Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Three Ohio State players suspended - Today is the Day for the NBA -
Today is the Day for the NBA
NBA meeting breaks with 'very huge day' ahead
After a lockout that has lasted more than three months, whether the NBA season starts on time could come down to one "very huge day" in labor talks.
Owners and players will be back Tuesday for a full bargaining session, knowing if they fail to produce results, there may not be enough time left to avoid canceling regular-season games.
"A lot of signs point to tomorrow being a very huge day," players' association president Derek Fisher of the Lakers said. "There will be a lot of pressure on all of us in the room, and we'll accept that responsibility and go in and see what we can get worked out."
The sides met in small groups Monday for about five hours, a session that Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said was mainly about "setting the table" for Tuesday. While careful not to put too much pressure on Tuesday's talks, he and Commissioner David Stern made clear there had to be signs of compromise.
"Each side understands exactly what's at stake and where potentially there is movement in order to try to get a deal done," Silver said. "I mean, we can only say we're running out of time so many times.
"We both understand that if we don't make our best offers in the next few days, we're going to be at the point where we're going to be causing damage to the game, to ourselves, and they're going to be out paychecks," he added.
The regular season is scheduled to open Nov. 1. Players would have reported to training camps Monday, but those were postponed and 43 preseason games scheduled for Oct. 9-15 were canceled last month.
"We still are in the same position that we all wish we were starting training camp today and we know a lot of our fans in respective markets feel the same way," Fisher said. "So we're going to continue to work at this until we can either figure it out in a way that will spare us all a lot of collateral damage and games missed, or not, but we're going to put the effort and the time in as we have been doing and see if we can come to a resolution."
The league locked out players on July 1 after the expiration of the old collective bargaining agreement. Seeking significant changes after saying they lost $300 million last season, owners want a new salary cap structure and are seeking to reduce the players' guarantee of basketball revenues from 57 percent, to perhaps 50 percent or below.
Fisher, who didn't take questions, said the sides still weren't close enough to be able to talk about major progress, but were aware of the calendar.
"We know that our backs are against the wall in terms of regular-season games and what those consequences will be," he added, "but we still have to be respectful to the process, not rush through this, realizing that there are great deal of ramifications for years to come. So we have to be responsible in that regard."
SI.com and ESPN.com reported Monday that six powerful agents had sent a letter to their clients warning them of the financial damage the current proposals would cause them, and urging them to demand a full vote on any proposed deal.
Fisher later sent a letter to players, obtained by The Associated Press, in which he said the agents' letter "includes misinformation and unsupported theories."
"One issue I need to again be very clear on...nothing can be accepted without a vote by the players," Fisher wrote. "If and when there is a proposal that we feel is in the best interests of us as players, each of you WILL have the opportunity to vote in person. It's in the union bylaws, it's not up for negotiation. You will have the opportunity to see the full proposal before you agree, you will be able to challenge it, question it, anything you feel appropriate in order to know that this is the best deal for you and your fellow players."
Fisher later added: "We go into tomorrow's meeting strong, remaining steadfast on the issues we will not be able to move away from. Anyone saying different is not privy to the meetings and is uninformed."
Celtics All-Star Paul Pierce was the only other player to take part. Though not a member of the union executive committee, he participated in meetings over the weekend and Silver had singled him out as a player who had said meaningful things.
Fisher said he didn't know which players would come Tuesday. The sides will meet among themselves in the morning before the bargaining session follows in the afternoon.
"If it's a very short meeting, that's bad," Stern said. "And if it's a very long meeting, that's not as bad."
Stern had warned last week there would be "enormous consequences" to not making progress over the weekend, but he's since been cautious not to overstate anything.
"It would be great to be able to make some real progress tomorrow," he said. "Whether that's possible or not, I don't know, but we had a good meeting today defining the issues and the positions and we'll see how that works."
Stern said it would be difficult to have an 82-game regular season and not start Nov. 1, noting that arenas are already pressuring the league to see if they can schedule events later this year. Yet as much as the league wants the work stoppage to end, there still may be too many differences to make it happen quickly enough.
The revenue split and the cap structure have been such obstacles that the sides have hardly touched anything else that would go in the CBA. Perhaps that's why Stern and Silver referred to Tuesday being more a beginning than an end to the process.
"It can't end no matter what tomorrow, because even if we begin to make progress, I mean there are literally a hundred other issues that haven't even been addressed yet, so-called 'B-List' issues," Silver said. "So there's a long negotiation ahead of us no matter what."
2011 NBA Lockout
AMICK: Top agents send letter to players
LETTER: Agents' full memo to players (PDF)
THOMSEN: Don't expect deal anytime soon
Meeting breaks with 'huge' day ahead
LOWE: NBA's losses at heart of talks
THOMSEN: Games likely to be cut now
LOWE: NBA talks enter crunch time
NBA postpones camps, cancels games
LOWE: Start of regular season in jeopardy
SI: What we'd miss if games are canceled
SI: What we wouldn't miss if games are cut
THOMSEN: A new deal isn't this hard
LOWE: Shortened season is hoops horror
LOWE: Those grueling stretches in 1999
AMICK: Top NBA agent clears the air
LOWE: Owners vary with revenue sharing
AMICK: Decertification rumbles growing
AMICK: Agents pushing for decertification
AMICK: Union lawyer talks decertification
LOWE: Ownership divide looms overtalks
LOWE: NLRB moves ahead with NBPA's file
Only 19 points separate the top nine contenders in the Chase, including co-leader Kevin Harvick, front.
