Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

14 Sep 2011

The Shame of College Sports

The Atlantic's cover feature is a takedown of the NCAA's corporate structure. The content is hardly groundbreaking, but this is a good consolidation of the silliness that abounds within the NCAA offices.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 14 Sep 2011

74 comments, Last at 01 Jan 2013, 7:16am by mano


by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 6:32pm

A very long article but a very worthy read. The author is in the same shoes as I am: A few years back the idea of paying college athletes was repugnant to me(and I'm not fully comfortable with it yet) but the more you learn about how college athletics really works, the more you come to despise the NCAA.

by QQ (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 6:52pm

"The tragedy at the heart of college sports is not that some college athletes are getting paid, but that more of them are not"

This is a pretty inaccurate statement. College athletes get paid in the form of Scholarships (yes a tiny % of players on a team might be non scholarship players but that is not the point of the article). Being provided with free food, housing, coaching, access to world class facilities, etc is a form of payment. Just because the athletes are not handed a check and then using that payment to take care of their housing, food, etc does not mean they are not still being paid for their performance.

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 7:26pm

That is a logical and common sense interpretation. But you won't hear the NCAA ever admit that. In fact, they would vigorously argue against your interpretation because their argument is that the athletes are competing entirely for fun and thus aren't entitled to anything else. The moment they would ackowledge there is some sort of payment already taking place, the debate would then logically shift to whether that payment was enough, or being delivered in the most equitable way. And once the debate enters that territory, they've already lost.

And, assuming one buys the premise that scholarships equate to payment, the other question raised is "how long does that payment last?" Because, as the article points out, the NCAA is still making money off of Oscar Robertson over 50 years after he last attended college. It's hard to argue that at some point rights to his own image shouldn't revert back to him, particularly if his "payments" stopped half a century ago. But, again, the NCAA is arguing that there was nothing of tangible value to playing college sports for Robertson, so he has no standing to ask for anything...even though the schools and NCAA are profiting off of this supposedly nonexistent value.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 9:30pm

"Being provided with free food, housing, coaching, access to world class facilities, etc is a form of payment."

The article covers this. One of the NCAA's earliest missions was to ensure athletes couldn't collect workmen's comp benefits. (Something I never knew until today.) People who get paid to do something have legal rights. And depriving the athletes of rights is what the NCAA is all about. Think you can punish your employees for getting legal representation like the NCAA does with its athletes? Or punish them for selling the shirt you gave them at the last company picnic? Or tell them they can't earn more than a certain amount at a second job? If the NCAA admitted to anything being a payment they'd open the door to athletes demanding a fair share. What the article doesn't cover is how the NCAA justifies athletic scholarships at all. Their mere existence would seemingly fly in the face of the contention that there is no value to the athlete other than the joy of playing the game.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 9:45pm

There are some other sources behind athletic scholarships. Those actually pre-date the NCAA, and became entrenched long before the NCAA had sufficient power to tell its member organizations anything. Basically, back when the NCAA was just a weak trade organization and rules clearinghouse, schools decided they could grant scholarships for whatever they damn well pleased, and the NCAA ended up keeping athletic scholarships.

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 10:27pm

There is a significant difference between being paid and having things paid for you.

by Obvious Troll (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 11:18pm

Assuming that the 30-odd players per year per school don't contribute a significant amount to the total number of classes universities hold each year, the cost to the university is just Food & Housing.

Perform physical labour for free food and housing, but no pay?

by dbostedo :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 1:09am

I see what you did there. :)

But seriously, the cost to the university shouldn't be calculated that way. The correct way to calculate the "payment" would be to count the value that can be charged for the goods on the (theoretically) open market; This is the price everyone at the school pays for those same things. Giving the classroom and room and board spot to the athlete is one less spot they can sell to a paying student.

For instance, if Best Buy gives me a TV, the amount I've been paid is the price of the TV, since that's one less TV they would presumably sell. So they're out the sale price of the TV.

