at least it's not just us?
ncaa: the hypocrisy and how to fix it
[Programming note: UFR is coming today, but later than usual, say 4 or 5. For some reason I'm having trouble summoning the willpower to slog through all of it.]
Sponsor note. You may be driving in for the Air Force game and wondering where you will park. It hangs over you like a great dark cloud: where will my friends be? Will I have to walk through miles of jungle to get to them? Where did all this jungle come from anyway?
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- Event planning with Zingerman's and MGoPatio folk.
- Five bucks off Golf Course parking as long as you're in the Thursday before gameday.
Air Force parking awaits you. Soon they will debut a 2.0 website. Soon.
Holgo. I know they hate our guts and went all ex-girlfriend on us when Rich Rodriguez left, but I can't help but want West Virginia to tear the Big 12 up. They're weird, passionate, isolated from all recruiting hotbeds that are not Pittsburgh, they've got a history of putting up video-game numbers, and their coach says stuff like this:
I don't think it would go well if we hired that guy (learning: I has it), but I'll admire them from afar.
I am not sure you are up on recent events. Air Force coach Troy Calhoun on Michigan:
"There are a handful of programs in college football that are guaranteed at least 10 victories every season," Calhoun said, "Michigan is one of them. They clearly are the favorite to win the Big Ten Conference."
I'm imagining a world where this is literally true. I'm so happy, in this world. I wear sunglasses all the time and high five anyone I come across. I make pancakes a lot just so I can put a whipped-cream smiley face on them. If my car breaks down, I exclaim "aw, shucks!"
I chew bubble-gum nonstop.
my watch says it is STAB O'CLOCK
How did this not end in homicide? Serious question:
The misery wasn't over for some fans of the No.8-ranked Michigan Wolverines on Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington when their team took a 41-14 pounding at the hands of then-No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide.
Many who planned to catch a taxi for the return trip to their hotels or other lodgings after the nationally televised football game were in for a long wait. Some complained of standing in line with dozens of other fans and waiting as long as two hours for a cab.
Beer + that game + two hour wait for cab == STABBY STABBY STAB STAB. The local news channel interviewing these folks says this lady is not mincing words!
Michigan fan Elizabeth Jahn minced no words. "If there's a system, and this is where the fans are supposed to be stationed and situated, that should be communicated to the cab companies," she said.
That lady minced those words, TV station. She took those words and made them tiny and even by chopping. If she was not mincing words she would have said "I STAB YOUUUUUUU."
Alphabetical. Spencer kicks it off by talking about how Alabama owned Michigan. At least we're not alone:
Again, it is not a Big Ten thing: disabuse yourself of that notion immediately, Michigan fan. The last thing we want you feeling is special, because what happened to you on Saturday night in Dallas was not special. Slightly different than in past years? Perhaps: Doug Nussmeier's offense appears to be a bit more happy to turn A.J. McCarron loose, particularly in early innings, and the defense didn't pressure so much as constrict Michigan into tiny, useless spaces turning Denard Robinson into a doomed sub captain. Depth charges: Alabama has them
Unfortunately, his assertion that no one died does not account for the Countess injury. Sad face.
Bubble popping? I've muttered about how college football fans are getting close to the breaking point for a while now, and Pat Forde has just documented an opening weekend that was an attendance bust all around. I was shocked at more than one of these factoids:
There was exactly one announced capacity crowd in eight Southeastern Conference home openers. Before the Labor Day Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech game, six out of seven Atlantic Coast Conference schools had smaller crowds than their openers last year – some of them much smaller. Attendance was down at six out of eight Big 12 home openers from 2011. Five out of eight Pac-12 schools had smaller crowds as well, and Oregon's 13-year sellout streak was in jeopardy until game day.
I saw the Florida-BGSU game and was shocked at a corner of the endzone in the upper deck that was all but empty. Even the bluebloods are reaching their limit.
