CEO with NCAA ties allegedly bet big on Tourney games, yet NCAA doesn’t seem to care
The CEO of the company, Ted Forstmann, is alleged to have bet a lot of money on the NCAA Tournament in years past. Yet AOL Fanhouse’s Greg Couch couldn’t get anything from the NCAA, outside of a PR honk, to address the situation.
The column linked above is almost a week old, and it’s gone largely unnoticed, unfortunately. I’m as much to blame as anyone, so let’s get to talking about this.
Forstmann’s had his troubles in the tennis world, specifically, when his gambling tendencies caused a PR disaster for the sport earlier this year. Then he was said to have paid people off to close as many mouths as possible about the issue. It should be noted tennis has had a problem with players tossing matches many a time.
Here’s where it gets sticky with college basketball.
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.
Dicey, to say the least. Not like Forstmann would dare have the power to change how teams played or toss games, but it’s his knowledge and relationship with certain teams (he bet on programs who he has ties with, like Butler and Louisville) that makes this uncomfortable and, really, pretty unethical.
For the record, you can find a number of coaches, many of them college basketball who are clients of IMG, listed here.
The NCAA recoils at the thought of gambling being tied in with its football and basketball games. (It needs to get with the times and just accept that nature, like the NFL so subtly has.) And because of that stubborn stance, the NCAA looks terrible here. Really, really bad. It won’t have anyone come out and acknowledge the Forstmann issue, let alone be proactive about it.
We’re talking about an organization that would instantly force a school to fire its head coach if it found out said coach filled out a Tournament bracket, even for fun. But this gets tossed to the side? Forstmann is a very public figure and powerful man. The lawsuit he’s tied to isn’t a pretty situation. And there goes the NCAA, running and hiding away from the problem. It needs to get out in front of this.
And unfortunately, the NCAA’s tentacles can’t reach out to Forstmann in this matter; there is no punishment it can put upon him, since he is a third party. Perhaps that’s what’s keeping all of this from being taken to the next level. But nothing’s stopping the organization from, at the absolute very least, putting out a press release that distances itself from Forstmann’s behavior.
The NCAA can’t have it both ways, though. It can’t create all of these business ties to IMG, and other companies of similar ilk, and look to profit off the brands of its member institutions and allow a rogue CEO or two to bring embarrassment and tarnished reputations into the fold.
If it does, matters of paying athletes, games being fixed, you name it — all of those things leap out of Pandora’s Box, even if they aren’t specifically relevant to the matters here.