Likewise, a school has a maximum number of students it supports in a given year. Giving out a scholarship is giving up on that potential revenue. (That doesn't mean they shouldn't give out scholarships. There are good reasons - PR and prestige mainly - for giving out scholarships.)

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 10:50am

Except the students don't actually pay that either, they are massively subsidized by taxpayers. Sure "tuition" is 20,000/year, but how many people actually pay that? Even the ones who do "pay" it get subsidized loans that are basically free money (my student loans carried a 2%! interest rate).

by dbostedo :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 3:08pm

Well as I said, the calculation should be what another student would be paying for that spot at the university. (The student loan thing is a separate issue. I got loans, and I paid all of that money to the university. Then I paid back a lot more money than I was originally loaned. Just because it's a low interest rate does NOT mean it's "free" in any sense of the word.)

So if a university is nominally $20,000 a year, but most students wind up paying $10,000 - the value is still $10,000. I said the calculation should be what the university could take in "on the open market" (as open as it may be for schools). I didn't say it should be the universities own list price.

by Obvious Troll (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 10:56pm

Of the 3.2 million youth age 16 to 24 who graduated from high school between January and October 2010, about 2.2 million (68.1 percent) were enrolled in college in October 2010. So out of 2.2 million freshmen, you think freshmen on football scholarships are significant statistcally in that they:
a) Deny fee paying students opportunity
b) Increase educational resource costs

I have no doubt that there will be people that didn't get into college because of a footballer, but you need to prove they're significant before you get your calculation accepted. I have no doubt that marking extra work increases costs, but again, statistically significant?

by dbostedo :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 6:35pm

On a certain level, yes they are significant even though they're a very small amount. Look at it this way - many many students get turned down because the school is not accepting any more students. There's always a limit and you can't always add even one more student no matter how insignificant it sounds.

Of course overall costs and admissions are very complicated. I was purely arguing on how to put an appropriate value on a football scholarship. It's not zero.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 3:38pm

Student loans are not free money anymore. They now carry a 6.8% interest rate. Furthermore over a certain amount you start getting into private loan territory. Yeah they are subsidized but they aren't free.

by Karl with a K (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 7:06pm

Student loans were never free. Hence them being called loans. Scholarships and grants don't require repayment, but loans always have. Years back they were doing a lousy job tracking people down when they neglected to pay them back, but defaulting on student loan payments was never okay.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 7:18pm

Make sure you guys aren't arguing with a terminological confusion. A 0% interest rate loan could be said to be free since there is no charge incurred by taking it. It's a loan not a gift so payback is required, but the service of letting someone use your money for a while was itself provided without charge. English is messy. That's why assert(this->PreferredLanguage() == Languages::CPlusPlus);

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 10:51am

Except the students don't actually pay that either, they are massively subsidized by taxpayers. Sure "tuition" is 20,000/year, but how many people actually pay that? Even the ones who do "pay" it get subsidized loans that are basically free money (my student loans carried a 2% interest rate).

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 10:47am

Last time I checked paying employees with company scrip was illegal in this country outside of the NCAA. I am positive MOST of the athletes in the money making NCCA programs would rather makes tens of thousands of dollars then receive the "pay" you mention.

Not to mention the fact that depending on how you look at it what they get isn't even that valuable because the schools have extremely high fixed costs. The marginal cost of educating 80 extra people at a 10,000 person school is basically nothing. How would you feel if regular university employees were offered free education as their compensation? Would you think that was fair? The only reason the NCAA gets away from it is because it is an extra-legal cartel.

You don't think if say 10 programs started offering players the option to take cash benefits instead of company scrip that those programs wouldn't have a huge advantage?

by MCS :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 10:38am

If the players want to play for cash, they can play for cash somewhere else. There are other leagues out there. They don't have to play college football. They choose to. It is the best path to the NFL and the big money.

There are other ways though.

by livingonapear :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 2:24pm

That would be true except that the NFL is in bed with the NCAA. Look what happened when a player like Maurice Clarette tried to declare early for the draft. The NFL has set up the NCAA so that it is, for all intents and purposes,an unpaid minor league or at least an unpaid internship. It's one thing if the NFL itself said "You are entering our unpaid internship/training/free play/trial period. Please sign this so that you agree to our rules." That would be skeezy, but at least its the NFL doing its own dirty work.

