Griffin Purchases BCA League System

Mark Griffin, a poolroom owner and partner in table manufacturer Diamond Billiard Products, has agreed to purchase the Billiard Congress of America’s 60,000-player amateur league system, despite the efforts of a group of regional league officials to form their own association in opposition to the sale.

The BCA’s board of directors agreed to the general terms of the deal during a meeting on March 31, the first day of the BCA’s annual industry trade show in Las Vegas. Griffin, a BCA board member who was recused from league-sale votes, made a substantial payment toward the total purchase on April 1.

Griffin was quick to quell fears that he would substantially alter the way the 26-year-old league system operates.

“Nothing will change,” said Griffin, 57, himself a master-level player in the league. “Not the entry fees, or the rules, the regulations, the sanctioning of the teams — there will be no changes.”

For at least the first couple years, the league would maintain the “BCA” name in its moniker, Griffin said. He expected to hire a new administrative staff for the league, the headquarters of which likely would move from Colorado Springs, Colo., to Las Vegas.

[Griffin has created a Web site for those interested in more information on his plans: www.bcapoolleague.com]

The BCA had received multiple offers for the league system, according to John Stransky, chair of the BCA’s league sale committee. Griffin’s bid was considered the strongest overall, in part because “he was very much in favor of keeping things intact,” Stransky said. “BCA players could continue to play under his ownership and expect things to be greatly the same.”

Griffin’s agreement with the BCA came less than a week after news that a group of BCA league operators and state association presidents had decided to form a new association in opposition to the pending sale.

By forming its own league, dubbed the American Cuesports Alliance, the group sought to preserve the BCA system’s not-for-profit modus operandi. Alliance members expected to have the support of a majority of BCA league operators and players, and announced their intention to hold their own national championship in 2005.

[The Web site for the American Cuesports Alliance can be found at www.americancuesports.org]

W.C. Dixon, president of the BCA league’s Texas state association and vice-president of the Alliance, told BD on April 1 that Griffin’s purchase of the league system would have no bearing on the Alliance’s plans.

It all pointed to a war for the hearts and minds of the rank-and-file players at the 2004 BCA National 8-Ball Championships, to be held in mid-May in Las Vegas. Stransky said the BCA would make overtures to players and operators at the event supporting Griffin’s leadership.

For in-depth coverage of the BCA league sale and its ramifications for players, see the May issue of Billiards Digest, mailed to subscribers in mid-April.

Comeback Queen

55aFor the third consecutive Classic Tour event, Karen Corr rebounded from an earlier loss to win a tournament championship. This time Corr did it at the Women’s Professional Billiard Association Midwest Classic at Palace Billiards in Villa Park, Ill., Oct. 11-14, recovering from a loss to Fisher in the winner’s-bracket finale to oust Fisher in the final, 7-4.

Corr, who has swept all five 2001 Classic Tour events this season excluding the Billiard Congress of America 9-Ball Championships, extended her points lead in the WPBA rankings over Fisher with the victory. The $7,500 payday also pushed Corr’s 2001 WPBA Classic Tour earnings to $45,000, surpassing last year’s total of $40,500, with the 2001 WPBA National Championships still left to play this season. Fisher collected $5,500 for second, while Gerda Hofstatter earned $4,500 for third — her best finish since winning the BCA 9-Ball Championship in May 2000.

BCA Organizes Billiards For America Day

The Billiard Congress of America has designated Nov. 10 as Billiards for America Day, and is coordinating an industry-wide effort to raise money for relief funds established to benefit victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

The BCA, working with the American Poolplayers Association and the Women’s Professional Billiard Association, will provide pool rooms and league operators with promotional posters and tournament packages. Billiard retailers and manufacturers are encouraged to donate money or products to support the effort.

Defending Champs Overthrown at BCA Junior Nationals

113aAt the Billiard Congress of America Junior Nationals, in DeKalb, Ill., Aug. 8-10, the 18-and-under-open quarterfinal saw the surprise upset of the tournament: Three-time defending champion Shane McMinn, now 18, lost to 15-year-old Joey Gray. Gray was runner-up in the 14-and-under division at the past two Junior Nationals, and has now graduated to the older division. Gray, a dapper Paul Newman look-alike, met his match in the finals against lanky 18-year-old Beau Runningen (pictured here). Runningen reached the finals undefeated, and lost his only game to Gray in the first set, 11-10. Runningen then took hold of a slim lead in the tiebreaker game, slowly increasing his advantage until he could take the case game with a well-planned 2-9 combo to win, 11-7.

In the girls’ 18-and-under division, Eleanor Callado, in her first time at the Junior Nationals, defeated defending champion Michelle Rakin in the finals, 9-8. Rakin is a friend of Callado’s, and the person who had urged her to come to the event in the first place. “I’ve told her about it for three years,” said Rakin. The Rakin family — all of whom play pool — brought Callado with them to the tournament, and there seem to be no hard feelings. Both girls are already focused on their next piece of action: college. Rakin is going to the University of San Francisco, as a premed, with plans to be a doctor. Her education will be financed in part by the scholarship money she’s won at past Junior Nationals. Callado is going to San Francisco State University to be an advertising/marketing major.

In the 14-and-under-open division, Justin Hall beat Mike Banks, Jr. in a forced tiebreaker. Banks beat Hall decisively in the first set, 9-3, but lost steam in the second, allowing Hall to win, 9-6. Hall started playing pool with his dad at 8; Banks has been playing in his father’s poolroom since he was 4. Both boys have considered being professional pool players, though Hall also has anesthesiologist on his list of potential careers.

BCA Bylaw Changes Passed

Proposed changes to the Billiards Congress of America’s bylaws were passed at the trade association’s annual general membership meeting July 24 in New Orleans at the BCA Trade Expo. The bylaw changes will add four “elite players” to the BCA’s board of directors, including one who will sit on the executive committee. These changes bring the BCA into compliance with the U.S. Olympic Committee’s organizational requirements to be recognized as a National Governing Body.

Because of the extensive bureaucracy involved, the USOC’s April board meeting is the earliest that action would be taken by the Olympic organization. The BCA plans to hold player-representative elections at the BCA’s 8-ball tournaments in Las Vegas this coming May.