies.These ugly stories mock the student-athlete ideal and distress those of us who follow college football and basketball.  Dialogue Delaware: My story of grief, loss and hope in the holidays Critics are wrong to believe sport scandals are new. They began in the 1850s, when intercollegiate games were first played. By 1906, the scandals were so bad that colleges and universities established the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to enforce standards. Harry Themal: Don't end political balance for Delaware judges Despite the NCAA’s best efforts, scandals now seem bigger and more frequent because of money. College football and basketball generate nearly a billion dollars in annual TV revenue and millions more come from licensing deals with shoe companies. As revenues rise, so do temptations to cheat, causing acute grief and embarrassment. After 150 years, maybe it’s time to admit universities and faculties are not best suited to operate big-time sports teams. Perhaps colleges might take a cue from what’s happening at the high school level. So many elite prep athletes now play for independent club teams, some high schools struggle to field competitive teams in basketball, soccer, and softball. This is how club teams might work for colleges. Independent, off-campus clubs formed and operated by alumni sign contracts with universities. Clubs pay licensing fees to campuses for use of team names, athletic facilities, uniform colors, and fight songs. Licensing fees paid by clubs are used by universities to support non-revenue producing sports just as now. Clubs use remaining ticket and media revenues plus Continue Reading

Diversity, ethics study says college sports administration still a white-man’s game

ORLANDO — Leadership positions at Football Bowl Subdivision schools continue to be dominated by white men, according to a diversity report released Wednesday.The annual report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport gave top-level college sports an overall grade of D+ for race and gender hiring in leadership positions, with a D+ for racial hiring and an F for gender hiring.“If these were the grades of a college student, they’d either be expelled or suspended,” said Richard Lapchick, the primary author of the report and director of the University of Central Florida-based institute.“Neither (racial or gender) grade at the college level is where it should be, or even close,” he added.The study examined the race and gender of top positions such as college and university presidents, athletic directors and faculty athletics representatives for the 130 schools in the FBS, as well as the racial composition of the football coaching staffs and rosters.The results indicate little deviation from the findings in 2016, and show that when all leadership positions were combined, there were “minor increases” in the representation of women and people of color.Lapchick said his primary takeaway was that lack of improvement, and has been a proponent of rules that would require teams to interview minorities and women for jobs. A poor hiring record led the NCAA in September 2016 to draft a pledge to promote diversity and gender equity in college sports. College presidents who signed it promised to identify, recruit and interview people from diverse backgrounds for leadership positions.“From my point of view, the only way it’s going to change is to mandate a diverse hiring pool,” Lapchick said, adding that the NCAA “had a significant number of presidents and commissioners sign up for the pledge, but there’s no teeth to the pledge. And unless it becomes mandatory like the Rooney Rule is in Continue Reading

Ryan Leaf, former No. 2 NFL draft pick, will be a college sports talk-show host on SiriusXM

Ryan Leaf is getting serious about doing sports radio. The former No. 2 pick is joining SiriusXM for regular talk show appearances on the radio’s college sports channel. Leaf is set to debut on SiriusXM College Sports Nation today at 1 p.m. alongside co-host Jason Horowitz. He’ll be appearing on the station several times each week throughout the college football season. The ex-Washington State star was the No. 2 pick in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Chargers. After being a Heisman Trophy finalist in 1997, expectations were high for Leaf going into the NFL. However, he never lived up to the hype. Now considered one of the biggest draft busts of all-time, Leaf struggled in his first season in San Diego. Starting in nine games, Leaf went 3-6 in those starts with only two touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He eventually lost the starting job to Craig Whelihan in 1998. He’d miss all the 1999 season with a shoulder injury and would have a brutal return in 2000. Leaf went 1-8 in nine starts, throwing 11 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. After a failed stint with the Cowboys in 2001, Leaf would eventually be out of the league. The quarterback went on to struggle with drug abuse and served two years in prison for burglary and drug charges. Since his release, Leaf has worked for a recovery program and has also started a foundation to raise money for those who can’t afford addiction treatment. With News Wire Services Continue Reading

DraftKings, FanDuel agree to stop taking bets on college sports after NCAA hoops tourney

