Minor league team's collapse irritates ex-Hawk

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"This time they've gone too far."

The words of Tree Rollins came from a voice with passion and anger. The former pro basketball star, who spent 11 of his 18 NBA seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, has seen minor league basketball ideas come and go over the years. In fact, he joined with promoter Duane Allen Jenkins a year ago and agreed to coach an Augusta team that was supposed to open play in April 2009.

Though the team never hit the court, Rollins said then that such leagues were excellent avenues for young basketball athletes looking for a way to reach higher professional levels. The thought of giving prospects a chance to follow in his footsteps was his motivation for getting involved in minor league basketball.

Now, Rollins said, that same passion to help young athletes has him putting out a warning.

"I just want to tell them to be careful," he said. "I've seen guys come into a camp, pay a fee, get a T-shirt and a tryout and get promises that scouts and coaches will see them play and it can be all lies. That's fine. But now they're messing with the females."

Rollins said minor league basketball scammers sunk to a new low recently, targeting female athletes and coaches with dreams of playing or working in women's professional basketball.

Rollins specifically pointed Jenkins' most recent pitch, the Women's United States Basketball Association, a league that was to take root throughout the Southeast, including in Augusta.

Rollins originally supported the idea . But Jenkins pulled the plug on it in late May , a few days before the season was supposed to start.
"I've never come across a guy with such disrespect for the game and for other people," Rollins said. "I'm all for people trying to do something for basketball and to help kids, but I told him, 'Do not mess with the ladies.' "

Adrienne Goodson and Shanika Freeman were two of those coaches. Freeman, a former pro player in Finland who worked as a personal trainer, and Goodson, a WNBA veteran who was working as a high school girls basketball coach, both gave up their work when Jenkins offered them head coaching positions. Freeman was to coach the Augusta team; Goodson was headed for Savannah.

"He promised me a job, a salary, meals, a place to stay," Goodson said. "I was teaching and coaching at a high school, and I gave that up. They gave me my send-off party last week."

Goodson said she was to lead a 10-member roster full of young talent . Hoping to help those girls eventually reach the WNBA, she assembled the prospects and told them to report by May 28.

"They were all charged up," Goodson said. "They were giving up jobs and giving up opportunities this summer."
But on May 26, Jenkins used a league-wide conference call to tell the coaches that the WUSBA would not play this season.
Jenkins did not return multiple phone calls seeking comment.

"Every coach was informed of the decision in a heated meeting Wednesday evening," Jenkins said in a statement posted on a minor league basketball Web site on May 27. "It got ugly, some of (the) coaches were extremely angry, one coach in particular directly confronted me with violent and insulting comments, however we made a decision and as they say, that is that."

The statement from the league said "funding was not a significant factor" but did not give a specific reason for why the league suddenly shut down. Jenkins did say in the statement that he will bring the WUSBA back in 2011.

Augusta, which has seen at least two minor league basketball teams play and fail in Augusta within the team's first year of operation, was to receive a WUSBA team called the Augusta Raging River with plans to play at Augusta State's Christenberry Fieldhouse, Jenkins said in early May.

An Augusta State official confirmed Wednesday that a deal with the WUSBA was being discussed, but Jenkins failed to pay a deposit required by the school and hasn't contacted the school since the league folded.

Rollins, a star at Clemson before playing in the NBA, said young female athletes and coaches might be especially vulnerable to such shady dealings because of the WNBA's lack of a solid feeder system outside of college athletics.

While the WUSBA's sudden disappearance might have turned away some talented athletes, Rollins said he won't give up trying to help the next generation of potential basketball stars.

"It may have tainted things a little," he said. "But it won't tear me away from trying to give something back to basketball."

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D. Jenkins
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D. Jenkins 06/06/10 - 02:23 pm
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Billy, Wow. Your tracks on

Billy,

Wow. Your tracks on visible down the middle of my back. You and I have had numerous conversation over the past two years and eight months. You know I'm very reachable.

Your article in the Augusta Chronicle, Sunday, June, 6, 2010 is without collaboration.

You did not call me. You claim you made several attempts to reach me, when? I called you on May 25, 2010, you didn't return my call.

First, I request an opportunity to respond to the false accusation and allegations made by Mr. Rollins.

