Photo via: The Buffalo News
Author Note: This is a newly implemented weekly read that will be released Monday mornings!
A quick read to catch you up in sports and law.
A lot has happened recently in sports. No, I am not talking about the Masters. However, congratulations to Hideki Matsyuma for being the first Japanese man to win a major.
What we will discuss is a rundown of important topics and issues that will have an impact on both college and pro sports for the foreseeable future.
The MAC Rules the Bulls Ineligible
The Mid-American Conference stood their ground in ruling the UB women’s soccer team ineligible to reschedule a game against Bowling Green. This decision, made on April 8, is a confirmation of the MAC’s Covid-19 bylaws that were created prior to the start of the season by MAC officials, coaches, and school administrators.
However, this determination comes with scrutiny. You see, the Bulls should be playing a makeup game against Bowling Green after a game earlier in the season had to be canceled due to Covid-19 precautions. The Bulls have a MAC record of 6-1-1. Bowling Green has a MAC record of 5-1. Bowling Green currently has a better winning percentage, however if the Bulls won, they would be pushed ahead of Bowling Green in win percentage and be competing in the NCAA tournament as a result.
Yet, the makeup game is never going to happen. In the aforementioned Covid-19 bylaws, per The Buffalo News, Bulls head coach Shawn Burke cited a typo in the bylaws pertaining to the scheduled period for makeup games to be played. Makeup games should be rescheduled for April 14 and 15. However, according to Burke, the agreement among the Covid-19 MAC committee to make the week between the end of the regular season and the conference final open for makeup games was misprinted in the bylaws to read April 7-11. When Burke made an appeal, the conference pointed to the typo and ruled against the Bulls and Bowling Green playing a makeup game
Interestingly enough, the Big Ten during the college football season, altered their rule requiring teams to play a minimum of six games to qualify for its championship game. The Big Ten did this to allow Ohio State – undefeated through five games – to play in the championship game. Although slightly different facts, there is precedent for flexibility in Covid-19 bylaws.
The MAC could easily be flexible in a year where everything, but certainty is certain.
The NCAA is Punching the Air Right Now
Well, the University of Central Florida (UCF) did not take long to spring themselves into the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) conversation. During UCF’s spring game, the school allowed its players to wear their social media handle as their name plate on their jersey.
This seems to be a move in preparation of the Florida NIL Bill that will go into effect July 1, 2021. Florida, along with New Mexico, are the only two states that have a NIL Bill that will go into effect this year. UCF took no time in flexing Florida’s proactive move to allow students to profit using their NIL. It will be interesting to see how UCF and other Florida schools use the NIL Bill to gain a competitive advantage in recruiting.
This is certainly going to cause pressure on schools outside of Florida and New Mexico and thus, on other states to push forward NIL Bills. Nick Saban is surely calling NCAA president Mark Emmert as you are reading this. However, Emmert is still patiently waiting for the Supreme Court ruling in NCAA v. Alston.
NFT – NCAA = NIL Profit
I know what you are thinking, “Name, Image, and Likeness, again?” Despite, the topic being brought up at nausea, we are here for one last dance with NIL … for today (blame the NCAA not me). However, I have good news, this NIL is no issue at all. That is because Luka Garza, the former Iowa basketball player is no longer within reach of the NCAA.
Per ESPN, Garza along with his father and a team of designers created Garza’s own non-fungible token (NFT). If you have missed the waive of NFT talk, all you have to know is it is a digital product like a video clip or digital artwork that provides a consumer with ownership rights over said digital product. Think of the original Mona Lisa if it were in the digital space or a video clip of the infamous Scott Norwood field-goal being sold as a digital moment – to soon?
Anyways, NFT’s became popular in the sports bubble after the NBA brought trading cards into the digital world with NBA Top Shot. NBA Top Shot sold moments from NBA games as trading cards where consumers could buy and sell the moments like they are Steve Cohen on wall-street. The interesting thing about these moments is anyone can watch them at any time outside of NBA Top Shot. Yet, the moments still hold value. Currently, NFT’s have cooled down a bit since their hot start. Nevertheless, the market is brand new and athletes such at Garza have a real opportunity to profit off of their NIL through NFT’s.
Garza is hoping to set an example for NCAA athletes for when the inevitable NCAA blockade on NIL use is lifted. Garza auctioned an NFT for over $40,000 according to OpenSea and donated a portion of the proceeds to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
If You Do Not Succeed the First Time…
Speaking of Steve Cohen, Alex Rodriguez, after a failed attempt at buying the New York Mets, has successfully bought an NBA franchise along with former Walmart executive Marc Lore. The ownership team purchased the Minnesota Timberwolves and the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx from now former owner Glen Taylor. Details of the purchase have yet to be released as the two sides are still negotiating a price and have 30 days to do so. However, what we do know are two things (1) Taylor will remain the franchise’s controlling owner until 2023 and (2) Taylor purchased the Timberwolves in 1994 for $88 million and the selling price looks to be around $1.5 billion. Not a bad investment.
This deal comes out of left-field as former Timberwolves star, Kevin Garnett, recently attempted to buy the team and struck-out. It would seem like a fast-break layup to bring Garnett on board as Rodriguez takes over. Yet, given the Timberwolves history as a franchise, they will probably miss on the opportunity to bring in such an important figure.
Let’s just hope for Rodriguez that the Timberwolves lose enough games to keep their top-three protected draft pick this year to draft Cade Cunningham.
The NBA, MLB, and NHL Takes a Stand – By Sitting Out
In serious news, Minnesota professional sports teams in the NBA, MLB, and NHL canceled their games on April 12 due to the police killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright just outside of Minneapolis. The Twins were the first to postpone their game against the Red Sox. The announcement reads as follows,
Out of respect for the tragic events that occurred yesterday in Brooklyn Center, and following the additional details in this evolving situation, the Minnesota Twins have decided it is in the best interests of our fans, staff, players and community to not play today’s game. The decision was made by the Minnesota Twins after consultation with Major League Baseball, and local and state officials. Information regarding the rescheduling of today’s game, and corresponding ticket details, will be released in the near future. The Minnesota Twins organization extends its sympathies to the family of Daunte Wright.https://www.mlb.com/press-release/press-release-minnesota-twins-statement-on-postponing-today-s-game-vs-boston
The Timberwolves and Wild each released similar statements.
We have seen professional sports teams take similar action previously after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Let us all comes together and support each other during this time.
3rd year law student and Co-President of the Buffalo Sports ands Entertainment Law Society. I enjoy writing and learning more about the intersection of business, sports, entertainment and law.