You say players have other options. This is true. I can choose not to go to culinary school and try my hand at being a chef. This may have been smart 10 years ago, but the restaurant industry now wants degrees. So it is indeed my right. I wouldn't recommend it, but its my right.

The problem with the NCAA/NFL relationship is that the NFL has helped create a situation that is beneficial for another organization, basically creating a dual part monopoly. A monopoly (and the NFL IS a monopoly, albeit a legal one that has been allowed to exist because of a series of agreements) that shows favor towards another monopoly. Because the NFL only (with few exceptions) accepts applicants from this program; because the two bodies have no actual governable partnership, but the NFL sees fit to give preference to the NCAA by instituting an amateur draft that in reality violates all sort of labor laws; because the NFL has now created the precedent of upholding NCAA suspensions; because the NCAA rigs what schools can vie for its top prize thereby controlling what players get press and see the benefit of their "tryout on a national stage"; because the NCAA controls what students do in their off hours including restricting the number of hours the student can work thereby bonding the students to the NCAA; because of all of this, it is hard to conclude that the NCAA is a proper business or trade organization, and see it as a blight that is kept alive by the sheer clout of those running it, and off the power of a much greater monopoly.

And I used to be against paying athletes. Now? I don't see any right answer.

by MCS :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 3:37pm

The NFL does not say that the player must go to college before joining the NFL. They say a player may be of a certain age. If the player wants to get paid, he can play in a different league until he is old enough to play in the NFL.

Honestly, I think the players should be paid. Hell, the coaches are making enough. I just don't think it should be at the college level. The NFL needs to start their own minor league system. Let the college players become true student athletes. Separate the two. Of course, that will never happen as the colleges make too much money via the current methods.

by livingonapear :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 4:04pm

And the age thing is done to keep kids in the NCAA system. I'm not saying that the NFL forces kids to play college ball, but it pretty much assures that they have to.

I think the more troubling trend is the NFL honoring the NCAA suspensions. It's basically saying "You can't get around the NCAA by coming to the pros." What other business does this? They are upholding the decision of an unrelated body on an issue (student athleticism) that does not actually affect them.

by Jon :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 6:54pm

This piece has impressive research, but its thesis is dead wrong. Most universities lose money on athletics. Football and men's basketball are wildly profitable, but are used to subsidize non-revenue sports. That's where all the extra money is going.

by GMan1 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 7:19pm

The thesis I got from the article is that the athletes who are generating all of the money for the athletic departments are being underpaid and exploited. The money should be used to properly compensate the players being exploited, not used to subsidize non revenue sports, pay coaches ridiculous salaries, and build massive NCAA offices.

by Illmatic74 :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 10:07pm

When he was on NPR he expanded his theory. He doesn't believe educational institutions make a great fit with professional sports(no matter what NCAA tells you the NCAA is as professional as it gets). That is something I definitely agree with. We are the only country(ok arguably Canada) that expects educational institutions to train our elite athletes. Cambridge and Oxford aren't expected to develop the next Wayne Rooney. I think there is a major problem when does two things are connetcted too much. Not just all the problems we have with college there are cases in this country where schools have to make massive cuts are firing teachers, cutting extra curricular programs yet will never ever touch football.

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 10:54am

Exactly, the big money making sports need to be completely severed from the academic part of the schools. They can keep the regalia for marketing purposes, but in a business sense you need to split them.

They can be a business the university owns for marketing, revenue generation, and alumni development, but pretending it is part of the academic and recreational programs is just a joke.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 3:44pm

You do that and it loses largely what makes it special and becomes just an inferior pro league.

by Illmatic74 :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 10:51pm

It is an inferior pro league

by Bots Meat Commission (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 12:49pm

Interestingly, in Mexico there are two prominent professional soccer clubs affiliated with large public universities -- UNAM Pumas in Mexico City and UANL Tigres (in Monterrey, I think). I believe both teams started as student clubs but then were professionalized and split off from the university.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 2:00pm

Cambridge and Oxford may not be expected to train the next Wayne Rooney, but they are expected to train the next Roger Bannister or the next great sculler, or...