Michigan doesn't seem to have similar problems except when it comes to getting the students to show up on time, but they should benefit from this trend. They may have already after snagging one-off home games with Oregon State and Colorado in the near future. Would those have happened ten years ago? Probably not. Increasing ticket prices and the ubiquity of television are pushing the economics of college football back towards actual games between teams. Tomato cans aren't going away but we should see them gradually recede from their boring-ass apex. High five, epic ongoing recession!
O’Bannon seeks a judge’s permission to expand the class action to include current D-I football and men’s basketball players. O’Bannon does not ask that current players be paid while in college. Instead, he wants a temporary trust set up for monies generated by the licensing and sale of their names, images and likenesses. Players could access those trusts at the completion of their collegiate careers.
The O'Bannon plan sends half(!) of broadcasting and a third of video game revenue to the players. Even partial success here would be seismic. I'm in favor, obviously.
Austin Hatch to 2014. Everyone in the world speculated that Austin Hatch would take another year of high school after his tragic plane crash, and now that's official. He's a 2014 recruit now.
Michigan is now at 13 for next year's team will have open spots if Hardaway or Trey Burke head for the NBA, which is why they're still after some 2013 guys. The most prominent is Reggie Cameron, a 2.0 version of Smotrycz hopefully without the existential depression.
As for Hatch, if he doesn't recover to the point where he can play, Michigan will still honor his scholarship. Presumably they would give him a medical; I'm guessing in this situation the NCAA would provide whatever waivers would be necessary lickety-split.
!?!?!?!? Touch the Banner interviews JB Fitzgerald, and he says this!
(3.) If you had to choose, who was your favorite coach at Michigan, including position coaches?
"So many great coaches I had the privilege of learning from, which I expected going into a program like Michigan. Two coaches really stand out. First, Greg Robinson - truly a class act and the depth of football knowledge that I was able to gain from him is hard to put a price on. And then of course Coach Hoke."
Air Force stuff. Via mgovideo:
MVictors: As one of the representatives of Bennie Oosterbaan family, did the athletic department reach out to you to ask if the family would be interested in participating in the Legends program?
McCready: Dave Brandon contacted me last September to see what I thought of the Legends program. I loved the idea. He and asked if I could put him in touch with members of Bennie’s family. I was happy to put Dave in touch with Bennie’s surviving relatives (8 in all), most of whom Bennie and his wife Delmas were very close to throughout their lives. Dave sent letters to all of them. Every member of the family responded to Dave that they loved and supported the Legends Program and the "unretiring" of Bennie’s jersey.
McCready wants Jordan Kovacs to wear 47, which nooooooooooooooooooo.
Seriously, though, as the guy who famously hauled in Benny Friedman's passes, I'd hope Oosterbaan's 47 goes to a wideout. 47 would be a lot more notable on a WR than a defensive player, and Michigan already has to throw Gerald Ford's #48 to someone other than a lineman due to modern-day number restrictions. The Wisterts' #11 should end up on the DL somewhere; Ron Kramer should obviously be given to a TE.
Etc.: Quality diary featuring Hall and Oates. A dinged Rex Burkhead does not need surgery. He may be out a bit but should be fine by the time Michigan hits Lincoln. Texas A&M is going to get pwned. This Week in "John L Smith must stay forever": prank-calls reporter at presser. Comprehensive M blogosphere Alabama react collection. To his credit, Dantonio says MSU players need to shut up.
HT to MFanNE for putting this in a thread: ESPN has begun culling the latest data submitted by member institutions to NCAA on how much money their athletic departments are actually raking and spending. Since ESPN in a fit of awesomeness decided to leave their database for 2008-'11 just lying there for the Excel-ing, I figured I might grab the data and shoot the sheet.
The universities gather these data for their Title IX reports, therefore I am almost positive they reflect the budgets for entire athletic departments, not just football. But football being football you can expect most of the swings were football. Totals from those four years are what is presented and sorted by below.
