Update: USBC Revokes Certification Approval of Two Motiv Balls; Motiv Responds

by Gianmarc Manzione 0

ARLINGTON, Texas – The United States Bowling Congress has revoked approval of two Motiv brand bowling balls and removed them from the list of balls approved for competition effective today, March 15, 2016. The revocation comes after USBC determined that the Jackal and Jackal Carnage balls do not comply with current specifications and requirements in the USBC Equipment Specifications and Certifications Manual.

USBC testing showed a significant percentage of the Jackal and Jackal Carnage, both produced by Motiv, exceeded the maximum 0.060" differential radius of gyration standard specification during spot checks of bowling balls in the field. Both balls were originally approved based on test balls submitted by Motiv. The Jackal had been approved for competition in September 2014 while the Jackal Carnage was approved for use in late December 2015.

The following section of the Equipment Specifications and Certifications Manual details USBC governance in this situation:

The USBC possesses the right to spot check bowling balls during the course of the year. USBC approval may be revoked if it is determined that the production balls are significantly different than the submitted test balls or do not comply with current specifications and requirements outlined in the USBC Equipment Specifications and Certifications Manual.

Pursuant to the penalties outlined in the USBC Equipment Specifications and Certification Manual, Motiv is placed on probationary status with USBC for one year, and subject to a fine of $16,000.

Unapproved bowling balls may not be used in USBC certified competition. Bowlers who used the Jackal or Jackal Carnage in competition on or before March 15, 2016 with no prior knowledge of their ball being out of specification would not be subject to forfeiture under USBC rules.

Go to www.BOWL.com/EquipAndSpecs to learn more about the USBC’s equipment specifications.

Later in the day Tuesday, Motiv responded to the USBC action with this post on Facebook:

"Earlier today we were given the news that the USBC has decided to pull the approval of the Jackal and Jackal Carnage due to non-conformance with current specifications. Recent spot checking in the marketplace showed that both balls had an average differential of just over .060, which is the maximum allowed. Since the Predator core was first implemented in the Raptor P7, in 2011, we have been pushing the boundary on the maximum differential. We pushed the limits of our technology to provide the greatest equipment in the world to our customers.

"We just learned of this today, so please be patient with us as we work on remedial action to take care of our customers. We are currently working on a website form that should be live late next week. This will give bowlers a place to get answers and to sign up for a replacement ball if they do not wish to keep their Jackal or Jackal Carnage. We have always put our customers first and will do all within our power to rectify the situation."

UPDATE: On March 23, Motiv posted another statement on the matter, which can be read at their website here or below:

"At MOTIV, we are always focused on our customers and working hard to give bowlers the opportunity to reach their full potential on the lanes.  As you are no doubt aware, the USBC made a ruling on March 15, 2016 to immediately revoke the approval previously granted to the Motiv Jackal Carnage and original Jackal balls, stating they determined the balls do not comply with current USBC specifications and requirements.  We are in the process of requesting more information from the USBC so that we can better understand the details behind their decision and determine the next steps to address this situation.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and trouble that this situation has caused so many of you, our loyal and valued customers, and we want you to know that we are working diligently around the clock to arrive at a fair and reasonable resolution. We sincerely appreciate the huge outpouring of support for Motiv and your belief in us.

We understand that people want answers and action now, and please understand that it is our objective to get this situation addressed as soon as possible.  We believe that both balls should be reinstated on the USBC Approved Ball List, and we are reaching out to the USBC to have meaningful, effective dialogue to resolve this matter together in a manner that is best for all those affected by the USBC's decision and ruling, especially you the bowlers, pro shops, bowling alleys, and enthusiasts.  Therefore, we ask for your patience as we continue to work toward this goal.

Understandably, pro shops and bowlers are asking for specific answers about a ball replacement process. Please understand that we cannot provide those details yet as we hope to communicate directly with the USBC as well as finish reviewing each country’s legislation and consider the proper procedure for each.  Once we have further information and details, which we expect very soon, we will let everyone know and provide you with details on how to proceed.

