Column: How College Sports Dodge TaxesJanuary 11, 2018

When Alabama beat Georgia for the National Championship it put an end to the 2017 college football season. What will continue is the tax dodge engaged in by college sports programs around the country. Historically, college sports were viewed as merely ancillary to the educational purpose of universities. The concept was akin to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 1922 that granted MLB an antitrust exemption because, according to the Justices, baseball wasn’t “a business.” Both decisions may have made sense decades ago when revenues were generated primarily from ticket sales, but they seem absurd today. NCAA Division I sports programs generate an estimated $8 billion a year and tickets represent only a fraction of that total. That’s more income than the NHL and the NBA – approximately $4.5 billion and $6 billion, respectively - generate.

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Column: Is It Time To Get Rid Of Replay?January 4, 2018

If the names Don Denkinger and Jim Joyce ring a bell, you know why we have instant replay in sports. The two former MLB umps are part of MLB history – for the wrong reason. Denkinger famously blew a call at first base in game six of the 1985 World Series when he called Kansas City Royals pinch-hitter Jorge Orta safe on an infield squibbler. Orta, leading off the bottom of the ninth inning with the St. Louis Cardinals up 3-2 and on the verge of closing out the Series, was clearly out. With two outs in the inning, the Royals scored two runs, won the game 4-3 and won game seven the next night. As any Cardinals fan will tell you, Denkinger’s gaff cost St. Louis the World Series.

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Column: Looking Ahead To 2018December 28, 2017

The age-old question – Where does the time go? – can never be adequately answered. But if you’re reading this, you made it through 2017 and hopefully you’re looking forward to 2018. So let’s dust off the crystal ball and see what’s ahead in the world of sports business. NFL ratings continued to plummet in 2017 – by last count down by 8.4 percent over 2016, which declined from the previous season. While those numbers would give most leagues apoplexy, NFL programming is still the number one watched show on every network. In a world with more TV choices than ever, lower ratings aren’t taken as seriously as they might have been a decade ago. Don’t be surprised if NFL ratings continue to decline in 2018.

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Column: Tennessee Will Pay Greg Schiano For Not CoachingDecember 21, 2017

On November 26, the University of Tennessee hired Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano to be its next football coach. Within a matter of hours UT experienced a case of buyer’s remorse, a decision that will cost the University millions of dollars. Tennessee director of athletics John Currie and Schiano signed a Memorandum of Understanding setting forth the basic terms of their agreement. Schiano would have been paid $27.7 million over six years. The Memorandum further stated that it "constitutes a binding agreement between Coach and the University..."

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Column: Justice Served In Nassar CaseDecember 14, 2017

“Today, the justice feels very incomplete.” Those words were uttered by Rachael Denhollander after Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison. Denhollander was the first person to publicly accuse Nassar, a former team doctor for USA Gymnastics and the Michigan State University gymnastics team, of sexually abusing hundreds of gymnasts – one of whom was only 9 years old - under the guise of medical treatment. What would constitute justice for a monster who sexually abused hundreds of girls and women? More importantly, what should justice look like to Nassar’s victims? The sentence virtually guarantees that Nassar will spend his remaining life behind bars. Is that sufficient punishment when it will take his victims years, if not a lifetime, to heal from the wounds he inflicted upon them?

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Column: NCAA Continues To Embarrass ItselfDecember 7, 2017

Perhaps the only certainty in college sports is that the NCAA, the governing body for Division I, II and III sports, has made a cottage industry out of denying basic human rights while simultaneously embarrassing itself. The latest, and certainly not the last, ridiculous ruling was the one-game suspension of University of Houston basketball guard Rob Gray prior to the season opener against McNeese State. Gray’s crime was playing in a church recreation league game over the summer. Apparently, the NCAA justified the suspension because a friend of Gray’s paid the $5 fee which allowed him to suit up for the Second Baptist Church. You may recall this is the same organization that once ruled a bagel did not constitute an extra benefit, but adding cream cheese – who eats bagels without cream cheese? – was a Bylaw violation warranting a suspension.

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Column: The Hidden Finances Of Military Sports ProgramsNovember 30, 2017

If you want to know how much U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis earns, you can look it up ($207,800 annually). However, try to find out how much coaches at U.S. Military Academies make and you run into a steel curtain. Mattis’ salary – like any government expense - is a matter of public record. Athletic department budgets at our military academies are not. At first blush, the distinction seems inexplicable. Service academies are public institutions funded by taxpayers. Yet Army, Navy and Air Force athletic departments refused to divulge basic information - such as coaches’ salaries and contract terms - to USA Today. Why the secrecy? What it boils down to is the military academies don’t believe they are subject to public records law when it comes to athletic department budgets. Not everyone agrees.

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Column: Is Mark Cuban A Prophet?November 23, 2017

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban knows a thing or two about trends and investing, knowledge that made him successful in business. Now you might be able to add NFL prophet to his list of qualifications. Three years ago, Cuban predicted a decline in the NFL’s popularity, due primarily to an oversaturation of the product. NFL games were everywhere, Sunday afternoon on CBS and FOX, Sunday evening on ESPN, Monday night on NBC, and a Thursday night package shared among CBS, NBC and the NFL Network. The League also shows games from London on Sunday morning and will add Saturday night games next month. In addition, 11 of the 14 Thursday games are streamed on Amazon. And those are just the live games.

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Column: Cowboys' Owner Jerry Jones At War With NFLNovember 16, 2017

Forget the Russian probe. Jerry Jones versus the NFL – and Commissioner Roger Goodell – is the most interesting legal matter in the country. If you think the previous statement is a bit facetious, think again. Regardless of the outcome of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, it won’t have as great an impact on the average American as the outcome of the Jones-NFL feud. While Mueller may put a few greedy incompetents behind bars, and precipitate the resignation of a few more, like it or not Donald Trump will be our president until the 2020 election. Goodell only wishes he had Trump’s security.

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Column: Republican Tax Bill Targets SportsNovember 9, 2017

The long-awaited Republican tax plan unveiled last week contained proposals which would benefit some taxpayers and negatively impact others. The sports world is no exception. One provision specifically targets professional sports and another is aimed at college sports. A proposal to eliminate tax-exempt financing for sports facilities takes direct aim at the professional ranks. Even if it’s adopted, governmental entities could still pay for new sports facilities but they’re likely to cost more. Cities may be forced to seek alternative sources of revenue or reduce the size of facilities. Major League sports, considering their substantial resources, will be less affected than Minor League sports.

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