Oxford trains professional/Olympic athletes who perform traditionally Oxfordian sports.
It just so happens that American football is a traditionally Ivy League sport, and thus we expect our Harvards and Penns (screw Yale) to train them.

As far as higher education goes, industry is all over higher education, especially as government funding decreases. It's somewhat two-faced to expect collegiate athletes to be monastic amateurs when the engineering department is funded by Toyota and half the business school is away on a paid internship.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 2:05pm

There are two million high school football players. There are only 20 million Americans between the ages of 15-19, which means 20% of all high school-age males play football in a given year.

It's fair to say that football is the most enrolled and best attended extracurricular activity in high school, and its local popularity in some regions of the country is sufficient to depopulate entire towns on Friday nights. When it's both a source of revenue and the focal point of local socialization, it's not going to get cut for reasons wholly separate from athletics.

by SFC B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 6:54pm

We don't expect educational institutions to provide the next crop of professional athletes. We expect them to produce the next crop of professional basketball and football players. Baseball has a long standing and robust system of minor leagues to train and develop major league players. I don't think it would be far-fetched to view collegiate basketball and football as another huge tax-payer subsidy given to the NBA and NFL.

by Capt.Anonymous (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 9:03pm

As far as I know college athletes don't pay a dime in taxes(they do have a R&B liability but dont make enough to have to write a check). Uncle Sam is not a sucker. If these guys were receiving something of real value they would be getting taxed on it.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 9:10pm

Warren Buffet disagrees with you.

by QQ (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 9:19pm

People always ignore the value that the Colleges provide in the Equation. The name of the college is what makes college sports popular, even more so than the players. There is a reason why NCAA Basketball gets far superior ratings to NBADL, even though those teams would destroy probably any college team.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 9:39pm

even though those teams would destroy probably any college team

I'm not so sure. Look at the 06 Gators, they had 4 players go in the first round. How many 1st round level talent players does your average D league team have? I bet almost any tournament team could give a D League team a run for it's money, if not beat it outright.

Also, D League teams generally have significantly worse coaching.

by Illmatic74 :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 9:53pm

All Americans like Jon Scheyer and Scottie Reynolds struggled in the D League. The average D League team would destroy any college team based on talent and maturity.

by Illmatic74 :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 10:09pm

It is history mostly but, it is also the players. If Florida, Ohio State, Auburn,etc stopped bringing in elite players that win teams games they will be passed by teams in terms of profits and popularity

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 10:50pm

The colleges provide no value at all. The value comes from the game itself; it could just as well be from an NBADL game.

The main reason why it doesn't is that the NCAA has spent 60 years ensuring that no other system can challenge this one, using Congress and the courts to make it so. That is what has built those "names". You'll notice the significant difference in interest and attendance between football and basketball - sports where alternatives are intentionally crippled - and sports like hockey and baseball, where the very same names draw much less support as a whole. Baseball fans are free to choose NCAA games or minor-league games, depending on the area in which they live; hockey fans have fewer choices, but choices nonetheless.

We have been trained to associate that value with the schools because the system only works if no one questions it. Of course, they tell us, college basketball must be this way. If you upset the apple cart, what will happen to March Madness? It's better this way, they say.

It's not better. It's really not. If you've read the entire article and still believe in the "goodness" of the NCAA, I don't know what else to say.