Note that private schools and public schools in Pennsylvania don't have to report, therefore they haven't on many of these. This applies to BC, Duke, Miami (YTM), Wake Forest, Pitt, Cuse, Northwestern, Penn State, Baylor, Rice, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa, Navy, BYU, Notre Dame, Temple, TCU, Stanford, USC, and Vanderbilt. This will screw with conference overall data.
|#||University||Conf||2011||Ticket Sales '08-11|
|2||Ohio State||Big Ten||$50,009,395||$168,909,180|
|9||Texas A&M||Big XII||$32,771,997||$125,721,452|
The ticket sales thing is going to be a bit janky since I don't know where the donations to get tickets count. Minus Penn State and Northwestern, but including Nebraska, the Big Ten is the only conference averaging over $25k/year per school.
|#||University||Conf||Student Fees '08-'11|
|3||Florida International||Sun Belt||$60,801,888|
|5||South Florida||Big East||$52,288,800|
With the exception of Virginia, these schools are drawing from the students way more than they can get from contributions.
|#||University||Conf||University subsidy '08-'11|
Two schools trying to build a case to be in BCS conferences, and the directional Michigan schools. When you vote for David Brandon, you vote to end this shameless expenditure on MAC-letics. #BrandonforMichigan2014
More after the jump.
[Tardy thanks to MRI, about which more later, and Stonum going poof. Please excuse any datedness that may appear.]
Some progress. Over the summer the SEC further clamped down on oversigning by reducing a Houston Nutt-induced cap of 28 signees in any particular year—a fig leaf—to an actually impactful 25. You only have to look at Michigan's projected 2012 class of 27 or 28 to know there's at least some teeth in the SEC's latest cap, but if you want more direct evidence, Georgia running back Justin Taylor provides it:
One of Georgia’s top running backs said that was told by Alabama’s Nick Saban this weekend that he will have to wait until next year to sign with the Crimson Tide. …
Coach Saban just said I’m the 26th commitment. I would be the 26th signee. I guess he went and picked up somebody else. He said I make 26 and they only get 25. They talked about bringing me in next January.” [Note: Alabama has 27 commitments]
That somebody else was Auburn decommit and five-star TJ Yeldon. Taylor, a generic three star who lost his senior year to a knee injury, is now adrift two weeks before signing day after spending almost a year committed to the Tide.
In a hilarious effort to create a binding commitment between a party with no power and College Football Stalin, Saban proposed they deploy a +5 Napkin of Ultimate Bonding:
"He said he was going to sign me with the next class. But he also said he would sign a piece of paper to show that they are keeping their word – they are going to sign it and they want me to sign it to make sure I know I still have my scholarship"
You have to hand it to Saban. That is weaselry worthy of Magnetar. The HSR suggests a T-shirt:
So Saban is still a disingenuous weasel. Here he does exactly what Sevon Pittman did to MSU, except he's a millionaire adult instead of an addled 18-year old with two dollars to his name. He is still committed but looking at options, which means he's trying to find a landing place as fast as possible.
At least Taylor found that out before he signed a document that committed him to Alabama but not vice-versa. This is still not ideal since 25 x 4 = 100 and it seems like a reasonable number to average on a yearly basis is 22, but it does forcibly hack the worst oversigning offenders' practices in half.
To repeat the brilliant suggestion of an Oversigning.com commenter, the best way to fix the problem is to do away with an 85 player limit entirely in favor of a yearly limit on letters of intent somewhere between 22 and 26. This removes any incentive to take kids off the team. Unfortunately, Title IX probably makes this impossible.
Indiana State could not be reached for comment.
Decline and fall. Virginia Tech's special teams looked surprisingly weak in the metrics tracked by the NCAA, but that fails to account for blocks and whatnot that were a large portion of the "Beamerball" free touchdowns. I wondered if that had evaporated recently. Survey says:
One blocked kick with major upside per year each of the last three, with a couple of blocked PATs thrown in there. Foster's defense is keeping them afloat these days. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I just thought it was interesting.
We're really mad now, you guys. The NCAA is going to get serious… just in time for Ohio State to get off mad easy. I'll believe this when I see it:
"We were damn mad and not going to take it anymore," Ed Ray, Oregon State president and chair of the Enforcement Working Group, said.