In the meantime, please hold onto your Jackal and/or Jackal Carnage bowling ball. Do not destroy, discard, or damage the ball in any way.

Please enter your email address in the field below so we can keep you updated as more information becomes available.

Thank you very much for your support, patience, and understanding during this very difficult time."

UPDATE: On March 24, USBC Executive Director, Chad Murphy, issued a statement on USBC's revocation of approval for Motiv's Jackal and Jackal Carnage, which can be read at Bowl.com here or below:

"In light of recent public statements on the topic, I want to take this opportunity to provide some of the background regarding USBC’s decision to revoke its approval of two Motiv brand bowling balls. This won’t be a Q&A session so I will not be responding to comments as I have on occasion in the past.

To begin, I want to acknowledge Motiv’s Silver-level sponsorship of USBC. The Motiv brand is a registered product on both the PBA and PWBA Tours. They have been good partners of bowling and we have always worked diligently to be good partners with them in return.

USBC first contacted Motiv on February 26 and notified them about the specification issue. This was more than two weeks before the revocation decision was announced. Statements suggesting that USBC had not communicated with Motiv, or that its decision was intended to blindside them without warning, simply are not true.

USBC’s responsibility to the sport in this situation is clear. We are the National Governing Body for bowling. Part of our role in that capacity is to provide a level playing field for all the equipment used at USBC certified events. We do this through uniform and transparent specifications. When a product exceeds one or more of those specifications, a risk of competitive imbalance occurs both for manufacturers and bowlers alike. This is where USBC must step in. Indeed, this is why sports like bowling have a National Governing Body.

Our spot checking test process is straightforward and described in detail in the USBC Equipment Specifications and Certifications Manual. USBC periodically obtains ball samples through the normal chains of distribution and they are tested. When there is a concern, the number of balls tested is statistically significant. Here, many Jackal and Jackal Carnage balls were obtained from distribution points across the country and tested. USBC took the additional step of consulting with an independent Six Sigma "black belt" with expertise in manufacturing variance in order to confirm the sample size of the balls we were testing was an accurate representation of these products on the overall market.

The specification rules in the USBC Equipment Specifications and Certifications Manual state: The maximum differential radius of gyration standard specification is 0.060". The maximum percentage of non-conforming balls USBC will allow in the manufacturing process for approval is 0.6%.

Prior to its most recent news release, Motiv had publically acknowledged that our USBC spot check tests showed, “There was an average differential of .0604 on the Jackal Carnage and .0616 on the original Jackal.” While this is true, it is not the only relevant data point. The percentage of balls on the market that are out of compliance also must be considered. Based upon USBC’s testing, the percentage of non-conforming balls exceeded the 0.6% standard.

As noted above, USBC shared this data with Motiv before announcing the revocation of approval for the two balls in issue. In my personal conversations with Motiv, no one ever questioned the validity of USBC’s data or claimed that our specifications were in any way unclear. In the past, USBC has stated in writings to Motiv and to other manufacturers: “Balls that are found to be outside of USBC specifications will result in the approval status of that ball being revoked.”

Thus, given our testing results and the clear specification parameters in our written policy, USBC’s responsibility to the sport of bowling is clear. As a National Governing Body we have a duty to enforce the rules of the sport as stated. Because an unacceptably high number of the Jackal and Jackal Carnage balls exceed the allowable maximum differential radius of gyration standard specification, their approval status has been revoked.

Motiv then published an official statement on its website taking a very different tone than its representatives did in my personal conversations with them about this issue. They state: “We believe that both balls should be reinstated on the USBC Approved Ball List, and we are reaching out to the USBC to have meaningful, effective dialogue to resolve this matter together in a manner that is best for all those affected by the USBC's decision and ruling, especially you the bowlers, pro shops, bowling alleys, and enthusiasts.”

USBC is open to a dialogue with Motiv, but our decision here was driven by data, not dialogue. Absent valid data to the contrary, there is no basis upon which USBC’s policies or rules contemplate reinstatement of approval for these balls. The data indicating an unacceptably high percentage of the balls are non-compliant, determines the outcome.

