This morning, we start with some news that adds another perspective to the continuing debate of whether collegiate athletes ought to receive payment for their “services” to the university. Noah Lookofsky, a sports agent who “has represented athletes and entertainers” for the past eight years, finally grew weary of the “backroom handshakes” in dealing with high school and collegiate athletes wrought with potential NBA prospects. Recently, he chose to bring to light some of the dark underpinnings of collegiate athletics even though his revelations would open him up to litigation (Note: I think both sides should take responsibility for their actions). The article is thorough in painting a picture of how the relationship began, the astonishing amount of times the athlete accepted gifts, airline tickets and rent for his mother’s home (all of which seriously violate the NCAA), so I’ll leave you to read the intimate details. Here, I’ll simply focus on the bare bones and incorporate a few “shocking” comments and remarks.
The cycle begins with agents “funding” collegiate athletes. Agents provide money athletes with strong NBA drafting potential need in order to get through school, as well as providing luxury amenities (airfare for family, rental cars during away games, etc.) with the hope that their investment will lead to substantially more money once the athletes are drafted and sign with a team. Here, “mutual relationships had led Honeycutt…to Lookofsky,” and their relationship came to fruition when Honeycutt met Lookofsky at a Fourth of July party in 2008. Lookofsky’s perspective, their relationship would carry through the NBA draft, with Lookofsky representing him as a professional player. However, Honeycutt “signed with another agent — Jason Martin — and was drafted by the Sacramento Kings…in 2011.” According to Lookofsky, athletes often pull this stunt – and Honeycutt’s maneuver finally convinced him to stop doing it.
Rule 184.108.40.206. of the NCAA Division I manual specifically prohibits athletes from accepting any monetary benefits (or transportation) from an agent, or anyone who “represents any individual in the marketing of his or her athletics ability.” A violation of that nature is certainly present here, making Honeycutt’s NCAA competitions illegal. In total, Lookofsky invested approximately $55,800 in the former UCLA forward “while Honeycutt was in high school and college.” The expenses include, but are not limited to the following list:
- $340 for a Southwest Airlines roundtrip ticket to the Dec. 2, 2010, game at Kansas.
- $175 for a Southwest Airlines roundtrip ticket to the Jan. 13 and 15, 2011, games at Oregon State and Oregon.
- $179 for a Southwest Airlines roundtrip ticket to the Feb. 17 and 20, 2011, games at Stanford and California.
- $186 for a Southwest Airlines roundtrip ticket to the March 3 and 5, 2011, games at Washington and Washington State.
- $1,530 for two Alaska Airlines roundtrip tickets to the March 17 and 19, 2011, NCAA tournament games in Tampa, Fla., against Michigan State and Florida. The second ticket was for Stazel’s [Honeycutt’s mother] sister.
Lookofsky provided SB Nation with approximately 56 pages of documents which outlined the expenses and dealings between them. It includes bank account deposit slips, promissory notes, and payments for other expenses and “gifts” – all of which are illegal for athletes to accept (or even to deal with an agent while in high school or college, unless they go straight to the NBA). Lookofsky comments on the NCAA’s willful blindness to the clandestine dealings “until something is forced in their face that they have no choice but to deal with.” The article mentions further that Lookofsky believes “that over 60 percent of elite-level college basketball players have been paid by an agent either before or during their NCAA careers as incentive to sign with the respective agents.” Wouldn’t that be some irony if some of these same players are the ones fighting for unionization? While that is unlikely the case (and if it is, then the overwhelming hypocrisy should influence appeal boards’ decisions), one thing is true: something must be done to right these egregious wrongs.
Turning to some international news, Kraków will hold a referendum on May 25 in conjunction “with the European Parliamentary election…so as to ensure a high turnout” to decide, inter alia, whether Kraków should bid to host the Winter Olympics in 2022. . If Kraków wins the bid, its intention is to become the first Winter Olympics to be held across two countries – Poland and Slovakia. However, unlike Kraków, it appears that Slovakia will not poll its citizens to determine whether they desire an Olympic bid. Moreover, Kraków is the only city voting in this fashion. While Kraków continues to encourage other cities to follow through in polling its citizens, doubts of their inquiring of its citizens linger. Kraków, Almaty, Beijing, Lviv and Oslo are also contenders for the 2022 hosting spot. The IOC will make its decision during its Executive Board meeting in Lausanne on July 8-9.
According to the article, reports show that Almaty remains as the early front runner. However, Kraków has become the “potential dark horse” to “upset” Almaty in winning the bid. Lviv and Oslo are two contenders that are the most unlikely candidates to receive a bid. Ukraine continues to experience wide unrest, and the questionable public support for Oslo hosting the Games caused its government to withhold its endorsement.
We return to the debate about college athletes unionizing. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown voiced his opinion in favor of unionization, directly opposing Ohio State University’s football coach Urban Meyer’s comment that athletes are not employees under federal labor laws. “College athletes dedicate the same hours to their sport as full-time employees and deserve the same protections,” Brown said. I suppose that Brown is of the mindset that big college athletic programs are meant only to protect athletes’ ability to practice and play more, not to keep them in classrooms more often. I hope he will not feign surprise when these athletes leave school and complain to individuals about the lack of protection and their lack of job prospects.
The IAAF imposed a four-year ban on “disgraced Belarussian shot putter Nadzeya Ostaphcuk” after she failed her second positive drug test for performance enhancing drugs. Athletics New Zealand may appeal the decision because it believes that the IAAF’s failure to impose a lifetime ban was done in error. Ostapchuk’s ban ends during the second week of the Summer Olympics (August 14, 2016), meaning that she will be ineligible to compete in the upcoming Olympics since she cannot qualify.
The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will begin the ceremony this July 23 by destroying “several high-rise buildings that dominate the Scottish city’s skyline.” A new study that debuted recently shows that people who participate in cardio fitness during their mid-20s will likely experience “lower cognitive decline 25 years later.”
And, just for fun, here’s an article about how humans are better at getting faster than horses. The article can be a little misleading at first. Initially, it seems that humans were beating horses at races, which is clearly not the case. Rather, the article suggests that with technology, scientific study and evolution, humans are better at breaking the “fastest speeds” in certain distances. The reason for that is likely due to how much horsebreeders spend on making the “perfect specimen.” In short: humans have yet to reach their maximum potentials, while horses may be nearing their maximum potential.