Given Miami AD Paul Dee's comeuppance after the "high profile compliance" shot against Reggie Bush, expect Oregon State to be swallowed whole within the year. The working group has created a penalty matrix that provides two different violation levels with a total of eight tiers between them. No one seems to know what goes in those categories but hoo boy, getting hit with a Significant Level I violation would net you a 2-3 year postseason ban and a loss of 38-50% of your scholarships. Dang.
Apparently even Michigan's piddling violations would have netted a four-scholarship loss "per year"—not sure how many years we're talking about here—which is more than OSU's massive year long head-coach-lying carnivale got them. Again, believe it when I see some athletic department burned to the ground.
At least they didn't take dumb action. The totally outrageous proposal to hack down scholarship numbers in an era when TV networks can't throw enough money at schools was voted down. Also it sounds like the 2,000 stipend may return in some other form and the board of the directors is going to make schools who want to override the multi-year scholarship proposal get a 5/8ths majority to vote it down.
So okay. The Indiana States of the world can stew.
Guh. A portion of a paywalled interview with Brandon on playoffs brings up an old canard that's annoying when bloggers deploy it and doubly so when it's your athletic director($):
"This whole notion of a playoff is ridiculous because I don't care what you come up with, it's not going to be a fair playoff. You've got a bunch of teams that don't play one another and play different competition and in different time zones in different conferences in different stadiums in front of different crowds and different weather and suddenly at some point in the year you are trying to arbitrarily decide which one is better and which one deserves to be in a four-team playoff or a six-team playoff."
This is a downside of a playoff that the current system doesn't have? Except infinitely worse because you can literally win all your games and still get passed over? Are these even questions? No?
Rothstein challenges Brandon on his arguments, to his credit, but you'll have to have Insider to see the result. Spoiler: it's the usual pastiche of academics and wear and tear that apparently only applies to I-A, with an added bonus of "kids love bowl games." CBS surveyed players on the four teams in the Fiesta Bowl and SEC West Division Championship Game. They found 19% favored a bowl game and 43% a playoff with 38% abstaining.
The thing that bothers is not the opposition to a playoff, which is a somewhat tenable position as someone who believes the current system benefits his schools. It's that the arguments put forth are all logically inconsistent.
BONUS: Weird that he went from four teams to six instead of eight, eh? MGoPlayoff's tentacles extend.
Winter Classic: official? Not officially official but someone is now saying it is a done deal instead of something discussed in nonbinding chats over tea:
The NHL, the Detroit Red Wings and the University of Michigan have finalized a deal to hold next season’s Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium, a source told MLive.com.
They're going to build a rink at Not Tiger Stadium as well to "appease Mike Ilitch." Maybe the GLI will be there. Or something. I don't know. It's weird.
Michigan may now lose its own record for hockey attendance and force a bunch of people to choose between that and the inevitable New Year's Day bowl Michigan will find itself in unless it manages the same at-large BCS trick it did this year or makes the MNC game. But, hey: incremental revenue.
Star turn. CBS's Jeff Goodman was in the house yesterday; he profiles Trey Burke:
"I knew pretty quick in the summer," Novak said. "Trey was doing things right away that it had taken me four years to pick up. He has such a high skill level -- and you can tell he wasn't fazed by anything."
Speaking of things it took Novak four years to pick up, how about the shots he's generating off the dribble now? Needs more usage.
Head: removed. Entertaining board thread on Hardaway's emotive pictures notices that… uh… he has opted out this time.
Photos via UMHoops
I don't like the socks either, trueblueintexas.
If you'd like to revisit the old bad thing, BHGP has put up their Fran Graphs on the Michigan-Iowa game.
Recommended. It was interesting hearing Beilein talk about the five games in thirteen days thing as a major factor… but in retrospect Michigan has shot like total crap from the outside lately. Hopefully they can get their legs before facing down the all-press all-the-time Arkansas runs (even when it's just giving Anthony Davis dunks).
Personal note that may affect you at some point. If you follow the mgotwitter account you may know that Michigan is bad at scheduling MRIs. This is because I had one. I had one because ten months ago a guy put his spikes into my knee when I was playing indoor soccer. I went to the doctor; the doctor said "walk it off," basically. I tried that but the knee was obviously unstable even after the swelling and whatnot had gone away.
