King of the Court(room): HoopsHD interviews class-action attorney Steve Berman

The NCAA Tournament always bring us news on the court (this year’s biggest storyline: upsets!) as well as off the court (Sister Jean!), but we also saw some news IN court last week.  Specifically, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, site of a nationwide class-action lawsuit regarding NCAA-imposed caps on scholarship money available to student-athletes, where Judge Claudia Wilken granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and cleared the way for the case to go to trial in December. The plaintiffs, represented by Steve Berman of Hagens Berman and Jeff Kessler of Winston & Strawn, are attempting to remove the current limits on available compensation by arguing that the NCAA’s actions constitute anti-competitive behavior that has caused injury to all D-1 athletes who played men’s or women’s basketball from March 2010 through March 2017.  HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with Mr. Berman about the lawsuit and who is going to win tonight’s NCAA title game.

You have worked on some the largest settlements ever including Big Tobacco, Enron, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and many others: can you give me a brief overview of last week’s ruling by US District Judge Claudia Wilken granting your motion for summary judgment in your lawsuit against the NCAA about caps that they impose on scholarships? The judge ruled that we had properly defined the market in terms of antitrust law, and that the restrictions on what athletes could be paid had anti-competitive effects. Now we are going to trial on the issue of whether the NCAA can show that their rules are pro-competitive based on the least restrictive alternatives, whether they can prohibit education-related expenses, and whether individual conferences can be allowed to set the rules on compensating their own student-athletes themselves.

Do you fear that we might see some competitive imbalance if the Big East decides to pay Jalen Brunson twice as much as the Big 10 pays Moe Wagner (rather than just letting the NCAA pick a dollar amount that everyone must abide by)? Economists would say that if everyone believes in amateurism, which is central to the NCAA’s product, then conferences will not be motivated to pay amounts that are too high. If there is backlash by the public and people stop going to games or tuning in, then they can always decide to lower their amount of compensation.

What is a Grant-In-Aid (GIA) and how does it relate to the cost of attendance? A GIA is a formula that the NCAA imposed supposedly to measure the value of a scholarship, while the cost of attendance goes beyond the GIA definition by about $6000 due to items like books and incidental expenses.

Why did former Western Michigan football player Darrin Duncan object to last year’s $208 million settlement on behalf of tens of thousands of current/former D-1 student-athletes, and what do you think that he will eventually be able to recover? I do not think that he will recover anything. I think that his objection was about attorney fees ($41 million!) so I am not very worried about it.

What are the next steps as you prepare for trial this December? We will just do what lawyers do: review the evidence that was submitted and streamline it into the 5 days that we will probably be allotted to present our side of the case.

How do you respond to people who believe that athletes are already receive sufficient compensation in terms of tuition/room and board/books/etc.? In our country we have a well-established law called the Sherman Act, which says that companies cannot get together and set prices. The NCAA and its members have done that, and in a free world without illegal price-fixing the market will set the price that athletes should get paid.

If you were elected NCAA president tomorrow, what is the most crucial issue that would be your top priority? To eliminate cheating. The current rules are frustrating to players/coaches alike. Maybe by having a fair compensation system we can have fair play by coaches/schools rather than seeing players get paid money under the table.

The NFL’s $1 billion class action settlement with retired players provided money to compensate injured athletes: what relief is available to former players who wish to pursue personal injury claims against the NCAA? That is not part of our settlement and there is nothing right now that offers compensation for past injuries. A couple of law firms have filed lawsuits relating to football injuries and they are ongoing.

You went to college at Michigan: will we see you in the crowd tonight in San Antonio cheering for the Wolverines? No…but I will be cheering in my house for them! I hope all the ESPN analysts are wrong because I think this is the 1st time ever that all of them are picking a single team to win the title (Villanova).

