Sports Law Blog
All things legal relating
to the sports world...
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
 

FDA Bans Ephedra: The FDA has banned the weight-loss drug ephedra, which is blamed in the death of Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler.

Major League Baseball banned the drug from the minor leagues in February, following Bechler's death.

Consumers Union has a website that describes why the drug should be banned.

You can read more from the Amarillo Globe News and the Boston Globe.

ESPN has articles here and here.

 

Denver Issues Report in Coors Field Elevator Mishap: Denver's chief elevator inspector has found that mechanical failure, combined with a missing safety switch, was the cause of the elevator accident at Coors Field in July, which injured 30 people.

As is the nature of things today, you can probably expect a lawsuit to be filed against the elevator company, the city, the ballpark and the Rockies. The elevator company, Kone Inc., issued a statement disagreeing with the report, and the Rockies were quick to point out that the missing safety switch was "manufactured, installed and maintained by Kone."

 

Chargers Suit Moved to San Diego: Five weeks after angering San Diego officials by filing a lawsuit against the city in Los Angeles, the Chargers have agreed to move the suit back to San Diego for adjudication. The team is suing to get released from their contract at Qualcomm Stadium.

You can read the San Diego Union-Tribune article here.

Monday, December 29, 2003
 

Settlement in NHL Fan Death Still Sealed: Via How Appealing, the Dayton Daily News had a story yesterday on the attempt to keep sealed the settlement amount paid to the family of Brittanie N. Cecil, the 13-year old girl who was killed by a hockey puck at a Columbus Blue Jackets game in March of 2002. Neither the Cecil family, nor the NHL, Blue Jackets and Nationwide Arena, who reached the agreement, want the terms disclosed. The challenge is coming from a Columbus television station, which is claiming the agreement is a public record protected by the 1st Amendment.

Whereas the previous attorney for the probate judge who approved the settlement argued that "the family's privacy interest . . . outweighed the public's limited right of access to the court's records," the judge's new counsel has argued that the settlement was never a matter of public record, and thus cannot be released. The judge sealed the record in June to prevent further media frenzy, but the attorneys for the media groups have argued that the family has gone to the media when it has proven beneficial for their own cause.

 

Should this be Sexual Harassment?: Continuing on the theme from the last post, ESPN's Suzy Kolber has accepted an apology from former Jet quarterback Joe Namath, who said twice in an on-camera interview that he wished "to kiss" her. While I am sure that a good lawyer could craft a sexual harassment claim out of this incident, it is nice to see that one adult can apologize to another for an inappropriate mistake without going to court.

 

Manning Defamation Suit Settled: Peyton Manning has settled a defamation suit brought against him by Jamie Ann Naughright, a former trainer at the University of Tennessee. Naughright first sued the University for sexual harassment after Manning, then a Volunteer quarterback, mooned the female trainer. In his book, Manning did not reference Naughright by name, but did refer to a trainer with a "vulgar mouth."

I really hope that there is more to this incident than just a quick mooning. Naughright reportedly received a $300,000 settlement from the University over what could just be seen as a teenage male prank. If there is more to the incident, I would be very interested in hearing about it. If not, this is an indication of the ridiculous lengths to which sexual harassment litigation has gone, which is unfortunate, because frivolous suits often paint the more deserving and meritorious suits in a bad light.

 

I hope everyone had a good holiday break-- there is not much legal news to report from the last week, but I will catch up during the next few days.

Friday, December 19, 2003
 

Yankees and Groundskeeper Charged: Two Yankees relievers and a Fenway Park groundskeeper were all charged Thursday for their respective roles in a brawl that took place during the American League Championship Series.

You can find the Boston Police incident report here.

 

More on A-Rod Deal: In an update to my post yesterday, here are some more articles on the A-Rod deal, which has been blocked by the players' union and pronounced "dead" by the Red Sox. The New York Times, ESPN, the Sports Business News, the Boston Globe, and the Dallas Morning News have stories on the deal.

CNN also has an article stating that the union had no choice but to block the deal.

My response to this is that while it is the job of the union to protect all of its members, how much protection to players really need when the minimum salary is $300,000 a year? Shouldn't unions be for protecting workers that are really in need of protection? This claim of "protection" is really no more than greed disguised as a labor dispute-- Alex Rodriguez will make $252 million in the next ten years and there is no way he should not be allowed to reduce that to a meager $222 million if all parties agree. In the mean time, professional baseball has again proven why it has lost tremendous popularity in the last ten years -- the game has once again taken a back seat to money.

