OPEN LETTER FROM RICKY VOLANTE, HBL CEO
Ricky Volante November 19, 2018
To our HBL investors and supporters,
In the last few months, the HBL has taken great strides towards our June 2020 launch. I want to take a moment to recap what we’ve accomplished, describe several important developments in college sports, and give a brief preview of what is soon to come with the HBL.
David West Joins the Management Team
It gives me great pleasure to announce that two-time NBA champion David West is joining the HBL’s Management Team as its first Chief Operating Officer. David will oversee the development of basketball infrastructure; including scouting, recruitment, player development, and NBA relations. David will help form true and transparent partnerships with the HBL’s players.
Many of you know David the basketball player after a very successful 15-year career in the NBA and 4-year collegiate career at Xavier. David the person is even more impressive. I have gotten to know David well throughout this process. His deep understanding of the injustices of amateurism, his inroads to the grassroots community, and his firsthand experiences as an athlete at all levels, will serve the HBL well as we continue to build the league in the coming months.
Prospective HBL Cities
This summer, the Management Team, in conjunction with our legal externs and operations interns, conducted a research study to determine the best locations for our inaugural teams. I’m really proud of the work they completed, and the findings helped us narrow the list to twenty (20) cities. We will immediately begin seeking Team Operators to operate the HBL teams. In our inaugural season, the HBL will have six (6) teams in the Eastern Conference and six (6) teams in the Western Conference.
Baltimore, MD/Washington, D.C.
Las Vegas, NV
Los Angeles, CA
New Orleans, LA
St. Louis, MO
If you are interested in learning more about our Team Operator structure or becoming a Team Operator, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Increase in Maximum Salary
We were excited to see the announcement of the G-League’s creation of their new salary maximum for high school basketball players deemed to be elite college prospects. However, this particular option solidifies the “compensation or education” way of thinking. The HBL is focused on ending this false choice by providing compensation AND education. With that in mind, we decided to raise our maximum salary to $150,000 per season, plus the benefits that will be provided, as well as additional bonuses that may be offered. Our goal is to be the premier opportunity for college basketball players.
Impact of the Hoops Trial
In what has been a busy month of college basketball news, three people (James Gatto, Christian Dawkins, and Merl Code, Jr.) were convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud for under the table payments to college basketball players and prospects. Essentially, the FBI criminalized under the table payments to varsity college athletes and prospective recruits, claiming that when an athlete accepts a scholarship requiring him to be an “amateur,” then any payment he received previously rendered those past payments a form of criminal fraud.
This is a pivotal development for the HBL. There is a robust “black market” economy for varsity college basketball players, and further participation exposes violators to federal crimes (and athletes accepting payments may be susceptible to charges of tax evasion if they do not claim the payments as income). Almost surely, members of the freshman class of 2020 have received those payments from apparel firms or from their grassroots basketball organizations.
For each one of these athletes, the HBL represents a safe path. Under the FBI’s theory, there is no crime until an athlete represents to the university that they are indeed an amateur and signs the necessary forms that certify their amateur status with an institution. The HBL, however, believes “amateurism” is a con and will never ask its athletes to attest to being one. So if a player has already received money, and they want to make sure their family and mentors avoid jail time, they have a few options. The best one would be to commit to the HBL and keep the money already received.
These developments present the HBL as the clear choice for both sponsors and athletes looking to participate in this robust market in an above board manner.
Creation of the HBL Foundation
Beyond the HBL, we’ve taken the necessary steps to create a non-profit organization, the HBL Foundation (HBLF). The HBLF’s mission is to provide educational opportunities, resources, and support for students in need. The HBLF will award scholarships to each of the HBL’s athletes, though it will do far more than that. The HBLF will also create educational content to help prepare high school students for college sports. Additionally, the HBLF will aim to create scholarship funds for non-athletes looking to enter the sports industry in a range of sectors (i.e. sports management, journalism, sports health).
The Foundation will be able to accept donations beginning on Tuesday, November 27, 2018. The HBLF’s status as a 501(c)(3) is currently pending. If (when) the application is approved, any donation received would be retroactively considered a charitable contribution to the date it was received. The HBLF’s website will be live prior to Tuesday at hblfoundation.org.
If you have visited the HBL website in the past two weeks, you probably noticed our branding revamp. Other elements will continue to be added to the site in the coming weeks to visually describe the HBL.
With the HBL’s branding update concluded, our design team is now working on new HBL merchandise that will be released in early 2019 (first edition merchandise can be found at hbleague.com/merchandise). Further, the marketing team will begin turning their attention to our individual team brands.
If you have been thinking about becoming one of our twelve (12) inaugural Team Operators, this is the perfect time to dive in. Team Operators that join during this branding phase will have substantial involvement in crafting the look, feel, and even names of their operated teams. And as David West builds out our recruiting infrastructure, there will be room for Team Operators to help land the elite prospects of the 2020 class for our inaugural season. If you want to participate in the HBL and build something amazing with us, this is the time to get involved.
Statements in this letter that refer to forecasts, future plans, or expectations are forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Statements that refer to or are based on projections, uncertain events, or assumptions also identify forward-looking statements. Such statements are based on the company’s current expectations and involve many risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in these forward-looking statements.