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NCAA Mark Emmert Joins Brian Berger for Wide Ranging Interview on Sports Business Radio

NCAA President Mark Emmert joined Brian Berger on Sports Business Radio to discuss a wide range of topics including the scandal at Penn State, the retirement of Joe Paterno, the BCS, conference realignment and upcoming changes to the NCAA rule book.

To listen to the candid conversation click here.

 

Listen to In-Depth Interview with Boxing Legend Sugar Ray Leonard

Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard joined me for an in-depth radio interview today. The wide ranging interview reveals how Sugar Ray's pro boxing career was first financed, which opponent's stare down was most intimidating, which person served as a role model for him growing up, overcoming his nervousness about competing on "Dancing with the Stars" and what he is doing to keep busy these days.

To listen to my interview with Sugar Ray Leonard, click here.

I grew up watching Sugar Ray Leonard and always found him to be one of the most exciting athletes in the world. He was also one of the first athletes utilized for endorsements by corporate America. From his "Feeling 7-Up" commercials to his larger than life showdowns with Hearns, Hagler and Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard was always entertaining.

It was a pleasure to speak with him for this week's edition of Sports Business Radio.

5 Steps that Would Resolve the NBA lockout

NBA owners and players continue to struggle with finding a middle ground to resolve the current NBA lockout.  There's $4B in annual revenues at stake along with goodwill that has been built over a long period of time and the NBA cannot afford to miss half or all of the upcoming season.

Here are my suggestions for ending the lockout and returning to the basketball court.

1.) BRI split - The players and owners need to move closer to a 50-50 split of the BRI (basketball related income). The players currently take 57% of the BRI. A split of this revenue would be a big step towards finding middle ground.

2.) Flex cap - The players and owners need to agree to a flex cap. The owners are currently firm in their position for a hard cap, but this could be the #1 sticking point for why games are lost. A hard cap would eliminate "super teams" like the Heat, Lakers and Celtics as teams would no longer be able to afford three stars. TV ratings and fan interest has exploded because of the interest in the "super teams" and if those teams are forced to break up because of a hard cap it will be terrible for the league over the long haul.

3.) Revenue sharing - MLB has a revenue sharing system in place and the NBA needs to adopt a similar system. The Lakers, Knicks and Bulls make a tremendous amount of money from media rights fees because they play in large markets. The Lakers new TV deal with Time Warner Cable is worth $3B. By contrast, small market teams make $10-12M per season from their media rights deals. The NBA is not a balanced league and until there is revenue sharing between the big market teams and small market teams it will always be difficult for the small market teams to turn a profit.

4.) Amnesty provision - This rule was implemented during the last lockout. It allows each team a short window to wipe their worst contract from their books. The team has to pay the player in full, but the contract comes off the books. The players union likes it as the players get paid in full and the owners like it because they can get rid of one albatross contract.

5.) Franchise tag - Small market teams are very worried about keeping their superstars (see Chris Paul and Dwight Howard). LeBron and Carmelo have already left their old franchises in ruins and owners want to prevent superstars from teaming up in the future. Each team should adopt the NFL's "franchise tag" policy where they can tag one player per season. The player has to be paid at the top of their position but the owner gets to keep his superstar instead of seeing him leave town.

If the players and owners could agree to the above deal points, they would take a gigantic step towards resolving the current lockout.

 

Underbelly of College Athletics is Looking Very Dirty

Not sure where to begin today except to say that the underbelly of college athletics is looking more and more dirty by the day. 

The big news locally is that Ducks QB and Heisman candidate Darron Thomas as the passenger in Cliff Harris' car when he was clocked going 118 in a 65 in June. Thomas has now made 3 very poor off the field decisions in the past 2 years. If he were an NFL player he would have already been cut for his indiscretions. If you or I had been speeding at 118 with the smell of pot in our car we would have been arrested. But because Harris and Thomas are prominent athletes, the rules are different for them.

Ducks head coach Chip Kelly calls Thomas one of the best leaders he's had, but that's because Thomas has produced wins on the field for the Ducks. Bottom line is that Kelly's players continue to have problems off the field, but because they produce wins on the field those problems are overlooked more so than they would be at a mediocre program.

The scandalous activities at the University of Miami uncovered by Yahoo! Sports show us just how dirty college athletics can be. Sex parties and prostitution. Cash payments and other gifts. Coaches who knew of violations. And former Hurricanes AD Paul Dee, who now works for the NCAA, had this happen on his watch. How the NCAA can continue to employ Dee when his participation in the Miami investigation would be a conflict and when he has lost all credibility is beyond me.