In closing, I remind everyone of USBC’s responsibility here. It is found in our mission statement: 'The USBC is the National Governing Body for bowling. Our mission is to provide services, resources and standards for the sport.' When our standards have been exceeded, we have a duty to act. And that is exactly what we have done here."

UPDATE: On Saturday, March 26, Motiv made the following statement:

"While we will continue to work toward having both reinstated on the USBC list of approved balls, we understand that some people would prefer that we begin the process of exchanging bowling balls immediately.

Please know that we do have a form built to facilitate the exchange, but we must also have our website development company create a software interface that will allow us to track data and manage the entire process. We are working on this diligently and will have it operational as soon as it has been fully developed and tested. As soon as it is online, you will receive an email notification.

In the meantime, please hold onto your Jackal and/or Jackal Carnage bowling ball. Do not destroy, discard, or damage the ball in any way.

Thank you very much for your support, patience, and understanding."

UPDATE: On Tuesday, March 29, Motiv sent the following message about the progress of its "fair exchange program" for customers who purchased the Jackal and/or the Jackal Carnage:

"Within the next 24 hours, our Ball Exchange Program for the Jackal and Jackal Carnage will be available online in English. We will also be making the form available in other languages for our customers in other countries around the world, but those pages may not be live until later this week.

Please realize that we are moving forward with this Ball Exchange Program because we value our customers and want to give you a solution. However, we do not believe approval of the Jackal or Jackal Carnage should have been revoked, so we continue to work toward having both reinstated.

It is important to note that the national governing bodies of bowling in some European countries have chosen to allow the Jackal and Jackal Carnage in competition until mid-summer to reduce the inconvenience to bowlers during this busy time of year. However, bowlers in those countries that desire to exchange their ball must also complete this form now so we can properly prepare for the Limited Edition heavy oil ball release that we are currently engineering.

When the Ball Exchange Program is live, you will receive an email notification."

That same day, Motiv also released the following details of its ball exchange program to pro shop operators:

"As you know, the USBC made a ruling on March 15, 2016 to immediately revoke the approval previously granted to the MOTIV Jackal Carnage and original Jackal. We are working toward having both reinstated on the USBC list of approved bowling balls, but we understand that some people would prefer that we begin the process of exchanging bowling balls immediately, so we will be putting a form online as soon as we can get it fully tested. You will receive a notification when it is ready, as well as a link to it for your customers. The form will be available online soon and will be open until May 15, 2016.

Please make sure your customers understand that, if they choose to do a ball exchange now, and the Jackal balls are reinstated later on the approved ball list, the customer will have no recourse to get their old ball back.

Below is a description of how the Fair Exchange Program will work.

1. Bowlers will go to the MOTIV website form to enter their contact information, local pro shop contact information, and their ball serial number. We will also be requiring people to upload a photo of the ball serial number to verify that the serial number is accurate and that the ball is in their possession. When the serial number has been manually verified by someone in our office, an official ticket number will be generated and emailed to the customer. This ticket number will be used throughout the process.

2. We are building a special bowling ball for these MOTIV bowlers – a Limited Edition heavy oil ball with performance similar to that of the Jackal Carnage. We are developing the ball now and it must be tested and approved by the USBC in the coming months. We cannot provide an exact release date, but we plan to release the ball in the early fall of 2016. Bowlers in the USA only can elect to get this Limited Edition release, or instead, they can choose a specific product from the current line, with the exception of the new Venom Cobra. Bowlers outside the USA will not have the option to get a current release. This is due to the cost to ship balls directly from MOTIV to the pro shops.

3. If the bowler chooses a current release, it will ship directly to their pro shop from MOTIV according to a defined shipping schedule. Limited Edition releases will also ship directly to pro shops from MOTIV when available

4. When the pro shops receive the balls, there will be a sheet of paper in each 4-pack describing who the balls are for. The pro shop will be able to then contact the customers to let them know their ball has arrived.

