Hartford Colonials to Open Mini-Camp to Public

June 11, 2010

The United Football League’s (UFL) Hartford Colonials kick off a three-day mini camp this morning at 9 am, at Sage Park in Berlin.  Team workouts are scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  There will be two practices on Friday and Saturday, with a morning session from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. and an afternoon session from 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. on both days. Mini Camp will conclude with a morning session on Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Continuing with the UFL’s fan-friendly theme, all sessions are open to the public.  Parking and admission are free.
“I think it will be a good situation for fans to come down,” Colonials Head Coach and General Manager Chris Palmer said. “It will be nice for the fans to get to know the Colonials. We’re excited about it. The players are excited about it.”

For UConn football fans, there are plenty of former Huskies to cheer on.  The roster includes former UConn players Dahna Deleston, Andre Dixon, Keith Gray, Mike Hicks and Danny Lansanah. 
Mini Camp schedule:
Friday, June 11:   9-11 a.m. and 2:30-4:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 12:   9-11 a.m. and 2:30-4:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 13:   9-11 a.m.
For ticket information and team news, go to www.HartfordColonials.com.

UConn: Breaking Down the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations

June 4, 2010

In Sunday’s Hartford Courant, Paul Doyle discusses the Notice of Violations that the NCAA served upon the University of Connecticut in connection with the men’s basketball program’s recruitment of Nate Miles.  I am quoted in the story along with sports law experts Michael McCann, Michael Buckner and David Swank.  It makes for an interesting read.

Here are my full observations on the issue:

First, the NCAA has only advanced allegations against UConn - the university now has an opportunity to respond and defend itself.  Of course, the allegations do arise from an investigation in which UConn was apparently a cooperative participant.

The overarching theme of the allegations against UConn is a failure to monitor. For example, UConn was allegedly aware of Josh Nochimson’s status as an agent as early as 1999, but continued to violate NCAA rules and deal with him. UConn assistants allegedly made numerous impermissible phone calls to recruits, but it appears that no one was tracking the calls to ensure compliance.

The Notice of Allegations provided some insight into the resignations of Beau Archibald and Patrick Sellers.  The NCAA alleges that each staffer “failed to deport himself in accordance with the honesty and integrity associated with the administration of intercollegiate athletics.”  The NCAA takes dishonesty during its investigations very seriously. Former Oklahoma State football player Dez Bryant lost most of this past season for misleading NCAA investigators, despite the fact that he was not found to have violated any NCAA regulations.

I would expect UConn to impose penalties on itself as a result of the investigation. UConn is also likely to take corrective measures to ensure that these violations are unlikely to be repeated.  In addition, I expect that UConn might challenge some of the more vague allegations such as the claim that Coach Calhoun “failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance.”  In the end, UConn’s penalty will be comprised of self-imposed violations and perhaps some recruiting violations imposed by the NCAA.

Also, the Kelvin Sampson case provides an interesting comparison, as we discussed last year.  The allegations of misconduct against UConn and Indiana both involve seemingly innocuous violations of excessive phone calls and text messages to recruits.  However, major differences exist. Indiana hired a coach, Kelvin Sampson, who was on probation with the NCAA for violations in connection with calling and texting recruits.  One could argue that Indiana had a heightened duty to monitor Sampson and the basketball program at large.  For UConn, there have been no prior issues involving this conduct.  As for penalties, Sampson personally received a severe punishment – a five-year show-cause penalty.  Indiana University received much less severe penalties, including a “failure to monitor charge”, three years probation and a variety of self-imposed penalties.  If found to have violated NCAA rules, UConn could argue that the penalty should be less severe than those imposed upon Indiana, since Indiana was on notice of Sampson’s prior violations.

Hartford Colonials, UConn Fans, Have Eyes on Dixon

June 2, 2010

By Dan Canavan

The Greater Hartford sports community was buzzing today over Howard Baldwin’s latest attempt to bring professional hockey back to Hartford, beginning with a series of outdoor hockey games at UConn’s Rentschler Field.  At the same time, one of Rentschler Field’s other tenants, the Hartford Colonials, have been preparing for tonight’s 2010 UFL Draft.  For an additional layer of intrigue, Colonials Head Coach Chris Palmer and his staff reportedly have their eyes on a former UConn standout.

The Colonials are considering selecting UConn running back Andre Dixon as the second overall pick.  During his last season as a Husky, Dixon rushed for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns.  Dixon played a prominent role in UConn’s signature double-overtime victory over Notre Dame and the bowl victory over South Carolina.   Despite attempts to break onto an NFL roster as undrafted free agent, Dixon fell through the cracks.  Now it appears that he’ll have to prove himself as an NFL prospect in the upstart UFL.