The Boston Globe and the Sports Business News both have articles on the legality of what the union is doing.

ESPN Insider (subscription required) has an article stating that the Player's Association is missing the point.

Thursday, December 18, 2003
 

Ambush Marketing and the Super Bowl: The Houston Chronicle has an article detailing the ambush marketing going on leading up to the Super Bowl and the NFL's attempts to prevent its million dollar sponsors such as Coors, Pepsico and General Motors. Ambush marketing, made famous by Nike at the 1996 Olympics, is where a rival company to an official sponsor buys ad space in and around key venues, hoping to receive exposure and association with major events. Legally, the practice cannot be prevented, so long as the ambusher does not make reference to the event specifically or infringe on any event trademark.

The NFL's lawyers have already notified numerous Houston advertisers that they may be in violation of trademark laws by referencing "Super Bowl XXXVIII." In a move that is becoming all too common, however, the NFL has also gone after small businesses that merely reference the Super Bowl in an ad, such as a BBQ restaurant that welcomes people to come fill their "pre-Super Bowl needs" for their "Super Bowl parties." The NFL should allow local businesses to capitalize on the game, so long as they do not hold themselves out to be an official sponsor or associated with the event.

Thanks to the Sports Business News for the pointing out the story.

 

Union Halts A-Rod Deal: The Major League Baseball Player's union has refused to approve a deal that would send Alex Rodriguez to the Red Sox in exchange for Manny Ramirez. In a statement, a spokesman for the union said the deal "crossed the line separating restructuring from reduction, and by a huge margin." The labor agreement prevents players from reducing the amount of current deals unless they receive an added benefit. In the union's eyes, this means a pecuniary benefit, which is unfortunate, because obviously there is a great deal of benefit in leaving a last-place team for a World Series contender. But in the sports world today, winning often takes a back seat to money.

It is important to note, however, that often it is not always the players, but often is the agents and the union, driving these deals focusing on money rather than winning. There is no doubt that A-Rod wants to move to Boston and the union should remember the reason it was formed in the first place-- protecting the interests of players and ensuring that players can move around on an open market.

Major League Baseball has stepped in, with Commissioner Bud Selig indicating that he may approve the deal, which would then send the matter to arbitration for a final decision. Baseball officials have criticized the union's actions, saying that union official Gene Orza does not have the last word on whether trades go through.

 

SI Challenges Order to Reveal Sources: Sports Illustrated reportedly will appeal a ruling that the magazine must reveal the confidential sources used in its story about Mike Price last spring. The article, which detailed a night of drinking and visiting strip clubs, resulted in Price’s dismissal from the University of Alabama without ever coaching a game. Price filed suit in September against Time, Inc., the publisher of SI, for defamation and seeks $20 million in damages. The main claim in the suit centers on the story’s allegation that Price had sex with two women in a motel room, a claim based on an anonymous source.

You can read more on the lawsuit here. The suit largely will turn on whether the magazine acted with “actual malice” — that is, whether the story was printed with reckless disregard as to the truth or falsity of the claims (see New York Times v. Sullivan). This 1964 precedent has set an exceedingly high bar for public figures to meet in proving defamation.

The battle over revealing sources is an interesting one. The District Court judge ruled that an Alabama law protecting newspaper, television and radio reporters from being forced to reveal their sources does not extend to reporters for magazines. Attorneys for Time have called this an extremely “narrow reading of the Alabama shield law” and it raises interesting 1st Amendment concerns. Should a magazine receive less protection for its sources than does newspaper, radio or television?

On the one hand, magazines are often “secondary” news sources, re-framing news that has been discovered by one of the “primary” news sources. However, news magazines often perform a vital investigatory function, as they often has the resources and the luxury of time to investigate stories and claims in depth.

Forcing a magazine to give up its sources forms a dangerous precedent and could possibly discourage other sources from coming forward. This is what the Supreme Court had in mind in Cohen v. Cowles Media, when it enforced an estoppel claim against a newspaper for printing a source’s name, after the paper promised not to reveal his identity. This case comes from the other angle- a publication not wanting to reveal a source, but many of the same issues are involved.

Legally, can a law distinguish between different types of publications? The answer seems to be yes, as Playboy does not have the same privileges regarding sources as does the Washington Post. However, where should this line be drawn? The judge in this case seems to be distinguishing between “primary” and “secondary” news sources, but this difference is not always so easy to see. Should Newsweek receive less protection? Should Variety receive more? And where do Internet publications fit into this picture?

