Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 Dec 2005

Leinart Reinstated by NCAA

Huh. I didn't even know Matt Leinart had been suspended for the Rose Bowl. The NCAA said Leinart's actions were seen as "unintentional and inadvertent," while Deadspin has a different take:

"After reporting the incident, USC petitioned the NCAA for reinstatement, and once they realized how much money they could personally make off Leinart's appearance, they let him come back. (But not before letting Leinart know they could have kept him out, if they wanted to, just because they can.)"

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 21 Dec 2005

34 comments, Last at 23 Dec 2005, 6:49pm by Pat on the Back


by johonny (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2005 - 10:42pm

NCAA job is to make sure everyone makes money off these "student-atheletes" accept the students themselves.

by JonL (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2005 - 10:52pm

Wait, if ESPN has made several of these requests before, and been rebuffed, wouldn't that signify that they know asking players is against NCAA rules? If so, why do they still do it?

by kleph (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2005 - 10:55pm

reading the article, it sounds like the LA Times made the requests and, being denied, they found out why and ran with the story.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 3:07am

The obvious angle is that a bunch of Texas fans at ESPN came up with the idea. They would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those darn kids.

by Alan Milnes (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 3:11am

re: No. 1

You mean except ...

by sweatervest (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 3:24am

"NCAA job is to make sure everyone makes money off these “student-atheletes� accept the students themselves."

free education, room and board, and celebrity status along with being marketed to potential future employers via TV, radio, etc are worth exponentially more than most people get paid to work during college and in many cases at any point in their lives. This doesn't even consider stipends and under the table benefits.

by Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Person (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 3:38am

Heh. Bad grammar but excellent point, #1

by Kyle (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 4:27am

A well-fed, well-furnhished, well-clothed slave . . . is still a slave.

The NCAA athletes are slaves.

by Richard (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 5:04am


The things you listed are forms of payment. You left out education, though. Oh, and since when are "slaves" paid and free to quit?

by thevertex (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 6:36am

"A well-fed, well-furnhished, well-clothed slave . . . is still a slave.

The NCAA athletes are slaves. "

A properly spelled, properly punctuated stupid post ... is still a stupid post.

Your post is a stupid post.

by jebmak (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 8:57am

You should have said indentured servents.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 9:51am

I have a real hard time feeling sorry for college fotball players with scholarships. At the same time the whole system is a ridiculous farce anyway, so I can understand the percieved injustice when their coaches are making 1-5 million a year.

I strongly believe college football just needs to be detacheded from colleges and made into a separate buisness. If they want to make it part of that buisness's charter that the players must attend college that is fine, but right now both the academics and the financial situations of many schools are being undermined by football and other sports.

As much money as these sports take in they usually don't pull their own weight, except at the top schools, as so many of the added endowments and such are earmarked for sports and they can always point to the money they pull in when asking for new funds.

by azibuck (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 11:27am

I won't get into the whole slave thing, but they are exploited, with no other choice of where to play football (NCAA or nothing). The NCAA swims in dollars and the athletes get perks, throw-ins. "Come and make me millions and I'll let you live here and eat free. Go to class too, if you want."

They're basically interns.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 11:58am


Thats stupid

My brother was a fully recruited athlete, who got a full ride. I got nothing.

Needless to say, his college experience had a lot more perks than mine.

Also, theyre showcased for an employer that pays a minimum of 250K a year.

I can never even hope to make that much money.

Saying college athletes are exploited is rediculous. They get 40K a year in tuition/board, free food, and pick of all the hot girls on campus....
All of my brothers college friends had stupid college jobs they got paid for, like running camps and such, and they got paid well.

And to top that off, we come out with $100K in college loan debt. They have $0. I'd take that sort of exploitation anyday.

#13, you are ignorant about this.

by HLF (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 12:03pm

"Accepting" them being called slaves does not speak well to any other argument you might make on this topic. I'm guessing real slaves might not be sympathetic to your analogy here.

The are free to play football elsewhere, even for pay. They are NOT free to get the astounding benefits they receive at a Div 1-A football factory and get paid lots of cash at the same time, unless of course they go to OSU (in which case the free "education" is of dubious value anyway).

I believe Dr. King would have turned his attention next to the frightening injustice done to these members of society. A group of young men who haven't been catered to a single day of their lives, choosing to accept $75k+ AND further catering in exchange for playing a game on Saturdays; yes, this IS injustice, abuse, and "exploitation" (whatever that is).