Since I was getting married, going on a honeymoon, and not missing football games there wasn't much point in finding out until now. I'm in the process as we speak. In all probability I'm going to find out my ACL is no longer extant and get the surgery, which means there is going to be a period of time I'll be taking an involuntary vacation.
Yes, the "Michigan Difference" commercials are currently making me peevish. BONUS: I am passionately arguing for red cards whenever I watch anything, especially NASCAR.
Etc.: New soccer coach Chaka Daley on WTKA. Michigan lax is taking on Detroit-Mercy in Warren if you're from around there. Van Bergen's Sugar Bowl foot injury was a lisfranc sprain. I would bet on Van Bergen in a fight with a bear.
Like Saban, except without the wins; a guy who made a bad decision
DeAnthony Arnett wants to leave Tennessee. This should be enough reason for Derek Dooley to release him, full stop. When Dooley left Louisiana Tech for Tennessee, he did not require the permission of Louisiana Tech. Because of the way the NCAA "just works"—to quote that guy at Indiana State—Arnett does need permission from UT if he's going to be on scholarship somewhere next season.
Dooley won't give it to him. This is because Tennessee has a "policy."
A Tennessee spokesman said Arnett is not being denied the opportunity to be released and play FBS-level football. The school has a policy of not releasing players to schools Tennessee plays or recruits against, the spokesman said.
Joe Paterno should have thought of that. "We have a policy of not disclosing the activities of sexual predators on campus." End of story. There's a policy, folks. Nothing to see here.
Arnett is the fourth Tennessee player that Derek Dooley has vindictively screwed over on a transfer. The first, All-SEC lineman Aaron Douglas, had to transfer to an Arizona JUCO for a year before transferring back to Alabama*. Dooley imposed a requirement that Douglas transfer at least eight hours away from his home in Knoxville and offered this explanation:
“I’m trying to help him. If the problem is truly at home, then he shouldn’t be at home. But if it’s not truly at home, then we think he should be at Tennessee.”
"They're within their legal rights to do what they're doing, but we're adults. Part of our business is to help young people develop and stay in line, but it's also to take care of them. I can see if Nick was in the plans for them, then fine. But if he's not in the plans, let him go play somewhere else."
Lamaison was an unlikely candidate to play for the Vols this season or down the road, and he never seriously threatened either Jonathan Crompton or Nick Stephens for playing time a year ago either.
Stephens transferred midway through spring practice, but like last fall, Lamaison was again clearly stuck behind two quarterbacks as junior transfer Matt Simms and freshman Tyler Bray quickly jumped him on the depth chart.
He ended up going back to JUCO for a year and then starting at UTEP. The only players Tennessee has actually let go are Todd Campbell, a little-used fifth year senior who transferred to MTSU, and backup QB Nick Stephens, who transferred to D-II Tarleton State. Anyone with the slightest bit of talent at Tennessee will not be released to play at a BCS school. QB coach leaves, dad is terribly sick, you are never ever going to play: doesn't matter. Dooley owns you.
So if you're thinking about going to Tennessee, be sure you want to play for a nepotistic failure coming off a 1-7 conference record with no track record of success hired by a total moron. It's going to cost you five figures if you're wrong.
*[Douglas died with a cocktail of drugs in his system in May. This is not relevant to the rest of the post but it seems impossible to mention his story without its tragic conclusion. Dooley didn't show up at the funeral, BTW. Quality guy.]
Two notable developments in the world of NCAA committee flerbydoo. One: schools without money say schools with money shouldn't give a small slice of that to their athletes.
The NCAA's plan to give athletes a $2,000 stipend may be in trouble.
The legislation, passed in October, now faces an override challenge at January's annual NCAA convention, a decision that could create an unusual discrepancy between recruits who have already signed national letters-of-intent and those who have not. …
Berst said 97 schools have signed onto the override measure, more than the 75 needed for the NCAA board to reconsider the stipend. If that number hits 125 by Dec. 26, the legislation would be suspended.