The Daily Fantasy Sports industry is picking its battles wisely these days and Thursday two DFS giants chose not to go to war with the NCAA. DFS operators DraftKings and FanDuel have agreed to stop taking bets on NCAA games after the conclusion of this weekend’s college basketball tournament games. Yahoo Sports, which also operates a DFS site, did not respond to a request for comment on whether it would also cease taking college sports bets. The final game of the NCAA Tournament is April 4. DraftKings and FanDuel will voluntarily suspended all NCAA contests indefinitely as the future of the billion-dollar industry gains some clarity. Earlier this month, Virginia became the first state to officially legalize DFS and there are similar bills to permit the games in 30 other states, including New York. ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN: DAILY FANTASY SPORTS BLUFF THE LAW IN N.Y. One of several proposed bills in New York includes language that would prohibit DFS contests from including college sports. “We appreciate and commend DraftKings and FanDuel’s action to stop offering contests involving college, high school and youth sports,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement Thursday. “This action culminates months of hard work between all parties to reach a place that is good for amatuer sports and most importantly, the young people who participate.” A more cynical take is that DraftKings and FanDuel are getting better legal advice these days. With their industry on the verge of significant legalization, DFS operators are not forfeiting NCAA contests in order to win more hearts and minds among lawmakers. The sites are avoiding a landslide of lawsuits the NCAA could have filed if they continued to conduct college contests after winning state approval to do business. “The NCAA held the ultimate hammer here,” Daniel Wallach, a sports and gaming legal expert and a shareholder at Becker & Poliakoff in Continue Reading

Judge Nap: Union Membership Ruling Could ‘Radically Change’ College Sports

In a precedent-setting case for college football, the NLRB ruled Wednesday that Northwestern University football players can unionize. The school plans to appeal the decision to the full board in Washington, D.C.  Part of a statement from Northwestern University reads: Northwestern University is disappointed by today's ruling by the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board finding that Northwestern University's football players who receive grant-in-aid scholarships are employees and directing that a secret ballot election be held to determine whether the football players should be represented by the College Athletes Players Association for purposes of collective bargaining with Northwestern University. While we respect the NLRB process and the regional director's opinion, we disagree with it. Northwestern believes strongly that our student-athletes are not employees, but students. Unionization and collective bargaining are not the appropriate methods to address the concerns raised by student-athletes. Judge Andrew Napolitano gave us his analysis this morning on a ruling that could ultimately lead to college players getting paid. Napolitano told Brian Kilmeade that the NLRB official gave permission to student-athletes at non-public institutions to join a union if they are a sophomore, junior or senior. Players at Northwestern can now, with a majority vote, form a union and collectively bargain with coaches and administrators. "If the ruling is undisturbed, it will radically change the relationship between player-athletes and their coaches and schools," he said. He explained that any real changes to college sports could take years to play out, as legal actions make their way through the court system. There are multiple lawsuits against the NCAA that argue players should receive more than just the value of their scholarship. Watch the interview above and check back daily on Fox News Insider for all of Napolitano's legal analysis! Below, you can Continue Reading

Poll: NFL Sinks to Least Popular Top Professional or College Sport

Mia Love Blasts Michelle Obama's 'Hypocritical' Identity Politics: Democrats Recruited a White Male to Take My Seat Widow Slams Two-Year Sentence For Illegal Immigrant Who Killed Husband, Two Children The National Football League's popularity plunged dismally this month after players, coaches, and owners across the league protested the national anthem.The NFL is now the least popular among top professional or college sports.In the month of September, positive ratings sank from 57 percent to 44 percent. Unfavorable ratings are at 40 percent.Among a general sample of registered voters, September showed a drop in favorable ratings from 57 to 44 percent according to the Winston Poll from the Winston Group.Unfavorable ratings went from 23 to 40 percent. One important demographic, men ages 34-54, showed a more dramatic increase in disenchantment with the NFL.That group went from 73 percent favorable and 19 percent unfavorable to 42 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable. Judge Jeanine: We Don't Blame All Muslims for Terrorists, Don't Blame All Gun Owners for Las Vegas Jesse Watters Quizzes New Yorkers on Christopher Columbus Continue Reading