And finally convicted felon and former Hurricane booster Nevin Shapiro blew the whistle on all of the corruption that he orchestrated at Miami. Sitting in prison abandoned by the people he lavished money and gifts on, he felt betrayed. So he sang like a canary and provided documentation to back up his claims. Shapiro is a guy with an axe to grind and he's already sitting in prison so he has nothing more to lose. He's the most dangerous kind of guy - someone seeking revenge.

The NCAA had a Presidential retreat last week to discuss the state of college athletics. They had better get their house in order, ramp up their enforcement division and start laying down the hammer on programs like Miami if they want to have any chance to clean up the cesspool that major college athletics has become. I don't envy the job they have in front of them.

Tiger Woods' and Mark Steinberg's BIG Mistake with Steve Williams

We know Tiger Woods and caddie Steve Williams had a high profile breakup after 13 years together. Williams was part of Tiger's inner circle and the two spent considerable time together off the golf course. Woods is also one of the most high profile athletes in the world. 

 

That's why its stunning to me that when Tiger Woods fired Williams, he reportedly did it in a fashion where he treated Williams like most any other employee. There was no separation agreement or no confidentiality agreement drawn up by Woods' camp to have Williams sign.

There are now rumors that Williams may write a tell all book about Woods. How Tiger's agent Mark Steinberg could have left Tiger exposed to such a book from Williams is shocking. Steinberg's first order of business should have been to draw up a separation agreement for Williams and they should have negotiated a sum that would have prevented Williams from sharing intimate details of his relationship with Tiger in the future.

Tiger's camp reportedly paid hush money to several women, but they didn't have the wisdom to negotiate a confidentiality agreement with Williams upon the end of that relationship? Huh?!

That decision may take Tiger's tarnished reputation to new depths if Steve Williams decides to write a book. Steve Williams has reportedly earned about $10 million caddying for Tiger Woods. My guess is he could secure a book deal guarantee worth at least that amount for a tell all book with juicy, never before released details about Tiger Woods' life.

If that happens, Tiger's agent Mark Steinberg made a colossal mistake by not securing a confidentiality agreement from Williams. You don't just fire an employee and let him walk after he just spent 13 years with one of the most high profile athletes in the world.

We've seen the venom Steve Williams has for Tiger Woods in the past week and the door is wide open for Williams to put another nail in Tiger's coffin with a juicy tell all book.

Oregon's Chip Kelly to Face the Bright Lights of the Media on Tuesday

 

Oregon head football coach Chip Kelly has been silent for months in the wake of the NCAA's investigation into his football program's relationship with Willie Lyles. But on Tuesday at 9:20am PT Coach Kelly will face the media during a press conference at Pac-12 media day. Because we haven't heard from Kelly, he is likely to be bombarded with questions. The Pac-12 has only alloted 15 minutes for Kelly's press conference but my guess is Kelly's presser will run longer than 15 minutes because of all of the questions, or a PR rep will cut the press conference short if Kelly is backed into a corner.

We're likely to hear Kelly tell us how he and the Ducks athletic department is cooperating with the NCAA's investigation. We're also likely to hear Kelly tell us that he can't comment on the Lyles matter because of the legalities around the investigation. I won't be surprised to hear Kelly get defensive with reporters or to respond in a condescending manner. I also won't be surprised if a PR person sets ground rules at the beginning of Kelly's presser that Kelly will only answer questions about the Ducks as it relates to on the field performance and what he expects from his team and their schedule this season.

When I am not hosting my radio show on The Game, I am a long time PR professional. I have advised many people who have found themselves in crisis and I continue to do so through my media training company (www.everythingisontherecord.com).

If I were advising Kelly, I would have had him sit down with a reporter who he has a good relationship for a one-on-one interview. I would have had him play things very close to the vest, but I would have had him talk about his desire to run a clean program and cooperate with the NCAA. Then when media day came along, Kelly could have said he already addressed many of the questions he'll be asked and refer back to that one-on-one interview.

In a press conference situation, things are unpredictable and reporters will throw darts at him. Its the situation that is the hardest to control.

It will certainly be interesting to watch how Chip Kelly handles the many questions he will receive at Pac-12 media day on Tuesday. And I'll take the OVER with the 15 minutes he's been allotted for his press conference.

And Then There Were Two.........

 

Tiger Woods continues to unravel his life and remove those people who won't continue to enable him from his inner circle. Case in point was on Wednesday when he parted ways with longtime caddie Steve Williams. Williams teamed with Tiger for 13 of his 14 major victories. The two made a terrific duo on the golf course and were close friends off of the golf course.