Two: schools without money say schools with money should give fewer scholarships out.
The NCAA's Resource Allocation Working Group, an offshoot of the summit conducted by NCAA president Mark Emmert last August, finalized a list of proposals that are designed to cut costs and to free up money for other areas within athletic departments.
The proposals include trimming the maximum number of scholarships for Football Bowl Subdivision programs from 85 to 80, for Football Championship Subdivision programs from 63 to 60, and women's basketball programs from 15 to 13.
What does Todd Graham think of this?
He likes it almost as much as he likes private jets, leaving schools after one year, and making his wife wear oriental rugs as blouses*.
Say what you want about the vast and overarching corruption of the NCAA and its conspiracy to alienate workers from the fruits of their labors, but at least the big schools, cognizant of that hypocrisy, tried to bridge a portion of the gap this year. The NJITs of the world are shooting it down despite the change being completely voluntary:
The board approved a measure allowing conferences to vote on providing up to $2,000 in spending money, or what the NCAA calls the full cost-of-attendance.
The legislation poses no financial burden on anyone who doesn't have the money. If that creates an unbalanced playing field, 1) no it doesn't since your training table is already rice and beans and 2) it damn well should.
Only someone as blinkered as USA Today's Christine Brennan—whose collected works should be entitled "TITLE IX TITLE IX TITLE IX"—could think voluntarily closing a gap between living expenses and scholarships is "unfair" because it doesn't let womens' athletics set more money on fire.
Title IX makes sense at institutions where no one is actually making money for the school. It ceases to do so at places where college athletics becomes a massive transfer scheme from statistically poor basketball and football players to statistically wealthy (and, in the case of women, increasingly overrepresented) non-revenue athletes who can afford tennis lessons and whatnot.
It is incoherent to have these two groups under one roof. There's a fundamental divide between schools that are unprofitable by choice and those that are inherently so, a fundamental divide between schools where mens' basketball and football players have economic value only the schools are realizing and those where every athlete is a net expense. Before you condemn the big ones, realize that it's the small ones and their futile attempt to maintain a "level playing field" that is preventing larger schools from making even token moves towards a fairer system.
It's probably time for another split, or at least serious saber-rattling from the schools that drive the revenue the NCAA subsists on. The remoras at the bottom of the D-I pool need to be reminded who the sharks are.
*[Congratulations, Arizona State. You've hired a guy who just displaced Bobby Petrino as the go-to-reference for skeezy mercenary coaches. I know you can't pass up a guy who took Pitt from 7-5 to 6-6 that quickly, but… actually, maybe you can.]
A few days ago, occasional MGoGuestPoster Jon Chait marked the start of the offseason by posting something at NY Magazine about whether or not players should be paid. In a week or so we'll get the annual flood of playoff proposals, all of which are better than the current system, none of which are better than mine. (There is also a long post answering Joe Posnanski's playoff objections.) It is in these ways that we brace for the long, football-free summer.
So let's argue about paying players. Chait makes a few arguments that I agree with: that the "man in the top hat and monocle" who's cackling evilly as he exploits revenue athletes is the nonrevenue section of the department, that the ever-more lavish facilities and resources devoted to revenue athletes are a form of compensation*, that Jerry Sandusky doesn't have anything to do with anything, that the massive Atlantic article that had the bad form to be released during football season is a litany of complaints without solutions.
But I don't buy the idea that it's impossible to answer this question:
This basic conceptual problem casts light on the practical problem: Which athletes deserve to get paid?
This is what markets are for. Chait acknowledges this but says…
Such reasoning is sensible if you regard the ability to produce market value as the sole arbiter of social value. But it’s a strange credo for a reform movement putatively concerned with protecting young people from exploitation. And it bears little relation to reality: Go ask a female basketball player if she’s exploiting her male counterparts, or ask a quarterback if he is being economically victimized by the volleyball team.
Since I'm not a member of this reform movement I can say this argument is a little silly. I'm guessing that quarterback might say yes; ask him about his millionaire coaches and you'll get more affirmatives. He dismisses arguments about low-income athletes by saying the NCAA "unfairly ignore[d]" non-athletes when they voted that cost of attendance increase and that the problem here is that revenue athletes are not getting college degrees.