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Call to the Hall: HoopsHD interviews brand-new Hall of Fame coach Lefty Driesell

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2018 on Saturday including NBA champions like Jason Kidd/Ray Allen, multiple-time WNBA champs like Katie Smith/Tina Thompson, and a crafty college coach in Lefty Driesell. On the court he won almost 800 games, appeared in 13 NCAA tournaments, and won the 1972 NIT title with Maryland. All he did off the court was create Midnight Madness and save at least 10 children from a burning building: now THAT is a Hall of Fame guy! HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with Coach Driesell about being part of 1 of the greatest games in college basketball history and how close he came to signing Moses Malone.

You were an All-State basketball player at Granby High School and played for coach Harold Bradley at Duke: how good a player were you back in the day, and what made Bradley such a good coach? We won the state title in my 1st year there and I was MVP of the state tourney, so I was a pretty good high school player. Coach Bradley taught us the fundamentals and I kind of copied his double-post offense.

In 1957 you became head coach at Newport News High School, where you compiled a 57-game winning streak and won a state title before turning 30: how were you able to come in and have so much success at such a young age? Those kids listened to me because they knew that I had been a good player myself. I started coaching at Granby before coming to Newport News: 1 reason that I got the job was due to a recommendation from Coach Bill Chambers (who won back-to-back titles at Newport News before becoming head coach at William & Mary). Newport News has won more championships than anyone else in the state of Virginia (9 state titles and 6 runner-up finishes from 1931-1964) so they have a great tradition.

What are your memories of the 1969 NCAA tourney as head coach at Davidson (your fellow Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Scott, who had originally committed to Davidson before becoming a Tar Heel, scored 32 PTS/14-21 FG and made a 20-foot shot at the buzzer in a 2-PT win by UNC in College Park)? Charlie and I still talk via phone and are good friends. He said that nobody would ever have known who he was until I made him famous! Charlie helped me sign Mike Maloy and his son Shannon played PG at Ohio State before turning pro.

In October 1971 as head coach at Maryland you began the tradition that is now known as “Midnight Madness”: how did you come up with the idea, and could you have ever envisioned that it would become such a national spectacle more than 4 decades later? My philosophy has always been that the harder you work, the luckier you get. We had a great team coming into that season and I knew that we could have just started the following afternoon by running a mile in 6 minutes, but I decided to have them run it at midnight so that we would not have to mess around with it at practice. We had about 700-800 kids come out to watch it, which was exciting. Some of the players later suggested we have a scrimmage…and we had 10,000 people show up! I should have got a patent on it: a lot of stores now have “Midnight Madness” sales! The NCAA did not like it due to the fact that some players might have to go to class the next day if it was on a school night.

What are your memories of the magical 1972 NIT (Len Elmore had a triple-double [16 PTS/15 REB/11 BLK] in a 31-PT win over Niagara to win the title)? Back then there were only 26 teams in the NCAA tourney and you had to win your conference tourney to get in. We played great: it was fun to play at Madison Square Garden.

In July 1973 you broke down the door of a burning building at a seashore resort in Bethany Beach, DE, and saved the lives of at least 10 children: how terrifying was that night, and what did it mean to you to receive the 1974 NCAA Award of Valor? I did not do anything that anyone else would not have done. My friend and I were out fishing at around 2AM: after turning around to see a row of townhouses on fire we ran up and told people to get out. 1 lady did not enjoy us waking her up and she told us to get out before she called the police: we just told her to get out because the building was on fire!

You had a 3-PT OT loss to eventual NCAA champion NC State in the 1974 ACC tourney final, which is widely considered 1 of the greatest games in college basketball history: how devastating was it to miss out on the tourney (since only the conference champ advanced to the NCAA tourney back then)? It was tough because we had also missed out on the NCAA tourney the year before. The teams that win it now have a piece of cake as they might only have to play a couple of teams outside the top-25: at Davidson/Maryland we had to beat the best teams in the East. NC State got a 1st-round bye and only had to win 2 games to win the conference tourney so they were a little fresher than us. The very next year is when the NCAA tourney decided to expand to 32 teams and allow up to 2 teams/conference.

