It is easy to find fault with the NCAA and its members, but criticism alone will not solve the problems. What is needed is a solution that doesn’t throw out all the good things regarding college sports while getting rid of the hypocrisy and exploitation that will ultimately destroy it.
The current model for the NCAA has been in existence for decades and no doubt it was never envisioned as a rule making body for a multi-billion dollar entertainment business. Many of our largest “educational” institutions are far better known for their success playing football and basketball than for their contribution to education. And if that is the priority for those managing these institutions, that should be their choice. College football and basketball are great businesses that can generate fame and fortune.
The NCAA was created to set up rules to govern college sports. It was about local pride and the athletes were actually students. It’s a different world today as evidenced by the recently crowned NCAA basketball champion. I didn’t see much connection with Kentucky or the presence of many student athletes. The coaches and players worked hard to produce a championship team that was fun to watch. And they are to be congratulated! But it’s a business with very little connection to the University of Kentucky as an educational institution. If you doubt my conclusion just compare the coach’s salary with the salary of the university president.
The solution is to simply recognize the reality of the current situation. The NCAA should be split between those institutions that want to be in the “sports entertainment business,” and those who want college sports to be an aside to their primary mission as educational institutions. Some universities may want their membership to be sport specific, i.e. the money making sports would apply the rules established for the “entertainment group,” while the other minor sports would continue to function under the current set of rules.
Recognizing that college football and basketball are businesses would:
- End the hypocrisy that they are not businesses.
- Stop the unethical exploitation of the athletes who are more often than not black and poor.
- Force the NBA and the NFL to pay the NCAA members currently providing a cost free farm system.
There would be no losers with this reorganization (well maybe a little less money for those taking it all now). Change is inevitable and the NCAA should take the lead and stop trying to defend a system that is dysfunctional. If the NCAA doesn’t, it may end up being changed in the courts.