And like the Atlantic article, Chait weakens his case when he gets down to solutions, which are pitched at the degree problem. He provides three:
…one obvious reform is to make all freshmen ineligible for athletics, as they were until three decades ago.
While this is feasible it is unlikely to make a huge difference in outcomes.
A second, related reform would be to guarantee five years of free-ride tuition to every scholarship athlete who maintains a clean record – the automatic red-shirt season plus four more years of eligibility.
Thumbs up. This is something I've been advocating forever and would be an improvement. If you want to cut a kid, fine. He remains on scholarship.
The explosion in college coaching pay reflects both market competition and a simple desire by schools to use an astronomical salary to signal their coach’s excellence. So why not phase in a cap on coaches’ pay?
Because the NCAA already tried to do this and lost a lawsuit.
Taken together, those reforms don't really do anything. Oversigning gets less odious. This does not stop tediously enormous Atlantic articles from being published because "not getting degrees" is not the issue. The issue is select administrators getting rich while other, poorer people beat their brains out. In such an environment, trips to Miami and free tattoos and loaner cars are inevitable. Fixing that is the real issue.
*[It's worth pointing out that colleges do not have the option to extort local governments for facilities.]
Fixing Everything Forever
Operative theory: the NCAA's prohibition on taking money from everyone is working as well as Prohibition. The following randomly selected picture has nothing to do with this argument.
Right now the NCAA stance in re: professional athletics is to stick its fingers in its ears and go "LA LA LA LA." Enter a draft voluntarily and your eligibility is gone. Sign something binding you to an agent—even without financial compensation—and your eligibility is gone. Get sponsored by something and your eligibility is gone even if you're an Olympic athlete like Jeremy Bloom and you're playing an entirely different sport at an amateur level.
This does not stop the money flowing into the system, it just pushes it underground where no one can control it and it unbalances the playing fields. Steps to fix this:
1. Allow players to sign with agents, and get paid by them. Several restrictions apply. Agents must be registered with both the NCAA and the professional league in question and have clients from a variety of schools. The league in question must project the player as a draftable prospect. And there should be a cap on how much any individual can get paid. The agent system should be phased in gradually and carefully examined for abuse and unintended consequences.
This does a ton of things simultaneously. It lessens the hypocrisy of the system by allowing people who want to pay the kids to do so. It gives the NCAA leverage over a class of people who are banned outright—and therefore uncontrollable—now. It removes the agents' incentive to get kids out of school so they can enter a formal contractual relationship. It removes a big chunk of NCAA regulations, allowing the organization to focus on a smaller list of problems. It levels the playing field and removes a whole host of bad PR. It does not impact the schools' bottom lines.
2. Allow players who enter a draft to retain their eligibility. Hockey players all get drafted at 18 whether they want to or not. They can then play in the NCAA. This has not imploded college hockey. But if a basketball player puts his name in the draft he has to withdraw it ever-sooner if he wants to retain his eligibility. Actually going through with the process terminates his college career no matter the outcome.
If a player enters a professional draft and the team who drafts him doesn't want him on the roster, it doesn't hurt to let the player in question go back to school and play. Every year there are players who enter drafts and are passed over entirely; if they've retained their academic eligibility they should be allowed back. Not doing so is punitive.
3. Drop the QB #16 fiction and acknowledge that players own their images. This is going to happen via lawsuit in the near future; when the NCAA gets its ass handed to it in court they can go one of two ways. They can either force EA to have random rosters or they can give the players a cut. They should do the latter.
The things that have put the NCAA under fire of late consist almost entirely of people outside the system trying to give revenue athletes money. The NCAA rejects this because they uphold the ideal of amateurism, which has as much relevance in 2011 as temperance unions.
What is the downside of acknowledging that players have market value and allowing them to realize some of that value? There doesn't seem to be any. If the NCAA ever derived positive PR from its stance that's dead and gone. Let the players have a taste of their labors.
BONUS: Braves and Birds responds to the same column.