Congressman compares NCAA to 'Al Capone ... Mafia'
A Democratic congressman compared the NCAA to the Mafia over how it controls the lives of student-athletes.
"I think they're just one of the most vicious, most ruthless organizations ever created by mankind," Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush said of the NCAA at a congressional forum on college sports Tuesday. "I think you would compare the NCAA to Al Capone and to the Mafia."
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Rush made the accusations at the forum called to look at the impact of "back-room deals, payoffs and scandals" in college sports. The congressman spoke after hearing from a couple of mothers of former student-athletes who complained of ill treatment by schools after their sons suffered injuries.
"Congressman Rush obviously doesn't know the NCAA," Bob Williams, a spokesman for the organization, said in an email Tuesday night. "The NCAA and its member institutions provide over $2 billion per year in scholarships, financial assistance and academic support to student-athletes ... second only to the federal government. Student-athlete success is our mission."
Two NBA players participated in the forum, Thaddeus Young of the Philadelphia 76ers and Shane Battier, a free agent who last played with the Memphis Grizzlies. Battier described a college regimen at Duke that included a workout at 6:30 a.m., followed by classes, practice between 4 and 7:30 p.m., and wrapping up schoolwork at 11:30 or midnight. "It is a full-time job," he said.
Battier called the NCAA's decision last week to allow conferences to provide student-athletes up to $2,000 in spending money "a great start. Is that a game-changer? No. What is a game-changer? A game-changer is guaranteeing 4-year scholarships. That's a game-changer," Battier said. "A game-changer is, 'If you commit to our school, and you graduate, we will pay for any graduate degree that you would like to pursue.'"
Hendrick home after plane crash
NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick returned home Tuesday, a day after he broke a rib and shoulder when his plane ran off the runway in Key West, Fla. Hendrick Motorsports said the brakes failed when the Gulfstream G150 landed at Key West International Airport on Monday night. The plane is co-owned by Jimmie Johnson and normally shuttles the five-time defending NASCAR champion and his family to and from races.
Hendrick, his wife, Linda, and the two pilots were all released from Lower Keys Medical Center on Tuesday morning and returned to Charlotte, N.C. Linda Hendrick sustained minor cuts and bruises. The two pilots were not injured. The plane apparently skidded off the 4,800-foot runway and came to a stop along a 600-foot unpaved safety area that had been added in May.
"If we hadn't done that, it likely would have been a different story," county airport director Peter Horton said of the safety area that is meant as a runway overrun space.
Stewart acquires new sponsorship
Tony Stewart won yet another race Tuesday, when he beat several other teams courting a sponsor new to NASCAR. Stewart signed Quicken Loans to a nine-race deal for Ryan Newman next season, a sponsorship agreement that gives Stewart-Haas Racing its most stable funding package since Stewart became co-owner in 2009. "We still have some gaps, but this is the best (sponsorship) position we've ever been in," Stewart said.
The two-time NASCAR champion is coming off Sunday's win at Martinsville Speedway, his third since the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship began. The victory moved him within eight points of series leader Carl Edwards with three races remaining. Stewart is trying to become the first driver-owner since Alan Kulwicki in 1992 to win the NASCAR championship.
His responsibilities as team owner require him to search for funding for Newman's car, as well as the new third team he'll field next season for Danica Patrick.
Women's golf team finishes fourth
The University of Kentucky women's golf team wrapped up the fall season with a fourth-place finish at the 14-team Alamo Invitational on Tuesday. The Wildcats were 19-over par for the three-day event. UK junior Ashleigh Albrecht and sophomore Liz Breed tied for eighth among individuals at 2-over 218, the first top-10 finish of Breed's career. "I am very proud of Ashleigh and Liz," UK Coach Golda Johansson Borst said. Host Texas-San Antonio won the tournament at 2-over (866). Runner-up Baylor was three shots back. Texas-San Antonio's Fabiola Arriaga was the medalist with a 3-under 213.
Women's soccer set for SEC tourney
The Kentucky women's soccer team begins play in the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Wednesday against Tennessee in Orange Beach, Ala. The sixth-seeded Cats (13-6-0, 6-5-0) face the Vols (14-5-0, 7-4-0) in the quarterfinals at 3:30 p.m. UK beat Tennessee 1-0 in double overtime in their last meeting. Kentucky won the SEC Tournament in 1995 and 2006.
Sports in the courts
Wallace pleads guilty in alcohol case
Prosecutors on Tuesday dropped a felony gun charge against Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of drunken driving and possessing a firearm while under the influence of alcohol. Wallace had no prior record and was cooperative with police when his Cadillac Escalade was stopped Sept. 24 in Oakland County's Bloomfield Township, assistant prosecutor Robert Novy said in explaining the reasons for the plea deal. A breath test showed Wallace's blood-alcohol level was 0.14 percent, above Michigan's legal limit of 0.08 percent. Police found an unloaded pistol registered to his wife in a backpack, but the charge was dropped. The maximum penalty is 93 days in jail, but defense attorney Steve Fishman expects probation and community service.
Top-ranked Djokovic wins in return
Novak Djokovic made his return after missing six weeks with a back injury and defeated Xavier Malisse 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in the first round of the Swiss Indoors on Tuesday. The top-ranked Serb overcame some difficult moments before improving his record this season to 65-3. Earlier, fifth-seeded Mardy Fish retired against fellow American James Blake after just one game because of a hamstring injury. Fish is hoping to qualify for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals for the first time. He stands in the eighth and final qualifying spot for the tournament starting in London on Nov. 20.
Son of ex-NFL QB Kramer found dead
Students at a Southern California high school are being offered grief counseling after the 18-year-old son of former NFL quarterback Erik Kramer was found dead at a friend's home. Thousand Oaks High senior Griffen Kramer died Sunday, according to a statement issued by the school. He was a backup quarterback on the school's varsity football team. Campus officials say Kramer went to sleep at a friend's house Sunday night and failed to wake the following morning. According to the statement, alcohol poisoning may have been involved. School officials declined to elaborate. Kramer's father played 10 years in the NFL, including five with the Chicago Bears.
The last word
A tweet from former U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger during the Dallas Cowboys' 34-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles:
"America's team is performing like America's economy."