Kain Colter set to brief D.C. lawmakers on effort to unionize college sports

Mr. Colter is going to Washington. Former Northwestern University quarterback Kain Colter, who is the leading face in the movement to unionize college sports, will take the cause to Capitol Hill this week, according to an ESPN report. Colter will join Ramogi Huma, the president of the College Athletes Players Association, on the trip to D.C. where the two men are scheduled to have “informational briefings” with lawmakers on Wednesday and Thursday. A spokesman for Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), whose district includes Northwestern, confirmed that she is scheduled to meet with Colter and Huma Wednesday. The trip comes on the heels of last week’s decision by the Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board, which ruled that Northwestern football players are employees of the Evanston, Ill. university and therefore have a right to collectively bargain. “We believe Kain Colter wants to update Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky on the situation at Northwestern given the recent NLRB regional ruling,” said Schakowsky’s communications director, Lee Whack, in a statement. “Since the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade (Schakowsky is the ranking member) has been looking into what we can do to prevent sports injuries (especially with high school and college athletes) that issue will probably also come up as well.” Whack said Colter and Huma reached out to Schakowsky. A spokesman for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce said he was unaware of any scheduled meetings between its committee members and Colter and Huma. Huma did not return a text message for comment. Colter could not be reached. Pittsburgh sports attorney Jay Reisinger told the Daily News last week that the NLRB decision was the beginning of what he thinks is going to be “a reformation of the NCAA and how it treats its student athletes. But, Reisinger added, it would not Continue Reading

‘Schooled: The Price of College Sports’: TV review

“Schooled” makes a strong case that we should regard college football and basketball players the way we regard exploited migrant farmworkers or Third World child laborers. Which, at first glance, sounds utterly preposterous. Except in this sense. Major organizations are making billions of dollars a year by using “student athlete” football players as cheap labor. “Schooled,” based on the book “The Cartel” by the respected writer Taylor Branch, focuses primarily on the NCAA, which since 1951 has been the collective voice for college sports. Over those years, the NCAA has turned college sports, which nominally began as simply an extracurricular activity, into an industry that provides colleges with unmatched promotion and earns huge sums for sponsoring companies like Nike. Athletes, the engine and the only irreplaceable part of that industry, are theoretically paid back with a free college education, in the form of a scholarship. This creates what “Schooled” says is largely the myth of the student athlete, a student who happens to be good at football the way some other student is good at microbiology. Problem is, “Schooled” argues, college sports has become such a profit center that schools will throw academics — education, their reason for existence — under the bus in the service of athletics. The NCAA is complicit, too, Branch says, because sports have built its own power. “Schooled” mostly seems to push for athletes to be compensated, arguing that they assume all the risks for a tiny fraction of the proceeds. The real bottom-line point here, however, comes from Bob Costas. Yes, he says, athletes are treated unfairly. He also says that 99% of the people who watch college sports don’t care. “They just want State U to go 10-1.” Sobering and true. [email protected] Join the Continue Reading

NCAA Tournament: Final Four should be about the competition, not act as forum to discuss what’s wrong in college sports

ATLANTA — The 75th anniversary of the NCAA men’s Final Four is supposed to be a celebration of the many fantastic players, teams and moments that have made this one of America’s greatest sporting traditions. What began as a money-losing event that the National Association of Basketball Coaches could not afford to sustain has become a billion-dollar industry. But even as Michigan prepares to play Syracuse and Louisville takes on Wichita State in the national semifinals at the Georgia Dome Saturday night, there is a dark cloud hanging over this event that strikes at the sport’s integrity. The hot topic in this city this week has not been the games but the scandals caused by people’s lapses of judgment, bad behavior and questionable word choices. At Rutgers, the bloodletting continued on Friday, during a week that saw the firing of combustible basketball coach Mike Rice after ESPN released videos Tuesday of the coach physically and verbally abusing his players in practice. Yesterday, Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti resigned, but still did not take accountability for not disciplining his coach. In his letter or resignation to Rutgers’ first-year president Robert Barchi — more on him later — Pernetti tried to sanitize his reputation again, suggesting that when he first saw the video of Rice — who conveniently pocketed a contractually obligated $100,000 after he was fired for finishing out the season — chucking basketballs at players’ heads and uttering obscenities and homophobic slurs in November, he wanted to fire the coach immediately. But following an independent review, Pernetti intimated that he just followed the university’s lead in opting to suspend Rice three games, fine him $75,000 and order him to take anger-management classes. He claimed Barchi signed off on the plan. Barchi said he never saw the tape until Tuesday and was appalled. “I wish i had the opportunity Continue Reading