In 1974 you signed Moses Malone but ended up losing him to the ABA’s Utah Stars on the 1st day that classes were scheduled to start: what made him change his mind, and could you tell even when he was in HS that he would become a star? He is the best high school big man I have ever seen play, and I have seen a lot of them. I knew that he was going to be a big-time player: if we had kept him around we might have won a few NCAA titles. Utah offered him $10,000 cash to sign with them. He was living in a small house with his mother at the time and he called me up and asked for my advice: I told him to chase the guy out of there and have him come see me. The guy came to see me and said he would give Moses $1 million…but I read the contract and saw that only about $400,000 of it was guaranteed. I told Moses to talk to Donald Dell (1 of the 1st pro sports agents who represented some of my other Maryland players) and that if he waited a year I could get him $2 million! Spencer Haywood (who also turned pro early to join the ABA) was his idol and he wanted to be the 1st player to go hardship right out of high school to the pros.

What are your memories of the 1983 NCAA tourney (you tried playing a slow-down game in a 10-PT loss to eventual national runner-up Houston on their home court)? I thought that we should foul Hakeem Olajuwon because he was a poor FT shooter but they were just a better team than us.

In the 1985 NCAA tourney, eventual tourney MOP Ed Pinckney had 16 PTS/13 REB in a 3-PT win by eventual champion Villanova: did you get a sense that the Wildcats were a team of destiny? We had beaten them earlier that season but were not over-confident. As you can see, we lost a lot of close tourney games to a lot of great teams that ended up making the Final 4.

Take me through the 2001 NCAA tourney as head coach at Georgia State:
Shernard Long scored all 13 of his PTS in the 2nd half and banked in the go-ahead jumper with 11 seconds left in a 1-PT win over Wisconsin: what is the key to a mid-major upsetting a high-major team in March? I do not believe in “mid-majors”: that term always bothered me. Some reporter asked me a similar question after that game and I asked him what the difference was between us and the Badgers: we both had Nike uniforms, shoes, scholarships, etc. Even today, look at all of the non-state schools who have made the Final 4 like VCU/Butler/etc. I think that a lot of “mid-majors” play harder schedules than some of the big-name teams.

Lonny Baxter had 19 PTS/14 REB in a win by Maryland: how could you “not have any emotions at all” after spending 17 years with the Terps? That was a tough loss: I wanted to beat them badly. That was probably poor coaching on my part but we were only down 4 PTS at the half. We played a triangle-and-2 defense in the 2nd half to come back against Wisconsin so I tried a diamond-and-1 against Maryland but they just overpowered us.

You were the 1st coach to win 100+ games at 4 different schools, and you were named conference COY at each 1: how were you able to have so much success at so many different programs? I know how to motivate people and teach them the fundamentals. Basketball has been my life since the 2nd grade when I was a manager for the local high school basketball team. I would just outwork other people, which is why I do not like the rules today about how many days you can be on the road. Back then you could recruit 12 months/year and go see kids all the time: I probably went to see Moses 50 times in Petersburg, VA…even though sometimes he would run away from me! 1 coach from New Mexico actually rented an apartment in the area and stayed there for the entire season! I think it makes recruiting harder because in the summertime you can only recruit a couple of weeks here and there, so when you go to a summer league game there are 300 other coaches there and none of them can talk to any of the players.

Your son Chuck was an assistant at Maryland before spending several years as head coach at The Citadel: how much of an influence were you on his own decision to go into coaching, and how proud are you of his success? Chuck was a pretty good high school player who was actually recruited to play at The Citadel but I wanted him around me for 4 years at Maryland. I enjoyed coaching him and he is a great guy and a good coach who knows basketball: he was my assistant at James Madison for almost a decade. The Citadel is a tough place to recruit at but the advantage is that you do not have to go into the service unless you want to and you learn a lot about discipline. I think Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is the best coach in the country because he was trained at Army: he is a great leader who can motivate his players to go into battle. When I was at Davidson the players needed to have a good GPA/SAT score, so I would recruit guys who were interested in the Ivy League but also needed some scholarship money. You have to use what you got to your advantage and a lot of kids today need some discipline.