As I tweeted on Wednesday after the firing, Tiger has kept his two biggest enablers - his agent Mark Steinberg, who recently left IMG and took Tiger with him and his publicist Glenn Greenspan who has given all PR people a blueprint for how NOT to deal with a crisis after Tiger found himself embroiled in controversy after his infamous Thanksgiving Day drama that ultimately led to his divorce. Its no coincidence that Tiger has kept Steinberg and Greenspan but removed anyone who has challenged his behavior from his inner circle.

I'm not sure what the future holds for Tiger but removing people like Butch Harmon, Hank Haney and Steve Williams over the past few years is a questionable strategy at best.

Maybe Tiger wants to turn the page and start anew. But if that's the case, he should fire Steinberg and Greenspan as well and really start from scratch with a completely new team.

It will definitely be interesting to see how these decisions play out for Tiger in the future.

Yao's Impact Shouldn't be Underestimated

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming is set to retire tomorrow at a press conference in Shanghai. Yao's career was cut short by injuries and he never fully reached his potential as a dominant big man on the basketball court. His skill and touch for a man his size was remarkable though.

 

Even though Yao fell short on the hardwood, his impact for the NBA was as great as any player who has ever played in the league other than possibly Michael Jordan. Yao opened the gates for the NBA into Asia and introduced billions of new fans to the league. Today, the NBA has offices in China and the league takes players on annual trips through Asia each offseason. Shoe companies have seized the opportunity to promote NBA players in China. And broadcast rights for Asia are a very lucrative source of income for the NBA.

I had the pleasure of spending a few days with Yao Ming in China during the Fall of 2007 when he and Steve Nash hosted a charity fundraiser that featured several other NBA stars including Carmelo Anthony and Baron Davis. I saw first hand the love the people of China have for their gentle giant and the pride they have for the man who has given so generously to charity over the years. Yao is a soft spoken man with an underrated sense of humor. He is widely respected by his NBA peers.

On Wednesday he will announce the end to his playing career, but I have a feeling Yao will continue to be an ambassador for the NBA and the game of basketball. Billions of children in China are playing the game of basketball today because of Yao - that is quite a legacy.

Want to play golf with me and KGW-TV morning personality Drew Carney at Pumpkin Ridge? Here's How you Can.....

As some of you may know, I am a proud Board member of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Southwest Washington. Ronald McDonald Houses serve as a home away from home for families of seriously and terminally ill children. RMHC is a fantastic charity.

On Monday, July 18th I'll be hitting the golf links at the world class Witch Hollow course at Pumpkin Ridge here in Oregon. The course has hosted the U.S. Women's Open and was site to Tiger Woods' incredible U.S. Amateur Championship.

Mike Rich (Hollywood Screenwriter) will once again host the RMHC golf tournament and will highlight his recent big screen success "Secretariat". Mike and several of his Hollywood friends will be out at Pumpkin Ridge teeing it up to raise money for a great cause.

Joining me on the links will be KGW-TV morning TV personality Drew Carney as well as his cameraman we lovingly refer to as "Camera Steve".

We need a 4th player to complete our group and I am selling the final slot to the highest bidder. 100% of the money paid for the final slot in our foursome will go directly to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and SW Washington.

If you were to buy a spot in our group at face value, it would cost you $500.00. So the minimum bid we'll accept is $500.00.

But we want to raise more money than that for this one-of-a-kind opportunity.

If you want to play golf with me, Drew Carney and Cameraman Steve, email your bid to me at brian@sportsbusinessradio.com. The bidding will run from now until the end of my radio show on Wednesday, July 13th (10am - noon Pacific Time on 750AM The Game in Portland). 

I'll read the winning bidder's name on my radio show on 750AM The Game on Wednesday right before the end of my show at noon. 

I promise we'll entertain and engage whomever purchases the spot in our foursome for Monday, July 18th at Pumpkin Ridge. It will be a day you won't soon forget! And its for a great cause.

Let the bidding begin!

Changes to the College Sports Landscape Forthcoming?

 

The dust clouds are beginning to settle in Columbus…sort of. And as the media, lawyers, and the NCAA continue to sift through the remains, more ugly revelations seem to surface daily regarding the once proud and now spiraling OSU football program.

As a Michigan alum who possesses the requisite Maize n’ Blue disdain for “that school in Ohio,” I’m somewhat biased in judging their actions. So I will avoid doing so – though I could, gleefully – and fast-forward to the ancillary discourse that has resulted from “Columbus Ink.”

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