If the line drawn is a neutral rule and has an incidental impact on speech, then it most likely will be upheld under O’Brien v. US. If, however, the line targets a certain type of speech, perhaps narrative journalism, then it may not withstand stricter scrutiny and could be overturned.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003
 

Drafts and Antitrust: The Sports Business News has an excellent article concerning the possible ramifications of an NHL lock-out on the 2005 player entry draft and its prize, projected #1 overall Sidney Crosby, who has been called the most exciting player to come out of Canada since Mario Lemieux. The article discusses drafts, which would be illegal if not for the antitrust exemption in the United States, and the question of who gets the #1 pick if there is no previous season.

 

More on Kobe: ESPN has more on Bryant's attorneys' request for the judge to throw out Colorado's rape shield law and allow in testimony concerning his accuser's sexual and mental history.

FindLaw has an article here.

 

Only 18 Nights at Wrigley: The Chicago Cubs will apparently only be able to have 18 night games this season at Wrigley, despite the team's hopes to play at least 22 under the lights. The team was unable to reach an agreement with the city, which wanted an increase from the $1 million donation promised by the Cubs to fund a neighborhood improvement project. Both parties wish to resolve the dispute without mediation or court, which are the remedies under the current agreement.

UPDATE: Chicago's mayor has responded that the Cubs have not honored their promises to the Wrigleyville neighborhood and must do so before any increase in the number of night games is granted.

 

CORRECTION Regarding NFL Early-Entry: In my post Monday on Maurice Clarett's lawsuit, I indicated that Pittsburgh receiver Larry Fitzgerald may also attempt to challenge the NFL draft rules by coming out after only two college seasons. But, as reader Edward Neel correctly pointed out, Fitzgerald, while a sophomore, has actually been out of high school for three years (he went to prep school for one year). Thus, if he applied to enter the NFL draft, it is doubtful the league would challenge his request.

 

CART Files for Ch. 11: The Indianapolis Star is reporting that CART has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

 

Fans Sues Skins Over Walking Ban: A long-time Washington Redskins fan appears in court today to defend her suit against the team and the owners of FedEx Field over rules that do not allow fans to walk to the stadium. On game days, metal barricades prevent pedestrians from accessing the public streets and sidewalks leading up to the stadium. The plaintiff claims the suit is a conspiracy between the team, stadium and the city to force fans to park in expensive parking lots and take the provided shuttle buses. The team claims the closures are for fan safety.

 

Sponsor Problems for Lingerie Bowl: According to the Wall Street Journal, Dodge is considering pulling its sponsorship of the Lingerie Bowl, under pressure from its dealers. I am not sure what, if any, breach of contract claims could arise if it does pull out, especially as the "game" (on Super Bowl Sunday) draws near. Apparently, though, another sponsor has approached the Bowl about replacing Dodge, so it may not be much of an issue.

CNN has an article here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003
 

Motions Filed in Bryant Case: While I don't want this blog to become a police blotter, the motions filed today in the Kobe Bryant case have strong legal significance. The key is the motion filed by the defense, asking to admit evidence of the victim's previous mental state, including two attempts at suicide. The relevance of this evidence will be questioned, as well as whether the Rape Shield Laws prevent its admittance. A number of other evidentiary and procedural motions were filed as well.

 

Indians as Mascots?: Mike Wise of the New York Times has an insightful piece over the controversy at the University of Illinois over their mascot, Chief Illiniwek. Over 1100 colleges an universities, as well as an NFL team and Major league baseball team, have mascots dealing with Native American Indians in some form, but this number is down from over 3000 in 1970.

 

More on Possible Hockey Defections: An update from a post from this morning- the Sports Business Daily quotes a story from the December 15 Sporting News stating that 19-year-old Nikolai Zherdev, who secretly left his Russian team to fly to the US to join the Columbus Blue Jackets, is fleeing Russian army obligations by coming to the United States.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that two other Blue Jacket players who currently play for CSKA (the Russian team) have been conscripted into the Army after Zherdev's departure.

 

Stringer Family to Pay: The family of Korey Stringer, the Minnesota Vikings tackle that died in 2001 of heat stroke suffered at training camp, has been ordered to pay $47,000 in court costs and expert witness fees spent by the defendants in the suit. In April, the judge threw out most of the claims. Attorneys for the team indicated they would not have sought fees if the family had declined to appeal the ruling, but the family proceeded unsuccessfully.

 

Conflict of Interest in the NHL: Kevin Compton, co-owner of the San Jose Sharks, has bought into Mission Sports, a hockey supply company owned by Bob Naegele, Jr., who also owns the Minnesota Wild.

