Posts tagged david west
The Historical Basketball League (HBL) Announces the Initial Members of the HBL Athlete Advisory Board

Ricky Volante, CEO of the Historical Basketball League (HBL), and David West, COO of the HBL, announced the initial members of the HBL Athlete Advisory Board (AAB).  The AAB will consist of: NBA players TJ Warren and Darren Collison, NBA Hall of Famer Mitch Richmond, NFL Hall of Famers Terrell Owens and Champ Bailey, former NBA players Etan Thomas, CJ Watson, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Butch Lee, and Jimmy King, who is joined on the AAB by his Fab Five teammate Ray Jackson.  In addition to joining the AAB, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf has accepted a position on the overall HBL Advisory Board.

The AAB consists of current and former professional athletes that serve as ambassadors and mentors to the players in the HBL. These athletes will advise the HBL Management Team, especially when making impactful decisions on the lives of our players.  No one better understands the intricate balancing act college athletes endure managing their educational and athletic responsibilities.  HBL athletes will benefit from the experience and mentorship of AAB members, regarding personal development and preparedness for the professional ranks.

Earlier in the week, Volante and West introduced Terrell Owens as the HBL's first official Team Ambassador.  As a Team Ambassador, Owens will be directly involved with a single HBL team as an influencer and one of the team's marketing faces.  He will work with the HBL's management team to identify and secure local sponsors, partners, and investors.  Additionally, Terrell will serve as a mentor and resource to the team's athletes.  On joining the HBL, Owens said, "The change the HBL is bringing is long overdue, and I'm thrilled to join as the first Official Team Ambassador. An athlete-first model that will treat college athletes equitably and as partners is needed, and I'm excited to be a part of its development."

In describing the AAB's importance, Volante said, "David and I are excited to be able to offer our athletes the opportunity to tap into the decades of collective experience of the AAB.  As a former college athlete, I know the challenges in transitioning from high school to college can be daunting, but our athletes will be pioneers.  In the HBL, they will be athletes, students, and businessmen.  Having the AAB as a resource will make that transition easier and more successful."

The HBL is the first college basketball league to compensate and educate its athletes.  The league will begin play in June 2020 with an inaugural schedule of eight teams in East Coast cities spanning the Mid-Atlantic and Piedmont regions.  With its athlete-centric model, the HBL does not have traditional team owners, opting instead for coupling investor-operator groups and team ambassadors.

HBL COO David West said, "The AAB has more professional experience than any blueblood program can offer.  Unlike those programs, we will encourage our athletes to work with the people who know how to transition to the next level and be successful on and off the court."

On joining the AAB, CJ Watson said, "I agreed to join because I believe in the league's vision and path they are developing for the betterment of college athletes. To give these young kids a different outlet and opportunity to achieve their goals and dreams without being exploited is a blessing. For me, it is truly an honor to be chosen for the athlete advisory board to mentor and give advice to these athletes."

Mitch Richmond added, "I've had the honor of winning a gold medal, being named Rookie of the Year, and being inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Having been so blessed, this is my chance to pay it forward to the next generation of basketball players, to help them blaze a new trail that was not there for me.  These men have already accomplished a lot in their young careers and I look forward to working with them as they go on to even greater things in the HBL and beyond."

June has been a busy month for the HBL.  In addition to bringing Owens on board and creating the Athlete Advisory Board, the HBL announced it was launching its 2020 season in eight cities: Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Richmond, Norfolk, Raleigh, Charlotte, and Atlanta.

Before the HBL, basketball players were excluded from the lion's share of financial benefits while everyone around them received significant compensation.  The HBL provides a new and better opportunity, one without economic and academic exploitation.  The HBL's players are projected to earn between $50,000 and $150,000 per season based on athletic talent and marketability, in addition to receiving a guaranteed scholarship and having the ability to fully commercialize their name, image, and likeness, all without jeopardizing their eligibility with the HBL.

Volante emphasized today's announcement is just the beginning of a busy run-up to the league's 2020 launch: "The HBL is launching in one year's time and as an organization we spend every day focused on the next step towards a successful launch.  The success of the HBL revolves around our ability to recruit elite players and produce an entertaining product for fans.  The AAB is an essential part of that recruitment process and the HBL's overall positioning with players and their families.  With elite players, we are going to change the way college sports are viewed in the US, end the Amateurism con, and allow college athletes to earn and learn at the same time."

Volante and West promised more news in the coming weeks and months as the league plans to roll out team names and logos, announce head coaches, as well as to provide further details of sponsorships and partnerships as the HBL moves toward its June 2020 launch.

Press inquiries for interviews, additional facts, and images should be directed to press@hbleague.com.  To keep up to date, follow the HBL on Twitter (@hb_league) and Instagram (@hbleague).

Paying College Athletes Will Not Ruin College Sports

By: Ricky Volante (HBL CEO & Co-Founder) and Andy Schwarz (HBL Chief Innovation Officer & Co-Founder)

In a recent opinion piece for the New York Times, Cody McDavis trotted out a series of stale and mostly discredited arguments against antitrust remedies proposed by the plaintiffs in the Alston v. NCAA case. He argued the proposed remedies would lead to the death of college sports. His lead thesis claims that unravelling the pay caps imposed by the NCAA would “distort the economics of college sports.” McDavis has confused cause with effect, poison with cure.

The economics of college sports are highly distorted because of “amateurism.” The 350-plus NCAA schools that band together to set maximum compensation caps are a classic example of a monopsonistic cartel — a group of independent businesses that agree not to compete on price for an essential input to their business.

