Tag Archive for: Bob Zito

Discrimination in plain sight: College athletes on F-1 visas are missing out | Opinion

College athletes now have a well-deserved opportunity to earn money from their name, image and likeness.

Except for about 20,000 of them.

There are about 187,000 college athletes, of whom about 20,000 student-athletes are attending U.S. colleges on F-1 visas. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Congress passed The Patriot Act, which forbids students from outside the United States from earning money while attending school, unless they are employed by their school and on campus.

You’re not going to get any arguments from me about strengthening national security. I was in the South Tower on 9/11, having coffee with a friend before the first plane hit the North Tower. By the time both planes hit, I was just three blocks away at the New York Stock Exchange.

It turned out that one of the hijackers, who lived in Paterson, New Jersey, was earning money while here on an F-1 Visa. He evidently didn’t attend classes; he just worked and earned money to help fund the attack.

Fast forward to 2021, and the NCAA decides it’s time to allow athletes to capitalize on their name, image and likeness. Except for those 20,000 students who aren’t allowed to earn a dime here in the U.S.

”While I understand the intent of the law surrounding F-1 visas, the application of that law, as written, to F-1 visa foreign born athletes creates a discriminatory environment where these athletes are precluded from receiving the same benefits under NIL as non F-1 visa athletes,” says Jose Linares, the former chief judge of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. “This unintended result discriminates against these athletes (who are often the most financially challenged and thus most needy of the financial benefits of NIL) in a way that was never intended, foreseen or justified. This unintended consequence needs to be remedied.”

Loopholes? A non-U.S. athlete can go “offshore” to take photos, post on social media, sign autographs and appear in television, print and social media advertising and keep his or her earnings. The result is that more and more colleges are scheduling preseason trips to Europe, the Caribbean Islands, and other locales to give their non-U.S. athletes the opportunity to earn NIL money.

“There is no reason for this,” says attorney Peter Till. “The athletes should at the least be allowed to have someone put the money in a trust so that when their Visa status changes, or they return to their home countries, they can benefit from the earnings. There has been considerable and scholarly discussion on this topic.”

The NCAA has more to consider regarding rules around NIL. Are schools offering athletes “confirmed” NIL compensation if they attend that school? Are college boosters (now legally) sending money directly to athletes, in exchange for an appearance at the booster’s company or for a social media post about the booster’s business? It’s a work in progress … and the NCAA will need to develop hard and fast rules, so schools better understand what is and isn’t permissible.

But the NCAA might start with leveling the playing field for all its athletes. Start with the low hanging fruit? It shouldn’t take much for an NCAA delegation to visit Capitol Hill and show why this law needs to be updated.

“This application of this law is outdated and misdirected,” says attorney Charles M. Lizza of the law firm Saul Ewing LLP. “We understand and abide by laws, but as times and practices change, laws need to be consistent with those changes. Students should all have equal rights.”

While not being able to earn money for themselves, some non-U.S. students have used NIL to help others thanks to the NCAA’s rule changes.

Take Clifford Omoruyi for example. The starting center for the Rutgers basketball team, who hails from Nigeria and is attending the school while on an F-1 Visa, “Big Cliff” has helped several companies with appearances and social media posts, but never asked for a penny. Instead, his marketing agent asked the companies to give a donation to the “Books & Basketball” program at the Salvation Army’s West Side facility in Newark. Clifford volunteered at the program during his off-seasons, while he lived with the family of the program’s founder, Muhammad Oliver.

“He’s been an amazing role model for so many young children in Newark,” says Oliver. “And the contributions companies have made in his honor, have helped us provide equipment for these children that they otherwise wouldn’t have.”

The NCAA has a long way to go to take the wrinkles out of NIL. But it — and Congress — can start by making it a level playing field for every athlete, regardless of his or her country of origin. The discrimination needs to end.


Cliff Omoruyi & Knight Society Raise $10k for Newark Salvation Army… Meggie Dougherty Howard PK Secures 1-0 Win… Brad Smith Ends Regular Season Hot as Whipsnakes Secure #1 Seed

Cliff Omoruyi Partners With 16 Handles… Alex Touche Earns First TOTW

Alexey Oleynik talks wanting to fight Fabricio Werdum, Mark Hunt, and UFC first visit to Russia

The only man to win by Ezekiel choke—twice–in the UFC, Alexey Oleynik (56-11) is honored to fight a mixed marital arts legend Mark Hunt, but he was looking forward to duke it out with a jiu jitsu extraordinaire Fabricio Werdum.