The venture raises 2 possible conflicts: one, owners of two different teams going into business together, and two, an owner of a team also having a stake in player equipment at a time when equipment is being increasingly questioned for its durability and safety.

 

Defections and Hockey: The Sports Business News has an article about how, even after the Cold War, hockey players continue to "defect" from Russia, leaving their native teams for NHL glory.

 

More on Clarett: ESPN has a humorous take on the Clarett situation-- a look 25 years into the future.

 

Skating Organization Files Lawsuit: The Sports Business Daily (subscription required) reports that the World Skating Federation has filed a lawsuit against the International Skating Union and its president, Octavio Cinquanta, for anti-competitive conduct. The suit claims that ISF and Cinquanta improperly maintain a monopoly over the sport of figure skating and related markets by threatening to blacklist or banish any person who provides support to the WSF.

You can read the complaint here. The WSF's press release can be found here.

Update: ISU President Cinquanta has denied any allegations of monopolistic behavior.

Monday, December 15, 2003
 

Update on Clarett Trial: ESPN's Tom Farrey reports that Maurice Clarett may have found a loophole in the NFL's three-year rule. Clarett claims that since he graduated in December of 2001, prior to the conclusion of the 2001 NFL season, he claims now that 3 NFL seasons will be completed since his graduation, making him eligible for the NFL draft in April. The NFL, of course, takes a different interpretation of the rule, saying that it only counts seasons that began after the player had graduated from high school.

This also raises the question of the legitimacy of the rule, which does not appear in the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement, and thus, may not be exempt from antitrust laws.

But, as the LA Daily News writes, Clarett is up against an organization that is determined not to open the floodgates to underclassmen and has the resources to outlast any legal challenges. The question then becomes- how many challenges can the league withstand? Larry Fitzgerald, the star sophomore wide receiver at Pittsburgh who finished second in the Heisman balloting, has also discussed the possibility of entering the NFL draft.

You can view the text of the Clarett complaint here.


 

New Era Pays in Overtime Settlement: Following a Labor Department investigation, New Era has agreed to pay $125 thousand to 596 current and former employees. The company failed to properly pay for overtime hours in a two-year period from 2001 to 2003.

 

Don King Beat Outside the Ring: After enduring multiple federal charges and lawsuits from former fighters, a jury in New York returned a verdict of $7.5 million against the boxing promoter. The plaintiff, Terry Norris, claimed successfully that King conspired to pay him much less than his contract required.

 

Dish Network v. Turner: EchoStar CEO Charlie Ergen has threatened to pull CNN, Cartoon Network and other Turner channels at the end of this year if Turner does not moderate its license-fee demands. The current deal expires December 31.

 

McCourt Financing Questioned in Bid for Dodgers: Frank McCourt, the Boston real-estate developer who is attempting to buy the Dodgers, may have difficulty getting the sale approved by major league baseball because his bid is so highly leveraged. Apparently, the finances of the deal are incredibly complicated, with a great deal of the $430 million coming in loans from NewsCorp, the current owner of the team, Aramark, which runs concessions at Dodger Stadium, and two to four other lending institutions.

Major League Baseball has a rule limiting the ratio of debt to equity that all potential owners must satisfy.

Saturday, December 13, 2003
 

Can a Current Player be an Analyst?: Both the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers have expressed concern over FOX's plan to use Bill Romanowski as an analyst at this week's game between the two teams. The teams claim that a player currently under contract with another team should not be allowed the information and access normally allowed to the network broadcasters. The Raider linebacker was forced to go on the injured list in October because of repeated concussions, but has not officially retired, nor has he indicated that he intends to.

 

Clarett's Lawyers Argue Case: The lawyers for Maurice Clarett, the former star running back at Ohio State, made arguments in front of Judge Shira Scheindlin of the Southern District of New York, asking the judge to enjoin the NFL from prohibiting Clarett from entering the 2004 NFL draft. The judge hopes to rule on the matter by February 1.

Clarett filed suit against the league in September, challenging the NFL rule a player cannot be eligible for the draft until three years after his high school graduation. Clarett and his lawyers claim this is an antitrust violation, as the NFL colludes with the NCAA to produce a "minor league" system, saving the NFL tens of millions of dollars.

Other leagues, including the NBA, have caved under similar suits, opening the door to high school players entering the league, which some claim has degraded the overall quality of play. The NFL, however, has repeatedly stated its intention to litigate the matter to the fullest, thus probably rendering the case moot because a final judgment will not be entered before Clarett is eligible under the current rule. The NFL's legal position is that its rule protects players that are not physically prepared to play in the league due to their inexperience.

