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Thursday Hub Plays the Numbers Game

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: The actual tax form is too lengthy for any amateur assessment, but the good journalistic soldier Mark Alesia does the heavy lifting on the NCAA's financial status for 2005-06 in the Indianapolis Star. The highlights:

• Of particular interest to litigious athletes, potential challengers of the Association's tax exempt status and plainclothes hypocrite trackers, Myles Brand's salary was a hefty $895,000, up three percent from 2004-05, which itself was a four percent raise over 2003-04. These increases are determined by a committee of school presidents and roughly correspond to inflation. Brand's base salary was a little over $693,000, way better than the $392,000 he was making as president at Indiana, and with $200,000-plus in benefits and expense accounts was better than the salaries of all but one public university president. Though, to Nick Saban and a handful of other championship coaches, obviously, chump change. Brand's current compensation won't be revealed until next year's tax forms are made public.

Brand: Still smiling after all these years. $895,000 will do that for you.
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• The Association reported its overall revenue was $549 million, the "vast majority" of that coming from the men's basketball tournament and the huge bucks CBS dishes to air it. More than 90 percent of that money was reportedly returned to schools in "direct payments" or services "such as conducting national championships." Grants and allocations to member schools, if I'm reading the form correctly, made up the huge share of that, atlmost $321.7 million.

• "Direct lobbying expenditures to influence a legislative body": a mere $160,000, well below the nontaxable number ($250,000) and a tiny fraction of legal costs ($6.5 million). Maybe it should work the Congressional angle a little harder, actually.

• For the record, the NCAA's mission statement, or, tax-wise, "explanation of how each activity...contributed importantly to the accomplishment of exempt status":

Activities allowed the NCAA to initiate, stimlate, and improve intercollegiate athletic programs for student athletes and to promote and develop educational leadership, physical fitness, athletic excellence, and athletic participation asa recreational pursuit. The competitive athletics programs of member institutions are designed to be a vital part of the educational system. A basic purpose of this association is to maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the student body and, by doing so, retain a clear line of demarcation between intercollegiate athletics and professional sports.

For its survival, as I've pointed out repeatedly, I think that "line of demarcation" is essential to the NCAA's interests, and less directly to those of the schools, players and fans for the continuation of college sports as we know them. So I'm a kind of self-interested defender as long as the numbers are honest. But nobody cares about convincing little ole me when more cynical observers - who, again, make up a portion of the population with actual power - are going to have to be persuaded that "competitive athletics programs are...a vital part of the educational system," and especially that any entity generating $549 million through "recreational pursuit" should continue to be treated like a charity by the IRS.

The Society for the Preveniton of Cruelty to Animals votes Uga 'most lovable' mascot. Will assume Karsten Bailey was not on that selection committee.
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Quickly: Florida State's been having fun all summer long, especially the offensive lineman, cuz you can't "throw them around" anymore ... Tommy Tuberville miraculously survives an outpatient appendectomy in Florida. Per sitcom tradition, this should have coincided with his wife giving birth to twins, but apparently he's just anxious to get back to work ... We Are Marshall, derivative? Don't be absurd - it's Hollywood! ... Blowback from the booster-led shadow campaign to recruit Albert Means to Alabama is still winding through the courts, so deep into the legal wormhole the original catalyst is all but forgotten ... Bill Lynch, moving on at Indiana ... Ricky Henry and Nebraska, sittin' in a tree, except... ... It's not worth it to fight the NCAA's winning campaign against `Indians,' so Arkansas State appoints a committee to rebrand ... King Dunlap accepts his fate in hulking anonymity ... Notre Dame refugee Zac Frazer has narrowed his choices to UConn and Cincinnati ... Mark Richt admits: he held on to playcalling too long ... Les Miles is just looking out for Chad Jones. And Les Miles thinks the top ten safety recruit/baseball draftee should enroll at LSU ... Chad Jones or not - hell, Les Miles or not - Tiger fans will hit the road in record numbers this fall ... Seven commits in two days gives Ole Miss 19 in the class of 2008. In June? ... Notre Dame milking the final days of text messaging for one last commitment ... And Bob Stoops provides closure for an Iowa fan, via autograph.

The Rap Sheet
Crimes, misdemeanors and eligibility-crippling issues legal, academic, institutional and otherwise.
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Finished, closing arguments in the trial against ex-Iowa receiver Ivory Webb, a sheriff's deputy in California accused of unnecessarily shooting and wounding an Iraq war veteran after a high-speed car chase/crash in January 2006. Prosecutors said Webb, who played on UI's 1982 Rose Bowl team, fired even while the serviceman appeared on amateur video to be following orders to get off the ground. The defense: eyewitness accounts vary. Did Webb tell him to get off the ground, or stay on the ground? He faces attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm, good for 18 years in prison if convicted.

The Wizard of Odds had the rather disturbing video of the shooting in April.

Suspended, Virginia running back Keith Payne, for failing to "hold up his end of the deal" academically "despite significant direction and effort from many people around the university," according to Al Groh, who unsurprisingly is not going to let a generic "process" handle undislosed violations of team rules when the public shame option is in play.

Payne could be back with the Cavs at some point in the relatively distant future, but his exit simplifies the deal at tailback: Cedric Peerman and Raynard Horne will share the job without worrying about the 245-pounder rumbling into the mix a la Jason Snelling, the ex-fullback who led UVA's dreadful attack last year.

Sought, by the Centre County district attorney, records pertaining to the Penn State Office of Judicial Affairs' invesitgation into the April apartment brawl that's brought a never-ending storm of speculation, retraction and halfhearted discipline on a shrinking number of Nittany Lions. Michael Madeira issued a search warrant for files he hopes contain "relevant evidence and relevant statements of anyone who spoke to Judicial Affairs."

"Clearly, sources of information dried up for us when there were arrests, as others didn't want to talk anymore," Madeira said.

Part of the problem for both disciplining entities – the university and the government – is that witnesses seem to have "told vastly different stories" to each about what happened inside the apartment. Was Anthony Scirrotto punched prior to the party, or his girlfriend shoved around "like a pinball in a machine," and did he actually earn felony burglary and trespass charges by entering the apartment later on? Scirrotto himself is apparently the only person who's said he did. Did he solicit teammates as enforcers, as claimed by his felony solicitation charge? His lawyer, of course, says "that simply did not happen," but the records grab on the heels of a wave of dropped charges against almost everyone originally implicated is making the state look a tad desperate in response.