Bleid Sports' CEO Rob Blair Responds to A Sea of Blue

The other day, I wrote this article critical of Bleid Sports in general and their CEO, Rob Blair in particular regarding the high school pre-season tournament cast as the "Rumble at Rupp" which had to be moved to Lexington Christian Academy because the NCAA refused to grant a wavier of Bylaw 13.11.1.8. 

Afterwards, we exchanged emails on the matter and he thoughtfully gave me permission to reproduce an email he sent to his coaches regarding the matter as a way of responding to my commentary.  I have reproduced the email he sent to the coaches, complete and unedited, after the jump.  The email contains information that I did not know at that time of my article.  The comments he made to me were not included in that permission, so they will remain private.

Read Mr. Blair's email immediately following the jump.

Coaches,

Most have you have heard, or have had to live with the quick change of game venue.  I wanted to update everyone on the progress and the events that led up to Wednesday, November 24.

NCAA has the rule (created in April) that says,"Any non-scholastic event cannot be held on a collegiate practice floor/playing facility."  It is rule 2009 100a.

What this means:  That a non scholastic (i.e. school camp, AAU, all-star game) cannot be held at the Rupp Area's of the world.  I understand the reasoning for the rule.  It helps get rid of many of the shadiness in collegiate atheltics.

There is a key word... "non-scholastic".  Scholastic by definition pertains to an event in which scholastic teams (i.e. school teams) compete in a sanctioned or recognizable scholastic game.  Our consulted events contain scholastic teams, state association approved, national federation of high school approved.  The events have school hosts.  When I found out about the ruling, I contacted the NCAA directly (as I was asked to do by a member of the NCAA focus group).  In turn, they gave me the "official" ruling that the events we are involved with are considered scholastic.  The ruling/case number: 185-588.

We, then proceed to book venues based on this interpretation and case number.  Many collegiate facilities and athletic directors received the same approval based on our case number.  Rupp Arena received the same on November 21 (after the NCAA mentioned a possible violation for UK).  Rupp received a case number that says that the original case number: 185-588 is indeed accurate.  Clearly, the rule interpretation did not change from June.

The NCAA enforced their new interpretation that the event was non scholastic (not based on any schools present in the event) on Wednesday, November 24, at 10:05 pm. 

The waiver was asked for by the University of Kentucky due to the facts that the NCAA already approved the events through the case number given to Bleid Sports and Rupp Arena.  The NCAA denied.  As UK should, they would not allow us in Rupp Arena due to the NCAA's new decision on the event.  We have zero interest in sanctioning UK, but the NCAA decision hurt many kids.

My frustration: The event is scholastic.  Bleid Sports was granted approval.  Rupp Arena made sure that the approval in June was still valid.  AND the NCAA still (36 hours before the event) changed their decision.  This is unfair to the schools, the players, the coaches, and the fans.

We did our best to honor the games, by working diligently to secure another venue (albeit not Rupp), secure free food, MVP awards, Rupp Arena tours, etc.  We cannot make up for the NCAA changing their decision at the last minute, a decision that we consider very poor.  However, we do want to do our best to alleviate the pain suffered by countless teams.  We are continuing to fight for the future events.  But want it to be fair for the schools as well.  If the schools still choose to participate, we will secure Freedom Hall for the Yum event.  Unfortunately, the only venues comparable near Rupp Arena are Transylvania and Georgetown.  Two great facilities, but not many in the country compare to Rupp Arena. 

We would love to honor your games, and will do our best to make sure the event makes money for your programs, and that the event is an experience for your schools.  We do not hold any teams to their contracts, but will honor ours. 

I will answer all questions on Monday.  I have an event Sunday with many wonderful coaches at LCA.  I want to thank all of the coaches, fans, and players for making the event on Friday doable and enjoyable.  It is their resolve and good character that make a bad weekend and a poor change of decision by the NCAA worth the effort in changing last minute.

God Bless all my Kentucky coaches.  I wish I had better news, but just know that I will continue to fight for you.

Rob Blair
President/CEO
325 West Main St.
3rd Floor
Lexington, KY 40507
502.751.4791 (Direct)
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