 

NFL Issues Minority Interviewing Guide: The NFL has released 10 guidelines that all teams must follow when hiring a new head coach. The guidelines are part of the league's year-old policy to encourage the hiring of minority candidates for head coaching positions, which was instituted following complaints by Cyrus Mehri and Johnnie Cochran concerning the NFL's hiring practices.

The Detroit Lions were fined $200,000 last year when it hired Steve Mariucci without interviewing a minority candidate, despite the team's claim that 5 minority candidates turned down an interview. The Florida Marlins were reportedly fined by Major League Baseball in the spring after hiring Jack McKeon without interviewing any minority candidates. McKeon then led the Marlins to the World Series title five months later.

These steps by the league, while perhaps good on their face, so not seem like they will solve any problems. If a team is committed to one candidate, they will bring in one or two minority candidates for "interviews," while not seriously considering them for the job. It will waste the candidate's time, the team's time and allow the leagues to say they are remedying the problem without really solving anything. The league should be more focused on educating its minority players while they are in the league and giving them the skills that will make them great NFL head coaches in the future.

 

London Court Enforces Lewis's US Judgment: A London appeals court has upheld a previous ruling that will force Lennox Lewis's former promoters to pay the $6 million in damages awarded by a US District Court in March 2002. The suit, brought under RICO, claimed fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract and racketeering.

 

Corporate Law and the Nets: The YankeesNets group announced a breakup plan earlier this week that will undo the 1999 merger of the teams and place the Nets' owners in charge of selling the team. The merger between the two teams was never as successful as both sides had hoped it would be.

 

Update on SLOC Dismissal: Apparently, the government's case in the SLOC bribery trial was so weak that the judge declared it "offends my sense of justice." The judge, who was given high marks by jurors and court observers, consistently ruled against the government on motions and objections throughout the proceeding.

Thanks to How Appealing for the link.

 

Potential Problem with Beijing Logo: Due to a complexity of Chinese intellectual property law, the Beijing Olympic Committee may be forced to pay to use their own logo on commodities and other merchandise. Apparently, the BOC applied for a trademark for the logo but did not file for a design patent. An unidentified Chinese company designed a similar logo and filed for a design patent, removing the avenue for the BOC.

This controversy over IP rights spotlights a major concern of many sponsors and advertisers entering the Beijing games. China's notoriously lacking IP protection has given rise to black markets for all types of protected logos and artistic works. However, major sponsors will not be deterred from the chance to market to China, the world's largest untapped resource of potential income.

Thanks to the Trademark Blog for the tip.

 

Immigration Policy Catches NC State Diving Coach: John Candler, a former diving coach at NC State, was arrested last week as part of a national initiative to arrest and deport non-US citizens that have been convicted of sexually-related crimes involving children. Candler, a British citizen, was convicted twice of indecent liberties with a minor, once in 1966 and once in 1985.

The project, dubbed Operation Predator, is part of the increased security measures taken by the Department of Homeland Security, which now hosts two of the three agencies that formerly comprised the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

 

Webber Sues Dada Footwear: The Sacramento Bee reported last week that Chris Webber has filed a lawsuit against LL International Shoe Company, makers of Dada Footware, for breach of contract and other claims stemming from Webber's endorsement deal with the company. Webber claims numerous violations of the agreement he signed with Dada in 2002, including that the company failed to take his creative suggestions and issue him stock; and did not keep him as President of LL International's sports division.

 

Back to blogging: After two final exams and a computer malfunction, I am back to blogging. I apologize for the delay and will be catching up as much as possible.

Friday, December 05, 2003
 

NYRA to be Indicted: The New York Times reports today that the New York Racing Association, which operates horsetracks at Belmont and Saratoga, will be indicted today on charges of conspiracy, tax evasion and fraud. Under a deferred prosecution agreement, which is made for defendants showing good faith in correcting past mistakes, the NYRA will be allowed to continue operating its tracks and will pay a large fine. The indictment follows an investigation into the association after 19 mutuel clerks were convicted of tax evasion and money laundering.

 

SLOC Case Dismissed: A US District Court judge has dismissed the charges against the two men accused of bribing Salt Lake City Olympic Committee officials, saying the prosecution had provided "insufficient evidence" and failed to prove its case. The charges had included bribery racketeering, fraud and conspiracy. The motion for a directed verdict was granted one day after the prosecution rested its case.

