Caesars, ESPN Reach Media Partnership Deal

On May 14, 2019, ESPN announced a media content partnership with Caesars Entertainment. Similar to Caesars’ deal with Bleacher Report, its LINQ Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas will host a brand new ESPN-branded studio, where they will produce sports-betting-themed content and contribute to ESPN’s Daily Wager show. In addition to the studio, Caesars will serve as ESPN’s official odds data supplier throughout its platform. Per ESPN’s Vice President of Business Development Mike Morrison, “[w]e are poised to expand our coverage in a big way…
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New York Federal Jury Again Finds Former Adidas Official and Business Manager Guilty Due to Bribery Roles in “Pay-for-Play” NCAA Scandal

On May 8, 2019, a New York federal jury convicted aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins and former shoe company basketball consultant Merl Code of conspiring to bribe assistant college basketball coaches. Back in October 2018, another Manhattan federal jury convicted Dawkins and Code – along with former Adidas executive James Gatto – on conspiracy and fraud charges as a result of yet another trial coming out of this high-profile “pay-for-play” NCAA scandal. Following this conviction, Dawkins and Code were sentenced to six months in prison…
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Judge Denies Elon Musk’s Motion to Dismiss Defamation Lawsuit

On April 26, 2019, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson denied Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit. No detailed order was filed; Judge Wilson simply made a text-only docket entry declining Musk’s request. Back in September 2018, Vernon Unsworth brought suit against Musk, alleging defamation arising out of tweets and emails sent by Musk. Unsworth, who has in excess of 40 years of spelunking experience, played a pivotal role in rescuing a dozen young soccer players trapped in a Thailand cave earlier…
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Former NFL Players Challenge New Rules in Concussion Settlement Case

On April 24, 2019, a group of former NFL players challenged newly adopted medical rules in the ongoing NFL concussion settlement. As we have previously reported, in April 2015, Judge Brody approved a settlement between the NFL and almost 22,000 former players. The settlement established a 65-year uncapped monetary fund for players who could prove certain neurological diagnoses. The settlement provided a $75 million “baseline assessment program” that provided eligible retired players with neurological examinations, a $10 million education fund to promote safety and…
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Michael Avenatti Accused of Embezzling $2 million From NBA Player

Michael Avenatti, celebrity lawyer and notably outspoken President Trump critic, is once again in the spot light. On April 21, 2019, the Los Angeles Timesreported that, in 2017, Avenatti embezzled $2 million from NBA player Hassan Whiteside. Back in 2017, Avenatti was representing Alexis Gardner, Whiteside’s ex-girlfriend, in order to negotiate a settlement of a potential lawsuit against Whiteside. The public does not know the contents of an alleged potential lawsuit; however, Avenatti was able to negotiate a $3 million settlement. Both Gardner and…
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Damaging Video Recording Played in Second NCAA Basketball Corruption Trial

On April 24, 2019, a video recording of Christian Dawkins endorsing his connections to top NCAA basketball coaches, including the University of Arizona’s Sean Miller, was played in front of the jury in the second trial over NCAA basketball corruption. As we have previously reported, the trial is essentially a spin-off of a major NCAA corruption scandal. In October 2019, a Manhattan federal jury convicted former Adidas executive James Gatto, business manager and aspiring sports agent Dawkins, and former Adidas consultant Merl Code of fraud…
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NCAA Head Coaches Sean Miller and Will Wade Likely Won’t Testify in Upcoming Federal Basketball Corruption Trial

On April 19, 2019, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled that two high profile NCAA men’s basketball coaches, accused of corrupt recruiting practices, are not likely to testify in an upcoming federal corruption trial. As we have previously reported, in February 2019, reports began circulating that Sean Miller, head coach at the University of Arizona, and Will Wade, head coach at Louisiana State University, were subpoenaed to testify in an upcoming trail. The trial focuses on alleged bribes paid to assistant coaches at Arizona,…
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Jury Selection Begins in Second Trial Over NCAA Basketball Corruption

On April 22, 2019, jury selection was conducted in the trial of aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins and former Adidas consultant Merl Code. Dawkins and Code stand accused of bribing major NCAA D1 basketball coaches in order to facilitate a relationship with high-profile amateur basketball players. The current trial is essentially a spin-off of a major NCAA corruption scandal. Previously, in October 2019, a Manhattan federal jury convicted former Adidas executive James Gatto, business manager and aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins, and former Adidas consultant…
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Ninth Circuit Affirms $42 Million Fee Award in NCAA in Antitrust Suit

On April 17, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a $42 million attorney fee award despite objections from former NCAA athletes. As we have previously covered, in November 2017, former Division I NCAA athletes won a settlement of $208.7 million against the NCAA. In their suit, former NCAA athletes challenged the NCAA’s practice of capping student scholarships at values less than the actual cost of attendance. Previously, class member Darrin Duncan articulated that the “central issue in the…
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Alliance of American Football Update: Bankruptcy

On April 17, 2019, the Alliance of American Football (AAF) filed a petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas. The league announced: “We are deeply disappointed to be taking this action. The AAF was created to be a dynamic, developmental professional football league powered by an unprecedented alliance between players, fans and the game. The AAF strove to create new opportunities for talented players, coaches, executives and officials while providing an exciting experience for fans.…
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