Big 12 Morning Five: 11.08.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on November 8th, 2011

  1. The pre-season Naismith Award list was released Monday by the Atlanta Tip-Off Club’s Board of Selectors, and it includes five Big 12 players: Perry Jones (Baylor), Quincy Miller (Baylor), Khris Middleton (Texas A&M), Marcus Denmon (Missouri), and Thomas Robinson (Kansas). All five are more than deserving to make the list, and they’ll all contend for Player of the Year honors in the Big 12, at the very least. The committee left off a couple of notable names, though. If Miller can get a vote, then why can’t Oklahoma State’s LeBryan Nash? In the end, of course, it’s all semantics. The list will be narrowed to the top 30 players in February.
  2. It looks as though the Big 12 will continue to confuse most Americans by remaining at 10 teams for the 2012-13 season. You’d think it would make a little more sense for a league called the Big 12 to have, you know, 12 teams, but OU president David Boren said Monday that no expansion will occur next season. However, here’s a curveball: After the 2012-13 season, Boren said the league may have an opportunity to return to 12 teams. The math would finally align, and the world would once again be normal. But does that mean that realignment apocalypse isn’t over yet? We may have to run through this same drill in two years.
  3. All anyone ever wants to talk about at Missouri is how much the move to the SEC will benefit the school financially. However, there could be some related money troubles on the horizon. According to the Associated Press, MU may need to pay $26 million in exit fees to leave the Big 12. Plus, upon joining the SEC, Missouri may be expected to upgrade its facilities and scholarships to stay competitive. Gov. Jay Nixon wouldn’t comment on the issue, but the state’s budget chairman said he hasn’t heard back from MU officials as to how they plan to pay for the move.
  4. Speaking of Missouri’s move… Kansas isn’t too happy about the potential death of the Border War. Just take a glance at some of the comments from the Kansas camp. Bill Self has said that KU has “absolutely no obligation whatsoever to play Missouri in basketball. None.” And football coach Turner Gill echoed that statement, saying he does not see the annual game on the gridiron in Kansas City continuing past this season. After a century of battles — both literally and figuratively, as it does of course date back to skirmishes during the Civil War — it’s hard to accept that Kansas may end the Border War just like that. Self also said “the majority of Kansas fans don’t give a flip about playing Missouri,” but we’re not so convinced that’s true, either. From both perspectives, the end of the rivalry would be a tragedy. Let’s hope clearer heads eventually prevail — college basketball is better when the Border War game continues.
  5. Sticking with Kansas here, ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan had a nice write-up about the importance of Jayhawk guard Tyshawn Taylor. It’s no secret he’s struggled with consistency during his time in Lawrence, but now it’s time for him to step up as the leader of this squad along with Thomas Robinson. Self has said that Taylor has “matured so much,” and that would be terrific news for a KU team looking to win its eighth straight Big 12 title. Without a fine performance from Taylor this season, Kansas cannot win. It’s as simple as that.
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Tim Donaghy Scandal Fallout

Posted by rtmsf on July 21st, 2007

Much is going to be made over the next week over the disclosure broken Friday by the New York Post that Tim Donaghy, a veteran NBA referee, allegedly became heavily indebted through illegal gambling and was using his position as an official to manipulate point spreads by proxy of organized crime. In other words… pointshaving, quite possibly the dirtiest word in sports. The only good news for the NBA was that the news hit on a summer Friday afternoon after a week of wall-to-wall Michael Vick and Barry Bonds-related outrage coverage.

Tim Donaghy and Kobe

“Kobe, do you think you could help a fellow Philadelphian out here?”

The outcry already predictably ranges from the overtly dismissive from Nate Jones at AOL Fanhouse:

For some reason the ref story isn’t that big of a deal to me. Unless of course it comes out that the ref is 2006 Finals MVP Bennett Salvatore. I feel like there are bad apples in EVERY organization. So it’s not a surprise that one ref out of all of the refs in the history of basketball decided to go down the gambling route.

And Greg Anthony at espn.com:

While some who are critical of the NBA point to this being an organization’s problem, I see this more as probably one man’s human error.

To Bomani Jones of Page 2 accusing NBA brass of negligence for not sniffing this out sooner through its review process:

Should the reports be true, Donaghy worked for a league that couldn’t catch on to what he was doing. For all we know, the NBA couldn’t tell if Donaghy was blind as Jose Feliciano or as connected as Jack Molinas. In spite of having mountains of data on officiating, enough to produce a rebuttal to a scholarly paper about whether foul calls are affected by the race of the referee and the player whistled for the infraction, the NBA apparently couldn’t tell something was awry. That’s all bad for the NBA, and probably worse than it would be for any other league. After decades of cockamamie conspiracy theories and a season that will be remembered more for tanking than playing, the last thing the NBA needs is anything that could give credence to any allegations of shady business. Especially if the shade was brought on by negligence. Absolutely, corruption is worse than incompetence. But what’s worse than both of them? Hiring someone corrupt and not knowing any better.