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News, Notes and CBI/CIT Championship Previews – Friday, March 30th

For the Hoops HD Report previewing the Final Four and the 3x3U Tournament – CLICK HERE

For the first time since 2009, Penn State emerged victorious in the NIT; they defeated Utah 82-66 to win their 2nd NIT championship in program history. One of Penn State’s super sophomores in Lamar Stevens led the way with 28 points; Josh Reaves also had 18 for the Nittany Lions. With his cousin Flavor Flav in attendance, senior Shep Garner was the last Penn State player to finish cutting the net as he closed his career at Penn State with a win.

In the 3-point contest & slam dunk contests held in San Antonio, William & Mary’s Connor Burchfield won the men’s 3-point contest (against Murray State’s Jonathan Stark in the finals) and Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty won the women’s 3-point contest. Burchfield won the overall 3-point contest in a runoff final against Flaherty. As for the slam dunk contest, the winner was Joe Kilgore from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Yesterday, five finalists (Jalen Brunson, Devonte Graham, Marvin Bagley III, Trae Young and Deandre Ayton) were announced for the Wooden Award. The AP has already announced that Jalen Brunson is their Player of the Year; Tony Bennett of Virginia was named national Coach of the Year for his efforts this season.

CBI (Game 3)

SAN FRANCISCO AT NORTH TEXAS (7:00 PM, ESPNU). While the Dons of USF were led by Chase Foster to a victory in Game 1, North Texas jumped out to a big lead in the 2nd half of Game 2 en route to their win on Wednesday night. The Mean Green would be the first team to enter postseason play with a losing record to win a postseason title (outside of a conference tournament) should they win tonight.


ILLINOIS-CHICAGO AT NORTHERN COLORADO (7:00 PM, CBS Sports Network). The Flames of UIC got off to a slow start against Liberty on Wednesday night, but dominated the final 35 minutes to coast to a 16-point victory on the road. Northern Colorado was also firing from all cylinders against Sam Houston State on Wednesday night; they are looking to win a postseason title one year after a self-imposed postseason ban for the Bears.

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The Hoops HD Report: Final Four Edition

Chad and the panel review all of the action from the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight, particularly Loyola Chicago’s historic run to the Final Four.  They are the first team to ever make the Final Four that needed an at-large bid to make the field.  We talk about the classic game between Duke and Kansas, Michigan’s run past Texas A&M and Florida State, and Villanova’s impressive showings.  We also take a quick look at the NIT, CIT, and CBI tournaments, discuss the 3-on-3 tournament that’s taking place over the Final Four weekend, and more…


And for all you radio lovers, below is an audio file of the show…

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News, Notes and NIT Championship Preview – Thursday, March 29th

-For Jon Teitel’s interview with 3x3U Selection Committee member Matt Santangelo – CLICK HERE

-For updated rosters for the 3x3U Tournament – CLICK HERE

-Be on the lookout for our HoopsHD Report podcast later tonight where we discuss the Final Four, the 3x3U Tournament as well as news on coaching changes for the 2018-19 season.

For the third season in a row, we are assured of a deciding Game 3 in the CBI Championship Series thanks to North Texas’s 69-55 victory over San Francisco last night. Jordan Duffy led the Mean Green with 15 points and 9 boards; UNT only trailed at one point during the first half. What was a close game was blown open in the 2nd half; the Mean Green began the 2nd half with a 16-3 spurt in the first 8 minutes and led by as many as 18 to coast to a win. Game 3 will be played Friday night at 7 PM to decide who wins the 2018 CBI Tournament.