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 11:49pm

No argument on the NCAA being scum, but I have to disagree with you on colleges providing no value. People love their college sports--and I'm not just talking about teams that make BCS bowls. Part of it actually comes from the NCAA rules limiting transfers--your favorite college may have more roster stability than your favorite NFL team where free agency, cuts and trades create a revolving door. You can share dorms and attend classes and parties with college players. Even if you've been out of school for years, there's still a sort of shared experience to having went to the same university. That sort of bond is rare in the pro game because living in the same big city is never going to be as personal a connection as living on the same campus. For a pro to be embraced that way it either takes many years or him playing in the same city where he grew up.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 1:49am

This isn't all that complicated. It is illegal and immoral for economic entities, like The Big Ten and The SEC, to sell tickets and auction television rights, and then enter into an agreement which sets a limit on what will be given to the people whose actions are what consumers are buying tickets to see, and television networks are paying to broadcast. No, they haven't been found liable in court yet, in good measure because they are smart enough to settle with litigants before their house gets burned down, but I'd wager a large sum that such a day is coming.

The interesting thing is that Title IX probably prohibits paying a women's swim team member less than a football player. It may just be that operating a sports entertainment business is inherently incompatible with running a university, especially a taxpayer supported university.

by crack (not verified) :: Sat, 09/17/2011 - 10:47am

There is a case to be made that getting athletes declared employees is how to destroy Title IX. Make that case and a whole new group of allies pop up.

by Benmzion (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 8:15am

When you don't watch South Park you can fall pretty far behind on pop culture issues.

Clearly this person does not watch South Park. They had Cartmen dressed up like a Southern Colonel, meeting with the head of University for advice on how to treat his "slaves", months ago.

Not that there is anything wrong with a retread artivcle... but like you say, this is not nearly as groundbreaking as the Atlantic editors seem to think it is.

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 8:50am

If a university were to pay players, that would change its tax status from a non-profit entity to a for-profit business. That would mean all of its revenue would be subject to tax and it would instantly get a bill from the IRS for many millions of dollars, far more than the athletic department brings in. Unless the law is changed, any university will choose to cancel all athletic activities rather than take the financial bath.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 9:36am

Another reason why running a sports entertainment business may be inherently incompatible with running a university.

by RichC (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 9:41am

"If a university were to pay players, that would change its tax status from a non-profit entity to a for-profit business"

How so? They pay plenty of their other employees, and most schools don't make money on their athletic departments, so I see no reason it would affect their tax exempt status.

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 2:01pm

Money paid to other employees (janitors, professors, secretaries) are allowable administrative fees relevant to the non-profit mission of the school (education). All of those are necessary for the university to function.

Paying athletes would be engaging in disbursements not related to the mission of the university -- they can't be classified as administrative expenses.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 2:07pm

Is physical education no longer education? It's part of the Classics, for god's sake.

by sjt (not verified) :: Sat, 09/17/2011 - 11:05am

Come on now, does anyone really think that the purpose of NCAA sports (and football especially) is for "physical education" are part of a broader curriculum? If so, its a terribly inefficient way to go about things. Recruiting elite athletes to play a handful of athletic contests while the rest of the student body looks on passively imbibing massive quantities of alcohol? Its great fun, but its not great PE.

If that was really their goal, Universities would be better served to have a mandatory 1 hour fitness class for all students every day. As is stands most universities could care less if their non-athlete students are coach potatoes.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Sat, 09/17/2011 - 12:41pm

Big name football? No. But yeah the less popular athletics still are about physical education. They're also about community, competition, and socialization. Daily and mandatory classes at universities are uncommon, and five hours a week in one class is excessive. Universities already do offer physical education courses; they also provide intramural and intercollegiate athletics.

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 2:53pm

"Paying athletes would be engaging in disbursements not related to the mission of the university -- they can't be classified as administrative expenses."

Calling balderdash on that one. I've worked for tax exempt non-profits and there's basically no difference in how you run them compared to a normal business.

by RickD :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 8:04pm

You're making this up as you go along.

Explain to me how it is legal for a university to make millions of dollars selling athletic paraphernalia and be a non-profit, but the second an athlete receives a salary (in addition to the salaries already being paid to the coaching staff), the institution is suddenly a for-profit organization?