How about this for a marching chant? "The people, united, (and provided for, and ever whim catered to, and treated like royalty, covered up for, procured for, and worshipped,) will never be defeated!"

Good times!

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 12:18pm

if you want to pay college athletes, you should pay students, they basically work as interns too.

by krugerindustrialsmoothing (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 12:23pm

why is the ESPN angle being overlooked in all of this. I mean, if they didn't get the ball rolling on the whole TO fiasco, the Irvin interview certainly helped it along to it's conclusion, now this, seemingly minor development? Didn't ESPN pull out of the BCS poll/formula on the grounds it's purpose was to report the news, not create it?

Nice job sofar guys.

by Troy (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 1:46pm

Jesus. This is the land that grammar forgot.

by Daniel (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 4:01pm

Re #12: College football is detached from the Universities themselves. The Athletic Department is a separate entity with a separate budget. They basically share profits from souvenir sales and some of the gate, but the bulk of the cash goes into the AD coffers.
If going to college and playing for free is so great, why are most of the athletes turning pro as soon as possible? The whole system is based on the hypocrisy of the "student athlete" being some kind of pure being that competes solely for the love of the game. Rick Tealander wrote a great book about it in 1986 called the Hundred Yard Lie. I would also recommend reading Friday Night Lights. Although it deals with High School football, the message is the same.

by azibuck (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 4:10pm

Rich Conley, That they are exploited is not rediculous, or for that matter, blue, green, or yellowdiculous. My point is not the scholarship student-athlete v. the non-scholarship student, it's the money made by the schools v. what they allow to trickle down to the athlete. By the way, I'm not saddened by it, I really don't care. I would have loved to have been exploited too! I only jumped in because the "they get a full-ride so shouldn't be paid" argument is a tired red herring.

"They're showcased for an employer..." Yeah, and what percent are eventually employed by them? And if you're truthing, then you know that scholarships are year to year. Lou Holtz famously held the prospect of yanking a scholarship over his players heads.

Who's your brother, Dan? Lucky for him Pasqualoni wasn't like that.

by roger (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 4:33pm

The idea that a free education is generous compensation is laughable. Tuition + room & board at Notre Dame, one of the more expensive football schools, is about $40k/yr. The average yearly football revenue for same U is $38.6 million. What do you think Brady Quinn's marginal revenue product is? I suspect it's a bit higher than $40k.

by HLF (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 5:12pm

So, as Brady Quinn creates all this value in and of himself, what's stopping Brady Quinn, or you, or anyone, from pooling their capital and creating a football league for Mr. Quinn and his backers to do whatever they wish with the revenue from their labors? To my knowlege, not much.

What you want is entitlement for the sake of entitlement -- without risks, time, and equity. Mr. Quinn was not deceived into playing football for Notre Satan; he signed up knowing full well what the agreement was (and is). If it's a crappy deal, and Mr. Quinn can make more money working outside of Notre Satan, he's free to do so. He can't yet work in the NFL, as a minimum age was collectively bargained for in that closed shop. He can, I believe, work in the CFL, or in either AFL, or he can sell lady Kenmores at Sears.

You, and other (perjorative deleted) want Notre Satan to take all the financial risk, to spend 100 years investing in growing their product(s), and have some two bit chump who none of us would have even heard of if not for the great Satan suddenly whine that not only does he not like his deal now (actually, its you that don't like his deal now, not he, on his behalf -- very paternalistic of you), but he's entitled to compensation based mostly on what the great Satan has developed over the past century (not on what he has done from scratch).

This is, to most reasonable observers, a free country. Nothing whatsoever stops Mr. Quinn, or anyone else, from not accepting what a Div 1-A school offers in exchange for their play, nor does anything stop anyone else from offering a competing product.

by HLF (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 5:17pm

BTW, Should it come to light that anyone does stop others from offering a competing product (ala MLB), or to the extent student atheletes are forced to play (truly enslaved - no choice in the matter) for nothing, your position will have merit and my support (not that that's worth much).

by Alan Milnes (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 5:29pm

HLF - well put.

by Alan Milnes (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 5:34pm


I think Brady Quinn’s marginal revenue product is a lot less than $40k.