Imposing price caps almost always distorts markets, and in the case of a monopsony (economics jargon for a buyer’s monopoly), the most typical impact is the cap distorts the price of related complementary inputs, things like coaching salaries and facilities spending.

And indeed, this distorting effect has been massive. In the late 1990s, Steve Spurrier (then the head coach of the University of Florida) was the first college football coach to earn $2 million dollars in a season. Today, according to the college football coach salary database compiled by Steve Berkowitz ofUSA Today, 62 football coaches — all but a handful of the Power 5 Conference schools earn $2 million or more, with the highest honor going to Nick Saban whose guaranteed pay exceeds $8 million.

Similarly, schools spend lavishly on athletics facilities and athletics-specific amenities, in part, to attract elite athletes to their campus in the absence of the more traditional ways of using compensation and benefits as a direct inducement.

This dramatic rise in coaching pay and facilities spending has two causes. First, college sports have become more lucrative, and second, athlete pay is capped. Schools invest in indirect means of recruiting because the NCAA will punish and/or ban them if they use the direct methods. This has led to Alabama’s locker room featuring a waterfall and $10,000 player lockers in Texas’s football locker room.

The result is market distortion. McDavis sees the positive changes that would occur as schools adjust their spending downward to appropriate levels for coaches and facilities, and upward for athletes as a problem, rather than as a sign that things were finally coming back into equilibrium.

McDavis also trotted out the “sky is falling” arguments, saying that if schools had the choice to pay athletes, some would simply quit. In supporting this, he pointed to the testimony of University of Wisconsin chancellor Rebecca Blank, who testified last September that: “It’s not clear that we would continue to run an athletic program.” McDavis omitted the fact that the outcry against this testimony was so great that Wisconsin issued a retraction one day later, stating publicly it has “no plans to stop offering athletics,” lest the Badger State rise in revolt at this ridiculous claim.

To be clear, McDavis knows these arguments are threadbare and have been rejected by federal courts. Indeed, his Op-Ed is essentially a precis of his 2018 article in the Marquette Sports Law Review, where he specifically acknowledges that these arguments were rejected at the summary judgment phase of the recent Alston v. NCAA case, meaning the NCAA’s argument was so weak, it was rejected even before the trial began.

Among these rejected arguments, McDavis adopts the idea that capping athlete pay helps balance college sports. He bemoans the likelihood that college sports will become imbalanced, with only the top 25 schools capable of winning the national championship. But that is the case now.

Try telling a fan of any women’s basketball team other than UConn and a handful of other contenders that the 26th best women’s program has a realistic chance to win it all. McDavis essentially offers up the nightmare scenario that Clemson and Alabama might play each year for the FBS football championship because they would spend the most on athletes, but of course three of the last four years have featured that exact match-up even with “amateurism.” Why? Because those teams spend the most on coaches and facilities. Think it’s more balanced in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS)? Guess again. North Dakota State University has won 7 of the last 8 national championships.

Even in men’s basketball, seen as a haven for “the little guy,” the last ten championships have been won by Villanova (2), North Carolina (2), Duke (2), UConn (2), Louisville (1) and Kentucky (1). These are blueblood programs, winning year after year. Indeed, if we total all national championships won by these programs and just three others (UCLA, Indiana, and Kansas), those nine schools won 48 of the 80 national championships ever awarded in men’s basketball. That’s approximately 2.6 percent of the schools participating in Division 1.

You cannot call a sport “balanced” when 2.6 percent of the teams have collectively won 60 percent of the championships.

But where McDavis really goes astray is when he tries to make the economic argument against compensating players.

He points to rule changes which came in the wake of a court ruling against the NCAA’s previous (and more onerous) pay cap, that allowed, but did not require, schools to pay athletes a cash stipend of between $2,000 and $6,000 — known as the “cost of attendance” scholarship.

Over 250 of the schools in Division 1 adopted this increase in one form or another within three years of the rule change. Sounds good, right? Not to McDavis. Instead, he argues that by allowing schools to choose where they would direct their funds in a more open-market manner, this has led them to giving more money to basketball and football, but led to cuts in other sports like golf and tennis.

As it happens, he gives just one example — a school that cut, inter alia, golf, though the causal connection between the school’s adoption of higher pay for some sports and the decision to cut other sports is rather dubious.

However, if his single example were true, that simply means the current market is encouraging schools to under-compensate athletes who play football and basketball, and over-compensate those who play golf. In light of the fact that at many schools approximately half of the participants in basketball and football come from families with income low enough to qualify for Pell grants, it is not clear why McDavis supports shunting their money into country club sports. But for our part, we posit this is a distortion that needs to be fixed — not preserved.

Who are we? We are David West, Ricky Volante, Keith Sparks, and Andy Schwarz, the executive team of the Historical Basketball League (HBL). We are launching the first professional college sports league in June 2020. The HBL wants to end forever the forced (and false) choice between education and economic rights by offering athletes both: guaranteed five-year scholarships (that can be suspended while an athlete pursues an NBA career and then resumed thereafter) and market rates for their basketball services. Plus, HBL athletes will be able to tap into the lucrative market for endorsements, like sneaker deals, and still remain eligible for the HBL as long as they remain students in good standing at their school.

We think college athletes, like all of us within the American economy, deserve the benefits of a vibrant market in which the best talent can seek the best rewards, free from collusion among employers. The HBL can’t make the NCAA stop being a cartel, but we can make them pay a heavy price for denying athletes their fair market value.

We plan to attract the best collegiate talent in the good old-fashioned American way — by paying more for quality. The NCAA schools can choose to compete, or they can accept becoming the amateurs.