Oleynik has been unofficially announced to take on Mark Hunt (13-12) in the UFC’s first visit to Moscow, Russia in September 2018. His last fight was against Junior Albini where he defeated his foe by Ezekiel choke in May.

Originally, Oleynik was scheduled to fight former heavyweight champion Werdum, but he was pulled from the fight after he was busted for using illegal substances.

Oleynik last fought in Russia back in 2013, so it is like a homecoming for him.

He said he is looking forward to a fight with the New Zealand brawler.

“I am really happy to take this fight,” he said. “I am happy. It is an honor for me. This is a hard fight. This must be a hard fight. Mark Hunt is a MMA legend, in K-1. But I am not young too. I have very many fights too. I am happy to be on the main card and the main fight and first time the UFC is in Russia.”

He added that Hunt has competed against top caliber fighters and has much respect for him, but he was looking forward to fight Werdum to match skills.

“Mark Hunt is very famous. He is a legend in MMA, but he is a legend punching.,” he said. “Werdum is a wrestler and grappler all time best jiu jitsu, all time in the heavyweights. Werdum is a very famous grappler. I think I am good grappler and it would have been an interesting fight with two grapplers. Werdum is good on the punching too, when he fought Alistair both times he fought with him punching and he was good. Overeem doesn’t like grappling.”

View the story on RodolfoRoman.com.


NBA Legend Signs with IPZ for Representation

WARREN, NJ, April 24, 2018 – Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Hall of Fame basketball player, has signed with IPZ, the company announced today.

The 1968 NBA Rookie of the Year, four-time NBA All-Star (1969, 1971, 1975, 1977), and 1973 NBA World Champion began his basketball legacy as a collegiate senior when he led Winston-Salem State College to a National Championship in 1967 while averaging 41.7 points per game. That same year, Monroe was selected second overall in the NBA Draft by the Baltimore Bullets.

“The Pearl” enjoyed a 13-year career in the NBA and played with the Bullets from 1967-1971 until he was traded to the New York Knickerbockers. Monroe joined fellow Hall of Famer Walt Frazier and the pair was named the “Rolls Royce Backcourt.” Together, Monroe and Frazier led the Knicks to victory in the 1973 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Philly native retired from the NBA in a Knicks uniform in 1980. In 1989, Monroe was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Eight years later, Monroe was voted one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.

Outside of basketball, Monroe has spent more than 30 years in the entertainment industry; projects have included producing off-broadway musicals to running his own record and publishing company. He also won the Peabody Award for producing the critically-acclaimed documentary Black Magic, which helped launch ESPN’s famed series 30 for 30. Monroe also does TV and radio commentary for the Knicks.

Additionally, Monroe is also a motivational speaker and has written two books, Earl the Pearl, My Story was published in 2013 and Getting Back in the Game is a self-help book that is soon to be published. He holds two honorary Doctorate Degrees, one from Manhattanville College and the other from his alma mater, Winston-Salem.

Monroe has been a spokesperson for companies such as Emblem Health, Remy Martin, American Heart Association, Boehringer-Ingelheim, and most recently, Merck, where he led an award-winning campaign called “Diabetes Restaurant Month.” “The Pearl” has traveled around the country to deliver the message, to people with type 2 diabetes, of maintaining a healthy diet when eating out.

“Since retiring from the game, it has been a pleasure to assist brands I feel strongly about,” said Monroe.  “And now, developing concepts for brands, while keeping my hand in the music and film industries, has been a great “Overtime” opportunity I cherish.”

“Class is the word that describes Earl,” said IPZ Managing Partner Robert Zito. “From his days on the court…to his family life…to helping his community…and representing brands, “The Pearl” is the class of class when it comes to ambassadors representing brands.”

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

First Impressions Go a Long Way

A guy walked into a room…

No, not a joke.

It’s about first impressions.

We deal with clients every day…and meet potential clients regularly.

How someone enters a room sets the tone for the meeting.

Consider our experience last week.

A major American brand exec is late for a dinner meeting. But he is so apologetic and humble that did we even care? Absolutely not.

A “hulk” of a man is also late for a lunch…but, again, humble…and fun as he explains why.  This is a guy who is already a star, and – we hope with our help – will be an even bigger star. But, again…his humility spoke volumes. Fortunately for us, he’s now a client.