In the CIT semifinals, Liberty got off to a hot 12-5 start in the first 4 minutes of the game, but Illinois-Chicago outscored Liberty 62-39 the rest of the way to advance to the CIT championship game on Friday night. Four UIC players scored in double figures; Tarkus Ferguson led the Flames with 16 points. They will travel to play Northern Colorado; UNC had little trouble in defeating Sam Houston State 99-80 last night. The Bears shot a sizzling 17-for-30 from behind the arc; Andre Spight was the star with 40 points in UNC’s victory.

There are now 5 finalists for the John Wooden award that will be announced after the NCAA Championship – Villanova’s Jalen Brunson, Kansas’s Devonte Graham, Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and Oklahoma’s Trae Young.


(2) UTAH VS. (4) PENN STATE (7:00 PM, ESPN2). While tonight’s game isn’t the title game that the Conference of Champions targeted during the regular season, Utah has a chance to deliver for the Pac-12 after coming from behind to defeat Western Kentucky 69-64 on Tuesday night. They will take on a fairly young Penn State team that had no trouble beating Mississippi State 75-60.

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The players are getting paid…but it’s legal: HoopsHD interviews 3X3U Player Selection Committee member Matt Santangelo

While there are only 4 conferences represented at the Final 4 (Big 10/Big 12/Big East/MVC), all 32 of them will have a presence in San Antonio at the inaugural 3X3U National Championship as the top seniors in the nation spend 3 days this weekend competing against each other in a 3-on-3 tournament. The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee decides which 68 teams will play for a title, but since these seniors have exhausted their eligibility the 3X3U Player Selection Committee will decide which ones get to compete for a prize pool of $100,000. HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with former Gonzaga star/current Player Selection Committee member Matt Santangelo about his Elite 8 run in 1999 and why these players deserve to be paid.

In the 1998 WCC tourney as a player at Gonzaga you drove the length of the court and made a 3-PT shot at the buzzer to clinch a 1-PT OT win over Loyola Marymount: where does that rank among the highlights of your career, and what was the feeling like in your locker room afterward? We were the #1 seed in the tourney but it took that shot to beat the #8 seed. 1 of my childhood friends (Ime Udoka, now an assistant to Gregg Popovich in San Antonio) was behind the basket when I made it: he was not yelling or cheering after my shot went in but just had a little smirk on his face! Of course I was ecstatic, but you can make the argument that the game never should have been that close. We ended up in the NIT after losing to San Francisco in the title game.

In the 1999 NCAA tourney you made the Elite 8 before losing to eventual champ UConn: what is the key to winning games in March? For us it was the huge sense of urgency: we bought into the “win or go home” mentality and played with a chip on our shoulder. We had never been on that stage so we did not know any better and just played like we always had. We had a lot of confidence and wanted to prove to the world that we were a good program.

At the 1999 World University Games in Spain you played for team USA: what did it mean to you to win a gold medal, and which of your teammates impressed you the most (Kenyon Martin/Michael Redd/other)? My college head coach (Dan Monson) was the assistant to team USA head coach Oliver Purnell so it was cool to have him there as we set the stage for an exciting senior year. I played well and tied the record at the time for the most threes in a single game. I remember 1 alley-oop from Erick Barkley to Kenyon that covered about ¾ of the court: Kenyon caught the ball in mid-air and then turned 180 degrees before dunking it. I roomed with Kenyon, Pete Mickeal (his teammate at Cincinnati), and Mark Madsen (whose Stanford team we beat to get to the Sweet 16 a few months earlier), so it was a fun mix. I enjoyed Kenyon both on and off the court: he was an enforcer but a nice guy. North Carolina’s Brendan Haywood was fantastic, as was Duke’s Chris Carrawell: so many funny/enjoyable people.

Mark Few was named Gonzaga’s head coach before your senior season: what was he like as a rookie, and could you have ever imagined that he would become so successful? He actually recruited me and the other guards out of high school. The younger staff wondered why we did not schedule bigger opponents, and after that we started to play great teams like Michigan State/Kansas. When Coach Few took over we had 5 seniors/2 juniors back from our Elite 8 run so we felt good about our success from the previous year but returned with some fire to prove to everybody that we were not a fluke. He is the same man in terms of being humble/sarcastic but now there is an aura that did not exist back then. He is straight humble pie and very accessible.

