Posts Tagged ‘College’

The Federal Department of Education has recently initiated a Title IX investigation into the manner in which Florida State conducted its inquiry of the alleged sexual assault involving Jameis Winston and a female Florida State student back in December 2012. As a result of the DOE investigation, Florida State, who has previously stated that the matter was closed, has decided that Jameis Winston will now face a disciplinary hearing to determine whether he violated FSU’s code of conduct in relation to the incident.images

Jameis Winston, who, as its quarterback, led FSU to an undefeated season and national championship last season, was never charged with a crime when a state investigation into the matter ended in late 2013.

That being said, Jameis Winston has now been notified by a letter received from Florida State that “he might be charged with one of four violations of FSU’s student conduct code regarding sexual conduct.” Included in the letter, Florida State detailed a timeline of its handling of the case, breaking its silence on the matter that dates back to December 2012.

Per the school’s student conduct policy, Winston has five days to schedule “an information hearing” wherein he will be presented with his rights and learn more about the forthcoming conduct hearing. The conduct hearing will also determine whether or not Winston will be actually charged with breaching the school’s code of conduct. If he is found to have violated the student conduct policy he can be disciplined, with such discipline ranging from a verbal reprimand to expulsion.

Three individuals independent of the university have been selected by the Florida State to hear the case, though both Jameis Winston and his accuser will be able to “strike one of the people from hearing the case.”

The attorney for the accuser commented that the university going with a third party is a “highly unusual process,” but it does address “some concerns” about the school’s ability to effectively and fairly come to a decision amid months of intense media scrutiny.

The NCAA will move forward with plans to restructure the current Division I system and allow the so-called  “Power Five Conferences” greater autonomy because an override period for the Division I Board of Directors’ decision to restructure how member institutions govern themselves ended and the legislation did not acquire enough override requests to require the board to reconsider.images

As per the NCAA: “The override period for the Division I Board of Directors’ decision to restructure how members govern themselves ended today, and the legislation did not garner enough override requests to require the board to reconsider.

Of the 345 schools in the division, 27 schools requested an override of the legislation that finalized the restructuring plan, less than the 75 required.

The new governance structure provides student-athletes with a vote at every level of decision-making in Division I and will preserve and improve college sports, which has helped millions of student-athletes gain access to higher education and pursue a degree.”

The new model will allow the 65 schools in the top five conferences:

  • ACC,
  • Big Ten
  • Big 12
  • SEC
  • Pac-12

greater autonomy to determine their own rules concerning, among other things:

  • Meals and nutrition.
  • Financial aid.
  • Health and wellness
  • Expenses and benefits for student-athletes.
  • Expenses and benefits for prospective student-athletes.
  • Insurance and career transition.
  • Career pursuits.
  • Time demands.
  • Academic support.

The new model becomes effective for the 2015-2016 academic year, though the 65 schools have already begun developing their agenda for discussion at the 2015 NCAA Convention in Washington, D.C.

What does this mean for student-athletes? Is this a good thing for the athletes involved in college sports? We can only wait and see. The good news, the new governance structure provides student-athletes with a vote at every level of decision-making in Division I, something student-athletes have never had previously.

University of Michigan head football coach, Brady Hoke, decision to allow quarterback Shane Morris to continue playing after he took a violent hit to the head in his team’s 30-14 loss to Minnesota is inexcusable, and in my opinion a dismissible offense.

The play occurred in the fourth quarter when Shane Morris took a hard hit and was visibly dazed, so much so that he needed assistance in standing up. Despite needing to lean on teammates in order to maintain his balance, Morris was allowed by Coach Hoke to stay in the game for one more play.

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ESPN’s Ed Cunningham called the decision “appalling”:

“I got to tell you right now that No. 7 is still in this game is appalling. It is appalling that he was left in on that play to throw the ball again as badly as he was hit by [Minnesota]. To have No. 7 in the game on a gimpy leg after a hit like that, that is terrible looking after a young player.”

Coach Hoke compounded the issue two plays later when he decided that instead of using the third string quarterback, he would put Shane Morris back into the game after the quarterback who replaced him had to leave the field because his helmet fell off. Shame Morris was later carted off of the field of play.

After the game, Coach Hoke said he didn’t know if Shane Morris got a concussion and that he didn’t see that he was wobbly. He stated that Morris is tough and if he were concussed he wouldn’t have wanted to go back in the game:

“I don’t know if he had a concussion or not, I don’t know that. Shane’s a pretty competitive, tough kid. And Shane wanted to be the quarterback, and so, believe me, if he didn’t want to be he would’ve come to the sideline or stayed down.”

Coach Hoke, you may not have known if Shane Morris was concussed or not, but you should have. You are his coach, his leader and his guardian – and as such are responsible for looking out for his safety. Coach Hoke, your blindness if the form of a win/loss record allowed you to ignore the obvious to the point where you put a young player at risk of serious injury: injury that could have resulted in his death. What football player, or parent of a football player, would now want to play for you after seeing what you just put Morris through?

Especially since Michigan Athletic Director, Dave Brandon, confirmed that Shane Morris did, in fact, suffer a concussion in a statement wherein he apologized for miscommunications that allowed Morris to continue playing.

Luckily the University of Michigan and Coach Hoke’s actions have not gone unnoticed. U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr., has contacted Big Ten Commissioner, Jim Delany, requesting that he begin an investigation into how the matter was handled.