And as for this one, it was one of those moments because of its sincerity I will never forget.  I had read about his accomplishments, and his nickname (The Boa Constrictor) said it all…but when he walked into the room there was a calm and peaceful aura that was inescapable. Somewhat shy…soft spoken…and sincere.

Then he told me about what had happened with his daughter just a few days earlier. We asked him to capture his story in print, and ABC has used it and will be doing a piece for an upcoming television special. It brought me back to 9/11…and the first call I was able to make to my family. They’ve told me how they felt, and I can only imagine what was going through his mind.

There has been a lot going on in our IPZ group, but meeting these three last week was a great reminder — sincerity…humility…and first impressions go a long, long way.

Our Take on NCAA Issues

Seton Hall basketball: An expert’s advice on handling Isaiah Whitehead mess

Every now and then, you hear the phrase from an old-timer who still associates Seton Hall basketball with a 1961 point-shaving scandal.

“Cheatin’ Hall.”

That disgrace scarred the athletic department’s reputation for a generation.

Friday’s revelation by Yahoo Sports, that an unscrupulous agent listed former Pirate star Isaiah Whitehead on his payroll before the guard turned pro, is a far cry from throwing games. But it could leave a nasty stain. Exactly how nasty depends, in part, on how the university proceeds from here.

Bob Zito knows the deal. The seasoned public relations executive is managing partner of the Warren-based firm IPZ, which provides “strategic and tactical solutions” for professional athletes, media talent and entertainers. Among his past credentials: helping to build the New York Stock Exchange’s brand.

Gannett New Jersey asked Zito how he would advise Seton Hall, Whitehead and the NCAA as the FBI’s investigation into recruiting practices continues to rock college basketball.

“One of the big things in any situation like this — whether you’re a college, a basketball team or a Fortune 500 company — transparency is so important,” Zito said. “There are hundreds of (reporters) out there who will find someone to talk to them. You have to be transparent so no one can shoot at it. You can’t hide anything anymore.”

Seton Hall issued the following statement Friday afternoon: “We are aware of the Yahoo! Sports report. We have taken steps proactively to reach out to the NCAA and the BIG EAST Conference, and while we have not been contacted by investigators, we will be conducting our own internal review.”

Zito praised the statement as a good start. Fact-gathering always should be the first step.

“What Seton Hall has done so far is the exact right thing,” he said. “No. 1, you have to do your own internal review. That internal review has to be done by someone who is independent, but someone who knows what’s going on (in the sport).”

By independent, Zito means an investigator “who is not affiliated with the university,” he said. “That would be smart for Seton Hall.”

Speaking generally about someone in Whitehead’s position, Zito recommends telling the truth about agent relationships and letting the public assess a broken system.

“It’s, ‘Here’s what I did when I was 15, 16 years old, because that probably is the age when it starts,’” he said. “But he’s probably going to have to throw someone under the bus to do that, because my guess is it probably wasn’t his idea.”

So, expose whose idea it was.

“Young basketball players, people realize these kids are going to make money and latch onto them, give them bad counsel and steer them one way or another, and it’s just an ugly thing,” he said.

As for the NCAA, Zito recommends admitting failure as a starting point.

“Anybody involved in college basketball, quietly you know this stuff is going on, how it works,” he said. “The NCAA has turned a deaf ear to it.”

Each of his suggestions has a common thread: Transparency. That’s the first step toward earning public trust. As Seton Hall learned decades ago, that trust can be hard to regain.


Here are four questions hanging over the program as the FBI investigation and Seton Hall’s internal probe unfold.

1. Did anyone employed by Seton Hall play a part in arranging for Whitehead to receive money from the agency ASM Sports?

2. Is there documentation that Hall head coach Kevin Willard knew about Whitehead’s ties to ASM while he was a student?

3. Did former assistant coach Tiny Morton’s reported $9,500 loan from ASM take place during his one season on the Pirates’ staff (2014-15)?

4. What impact, if any, does this have on the morale and focus of the current Hall team as it pursues a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance, especially given the seniors’ continued friendship with Whitehead?

View the story online.

The Kids Are Alright

Don’t go looking at the lyrics from The Who’s often-covered song, one that always made me wonder if I was actually listening to The Beatles.  This has nothing to do with that song.