5. The bowler MUST bring their Jackal or Jackal Carnage ball to the pro shop to exchange it for the new ball. The pro shop will take it, drill out the USBC mark only (see photo), upload a photo to our website, and discard the ball. We will have a pro shop form online to enable this function.

6. Do NOT exchange a bowling ball for a customer without seeing a verification form that includes the bowler ticket number and ball serial number. You must match the serial number on the Jackal or Jackal Carnage to the serial number on the verification form the bowler shows you. This process allows us to verify how many balls you have drilled.

Thank you for your patience as we have worked on putting a program together. Obviously, we’ve never had to do anything like this before and we have spent countless hours in meetings trying to put together the best plan of action. We have received suggestions from distributors and pro shops in the industry on how to best handle the situation and much of our action plan is based upon that feedback. Thank you very much for your support!"

UPDATE: On Wednesday, March 30, Motiv issued the following press release responding to the revocation of their Jackal and Jackal Carnage bowling balls and also rolling out their "fair exchange program" for customers and pro shop operators:

MOTIV® announced today that, while it is still seeking to have approval reinstated for the popular Jackal Carnage and Jackal bowling balls, the company is offering customers who purchased these balls the opportunity to exchange them for another MOTIV model.

On March 15, Executive Director of the United States Bowling Congress (USBC), Chad Murphy, announced that approval of the Jackal Carnage and Jackal bowling balls was being revoked immediately, citing the results of a recent spot check in the marketplace. “We have recently submitted an official request for appeal to the USBC because there is a great deal more information to consider in this unprecedented situation,” said Scott Hewitt of MOTIV. “We need to address the ball approval and revocation process, and take a closer look at the procedures and policies in place.”

Customers who do not wish to wait for the results of the appeal can access the Ball Exchange Program on the MOTIV website here: http://www.motivbowling.com/company/ball-exchange-program.html. The program will provide an opportunity to exchange a Jackal or Jackal Carnage ball for a new MOTIV ball. The program is also available on the company’s mobile site.

“MOTIV is committed to creating high-performance, precision-crafted balls that meet the high standards of competitive tournament bowlers,” stated Scott Wilbur, President of MOTIV. “The Jackal and Jackal Carnage balls were designed to give bowlers maximum performance. We have never intentionally produced balls that were not compliant. After a MOTIV ball is approved by the USBC, we go into full production at the target under which the approved balls were produced. That is why the decision to revoke approval was so shocking to us. We never changed our manufacturing process. We produced what was approved.”

“Our greatest concern in all of this is the impact that this decision has had on our customers, the bowlers, pro shops, bowling centers, and distributors,” said Wilbur. “The immediate revocation of the balls, as well as not allowing bowlers to continue using the Jackal and Jackal Carnage balls that they have, has caused massive disruption to the sport of bowling around the world. We deeply regret the inconvenience and frustration that this issue has caused so many. We appreciate the outpouring of support that we have received, and we pledge to continue our efforts to create the world’s best bowling equipment.”

UPDATE: Also on March 30, Motiv sent out the following message to customers announcing the launch of their ball exchange program form online:

"The MOTIV Ball Exchange Program for the Jackal and Jackal Carnage is now online in English. We will also be making the form available in other languages for our customers in other countries around the world, but those pages may not be live until later this week.

Please realize that we are moving forward with this Ball Exchange Program because we value our customers and want to give bowlers a solution. However, we do not believe approval of the Jackal or Jackal Carnage should have been revoked, so we continue to work toward having both reinstated.

You will notice a 'Ball Exchange' button on our website near the top right corner of the screen. There will also be a similar button at the top of the homepage on our mobile website. Simply click that button and you will be taken directly to the form.

We are offering pro shops a special program to help offset some of the costs they incur for drilling your new ball, which will be shipped directly to the pro shop after your serial number is verified. Since drilling fees vary, please check with your local pro shop to find out what they will be charging you, if anything, to drill your new bowling ball under this exchange program.

Thank you so much for your understanding and patience through this process."

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