Tag Archives: NCAA

NCAA- A Solution

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:

  1. End the hypocrisy that they are not businesses.
  2. Stop the unethical exploitation of the athletes who are more often than not black and poor.
  3. 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.

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NCAA-It’s All About The Money

The NCAA’s exploitation of young men, mostly African American, from impoverished inner city neighborhoods has finally entered the conscience of the American sports fan.   The “tipping point” may have been last year when the NCAA signed an $11,000,000,000 multiyear contract for the broadcasting rites for “March Madness.”  That’s a difficult number for most people to comprehend and it got many peoples attention.

As with any business, those responsible for developing a great product reap the rewards of their efforts.  In this instance I am referring to the Coaches and Athletic Directors who are now receiving multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts.  The product being sold to consumers is, of course, the athletic talent of those who play the game.  And it is a great product!

The Coaches and Athletic Directors of major college programs have become by far the highest paid faculty members at most of the Division I “educational institutions.” And perhaps they should be because they and the players generate staggering amounts of revenue for their employers and the NCAA.  All the while, the NCAA continues to claim that it is all about education and not a business.  (It was down right painful to watch, Mark Emmert, the current president of the NCAA, trying to defend the NCAA’s position in an interview on the PBS program NOVA.  The words came out but you could see that he really doesn’t believe it.  The man has a conscience. He must know how Public Defenders feel proclaiming the innocence of their client who has murdered someone in front of a dozen witnesses.  A difficult task at best.)

College Athletics is a “business” but there are major differences between the business of College Athletics and all other businesses.  The profits are earned free of tax.  Private individuals can make tax-deductible capital contributions to the business and the employees, who actually play the game, receive no compensation other than their scholarship.  (And the scholarship is only good as long as the athlete performs up to the coach’s expectations.)

All the while the colleges can use the players’ name, likeness, video replays, video games etc. etc. to generate revenue without paying one dime of compensation to the players.

Back in 1998 a talented poor kid from Los Angeles named Andre Miller led the University of Utah’s basketball team to the Final Four in Dallas Texas.  His mother wanted to see her son play for the national championship so she road a Greyhound Bus for 26 hours, in order to be there.  USA Today wrote the story to show just how dedicated this mom was to her son.  But what I realized as I was reading this story was that if the school or some alum had bought her a ticket to Dallas on Southwest Airlines the NCAA would have declared Andre Miller ineligible.  I’m betting that no executive from the NCAA has ever ridden a Greyhound Bus half way across the country to see a game.

Since that time the business of the NCAA has grown into a multi-billion dollar enterprise, but yet the exploitation of these young men continues unabated.  I am not so cynical as to believe this was all by design.  But it is very real.

Professional leagues, the NBA and the NFL love the system because the college programs provide a cost free minor league system for player development.  They were happy to collude with the NCAA by requiring players to play at least one year for the NCAA before moving on to the pros. How can that not be a violation of human rights.  A quick look at the NBA All Star roster list many players, such a Kobe and LeBron, who chose not to work for the NCAA before joining the NBA.

Everyone, the NCAA, the Schools, the Coaches, the Media, are all making money.  Everyone except the players who make it all happen.  When I tell other sports fans how it works their reaction is  “I didn’t know that” or “you must be kidding.”  But it is the truth, and a huge black mark on our institutions of higher learning.  We should all push to see a change soon.

The NCAA must clean up its act or they will self-destruct.  Can you imagine the consequences if a handful of star players refuse to play basketball in March.  It’s going to happen and I would love to give a guaranteed scholarship to any player willing to take a stand on this issue.

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“One and Done”

As Kentucky marches towards its predicted “college” basketball championship, a lot is being written about the NBA rule requiring players to play one year in college or be 19 years old at the time of the draft.

Without the rule, the NCAA and the media would have an inferior product to sell to basketball fans.  Before 2006 they missed out on the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, but no longer.  The real stars coming out of high school since 2006 are required to work for the NCAA for a fraction of their true market value.  They are sort of like “indentured servants” earning their right to make a living.

Realistically, these athletes attend college classes for one semester, not one year.  If they make the required grades to be eligible, after one semester, why would they continue to attend classes?  It doesn’t matter if they lose their college eligibility after March Madness, they simply want to be eligible to play in the NBA.

I don’t know what the average length of an NBA career is, but I can guess that it’s well shy of 10 years.  Forcing these athletes to give up one year of potential career earnings is just not right.  High school graduates are allowed to join our Military, to fight wars, but too young to play in the NBA?  The argument that these “kids” need a year of college basketball falls apart when you look at the roster for this year’s NBA All-Star Game.

The NBA was willing to create the rules because the NCAA provides a cost free farm system.  It’s a “win-win.”  When I read that John Calipari, the Kentucky coach who openly exploits the “one and done stars,” was critical of the rule, I was impressed.  But then I read on and his solution is to have a “two and done” rule.  Is he joking or what?

Like most things in our culture, it’s all about the money.  And there is nothing wrong with that motivation if it’s a fair deal for all concerned.  But this rule does not provide a “win-win” but instead it is a “win-win-lose” arrangement.  And you know who the losers are—-it’s the high school stars.  But they have no voice.  March Madness is great entertainment, but the “one and done” rule imposed on the star players takes a lot of the fun out of it for me.  It’s hard to think of it as “college” basketball.


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