Second, Mr. Rollins and five other coaches failed to return their Head Coach Independent Contractors Agreement to the league. Each had these agreements since early April 2010.
Our policy is no one is permitted to be association with the WUSBA or the USBA without a signed and approved agreement. Liability is one of the issues.

Third, As of May 26, 2010, we only received forty-eight Independent Contractors Agreements from basketball players, each team was to have ten players on each roster. We could not begin without signed agreements. Mr. Rollins team had sent in only four agreements out of the ten needed. Great passion. 48 signed agreements out 120 needed,

Fourth, Mr. Rollins approached the USBA for a job September 2009. We agreed to allow him to coach the Augusta Raging River in the USBA for the 2010 basketball season. I decided to leave men's basketball and enter women's basketball on March 13, 2010. Mr. Rollins was to be replaced, however, I agreed to allow him to continue to be associated with the WUSBA, he was assigned to take over the Jacksonville Surf in Jacksonville, Florida. Your article was wrong, Mr. Rollins has been associated with the league (s) less than eight months.

Fifth, I began this league in the second week of March 2010. We had nine weeks to get ready. We needed 100% cooperationfrom everyone association with the league. We did not receive this cooperation.

Sixth, Jason Gribek of Augusta State University and I, were in negotiation to use the Christenberry Fieldhouse. They agreed under certain conditions. They wanted $1,600.00 per game. They refused to share the revenue from concessions. Augusta State University forced the WUSBA to alter their schedule , due to previous events scheduled for the fieldhouse. Augusta State University requested to total rental fee of $24,000.00 to be paid in full two weeks in advance of the 2010 basketball season. On April 26, 2010 we approached Mr. George Bailey, Athletic Director of Richmond County, Augusta, Georgia. Coach Bailey gave us permission to use Richmond Academy. The price was $500.00 per game and 100% concession revenue. Payment due ten days in advance of of each game. If you would have returned my call, you would have known.

Seventh, We believe Mr. Rollins and other may attempt to initiate a competing women's league. In my opinion, this smear campaign is designed to discredit the WUSBA and myself and to allow he and others to proceed. April 30, 2010 we made an offer to Mr. Rollins to buy into our league. The amount was minimal. Either he didn't have the money or his passion is not as deep as he claims. We are aware many former NBA basketball players do not have any of the vast amounts of monies they earned while playing. He was willing to take the $700.00 per week, we pay our Head Coaches.

Eight, Adrienne Goodson, Ms. Shanika Freeman and Ms Marqueta Dickens have agreed to coach in the 2011 season. We have agreed to compensate them for the some of the losses they have incurred. We are looking at the reinburstment of some of the players who had to cancel airline tickets and may have lost monies because of our decision. I am not obligated reimburse anyone, however, we are to help the people who may have been hurt by this postponement. Ms. Goodson had informed the league she was leaving her job before she was hired to coach the Savannah Seahawks.

This article has reached Google, I request an opportunity to rebut the false claims made by Mr. Rollins.

I was under the impression, you of all people believed in fair and unbiased reporting.

I'll be speaking to the Augusta local television media later today to offere a rebuttal on these recent claims.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to call me directly,

Duane Allen Jenkins
President/ C.E.O.
United States Basketball Association
Women's United States Basketball Association
(678) 966-9993
www.usbaball.com

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Billy Byler
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Billy Byler 06/06/10 - 03:16 pm
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Mr. Jenkins, it's my

Mr. Jenkins, it's my professional duty to always seek input from all relevant sides of a story, which is why I called you three times over this past week, twice leaving voice mail messages hoping to get a response from you. I called the number I've used in the past when I've successfully reached you (I won't list that number here in a public forum out of respect to you).

I show no missed calls on my cell phone (the number I left each time in the voice mails), and neither my work phone nor my cell phone had any messages from you.

I stand by the facts in the story 100 percent. I'll again attempt to contact you by phone Monday morning.

D. Jenkins
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D. Jenkins 06/06/10 - 05:25 pm
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Billy, Since my entrance into

Billy,

Since my entrance into minor league basketball in July 2007, the conversations I have had with you were always congealing, informational and professional. When I moved the Sales Office they gave me new phone numbers. I did call you when I hired Coach Shanika Freeman.

Some of my coaches have informed me as to how you were approached to report this article. I appreciate the opportunity you offered to share with you and the folks in the Augusta region, why I made the decision to wait until 2011 to start the new women’s league.

Duane Allen Jenkins

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