Last week the Bulldogs made the Sweet 16 before losing to Florida State: how far did you think they would go this month? Last fall if you had said that they would make the Sweet 16 after losing so much talent from last year’s team, I think most people would have been happy. When we returned to the NCAA tourney in 2000 the year after we made the Elite 8 we were prepared for all of the things like travel/media/etc., and I felt that this year’s team was similar. I did not realize that Killian Tillie was hurt until the game tipped off, and while Rui Hachimura is a difficult match-up off the bench it really thinned out the rotation to have him in the starting lineup. When you add in Florida State’s great length/depth, I think it was a perfect storm of obstacles and from the beginning of the game after the fell behind I felt that FSU had the momentum. However, I do not look at the season as anything but a success: 20 consecutive years in the NCAA Tournament and 4 consecutive trips to the Sweet 16.  GU was not even picked to win the WCC, but they did!

You currently work as the executive director of the Spokane Hoopfest Association: what is your signature event? It is really unique: we are a non-profit in charge of the world’s biggest 3-on-3 tourney. We bring in 6000 teams from all over the world and last year we had players from 43 states/6 countries. We have 7 staff and 3000 volunteers: it is humbling to see all of the passion/energy that goes on behind the scenes. We have programs for young athletes in Spokane and are the voice of basketball in our community. It is a fun/dynamic/challenging job.

This weekend is the 1st-ever 3X3U tournament in San Antonio featuring teams of 4 seniors with 1 team from each of the 32 D-1 conferences: how did you 1st get involved, and how have you enjoyed being 1 of 18 members of the selection committee? There is a ton of momentum for 3-on-3 basketball: FIBA has a presence in that world and last summer the IOC announced that it is becoming an Olympic sport. There is a lot of merit to this style of play and looking to Hoopfest as a resource is natural. We have built a lot of credibility over the past 29 years and it was an honor to be included/involved. I think the game itself will be great: I worked with Intersport about what rules to adopt and what style of play will be best for high-level athletes who are used to 5-on-5.

It is a half-court game featuring a 12-second shot clock: what kind of team will excel in this format, and who is the best team on paper? You need 3 guys who can handle the ball. It is fast and is its own brand of basketball so it will involve high IQ. You cannot just pound it inside to a big man or stay outside all day and shoot threes: you need to do a little of everything at each position. I do not know who will be good but I think that the WCC will end up with a good team. I think someone like West Virginia G Jevon Carter will be fantastic but the style of play is such an equalizer that I do not think the Power 5 schools will be the favorites.

There is prize money of $1000/team for each win through the semifinals and then $50,000 for champs: what do you say to people who question whether there should be any prize money? If there was no money in it then I would agree they should not get paid, but since there is a lot of money involved in college basketball I think that you should pay the talent. There are a lot of jobs lost if there are no players (such as referees) and the seniors are on the verge of the next step in their basketball journey. I think it ups the level of intensity/urgency so it will be a very competitive environment rather than just an exhibition. At Hoopfest we play for the pride of Championship t-shirts(!) but if their eligibility is over then they deserve a chance to make some money from the game.

The Ivy League 4-man squad has 2 players from Penn and 1 each from Princeton/Dartmouth: what is Princeton G Amir Bell going to do when the clock is ticking down and there is money on the line and the only open man happens to play for his archrival?! Who knows?! It will bring people together, which is 1 of the beauties of the concept. We are all proud of our alma maters but when the ball goes on the floor you do not care that 1 of your teammates might have taken a charge against you earlier this season! I think the nice thing is that as seniors there should be a lot of mutual respect for your new teammates after battling as conference opponents during the past several years. It certainly provides an interesting angle.

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