Tag Archives: Mitchell Smith

NCAA football player sues university for failure to educate

November 17, 2014

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By Mitchell Smith – Thompson Rivers University 3L JD Student

Michael McAdoo played football at the University of North Carolina (“UNC”) from 2008 to 2010. In 2010 McAdoo was found ineligible to play and dismissed from the football team because he was accused of having a tutor do improper work on one of his papers and breaching NCAA eligibility requirements.

McAdoo later became one of the first players to shed light on a supposed 18-year academic scandal that was used in order to keep athletes eligible to play sports. The scandal involved the creation of fraudulent classes that never met or taking “paper classes”, where the only requirement was completing a single paper. The classes were then used to inflate players’ grade point average or GPA.

According to a CNN report, McAdoo is now suing the university in federal court. He is accusing the university of breaking its promise to provide an education in return for playing sports. His lawyers are attempting to represent a class of North Carolina scholarship football players who played between 1993 and 2011.

The lawsuit stems from an independent report, which was released last month. The report demonstrates how academic counselors in UNC’s athletic department pushed its athletes into these no-show classes. The report further discusses an example of classes in the African-American Studies department being organized by a student services manager. In these classes students never had interaction with faculty and the student manager assigned grades without considering the quality of work. Often times the student manager was told what grade the player should receive in order to reach the NCAA academic eligibility requirements.

The NCAA outlines its academic eligibility requirements in the form of GPA as follows:

• Division I

“Student-athletes must achieve 90 percent of the institution’s minimum overall grade-point average necessary to graduate (for example, 1.8) by the beginning of year two, 95 percent of the minimum GPA (1.9) by year three and 100 percent (2.0) by year four.”

• Division II

“Based on a 4.0 scale, Division II student-athletes must earn a 1.8 GPA after 24 semester or 36 quarter hours, a 1.9 GPA after 48 semester or 72 quarter hours and a 2.0 GPA after both 72 semester or 108 quarter hours and 96 semester or 144 quarter hours.”

The African-American Studies classes were seen as GPA booster courses. It was found that the average grade for student athletes was a GPA of 3.55 as compared to 2.84 in the regular classes.

McAdoo’s class action claim alleges that UNC breached its contract with football players, violated the state’s consumer protection law, and committed fraud when recruiting athletes. McAdoo expressed particular distaste for the fashion UNC conducted it recruitment, as that was one of the main reasons he had decided to attend UNC. He stated that when the coaches and academic staff came to visit they did not discuss football but instead talked about academics. This promise turned out to be false.

This suit is another hit to the NCAA who has been heavily targeted by former and current players for its treatment of student athletes. The NCAA is prohibited from remunerating its players for revenue and sponsorship it earns from college sports. Instead the NCAA believes they compensate student athletes adequately for their services by providing scholarship funding for an education that would otherwise cost $80,000 or more. McAdoo and his fellow claimants have been deprived of this benefit and UNC in turn continues to earn the substantial profits.

Is UNC the only university that conducts itself in such a manner? Skeptics say no; NCAA football is big business. Coaches are paid a substantial amount of money to win games. It is not unrealistic to conceive that they are motivated to ensure by whatever means possible that their student athletes meet the minimum academic requirements. To me this represents a moral hazard issue where the coach could very well be more concerned with losing his position rather than helping his student athletes both on and off the field. The reality is the majority of student athletes will not make a cent in the professional leagues and in turn will rely on the supposed education they were supposed to receive at university.

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Canada’s Las Vegas-styled Sports Gambling Bill Stalled

November 7, 2014

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By Mitchell Smith – Thompson Rivers University 3L JD

A law that would embrace Vegas-style sports gambling in Canada is still stalled in the Senate. Bill C-290 was proposed in 2012 by New Democrat MP, Joe Comartin and was passed quickly through the House of Commons without any opposition. Since then however, the Senate has avoided putting it to a vote, citing the lack of debate and upset senators displeased with the bill’s premise.

The following will examine this new law’s potential affect on the sports industry and society. It will not discuss the political aspects at issue with an unelected body attempting to block a law that has been supported by all parties.

Bill C-290’s purpose would be to give each province in Canada the power to allow single-game betting. While betting on a single sporting event or athletic contest is currently outlawed by sections 206 and 207 of the Criminal Code of Canada, provinces are allowed to offer parlay-style wagers on multiple games. A “parlay” is a bet that links two or more wagers together and is dependent on all of those wagers winning. The result is that the payoffs are usually higher than single-game betting but the odds of winning are also likely slimmer.

Why is single-game betting an issue?

Some of the major stakeholders that this bill affects are the professional sports leagues in Canada– including the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Baseball (MLB) – and society as a whole. Both of the professional sports leagues oppose Bill C-290, citing concerns over how it may affect the integrity of the sport.

The NHL is quoted as saying, “Such wagering poses perhaps the greatest threat to the integrity of our games, since it is far easier to engage in ‘match fixing’ in order to win single-game bets than it is in cases of parlay betting [as currently exists in Canada], where bets are determined on the basis of multiple game outcomes.”

Additionally, the CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays, Paul Beeston, stated that, “When gambling is permitted on team sports, winning the bet may become more important than winning the game; the point spread or the number of runs scored may overshadow the game’s outcome and the intricacies of play.” Beeston goes on to explain that he wants the fans to support and cheer for the home team and athletes, instead of the fans cheering for their bets to win.

In contrast to these opinions, Senator Frank Mahovlich, a former Toronto Maple Leaf hockey player argues that match fixing is not a concern because hockey players are insulated from being bought off by gamblers because of the large amount of money being earned.

The proponents of the bill believe that society stands to gain from job creation, increased government revenues, and tourism. They point to the fact only a handful of U.S. states allow single-game bets and therefore will attract more American visitors to our casinos. It is also stated that Canadians are already wagering their money on single-game bets through online casinos or through organized crime. All of society stands to benefit if the monies generated by gambling stay ‘in-house’ in provincial treasuries.

The question that politicians are trying to resolve is simple: are the detrimental affects of opening up sports gambling outweighed by society’s benefit?

In my opinion, Maholovich’s argument misses the point and is perhaps a little naïve. There are players in all sports who, regardless of the amount of money they are being paid, could still be manipulated and thus affect the integrity of the sport. As a sports fan, I agree more with Paul Beeston. I want to cheer for my favorite team because of the emotional attachment and for the spirit of the sport –not because of the reward I get from them winning or losing. Ultimately however, those who want to wager on single-game bets will easily find a way to do so online. Knowing this, it only makes sense to allow the bill to pass and let the provinces decide the best way to implement. The revenues generated are better served supporting Canadian society rather than in the hands of online casinos or organized crime.

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