Thursday, December 04, 2003
 

Design for Lacrosse Stick Ruled Stolen: A federal jury in Worcester (MA) has awarded a verdict of $2 million to Brine, Inc., after it ruled that fellow lacrosse manufacturer STX misappropriated its design for a new lacrosse stick. Those familiar with the industry say that the verdict may be enough to bankrupt STX. The company continues to deny it stole the design and plans to appeal the verdict.

 

Playmakers and the NFL: This is not yet legally-related, but I really hope that ESPN does not cave to the pressure of the NFL and cancel "Playmakers" for next season. The league has apparently not been happy with the show since its inception, as it dramatizes drug use, spousal abuse and a host of other problems in the context of an NFL locker room. On HBO last night, Paul Tagliabue again spoke out against the show, calling it a "gross mischaracterization of our sport."

There is some talk that the NFL will put pressure on ESPN to cancel the show or risk losing out on getting the valuable NFL television rights in the next contract phase. Gatorade has already pulled its advertising from the show, which some believe came after pressure from the NFL. I know that business is business, but if the show really is a fictionalized account, why should the NFL be worrying so much? Is it perhaps because the show hits a little closer to home than the league would like to admit?

Phil Taylor of SI.com comments here that the NFL should worry more about the actual players that inspired the drama, rather than the fictional characters. I have to say that I agree.

The Orange County register reports that the show is currently "in limbo" at this moment. (Link unavailable at this time- my apologies)

Wednesday, December 03, 2003
 

More on Earnhardt: From FindLaw, an article on the Supreme Court declining to hear the appeal concerning the Earnhardt autopsy photos.

Update: The Supreme Court today held oral argument on a different case involving autopsy photos, this one concerning the photos of Vincent Foster, a former White House attorney. This is most likely the reason the Court declined to hear the Earnhardt case, as it would probably be largely repetitive.

The difference between the cases seems to be the right on which the claim is based. In the Foster case, the claimed right is the Freedom of Information Act and in the Earnhardt case it is the 1st Amendment right to freedom of the press.

 

Disney Meets NASCAR: The Sports Business Daily (subscription required) is reporting that Disney has inked a deal with ISC to place Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck onto two Monte Carlos that will lead the parade lap at the beginning of the Daytona 500. This is the first time that Disney has allowed its characters to be placed on race cars, as the company has feared the damage to its image that could be done if the cars were involved in a bad crash. Having the cars be ceremonial eliminates this problem.

The deal also allows for the combination of some of the most lucrative intellectual property rights in the world: NASCAR, the Daytona 500, NASCAR's top race and Disney. To promote the deal, ISC and Disney will sell merchandise that combines NASCAR and Disney characters, which should make a lot of money.

In other NASCAR news, President Bush hosted nine of the top 10 finishers in the Winston (now Nextel) Cup at the White House.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003
 

News Update: The Sports Business Daily (subscription needed) reported yesterday that North Carolina has passed a law that will make it a felony for a sports agent to furnish anything of value to a student-athlete prior to signing a contract. High schools and colleges could sue a sports agent who violates the regulations. This would be a very interesting development in the land of recruiting, and probably will keep a number of high school camps and competitions out of North Carolina. Good for those legislators, though.

The San Diego Tribune reported yesterday that the Chargers have sued the City of San Diego to get out of their lease at Qualcomm Stadium. This has effectively ended the negotiations between the team and the city, fueling speculation that the team could move to Los Angeles (the team currently has training camp at the Home Depot Center).

ESPN reports that tennis star Kim Clijsters will not participate in the Olympics because she will not be allowed to wear apparel from her own sponsor. It is hard to decide who is most wrong in this situation: Clijsters (for choosing money over national pride), Belgium (for choosing money over having is best athletes) or Fila and Adidas, which cannot put aside sponsor wars for 2 weeks for the sake of the Olympic Games. This is reminiscent of the spectacle at the 92 Olympics, where Nike-sponsored Dream Team members used American flags to cover their Reebok warm-up logos and sadly reminds us all how money-driven the "amateur" Olympics has become. You would think, though, if the NBA stars in Barcelona (and since then) can get around sponsor agreements, Clijsters would be able to.

ESPN also reported that the Supreme Court denied cert in a case from Florida concerning a student newspaper's First Amendment right to view the Dale Earnhardt autopsy photos. More to come on this case.

Finally, ESPN reported that Jim Harrick has requested a hearing to clear his name from the allegedly defamatory statements issued by the University of Georgia against its former men's basketball coach.