As the Colonials roster begins to take shape, Dixon appears to be a perfect fit for the Colonials.  The Colonials are looking to attract those same fans who have watched Dixon play on Saturday afternoons.   Dixon is not only familiar, but he is a talented back with size and a willingness to block.  Dixon could make an immediate impact on the Colonial’s offense, and will undoubtedly help sell the Blue and Gold to the Husky faithful.  Dixon will be an immediate ambassador for Hartford football, and he will lend a recognizable face to this new franchise.

UConn Assistants Resign Amid NCAA Probe

May 28, 2010

University of Connecticut assistant coach Patrick Sellers and director of basketball operations Beau Archibald have resigned from their positions at UConn in the wake of the NCAA’s investigation of rules violations in connection with the recruitment of one-time Husky Nate Miles.  UConn has planned a press conference today, at 10 am in Gampel Pavilion, to discuss the NCAA’s investigation. 

Mike Anthony of the Hartford Courant has the story on what appears to be the beginning of the fallout from the NCAA’s investigation:

UConn is expected to reveal the NCAA’s notice of allegations that indicates the NCAA enforcement staff believes that violations have occurred. The notice of allegations, in effect, notifies all involved parties of the alleged violations of NCAA rules uncovered during the inquiry.

The university has 90 days to respond to allegations made by the NCAA – at which time it is also likely [it] would recommend self-imposed sanctions. Eventually, there will be a hearing before the committee on infractions.

Click here to read the story in its entirety.

News of the NCAA’s investigation of UConn has been scarce since Yahoo! Sports made a splash by breaking the story during the 2009 NCAA tournament.  However, this was a significant story with the potential for serious repercussions for the UConn hoops program.  To refresh your memory, see the following articles from Connecticut Sports Law:

Yahoo! Reports that UConn Broke Recruiting Rules

3 Points on UConn’s Alleged NCAA Violations

Monday Sports Briefs: UConn Basketball Edition

NFL Draft Week

April 20, 2010

With the NFL Draft set to kick-off in prime-time on Thursday night, here are some links to get you prepared. 

Age Restrictions in the NBA and NFL Drafts 

Remember Maurice Clarett?  Check out this excellent piece from Michael McCann and Joe Rosen on age restrictions in the NFL and NBA, which we discussed in my Sports Law class at Quinnipiac Law School. 

Andy Lyons / Getty Images North America

Great Piece on UConn’s Marcus Easley 

Joe Fortenbaugh and Wes Bunting of the National Football Post have an excellent article on UConn’s Marcus Easley.  The former walk-on from Stratford, Conn. expects to be drafted. 

Gruden’s QB Camp 

If you like Jon Gruden’s work on Monday Night Football, you’ll love his piece on ESPN with the top four quarterback prospects, Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and Jimmy Clausen.  Check out the videos as well, especially with Tebow.

Friday Sports Briefs

April 9, 2010

Nickname Law

Dre Cummings over at the Sports Law Blog has a nice post on the legal battle over the University of North Dakota’s use of the “Fighting Sioux” nickname.  Here’s an excerpt:

The “Fighting Sioux” nickname/moniker has engendered deeply divided and passionate debate in North Dakota and amongst the two primary Sioux tribes in the area, the Spirit Lake Tribe and the Standing Rock Tribe. Under the NCAA’s policy that outlaws hostile and offensive mascots, University leadership can, despite the policy, still secure approval from local tribes and continue to use American Indian mascots. Florida State University has secured approval from the Florida Seminole Tribe and continues to use “Seminoles” and “Chief Osceola” as its mascot and nickname. The University of Utah has secured approval from the local Ute Tribe and continues to use “Runnin’ Utes” as its nickname.

Click here to read the post in its entirety.

On Field Injuries and Assumption of the Risk

Jason Wolf has an interesting post on a lawsuit arising from an injury on the baseball field.  A Canadian baseball player is suing the owner of the ballpark in which he was injured by a line drive.  The player alleges that owner failed to install a sun screen at the ballpark.

UConn’s Cullen Getting Some Looks from NFL

UConn’s personable punter, Desi Cullen, is getting some attention from NFL in advance of this month’s draft.  Desmond Conner has the story on his UConn Football blog.  Next week we’ll take a look at UConn and the NFL Draft.