Years ago, the firm I was with brought in a college intern from Rutgers.  He was excellent.  So good he was hired by two other companies I worked at. (Yes, I may have made a strong recommendation to hire him.)

I have been fortunate to work with some amazingly talented people on the teams I led at Sony, the NYSE, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and now here at Zito Partners and IPZ.

They not only did great jobs; they always put our companies – and now our clients – first, and made our management teams look pretty good while they were at it.

Some have moved on to amazing senior positions, and the companies they work for are smart for having them.

From one who is at a tech start-up focusing on education…to a pharmacy benefit manager…to a company on the forefront of the battle against cancer…to a financial industry regulator…to a video production company…the people I was fortunate to work with were exemplary…as are those still at Sony, the NYSE and BMS.  I said to a number of them when they were on my staffs, “someday, I’ll be working for you.”  And in fact, that has happened.  We have been fortunate to work for or with a number of those former employees as clients, or partner firms.

Last week, one of those young stars hosted a reception at the new “digs” for her company – an event management firm that started as a one-person shop in Manhattan, and now has 140 people in New York and London.

As I stopped up to the office to see her…saw the great space she’s in…talked with some of her employees and clients…listened to the band she had hired for the night, all I could think about was The Who.

Yep, the kids are alright.

Have a great Thanksgiving.


Bloomberg Looks at NFL Controversy

NFL’s $205 Million Man Is Hated by Everyone But Those Who Matter

By Felix Gillette

If you’re going to sign your outfit’s top executive to a long-term compensation deal worth tens of millions of dollars, you want to be absolutely confident he can handle any crisis, shut down the pitchforks, snuff out the torches and restore order.

Roger Goodell, the National Football League commissioner, will probably be just fine anyway.

The ruckus over whether players should — or should be allowed to — protest racial injustice during the national anthem is, without question, dragging on at an awkward time for Goodell. His contract with the NFL, which paid him more than $205 million between 2008 and 2015 (the last year that was made public), expires in 2019. A proposed five-year extension is before league officials. They’re discussing it against furious background noise and a lot of people calling for the commissioner’s head. He hasn’t managed to tamp it down.

Fans have burned jerseys and boycotted games. The media have been relentless, with Townhall.com Editor Katie Pavlich blasting Goodell as a “coward,” Breitbart News labeling him a “protester PR hack” and Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs referring to him as “gutless Goodell.” League officials and Goodell didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The commissioner, though, isn’t beholden to pundits or the droves of angry people on Twitter, even the one who lives in the White House. The faith of team owners is all that really matters. This has long been a fact of widespread misunderstanding. As Fay Vincent, the former head of Major League Baseball, once explained to Bloomberg News, “The great myth that you have to deal with is that the commissioner is a public servant.”

With the exception of the Green Bay Packers, the NFL is a collection of private businesses, run by a small pack of billionaires. And since becoming commissioner in 2006, Goodell had made them gobs of money.

“Even people who may disagree with how some social issues are being handled, he is still their guy,” said Marc Ganis, president of the influential consulting firm Sportscorp Ltd., after members of the NFL’s compensation committee met in New York last week. Based on his conversations with them, Ganis said, Goodell’s contract extension is “pretty much done — there was no expression of wanting to go in a different direction.”

This season, the NFL will bring in some $14 billion in revenue, according to SportsBusiness Journal, an increase of more than $900 million over last season and a huge jump from the roughly $6.6 billion it made in 2006. The lavish growth has hardly sated Goodell’s ambitions to make his bosses even richer. He has said that by 2027, he’d like to see the NFL pull in $25 billion.

The commissioner has also helped the league slalom through a minefield of potentially ruinous hazards. For years, no matter what horror has arrived on the doorstep — injured brains, battered spouses, deflated footballs, softening ratings, scab referees, — Goodell has always dutifully answered the doorbell, draped in his boxy, pin-striped suit of armor, flashing his tight-lipped smile and calmly repeating a rote paean to the unwavering, greatness of the game.

Along the way, he has emerged as a favorite target for bloodthirsty fans. In that, too, he performs a valuable service, effectively drawing anger away from press-averse owners.

His skills were on display at a news conference last week where he expressed his hope that all players would stand for the anthem but reiterated the NFL wouldn’t force anybody to do so. Moving forward, he said, the league would work with players to support their social-justice goals off the field. “We’re not looking to get into politics,” Goodell said. “What we’re looking to do is to continue to get people focused on football.”