I'm calling shenanigans.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 9:54pm

I'm entirely ignorant about the law pertaining to non-profit status, but if I were to take a stab at an argument, it would be that coaches are designated as educators, thus paying them does not have the implications that paying players would. I have no idea whether this has any merit.

by tuluse :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 11:20pm

If that's the case, then aren't player students and you could pay them to learn?

by Will Allen :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 2:40am

Like I said, I don't know anything about the law in this area.

by CoachDave :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 11:49am

This is a great article and like Will Allen states, it will eventually all come crashing down...it's not a question of when, it's if...you can't withhold rights from people like the NCAA does, with this amount of money at stake before the plantiffs attorneys decide to take them on and forgo the settlement tactic that the NCAA has used so readily for years. It's only a matter of time.

BTW, I worked in a B10 Athletic Dept for 2 years after my playing days and the notion and widely reported myth that "most athletic programs" lose money is 100% false.

The number that is reported (at least every number I've ever seen and to my knowledge, they all report it the same way) by all NCAA member institutions as whether they "made or lost" money is not the "real" number, it's a calculated number that doesn't factor in all the shared TV revenue, NCAA expense re-payments, NCAA shared revenue payments and other pretty signficant funds that arrive after the annual athletic season is over (which is how they get away with it...they report out their revenues vs. operating costs at the end of the season...and then the NCAA kicks in the reimbursment and shared revenue money, etc.). What is also missing from this "bogus" number is the direct Alumni and Endowment moneys generated with Athletic-supported activities. Athletic Departments and AD and their staff are directly measured on their ability to leverage big athletic "events" (e.g., rival games, Bowl games, Tournaments, etc.) to drive Alumni and Endowment fund raising, but those dollars are NEVER calculated as AD revenue, they are calculated as University revenue even though the entire event and likely the motivation for the money is an athletic contest.

The best thing this article does is show the absolute scam that is the NCAA and the withholding of individual's rights that the NCAA strips away from 17 & 18 year old kids.

If ANY OTHER organization in the country even attempted to make 17-18 year old kids (without Parental or Legal presence BTW) sign away significant short-term, long-term and in some cases, LIFETIME individual rights that the NCAA does (likeness rights, right to work, right to transfer schools, right to basic Employer/Govt programs (e.g., Workman's Comp, LTD, etc.) the second you walk on campus as a Freshman, the public wouldn't stand for it.

Yet the NCAA does it thousands of times each year during NCAA Freshman Orientation without a blip in the media. And the rules about signing this paperwork couldn't be more straight forward. If you don't sign away your rights, you can't play. I've signed these papers and I've actually run these sessions...and every year someone would ask the question..."what happens if I don't sign the NCAA paperwork?" And the answer is simple, "you can't play and if you are a scholarship S/A you lose your scholarship."

Furthermore, what the article points out nicely is the selective enforcement of some of the stupidest Clearinghouse and policy rules that anyone has ever authored and how little and poorly funded the NCAA does to enforce them. The example of "scapegoats" when it comes to NCAA enforcement is legendary in AD circles. Watch when almost ANY program gets busted for recruiting violations. Compare the % when the Head Coach gets nailed vs. when Assistants do and are forced to resign. You think these micro-managing, detail freaks of HC's don't know what's going on? Please...they know everything.

Look, I'm a product of college sports and I've seen the potential and promise that collegiate sports can do for kids and how it can take some of the most lost kids I've ever seen and turn their lives around almost in a miracle-like fashion...but those instances are sadly rare and the NCAA does little to facilitate this result...and moreso puts up unreasonable barriers to allow it to happen.

What I have seen and still hear and see much, much more of; are adults who basically whore these kids out with false promises and at times, complete lies while they line their pockets with billions of dollars earned by these kids who get on a comparision basis, virtually nothing to show for it.

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 2:14pm

I agree that paying players is likely inevitable. What will happen is that star players then will be awarded six-figure contracts. Schools that can't afford such contracts will have the choice to remain in the major conferences and act as punching bags for those that can, or go back to being not-for-profit, non-scholarship activities like Division III schools.