Congressman Pascrell is the co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force and in his letter to Commissioner Delany stated; “allowing a possibly concussed player to determine whether or not he is fit to return to play not only violates common sense, but is also an egregious violation of standard concussion protocol.”

Congressman Pascrell’s letter then cites head coach Brady Hoke’s comments about the situation from Monday.

“During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Michigan coach Brady Hoke initially stated that he “[didn’t] know if [Morris] has a concussion or not.” Hoke also stated that “Shane’s a pretty competitive, tough kid. And Shane wanted to be the quarterback, and so, believe me, if he didn’t want to be, he would’ve come to the sideline or stayed down.” Allowing a possibly concussed player to determine whether or not he is fit to return to play not only violates common sense, but is also an egregious violation of standard concussion protocol, including protocol set forth by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Big Ten Conference.”

Congressman Pascrell asks for Commissioner Delany to investigate the matter and “reexamine the protocols in place and what changes can be made to improve them” while also establishing “penalties for violations of concussion protocols.”

Additionally, University of Michigan students turned out Tuesday evening for a massive protest against Coach Hoke’s actions, chanting on the center of the campus before ultimately marching to the Michigan president’s house. This protest spotlights how times have changed and the issues of concussions and player safety have taken a backseat as to whether or not a team wins on Saturday.

While fans continue to love the physicality of the sport, in seems now that many are now becoming vocal guardians for their players’ safety.  But in all honesty, fans are not the player’s guardian – that role lies with the Head Coach.  Coach Hoke, as Shane Morris’ guardian,  you failed miserably.

 

The first college football coach to be fired comes early this year as the Kansas Jayhawks announced it will be releasing its head coach, Charlie Weis, from his official duties just four games into the season.

Coach Weis posted a 6-22 career record with the Jayhawks, including a 1-18 record in Big 12 play. The Jayhawks posted two wins this season over Southeast Missouri State and Central Michigan, but losses to Duke University and the University of Texas sealed his fate.

But the firing of Coach Weis will cost to the University approximately $7 million dollars. This is because KU terminated the contract with Coach Weis in only the third year of a five-year contract. Per the terms of the contract, however, KU is obligated to pay him the balance of monies owed for the current season and the next two seasons.

Therefore, Coach Weis, whose contract calls for him to receive approximately $2.5 million dollars a year, will receive the full balance owed to him of approximately $7 million dollars.[1]

But what allows for Coach Weis to continue receiving his millions of dollars per year even though he is relieved of the obligation to coach the football team? The answer is because Coach Weis, or the attorney/agent representing him, negotiated specific termination and buyout clauses as part of the employment contract.

Termination clauses in coaching contracts are broken down into two categories: termination for cause and termination without cause.

Termination for cause allows for a college or university to terminate a coach’s contract when it can show “just cause.”  Most universities maintain that “just cause” exist in situations when a coach violates a criminal statute, a coach knowingly commits or even condones by a member of his or her staff a violation of NCCA or conference rules by a member of his or her staff, a coach is unwilling to perform his or her duties, or in situations that would allow the termination of any other university employee considered to be in the same “classification” as the coach.

In addition, coaching contracts usually contain what is referred to as a “morals clause”. A typical morals clause states that any act by a coach, which is considered an act of moral turpitude, could result in termination. Acts of moral turpitude are usually defined as conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty, or good morals.

In an effort to protect the coaches and in the name of fair play, most termination clauses contain a due process section which include, or should include, the following: a notice provision, an opportunity to be heard or hearing provision, a term which outlines the time frame within such notice and hearing need to be scheduled, and what, if any, punishment could be enforced by the university if just cause is found to exist.

If a college or university can prove that it relieved the coach of his or her duties for cause, the school will be relieved from its obligation to pay him or her the remaining balance of monies owed under the contract.

Absent a finding of just cause, a college or university can still terminate a coach. However, they will be responsible for full payment under the terms of contract unless the contract calls for a negotiated predetermined settlement amount. Most predetermined settlement amounts consist of either a lump sum payment, full payment of all or specific components of the contract for the remainder of the contract term, or for a payment of a percentage of the compensation package for the remainder of the contract term. All of which, except for the lump sum, can be mitigated if the coach finds subsequent employment at another university or at the professional level.

If a coach, on the other hand, decides to breach a contract and work for another college or professional team before the expiration of his or her current contract, the coach would have to buy-out the remaining terms of his or her contract. Buyout clauses typically require a coach to pay their current university a specific amount in order for the coach to be released from a contract anytime before it has expired. Buyout clauses are an essential part of a coach’s contract from the university’s perspective since it is well established in the area of contract law that employers cannot sue for specific performance of a personal service contract. Per the terms of most buyout clauses, if a coach leaves before a release is obtained, he or she can be sued for breach of contract by the university or college. Therefore a buyout clause can discourage a coach from leaving a university early if the terms are severe enough.

In the end it is important to understand that even though negotiations are sometimes tough, intensive and time consuming, proper termination and buyout clauses are essential because they protect the interest of the coaches.

[1] What makes this even more interesting is that Coach Weis will also be paid under the terms of the contract he had with Notre Dame that he signed back in 2005. Per that contract, Coach Weis will be paid approximately $3 to $4 million dollars a year through the 2015 season. (Although this amount is mitigated by the KU contract.)