Three Ohio State players suspended
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State is in trouble with the NCAA again, this time because three Buckeyes players -- including two who have already been sitting out for taking cash and free tattoos -- accepted too much money for too little work in their summer jobs.
Last year's leading rusher, Dan Herron, and the top returning receiver, DeVier Posey, along with offensive lineman Marcus Hall will not be permitted to play when the Buckeyes play at No. 14 Nebraska on Saturday.
Athletic Director Gene Smith insisted at a Monday afternoon news conference that there was no "systemic" problem at Ohio State, which has admitted to having several players involved in different NCAA violations over the past 10 months.
He blamed it all on the athletes, former coach Jim Tressel and a booster who on Monday was banned from further contact with the Buckeyes.
"These failures are individual failures: failures of individual athletes, and as you know unfortunately a previous coach, and a booster," Smith said when asked if the latest violations will lead to more serious institutional charges of lack of control and failure to monitor from the NCAA. "So it's not a systemic failure of compliance. I'm optimistic and I'm confident that we will not have those charges."
Herron and Posey had five-game suspensions extended. They were expected to be reinstated to play this week but now Ohio State is hoping the NCAA might allow them back on the field for the seventh game.
Hall was suspended for the first time.
Two other players also were overpaid for the summer work, which included working at a car wash or picking up scrap metal. Defensive lineman Melvin Fellows is out with a medical hardship and starting linebacker Etienne Sabino has already been reinstated by the NCAA.
The booster who paid the players, Cleveland-area businessman Bobby DiGeronimo, was dissociated from the program after years of being a friend of Buckeyes football players and a major fan. Smith declined to answer a question about why Ohio State had not looked closer at DiGeronimo and his relationship with players.
“These failures are individual failures: failures of individual athletes, and as you know unfortunately a previous coach, and a booster. So it's not a systemic failure of compliance. ” -- Ohio State AD Gene Smith
Smith said he did not think the latest self-reported violations would cause the NCAA to come down harder on Ohio State's athletic programs. But he said he believed that it will now take longer for the committee on infractions to arrive at the penalties.
"It was anticipated that we would be able to complete these other issues to allow the committee on infractions to consider them and get us an answer in October," Smith said. "We were not able to accomplish that. So I anticipate the committee on infractions will take longer and give us an answer hopefully this fall."
The players were paid $15 an hour -- although they said they were not told how much they were going to be paid. According to Ohio State's self-report, Posey was overpaid $728, Herron and Fellows $293 apiece, Hall $233 and Sabino $60.
Ohio State has had so many players suspended or in trouble that Smith, who spoke and answered questions for 18 minutes, has to differentiate between the tattoo-related violations -- "the broader issue" as he calls it -- and other suspensions.
The central allegations at Ohio State's hearing on Aug. 12 before the NCAA's committee on infractions dealt with players who were given improper benefits and the fallout from it. Those allegations led to coach Jim Tressel being forced to resign because he did not disclose information about violations and quarterback Terrelle Pryor leaving school a year early to jump to the NFL. Now a member of the Oakland Raiders, Pryor is currently under suspension from the league for his messy move to the NFL and his college problems.
Herron, Posey, left tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas, along with Pryor and another player no longer attending Ohio State, were suspended in December for the first five games this fall.
Ohio State confirmed later Monday that Adams and Thomas have been cleared for the game in Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday.
All were found to have received cash and free or discounted tattoos from Edward Rife, the subject of a federal drug probe who later entered a guilty plea to money laundering and drug-trafficking charges unrelated to the Ohio State case and is awaiting sentencing.
In its self-report, Ohio State said that school and NCAA investigators found Posey had received an extra benefit as a result of not paying rental and greens fees during a golf outing with Columbus-area photographer Dennis Talbott.
In June, ESPN's "Outside the Lines" reported that Talbott took Pryor, Posey and other players to play golf at his country club and that members of the Ohio State football office were warned of these potential violations in 2009.
Herron, Posey, Adams and Thomas were set to rejoin the team this week. The Buckeyes (3-2) are coming off a dismal 10-7 loss to Michigan State last week in their Big Ten opener.
Two players scheduled to start for the depleted Buckeyes in the season-opener against Akron -- tailback Jordan Hall (a high school teammate of Pryor's in Jeannette, Pa.), and cornerback Travis Howard, along with backup safety Corey "Pittsburgh" Brown -- were suspended shortly before the opener and sat out two games. The NCAA determined that the players had received $200 in cash for attending a charity event in February near Cleveland.
DiGeronimo helped to run that annual charity event, which Ohio State allowed players to attend in both 2007 and 2010.