The performance did nothing to placate President Donald Trump, and left plenty of others fuming. But with the audience that matters most, it went over well. “Nobody wants the protests to continue because it has had an effect on business and it has provoked a huge emotional response from our fans,” New York Giants co-owner John Mara told reporters. “But I think all of us, or just about all of us, are in agreement that we need to continue to have this dialogue with the players.”

There’s no doubt Goodell will continue to face harsh scrutiny, along with the NFL, as long as the anthem issue grabs headlines. Protests continued during week seven of the season, including before the game Sunday between the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. All the Cowboys remained upright, though defensive end David Irving briefly raised his fist at the end of the song, while several 49ers kneeled. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who recently vowed to bench any team member who didn’t stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner,” told reporters the league was being hurt by players taking the knee, as it’s called.

The matter “has been allowed to fester,” said Bob Zito, founder of Zito Partners, a crisis management firm. “Goodell has to be able to find the best solution to get this off the front-page, as soon as possible.” That’s important for the league, not necessarily his contract negotiations.

View online: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-23/nfl-s-205-million-man-is-hated-by-everyone-but-those-who-matter

USA Volleyball Launches New Marketing Effort

Zito Partners and InterperformancesUSA to Provide Support

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, and WARREN, NJ, June 1, 2017 – USA Volleyball (USAV), the recognized National Governing Body for volleyball by both the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), has retained Zito Partners and InterperformancesUSA (IPZ) to assist in its branding and marketing efforts.

USA Volleyball’s mission is to lead, serve and grow all areas of the sport of volleyball from grassroots participation to international competitive excellence. USAV consistently produces world-class athletes that comprise the USA teams competing in the Olympics, Paralympics, and FIVB World events. Both the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Indoor National Teams are currently ranked #2 in the world.

In the 2016 Olympic Games hosted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, three of the U.S. teams medaled: Men’s Indoor, Women’s Indoor, and Women’s Beach each earned the bronze. The U.S. Women’s Sitting National Team captured its first Paralympic gold medal in Rio. Since 1984, the USA is the only nation to have medaled in every Olympic Games.

In addition to its winning history, USAV is the only volleyball institution that is certified by the U.S. Center for SafeSport. This allows its athletes of all ages and skill levels to be assured of a culture of safety and support through awareness, education and training programs.

“We, at USAV, are very excited to be partnering with Zito Partners and InterperformancesUSA for our branding and marketing efforts,” said Jamie Davis, CEO of USA Volleyball. “As the number one high school team participatory sport for girls and the fastest growing NCAA varsity sport, volleyball’s scale is misunderstood. I am convinced that by working with Bob Zito and his team, we will be able to effectively grow the awareness and excitement of this amazing sport as we groom our Olympians for years to come.”

“USAV is an amazing organization with a phenomenal product and some of the most skilled athletes in the world,” said Robert Zito, Founder of Zito Partners and Managing Partner of InterperformancesUSA. “We are both honored and excited to have the opportunity to work with Jamie and his team to help build this brand and develop lasting, meaningful corporate partnerships for the organization.”

About USA Volleyball: Founded in 1928, USA Volleyball is a Colorado incorporated non-profit organization recognized by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the Federation International de Volleyball (FIVB) as the National Governing Body for the disciplines of beach volleyball, indoor volleyball and sitting volleyball in the United States. USA Volleyball has over 325,000 registered members, 12,000 teams and 5,300 clubs nationwide. With an annual budget in excess of $31 million dollars, USA Volleyball supports the USA men’s and women’s senior national team programs for beach, indoor and sitting volleyball; youth and junior national teams, national championship events, coaching education, certification programs and grassroots development across all disciplines. USA Volleyball has a rich tradition of success as evidenced by winning an Olympic medal in every Olympic Games since 1984, four Paralympic medals since 2004 and capturing numerous World Cup, World Championship and Continental Championship titles. USA Volleyball is committed to and works toward opportunity for all to participate. It is an advocate for all Americans endeavoring to assure universal access to opportunities at all levels of the game. For more information on USA Volleyball, visit usavolleyball.org.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

About IPZ: InterperformancesUSA (IPZ) is a family-focused management, representation, and consulting firm, built on the integrity of its professionals, and developing whole life solutions for its clients. The firm is an alliance with Zito Partners. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.


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