To using this incident as a proactive agent of change, as Mark Cuban suggests in blog maverick:

Every company of any size has had a problem(s) that its CEO and stakeholders have lost sleep over. Its the law of big numbers. If enough things go on, something is going to go wrong. Products get recalled or are tampered with. There are workplace disasters. There is corruption. No industry is immune. Churches, consumer products, law enforcement, cars, planes, trains and plenty more. No profession is immune. From the CEO who misrepresents corporate numbers or events at the expense of shareholders, to the doorman who tips himself from the cover charge at the expense of the club owner, people of every profession make bad decisions. Shit happens. Bad Shit happens. When it does, there are two options. Cry over it and do nothing or recognize the problem and do the best you possibly can to not only fix it, but make the entire organization stronger.

To the downright apocalyptic from Jennifer Engel at the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram:

Whatever his previous failings, and his handling of that little Suns-Spurs brouhaha immediately jumps to mind, Stern obviously understands what is in danger of being lost. You. The fan. The guy who is left wondering what, if anything, you saw in the NBA was real. He understands this poses a far more insidious danger to his league than Vick does to the NFL or Bonds to Major League Baseball. They can make Vick go away. Bonds eventually will go away. Doubt is far tougher to suspend. Which is why the NBA has scoreboard on every other sport for the worst of the bad weeks.

To the Vegas reaction from NBA aficianado David Aldridge:

There was no detectable change in betting patterns in Las Vegas casinos on NBA games during the last couple of years, according to Jay Kornegay, who runs the sports book at the Las Vegas Hilton and spoke by telephone today. “We usually hear something if there’s some unusual movement or unusual betting patterns. . . . There’s usually some kind of discussions about them. We don’t remember anything like that,” Kornegay said. Kornegay said he wasn’t concerned about taking action on NBA games in the future. Sports book betting makes up only about 2 percent of all betting action, he said “We are a very well-regulated industry out here, and I have all the faith in the world in our system,” he said. “I’m more disappointed than concerned. It doesn’t just shake the NBA; it shakes the whole sports world.”

To the silly, from freedarko.com:

But in another way, this is really good for the league. Fine, some games–most likely regular season ones, which everyone agrees mean nothing–were competitively tainted. Yet this most ordinary of sports scandals might serve as a reality check on all the stupid shit people say about the NBA. This is how things are weird in a sport; the commish doesn’t write the script for the postseason in advance, the refs are programmed to give close calls to whoever garners the highest ratings, and China isn’t secretly controlling the whole thing from behind the muslin curtain.

To Marty Burns at cnnsi.com discussing the referees’ collective feelings:

We’re angry. We’re angry. That’s for sure,” he said. “It’s not fair that one guy, one bad apple, brings down the whole officiating [staff]. It’ll trickle down to the college game, too. Every controversial call at the end of a game, somebody will question it… “I am sick of having to defend ourselves. We just got over the IRS thing, and now we have to defend ourselves all over again.”

To the deserving self-aggrandizement of Unsilent at Deadspin for “calling it” (did he have money on which ref it was?):

Just as I predicted Donaghy was identified as the target of the FBI’s gambling investigation. [...] Of all the refs I heckled last year there were only two that could really piss me off. One was a dick (Steve Javie) and the other was either the most incompetent referee alive or a soulless shell of humanity with mob ties. I have no idea whether he had money riding on any of the seven Wizards games I watched him work this season, but it sure would clear things up a bit.

To Jack McCallum at cnnsi.com quoting pejorative attacks on the man’s character:

The league source close to Philly put it this way: “He’s the kind of guy who is always in fights. When he was a kid, you’d see him throwing rocks at cars. He’s just an asshole. No one likes the guy. He’s always in fights on the golf course, that kind of thing. He’s a very antagonistic guy. When you have too many enemies, one of them comes back to bite you.”

In other words, a little bit of everything. Already we’re seeing evidence of every local NBA paper taking a closer look at games in which Donaghy worked. Feel free to interpret “worked” in any way you choose there. We’ll be back tomorrow with a closer look at how we feel sports gambling potentially impacts sports at both the collegiate and professional levels. Our essential conclusion is that this sort of thing happens a lot more than we all think. Unfortunately.

Update:  Simmons puts his ten cents worth here while Henry Abbott at TrueHoop and Dan Shanoff call for transparency.

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