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September 19, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



The Morning Dish – Friday, September 19th

Michigan Bills Webber: With former Michigan and current Sacramento King Chris Webber entering a guilty plea to criminal contempt charges, the University of Michigan has asked District Judge Nancy Edmonds to order Webber to reimburse the school’s legal fees and losses from NCAA penalties. Webber’s charges mean that he lied to a grand jury when he stated he didn’t recall former Michigan booster Ed Martin giving him over $600,000. Because of the scandal, Michigan last season was forced to forfeit the NCAA finalist titles, and over 110 games that Webber, Maurice Taylor, Robert Traylor, and Louis Bullock played in, including giving back prize money. The school is seeking compensation for that money and its legal fees from Webber, estimated at $695,000, including the $325,000 in prize money, $350,000 in legal fees, and a $19,000 grant to Webber. Marvin Krislov, the university’s general counsel, said that, “such a payment would reflect Mr. Webber’s long history of deceit, would counterbalance the harm caused the university by that deceit, and have the added benefit of discouraging other student athletes from making similar errors.”

Spending Money: Discussion is raging on the latest NCAA idea – pay student-athletes. Now this isn’t Nebraska’s scheme to give them boatloads of cash, but the proposal would give student-athletes $2,000 above the room, board, tuition and books that scholarships currently cover. Athletes, who are not permitted to have a job, often can’t come up with the extra cash for thing that all college students need – toiletries, phone bills, and even an occasional movie. The figure, on the low end of the gap between the cost of attending college and the full cost of an education, was endorsed by NCAA President Myles Brand yesterday to the New York Times. The idea is gaining momentum in light of recent legislation in Nebraska to pay student-athletes, and in California, barring the state’s schools from following the NCAA’s rules. Both measures were passed to pressure the NCAA into this idea, which may take years to implement.

Buffalo Extended: Colorado has approved the three-year contract extension to head coach Ricardo Patton. Patton, who agreed in principle with the school on the deal August 20th, will receive a package of $586,000 annually in total compensation, including his base salary of $153,000, along with a $130,000 Nike allowance, $117,000 for television and radio appearances, and $35,000 in supplemental salary and auto allowance. The deal will keep Patton in Boulder through the 2007-08 season. The original deal was a five-year extension, but would have allowed the school to fire him if he didn’t reach the NCAA tournament twice in three seasons.

Dan Blames Hoops: Commenting on why ratings are falling for his “CBS Evening News” broadcasts, Dan Rather surmised that the NCAA Tournament was to blame. As reported in the New York Daily News, Rather agreed with critics that said CBS couldn’t take advantage of excellent Iraq coverage because the newscasts were pre-empted for the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament. “I regretted that the basketball tournament came at the precise wrong moment for us. It was kind of a perfect storm – in terms of what we wanted to do covering the war and the airtime available to us.” NBC and ABC widened their lead in the ratings over CBS in the following months.

New Scholarship: The NCAA has granted New Mexico request for a compensatory scholarship, due to the death of sophomore guard Billy Feeney, who committed suicide late last month. The scholarship can be used to recruit a player for the 2004-05 season. Feeney, who had experienced trouble with his girlfriend, had called head coach Ritchie McKay the morning of his death to tell him he was at the bus station with a ticket home. He was later found hanging from a light pole in an apartment complex nearby. Last week, the toxicology report indicated that Feeney’s blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit at the time of death.

Checking the Alamo: The NCAA toured the San Antonio Alamodome earlier this week, inspecting it prior to this season’s Final Four. As the San Antonio Spurs have moved into a new facility, the NCAA is worried about the dome’s upkeep, especially with the organization awarding the 2008 Final Four to the city. NCAA executive vice president Tom Jernstedt told the San Antonio Express-News that, “It will be important for the city to keep it as a top-flight facility. We’re confident it will be.” The 1998 Final Four generated $46 million for the city, and similar numbers are expected in April.

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