Ohio State is awaiting the NCAA's report of sanctions for the Tressel/tattoo violations. The university has offered penalties including vacating the 2010 season's 12-1 record, returning bowl payments totaling almost $339,000 from last season, and accepting a two-year NCAA probation.
The NCAA could add to those sanctions, and could tack on penalties based on the subsequent investigation of players taking money at the charity event and being overpaid for their summer work.
Systems failure? OSU keeps saying no
Gene Smith's spit list started out with seven names.
It included the six Buckeyes football players who violated NCAA rules by trading memorabilia items for cash and tattoos, and Edward Rife, the tattoo parlor owner with whom the transactions were made.
At a December news conference announcing the violations, Smith, the Ohio State athletic director, first declared the program did not have a systematic problem with compliance. Give Smith credit: Once he makes an argument, he sticks to it, even when it becomes harder and harder to believe.
While Smith's case has lost credibility, his list continues to grow.
A prominent name was added in March, that of Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, who admitted he knew of the violations the previous April but did not come forward.
When Tressel resigned on Memorial Day, Smith and the Ohio State brass shrewdly began placing blame on the coach, especially during a scathing self-report to the NCAA.
It seemed then that Smith's list would be complete. Not quite.
More players have been added, along with a booster, Bobby DiGeronimo, who reportedly has employed Buckeyes players for years and invited them to charity events. DiGeronimo's connection led to three players being suspended for the first two games of the 2011 season.
Bobby D is back in the news, as an NCAA probe into his employment of players has revealed that three Buckeyes received too much compensation for the work they did. Wide receiver DeVier Posey and running back Dan Herron, two players set to come off of suspension this week for their involvement in the tattoo transactions, are ineligible for Saturday's contest at Nebraska and possibly more time. Defensive end Melvin Fellows, who hasn't been playing because of injury, also was overpaid. Linebacker Etienne Sabino was declared ineligible but reinstated for the Nebraska game after paying $60 -- the amount he was overpaid -- to a charity.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith says: "I am confident in our compliance program."According to Ohio State, the overpayment amounts ranged from $60 (Sabino) to $728 (Posey).
Ohio State recently disassociated DiGeronimo from the program. The school has applied to have Posey, Herron and offensive lineman Marcus Hall reinstated.
Do Posey and Herron count once or twice on Smith's list? Just trying to keep all these individuals straight.
"These failures are individual failures, failures of individual athletes, obviously a previous coach," Smith said Monday. "It's not a systemic failure of compliance."
There's that line again. Just a few bad apples. Apple cart's fine. Nothing to see here, NCAA. Keep moving along.
"These individual decisions were made to go off the reservation," Smith said. "At the end of the day, it’s not a systems problem."
Remind me to ask Smith where I can find this reservation. Getting paid for not working? Sign me up!
"These were individual decisions by individual people," Smith said. "It's not 30."
It's getting close.
The individuals on Smith's original list could cram into a double room at a two-star motel. Now Ohio State might need to rent out the presidential suite.
Still, Smith insists Ohio State doesn't have a program problem. Individual problems? Sure. A Tressel problem? Absolutely.
But the individual violations, in his mind, don't merit charges of failure to monitor or lack of institutional control. Remember, the NCAA's infractions committee has yet to rule on Ohio State's case following an Aug. 12 hearing in Indianapolis.
"Optimistic as we move forward in our broader case there are no additional allegations," Smith said. "Optimistic a failure to monitor or lack of institutional control is not an allegation that will emerge."
Smith said the August hearing was held with the understanding that the NCAA would be "investigating additional matters." Ohio State now is putting together a report about the latest violation to the committee, and Smith said a final decision -- one that might close the book on this program's darkest chapter -- will be delayed.
"I anticipate the committee will take longer and hopefully get us an answer sometime this fall," Smith said.
Smith was the one trying to provide answers Monday: on why DiGeronimo for years was approved to host Ohio State players at his charity events; on how Ohio State didn't know about his employment of players; on what lessons can be learned from these violations; on who is held accountable for this; most important, on why he believes the hammer won't drop on Ohio State.
He talked about Ohio State's 1,090 student-athletes, including 200 new ones each year "who come to us with all levels of maturity and immaturity." He talked about the hundreds of community service activities and events Ohio State approves each year for its student-athletes.
"Do we have an individual [from compliance] to be at those? No we don't," Smith said. "Will we do some things differently? No question. But the reality is that's not a systems issue."
"I am confident in our compliance program," Smith said. "We do not have a systemic problem. Most people don't understand that."
Those of us on the outside certainly don't. Even some Ohio State fans are mystified by what has taken place in recent months.
Smith has to hope the infractions committee members understand. In the end, their views are the only ones that matter.
Ohio State isn't giving the NCAA many options. How many individual cases must be added up to result in a failure to monitor charge? How many names do they need to see before putting Ohio State on their list?
Yes, there were some incredibly stupid decisions made, particularly by Posey and Herron. But at some point, the individual cases add up to one big program problem.
Smith had better hope his math is the same as the committee's.
Posted by just BS at 5:12 AM