UConn Achieves Perfection - Again

April 7, 2010

UConn is perfect once again.  Congratulations to the UConn Women’s Basketball Team and coach Geno Auriemma, on the Huskies’ 53-47 victory over Stanford to win the NCAA Championship.  Amazingly, UConn has gone undefeated in each of the last two seasons.  It is UConn’s seventh overall NCAA Championship.

A rally will be held at Gampel Pavilion at 5 pm tonight and is free of charge.

Eric Gay / AP

Friday Sports Briefs

April 2, 2010

Thanks to Ben Berger of FootieBusiness.com

As he mentioned on footiebusiness.com, Ben Berger was a guest lecturer in my Sports Law class at Quinnipiac School of Law this week.  Ben’s presentation was excellent and his knowledge of the business of soccer, especially MLS, was tremendous.  Although we tend to focus on the four major sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA & NHL), MLS arguably contains the most interesting legal and business issues.  From the single entity structure to free agency to transfer and loan issues, MLS has it all.  Tune in to footiebusiness.com and @footiebusiness to stay on top of these legal and business issues in MLS.

Thanks Ben!

Giuliani Golf Lawsuit

Jason Wolf over at the Sports Agent & Sports Lawyer blog has the story on the dismissal of Andrew Giuliani’s lawsuit against Duke over his removal from the university’s golf team.  Despite the dismissal, Wolf writes that lawsuits over broken promises may be actionable:

However, the Giuliani opinion held that certain statements made by the coach who allegedly recruited Giuliani were not clear enough to constitute a binding legal contract. This may be the key point in the opinion because if a player in a future lawsuit can prove that certain statements and promises were made to him, then he might have a stronger case than Giuliani.

Giuliani’s lawsuit isn’t the only such claim brought by a collegiate student-athlete against a university for broken promises.  In the early 1990′s Bryan Fortay, a University of Miami quarterback sued the school after it allegedly reneged on its promise that he would be named starting quarterback.

Conner on UConn Football

Desmond Conner has some great UConn football information posted on his blog, from UConn’s Pro Day results to the Huskies’ Spring Game.  It’s never too early to start thinking about football season.

Should Connecticut HS Coaches Encourage Players to Consider UConn?

March 8, 2010

Anyone who watched ESPN’s “30 for 30″ documentary “The U” recognizes how important it is for Division I college football programs to win the recruiting battles in their home state.  An important element in the recruitment of high school players is the university’s relationship with the high school football coaches throughout the state. Randy Edsall has publically criticized the Connecticut high school coaches for not providing UConn with the appropriate home-field advantage. In an article by the Hartford Courant’s Desmond Conner and Tom Yantz, Edsall is quoted as follows:

“There’s a lot of coaches in this state who have never even come up and seen our facilities,” Edsall said on signing day. “That’s what is disappointing me; we invite them up every spring for the clinic … spring practices are open. “We are better received, in my opinion, outside the state of Connecticut than what we are within the state of Connecticut — in certain pockets. That’s tough to say, but you’ve got to say it because it’s true.”

Fairfield County has been targeted as a problem area in the state:

When Edsall said “certain pockets” he didn’t elaborate but had to mean Fairfield County for one. That pipeline has been disconnected for a long time. Many of the state’s top talent plays in the FCIAC, but ends up at a Penn State or a Notre Dame. Of course, each has a long and glorious football history.

Click here to read the entire article.

Considering that Edsall typically refrains from making controversial comments to the media, we should assume that his comments were calculated.  It appears that Edsall believes that UConn football has arrived, and should receive the proper allegiance from Connecticut’s high school coaches and players.  After all, UConn sent a number players to the NFL last year and beat Notre Dame in front of a national audience

It is understandable that Edsall wants UConn to have its pick of the local high school standouts.  It is less clear whether it is necessary for Edsall to win the recruiting battles in-state to succeed.  Although Connecticut has produced some excellent players in recent years, it is not to be confused with a hot bed of football talent.

What do you think?  Should Connecticut coaches push their player to at least consider UConn?

Natick Football Players Commit to UConn, Southern Connecticut

February 6, 2010

Congratulations to Scott McCummings and Kevin Duffy, who signed letters of intent to attend and play football at UConn and Southern Connecticut, respectively.  Both players attend Natick (MA) High School, my alma mater. 

Congratulations are also in order for Natick coach and Athletic Director Tom Lamb, who recently announced his retirement following Natick’s 12-1 season.  Lamb finishes his hall of fame coaching career with a record of 248-65-2.

Check out this video of McCummings in action, especially the plays at 1:40 and 2:00 (nice deep throws); and 3:05 (great run, stiff-arm).