Most will end up withdrawing from competition. You will end up with around 32 "Division I" teams, all with million-dollar payrolls. Every other DI-A and I-AA team will drop their scholarships, limit themselves to varsity football, and thousands of students who would have gotten an education now won't. And people will pat themselves on the back because the system was 'fixed.'

by Will Allen :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 2:39pm

Does Title IX permit the University of Florida to pay it's football players, while not paying the members of the women's swim team? It seems to me that if having different numbers of scholorships for men than for women, because some men's teams generate a lot of revenue, is impermissable, then it can't be permissable to allocate salaries to football players that women athletes don't get.

I would imagine that once the BCS conferences and the NCAA lose in court, Congress will get involved, and what that will lead to is very hard to predict. Personally, I would still have some problems with it, but I would enjoy some aspects of a solution that left things largely intact, except with the provision that coaches and athletic directors had their salaries capped at about 200k a year.

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 3:04pm

An interesting question that without a doubt would end up in court. Looking at how things operate now, it's apparent that Title IX allows you to build a new football stadium, fly charter on every road trip, pay your coach $3 million a year, and tons of other goodies while doing nothing remotely close to that for your women's teams. Would throwing in some pay for the players be all that different, particularly if it were coming out of a TV contract that only covered football?

by Will Allen :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 3:49pm

Yes, because it is a benefit that is sent directly to an individual student athlete. Paying Landry Jones 50k, and paying nothing to a Sooner female softball player, because the Sooner football team has a t.v. contract, would be no different than having 85 more men than women with athletic scholorships at OU, because those 85 were on a football team that has a t.v. contract.

I'd be shocked if a court ruled otherwise. Which doesn't mean it would not happen, of course.

by QQ (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 2:32pm

"you can't withhold rights from people like the NCAA does, with this amount of money at stake before the plantiffs attorneys decide to take them on and forgo the settlement tactic that the NCAA has used so readily for years"

This is completely wrong. You can withhold rights as long as people agree to it. Nobody forces them to play College Football against their will; they have a choice to either follow the NCAA rules, play in Canada/create their own league, or not play at all.

College football players already get paid Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars to play the sport. Considering that each player makes essentially $50,000-$100,000 per year playing college football it seems like they are already very well compensated (and that is not even factoring in intangible benefits such as fame, notoriety, etc)

by Will Allen :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 2:52pm

What you or I think something seems like, in terms of someone being well compensated, is irrelevant. The fact is that it is illegal for entities to sell tickets to entertainment events, and auction t.v. rights to them, and then proceed to enter into an agreement designed to place a limit on what people are offered by those entities, to provide the entertainment that consumers buy tickets for, and networks buy the rights to. The fact that the issue hasn't been litigated, to formally recognize that fact, is merely an artifact of the lawbreakers in this instance being more sophisticated and far better organized than the people whose economic freedom is being restricted by the illegal agreements. That won't last forever.

by RickD :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 8:07pm

"You can withhold rights as long as people agree to it."

Bold statement. How is this a contradiction to
"You can't withhold rights from people like the NCAA does, with this amount of money at stake before the plantiffs(sic) attorneys decide to take them on."?

You are postulating some kind of consent that would seem to be at odds with everything I've ever learned about human nature. Or, as a logician would say, your statement is vacuously true, and uninteresting. Since people are not going to agree to it, who cares about your proposition?

by QQ (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 4:07pm

"The fact is that it is illegal for entities to sell tickets to entertainment events, and auction t.v. rights to them, and then proceed to enter into an agreement designed to place a limit on what people are offered by those entities, to provide the entertainment that consumers buy tickets for, and networks buy the rights to."

Do you have any legal data to support this claim? The fact that the NCAA has been able to do it for so long and so publicly seems to argue aganinst the fact that it is illegal. Most illegal operations do not publicly broadcast and publicize their action and get away with it for decades.