How many people watch Notre Dame because of him - maybe 100 family members and friends? How many people watch him because he's the Notre Dame QB - 99.99% I would reckon.

by thevertex (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 5:47pm

"“They’re showcased for an employer…� Yeah, and what percent are eventually employed by them?"

Holy crap, now if someone isn't guaranteed a job in a highly specialized ultracompetitive field they are being exploited and enslaved? Wow. I've honestly never heard a more ridiculous argument, and considering how much time I spend on the internet that's really saying something.

by azibuck (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 6:39pm

This also must be the land that reading comprehension forgot.

thevertex, I was quoting someone who implied that being showcased for the NFL was a benefit of playing college football. It's not much of a benefit for 98% of the players. You completely missed the point. And considering the amount of time I spend on the internet, I'm not surprised at all that you couldn't figure out what should have been clear to pretty much anyone that speaks English.

You, and other (perjorative deleted) want Notre Satan to take all the financial risk, to spend 100 years investing in growing their product(s)

Specious. 100 years growing their product on the backs of athletes who got even less than today's college athletes.

If there weren't an NFLPA, we'd be having the same discussion, only substituting "NFL" for "NCAA" and you'd be saying the players can go play in the CFL if they want. And how dare we suggest the players make a dime off the 85 years of investment made by the Halas family and Maras and the Rooneys.

The majority of college players won't play in the NFL, and much smaller yet significant majority KNOW that. Brady Quinn and a few dozen star players can't go off and form their own league because they'd barely have enough guys to have their own team. So there is no college players union and there is no true minor league football.

And AGAIN, I don't care. I'm just saying to the people that think a free ride is fair and just compensation, relative to the revenue they generate it's not.

by roger (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 8:00pm

HLF (22)...

You're absolutely right, Quinn is free to take his services elsewhere. And I don't doubt that playing for ND is probably his best available option. That is not to say, however, that the arrangement is just.

Remove the NCAA ban on athlete payment, and see what happens. Schools would compete with one another for the best recruits, thus bidding their wages up to their MRP. I look at the NCAA ban on player payment and see simple collusion. You look at it and see, well, I'm not sure what you think it is. I will refrain from trying to ascribe a position to you that you haven't tried to make... an indulgence that you don't seem to have granted me.

"What you want is entitlement for the sake of entitlement — without risks, time, and equity."

Certainly not. Quinn and every other college player with any pro potential risk millions of dollars every time they are tackled.

Alan (25)..

"I think Brady Quinn’s marginal revenue product is a lot less than $40k."

You're way off. Looking at Quinn specifically, do you think ND makes a BCS bowl without him at QB? And more generally, would ND be able to sign a lucrative NBC deal and sell out every game without fielding a team capable of winning?

by HLF (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 9:34pm


Mr. Quinn chooses, of his own free will near as I can tell, to take whatever physical risk he takes every time he goes on the field.

Do you know better what's right and fair for him than he does?

Would that NFL money you say he risks be there for him (at least immediately) were the great Satan not to give him the opportunity to showcase and develope his talents on such a stage??

If I want to break into a field, and I choose to take an unpaid or "low" paid position for a few years to better my chances of breaking into my choosen field, am I being "exploited" or "enslaved"?

by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 10:19am

It's really interesting that ND is cited for revuenue (gross or net?) when they are the only team with a network contract and (until next year) a special clause for bowl consideration.

Most schools don't generate that kind of money. It wouldn't surprise me if most football programs break even. I know some can't even do that and have to fold like Boston U. Does that mean that players that go to Universities that don't generate as much cash as their tuition should reimburse the school? Although it is interesting to think that an education is only worth the amount that's paid for it. I'm sure people with degrees from ND feel much smarter than those with degrees from Purdue.

by big_adventure (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 12:43pm

These are some VERY stupid arguments. If college atheletes are begin exploited, what about those poor Microsoft employees?

Sure, more than 2000 of them have come out as millionaires. But Gates is worth 50 BILLION (and was worth well over 105 billion a few years back). Balmer is worth what, 20 billion? Allen has got to still be worth between 5 and 10 billion.

