NCAA Ultimate Hypocrite in Forstmann, IMG Gambling Case
That's how big of a scourge, how big a threat to the credibility of its games, the NCAA saw gambling to be.
Now, Ted Forstmann, CEO of IMG, is alleged in a lawsuit to have bet more than $170,000 on the 2007 NCAA men's basketball tournament alone. At the time, the IMG Coaches unit was serving as the agent for top college basketball coaches. Not only that, but also IMG was one month from announcing that it had purchased the company that would become known as IMG College, the biggest power player in licensing and marketing college sports.
Put it this way: Forstmann was allegedly gambling heavily on college sports at the same time he was negotiating to increase his role in the college sports world and become a major player.
Imagine what the NCAA higher-ups have to say about that. I asked them.
"The NCAA opposes all forms of legal and illegal sports wagering on college sports,'' Stacey Osburn, an NCAA PR person wrote in an e-mail. "Sports wagering has become a serious problem that threatens the well-being of student-athletes and integrity of college sports.''
Yes, but what about Forstmann?
"NCAA rules cover those that are members of the Association -- who is the group our rules have jurisdiction over,'' she wrote in a second e-mail.
Let's try again: an agent represents a coach. Can't the NCAA hold a coach responsible for what the person representing him does?
"Agents are not under the jurisdiction ..." a third e-mail started.
Just a bunch of B.S. and blah, blah from the NCAA. What hypocrites. And the reason I was talking with a PR person and not Rachel Newman Baker, the head of the NCAA's anti-gambling initiative, was because the association said it would not make her available to talk.
The NCAA makes a push to make sure that the Average Joe doesn't see the odds in the paper, doesn't drop 10 bucks on a basketball game. But if a power player in the sport drops hundreds of thousands of dollars?
So far, this IMG betting scandal has focused on tennis, specifically on one $40,000 bet Forstmann placed on a match between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both IMG clients, at the French Open final in 2007.
But this thing goes way beyond tennis into the NFL, NHL, golf and the NCAA. Forstmann has admitted to making the bet on Federer, and to making it through the man who filed the lawsuit. But he has not acknowledged betting on college sports.
He has conducted two interviews, though. He told the dailybeast.com that he has had a habit of betting on sports. And he curiously told Bloomberg that he made just one bet, the bet on Federer, and that it was for more money than his usual bets.
Forstmann's crisis management person, Mike Sitrick, told me there were "false allegations concerning betting.'' I asked him about the alleged college bets.
"Any bets that Mr. Forstmann may have made on college sports,'' he wrote in an e-mail, "would have been made before IMG acquired the business in 2007 that put IMG into the college sports business. He has made none since that time.''
Well, I have heard a voice mail of what sounds like Forstmann placing a $2,000 bet on Vijay Singh, another IMG client, to win the British Open over a field of other IMG clients.
In the lawsuit, he also is alleged to have made big bets on NFL games. IMG Coaches serves as the agent for NFL head coaches and multiple coordinators. Hello, NFL? Anything to say about this?
But let's focus on the dozens of bets Agate claims Forstmann made on the 2007 NCAA men's basketball tournament.
Butler, $3,000. Davidson, $3,000. Virginia Commonwealth, Texas Tech, $3,000.
Bobby Knight was Texas Tech's coach that year. IMG's website lists him as a client for its speakers bureau. Also, $3,000 on each of the following: Marquette, Louisville, Gonzaga, Oral Roberts, George Washington, Southern Illinois, Winthrop. And $6,000 on Nevada.
Hello? NCAA? What was that you said about threatening the well-being of students and the integrity of college sports? Maybe this would be the time to stand up and speak out, to show at least some concern about about the man who is helping many of your schools to make a whole lot of money.
Do you believe in your own words, or are they just for show?
Forstmann has way more access to the coaches than anyone else has, such an easy ability to call any of them and ask what's going on.
Kentucky, $3,000. Arizona, $3,000. Also, $3,000 on Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Oregon, Butler, Michigan State, Xavier and Vanderbilt. And $5,000 on Louisville.
Brad Stevens was an assistant coach at Butler that year. On the IMG website, he's listed as a client.
The NCAA is hiding behind a PR person. The NFL has said nothing. Golf? Shhh.
Tennis' governing bodies have done nothing. And IMG's relationship with all these sports moves forward comfortably. Tennessee, $6,000. Virginia Tech, UNLV, Winthrop, Nevada, $3,000. Texas, Kansas, $5,000. Bill Self was the coach at Kansas that year. On the IMG website, he's listed as a client.
"We represent more than 200 colleges and universities, bowl games, athletic conferences, the Heisman Trophy, the Bowl Championships Series, and the NCAA and its 88 championships,'' the IMG sites proudly says, when talking about its Collegiate Licensing Company. "CLC partner institutions comprise nearly 80 (percent) of the more than $4 billion retail market for collegiate licensed merchandise.''
So I asked the NCAA if it sees a conflict of interest when the CEO of a company that has unlimited access to coaches and inside information is/was betting on the games?
I never did get a fourth e-mail back about that.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @gregcouch