Also, reality shows seem to "break" this law all the time. The networks sell the rights to the netorks and explicitly place a limit on what contestants earn. The fact that college athletes are limited to housing, food, training etc is not different from reality contestants that are limited to shelter, tv exposure, and possibly some money. The only difference is that instead of being handed checks, sholarship athletes are handed a few extra perks

by Will Allen :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 5:01pm

Read the linked article. When schools, through the NCAA, tried to place a limit on what assistant coaches would be paid, such collusion was declared illegal in a court of law. Go ahead and try to argue that if someone is 42 and coaching football players, it is illegal for schools to agree on a limit on what they will give to coach football players, but it is legal for the schools to agree on such a limit for the football players themselves. The article also explains how the NCAA and BCS schools have successfully avoided having their houses burnt down by paying off litigants who were on the verge of prevailing against them in court. Sooner or later, somebody is going to refuse to settle.

I don't understand your point about reality t.v. at all. If you think the producers of "American Idol" have entered into such an agreement with the producers of "The Voice", please supply the evidence. If your point is that the producers of American Idol offer all contestents the same package, what is your point? The claim is not that it is illegal for the University of Alabama to internally agree on what limit it will place on what is offered athletes, but rather that it is illegal for Alabama and Ohio State to have mutually agreed to such a limit.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 3:55pm

I believe this issue has already been litigated with the courts coming down against your position. From what I remember the reasoning was basically amaturism is the defining aspect of college sports. That being the case you can collude to make it illegal to pay players. What defines the product is the lack of players being paid.

by QQ (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 10:44pm

"The claim is not that it is illegal for the University of Alabama to internally agree on what limit it will place on what is offered athletes, but rather that it is illegal for Alabama and Ohio State to have mutually agreed to such a limit."

It would take a huge amount of proof to prove that the universities have colluded. Are there emails or signed contracts that exist somewhere that shows these schools have such agreements in place? Tacit collusion is allowed in our country and encouraged by almost any business or business school. Businesses work together without illegally colluding all the time. For example, it is not just a coincidence that Coke and Pepsi alternate which week they are on sale or that businesses across the country are able to avoid price wars through a variety of methods.

by Illmatic74 :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 1:13am

NCAA agrees to what is offfered to players. Alabama and Ohio State are part of the NCAA so they agreed to what players can recieve.

by alaano (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 1:41am

Schools are not even allowed to try to synchronize financial aid awards to non-athletes.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 2:44am

Uh, all you have to do is open the NCAA rulebook, and establish that Alabama and Ohio State have agreed to adhere to those rules. In fact, that is why it was such a slam-dunk when the assistant coaches litigated after the schools tried to fix their salaries illegally.

by alaano (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 1:52am

If I were the NCAA, I would a)allow multi-year scholarships (maybe even guarantee four years) and b)compensate as a percentage of jersey sales.

A is necessary because otherwise the educational mission is a sham. "You got your scholarship cut because of a coaching change and if you want to finish your degree you owe use $fill in the blanks" (as is discussed in the article) makes it impossible for them to argue educational mission.

B allows a uniform way to pay, and one that will only benefit a few athletes--the stars, but makes an important gesture. That limits cost and maximizes symbolism. It is also not technically pay for play but merely a cut of the revenue of one's likeness, so it doesn't upset the apple cart too much or admit things like gee, we owe players worker's comp. And the same standard can be applied to women's softball or whatever--sure, if we sell jerseys etc. with your number, you get a cut--without actually having to pay anyone else since relatively few replica softball jerseys are sold.

But of course I'd like to see the revenue sports severed or for players to get not only paid but insured for medical costs and potential earnings in the pros if injured.

by Anonymous(not that one) (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 6:52pm


by 57_Varieties (not verified) :: Mon, 09/19/2011 - 9:52am
by Dr. Genealogy (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 4:23pm

Trivia not mentioned in the article: "Brit Kirwan, the chancellor of the Maryland university system and a former president at Ohio State" is the son of onetime "University of Kentucky dean A. D. Kirwan, a former football coach and future university president".

by mano (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2013 - 7:16am

Walker is out this week with a broken jaw (wierdly kneed in the head accidentially in http://www.fresh-tests.com/exam/70-649.htm the week 16 Seahawks game). Not positive how replacing him with non-receiving threat Peelle is going to mess up those 70-649 tests plays (fewer TE arounds for positive).