Let's do some really quick and dirty math:

Let's say that Gates, Balmer and Allen are collectively worth 75 billion. The other 2000 Microsoft Millionaires average out to $5 million, for the sake of argument (it's lower, but what the heck...). The GBA triumverate has made 7.5 times as much as the rest of the millionaires combined, using that very high estimate of their wealth AND assuming they are still that wealthy (rare in the IT world, but what the heck). A job recomendation for a typical MS employee is probably worth 75-100K/year. Let's call it $150K/year. Since these employees have all been with the company at least for 10 years (let's call it an average of 15, which is still on the low side), and they mostly graduated from college, they can perhaps average as low as 35 years old, but they probably average more like 45, so let's call it 40. Let's assume that they can work 25 more years at $150K/year in current dollars. That makes them another 7.5 billion dollars, leaving their total career earnings, during and after their Microsoft tenures, a little more than 1/5th the total that Gates, Balmer and Allen are worth now, thanks to MS.

Just counting current "earnings", we'll go with that 38.4 million a year in revenues for ND. They have, what, 120 active scholorships just in football? OK, that's $40K a year for the scholarships and related BS. Plus, thanks to Title IX, you have to have a womans sport with an equal number of opportunities to match football. OK, that's going to be 120 more scholarships. And this sport will not make any money at all, just like real woman's sports.

OK, just there, the poor Millionaires are already, not counting costs of equipment, stadia, coaching, training, medical staff, etc., getting royally screwed worse than the ND players. (the school is at about 4:1 right now, before adding anything else)

To make it sillier: OK, let's assume that ND teams average 2 NFLers a year. Let's say that they average 8 year careers with average salaries of 1 million per (clearly, we're talking scrubeenies here, all it takes is one Quinn to equal this on his rookie deal). That's 16 million more per year that fall into the player's pockets. OK, now, 28 players on paid plans get (or have that opportunity) degrees from ND. Let's assume that's worth 50K a year (current dollars) for 40 years for each of them, clearly a low estimate, as it doesn't take too many arena ball players, much less captains of industry, to stomp on those numbers. That right there is 56 million more dollars in earnings for the players, accrued each year. It seems to me that the players are coming out with about 76,800,000 each year in dollar benefits playing for ND, using conservative estimates. It seems that they are NOT being exploited, at least not compared to those poor, downtrodden Micro$oft Millionaires.


by m (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 2:25pm

I think what is important to consider is that the percentage of college athletes who could be earning more money somewhere else outside the NCAA is very small. The majority of college atheletes receive a free college education when they would probably have made a lot less doing anything else for four years and which increases their ability to get a job and earn more money in the future. Maybe Matt Leinert and Brady Quinn would be making more money playing somewhere else, but I imagine most college football players would not. So are the few being exploited for the good of the many? Maybe, but in football just like in any field, previous job experience is taken into account when hiring and determining salary and you have to start at the bottom and work your way up and you can't get that job training in football alone. You have to have other players around you. Also I think working 4 years while earning a college degree and then immediately being promoted to a position making over 200k a year is a lot better than you can do in any other career.

by big_adventure (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 5:23pm

32 -

I can think of a few others :) -


But outside of that, yep, playing pro ball is like winning the lottery. It may be a bit more work, but you have a MUCH higher chance of actually making it.


by Pat on the Back (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 6:49pm

1) Everyone seems to forget that the student players are fairly replaceable. Sure, there are some of them that have a lot more talent than others, but for the most part there are enough meatheads out there with enough talent to replace those twenty and some-odd players with scholarships on those teams. Have you ever seen the number of guys at those practices, or extra guys on the sidelines of games? At my school, they used to let everyone dress (though not active, whatever that means), and there were so many players that there were two #14s. There is more than enough supply of labor that $40k per year is a fair wage. Maybe the uniform pay scale isn't the fairest thing, but the average NCAA football player is playing for free, so that should show that the compensation is more than fair.

2) Universities are places of higher education. If my school ever started bidding on students to play for them, I would never donate to them again. Asking a school to bid on athletes and devote even larger amounts of resources to sports in lieu of education is unacceptable. Hell, the level of commitment there is already borderline unacceptable for me. But if it brings money into the school, and that money is then used for education, more power to them.

3) I would argue that the compensation is higher than just the $40k. As trite as it is to say, and even though most of them don't take anywhere close to full advantage of it, it is tough to put a price on education. These players are gaining access to a level of training that, in a lot of cases, would never be available to them on the basis of their mental abilities. So if playing football will give them access to better training and possibly increase their lifetime income, that shadow wage has to be included in the calculation.