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Hoops Coach Calls New NCAA Rule Unfair

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - The owner-operator of a for-profit youth basketball program sued the NCAA for refusing to renew his certification as a coach, because of a new rule "precluding certification for a prior felony conviction regardless of the nature or age of the conviction." Michael Abraham says he hasn't touched drugs since a conviction 16 years ago.

Abraham says he has coached high school, college and professional basketball teams. For the past 10 years, he has run Team Concept, which he calls the "pre-eminent" Portland private youth basketball program, especially for women.

Team Concept, one of many programs in the Portland area, trains athletes in clinics and takes them to tournaments organized by the NCAA, Abraham says in his complaint in Multnomah County Court.

Abraham says the NCAA has known all along about his 1995 conviction on drug charges. He says the NCAA's old rules barred coaches only if they had been convicted of violent felonies within the past 7 years.

But in January, the NCAA changed its rules, and Abraham says it gave no explanation and refused to consider his appeal.

Abraham says he has not violated any NCAA rules and has not "committed any other transgression" that would justify his exclusion.

Since the NCAA refused to renew his certification, Abraham says, Team Concept has taken a nose dive. His lead assistant coach quit to take a job with a competing program, he had to hire substitute coaches to take his teams to NCAA tournaments, and other programs are trying to recruit his players. He says he may lose all of his customers.

Abraham demands $220,000 for intentional interference with economic relations. He says the NCAA is preventing him from earning his living.

He is represented by Mark Olmsted.

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