While you are absolutely correct, it would have taken a LOT longer to get the joke.
Go O'Bannon, Go
Yesterday, the NFL settled with a group of former players who had sued them for using their identities without permission. What's more, the NFL had an insane-seeming clause barring those same players from using their own identifies:
Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea and five other retired players filed the federal class-action lawsuit in Minneapolis in 2009 accusing the NFL of blatantly exploiting retired players' identities in films, highlight reels and memorabilia to market the league's "glory days."
"The retired players who created these glory days, however, have gone almost completely uncompensated for this use of their identities," the plaintiffs said. "Notably, while exploiting the identities of retired players for commercial gain, the NFL prohibits retired NFL players from using their own identities as players to promote themselves commercially."
Instead of facing down a court case, the NFL settled to the tune of 42 million dollars. Because they were going to lose, hard. Yesterday was a good day for Ed O'Bannon.
O'Bannon, of course, is the former UCLA basketball player irritated enough that he was in an EA Sports game to launch a class-action suit against the NCAA for almost the same issue the NFL just settled on, down to the insane-seeming cause. In the NCAA, those athletes sign away their publicity rights in perpetuity as a condition of the scholarship they get. But as anyone who's followed discussion about a coach's multimillion dollar buyout clause knows, just because it's in a contract doesn't mean its enforceable. Thus the pending class action.
O'Bannon and company have shifted tack from the relatively paltry amount of money provided by video game publishers to the Big Kahuna, amending their complaint to target game broadcasts. The NCAA's last response is to prevent the class from being certified thanks to a precedent they earned in a different breathtakingly cynical fight:
The NCAA relies heavily on its victory in a case regarding scholarship limits. Walk-on football players filed a class action against the NCAA arguing that in the absence of the 85 scholarship limit, they would have received full athletic scholarships. The court in that case refused to certify the class, because each player would have to prove individually that he would have received a football scholarship.
Yesterday, a bunch of motions in that case were made public, and everyone seized on this Jim Delany statement to laugh at the most hollow threat not made by a Jong-Il in the past 50 years:
Rather, it has been my longstanding belief that The Big Ten's schools would forgo the revenues in those circumstances and instead take steps to downsize the scope, breadth, and activity of their athletic programs. Several alternatives to a "pay for play" model exist, such as the Division III model, which does not offer any athletics-based grants-in-aid, and, among others, a need-based financial aid model. These alternatives would, in my view, be more consistent with The Big Ten's philosophy that the educational and lifetime economic benefits associated with a university education are the appropriate quid pro quo for its student-athletes.
Stupid or deceitful? I think the latter given Jim Delany's extremely malleable opinion on playoffs, but then again he is the man who gave us "Leaders and Legends" and wrote an open letter about how the SEC is poopy pants in 2007, thus dooming us to ALL THE SEC since. We may never know.
This is an organization that feels a university education is a sufficient quid pro quo for work that earns various people seven-figure salaries to play glorified secretary, and then fights lawsuits that would open up those university educations to more people because that might impinge on those seven figure salaries.
And this, of course, is a man who has spent the last twenty years thinking about nothing but money. He created a television network for money. He added Nebraska for money. He split Michigan and Ohio State in the vague hope of getting more money if they played twice. He added Rutgers and Maryland for money despite the fact that 11 of the 12 fanbases in the Big Ten would rather boil themselves in oil than play those teams in anything. Once he is presented with the idea he might have to share some of his money, he threatens to take the whole damn thing out of the system, into another system that will be exposed to the same legal precedent that prevents you from outrageously sharecropping athletes. The answer is probably "both." As Michael of Braves and Birds put it on twitter:
Delany's declaration is one step removed from threatening to attack Fort Sumter. "Our whole economic system is built on exploitation, so if you require that we pay our labor, we'll secede!" - Delany as Jefferson Davis.
As it becomes increasingly clear that the value of a university degree is coming unhinged from how much it costs, athletic departments continue to pile up more and more money that has to go somewhere. Increasingly, that is to the Jim Delanys of the world:
Michigan Budget, 2006
- Revenue of 68 million dollars
- 21 million spent on "salaries, wages, and benefits"
- 11 million spent on "financial aid to students"
Michigan Budget, 2013
- Revenue of 130 million dollars (a 91% increase)
- 44 million spent on "salaries, wages, and benefits" (a 109% increase)
- 18 million spent on "financial aid to students" (a 64% increase)
Despite the increase in athlete outlays, really there is no increased value there for the folks actually making the money. Instead the athletic department adds sports (lacrosse) and the University continues its unsustainable tuition spiral. The net for the athlete is the degree, then and now. When Texas A&M offered Bo a million dollars and he was reduced to tears because he had to choose between securing his family and staying at Michigan, that was maybe plausible. Today? Bitch, please.
According to a recent report in USA Today Sports, athletic directors at FBS schools are paid an average of $515,000 annually, an increase of more than 14 percent since … 2011. At the low end of the scale, Louisiana-Monroe AD Bobby Staub took home $109,923; at the high end, Louisville's Tom Jurich pocketed $1,401,915. Over the last two years, the number of athletic directors making $1 million or more has jumped from six to nine, while the number making $800,000 or more has risen from nine to 15. None of this is entirely new. Back in 2010 -- that is, when unemployment was at 9.9 percent and the nation was still reeling from the worst financial crisis since 1929 -- at least 10 public schools gave their athletic directors pay raises of $75,000 or more.
But you feel that a university education is the same bonus it's always been. You feel that it's fair that every extra dollar the players on the field make is destined for someplace other than their pockets. I feel that if every athletic director in the country disappeared tomorrow, no one outside their families would notice, and that if you took the best player off of every BCS football team the country would collapse into riots and chaos by Thursday. Useless vampires of college sports, I hope the courts annihilate your business model so thoroughly you end up shining Denard Robinson's shoes.
"People who have talent and bring something significant to the party expect to be paid fairly. I have no problem stepping up and paying talent for what they deserve."
This is why I included the thing about North Korean dictators. I'm not totally foreign to the ideas of comedy!
March Madness Tax Brackets, the only time you don't wanna be a 1-seed.
Players need a Union. They should Strike the first week of the football season and watch the NCAA squirm.
...cause a school like Michigan probably has hundreds of students who'd happily suit up and represent their school. Fellow students, alumni and possibly even some casual fans may very well prefer the version of college football without hired mercenaries.
Forgo the "honorable" talk of "amaturism" and what you have is a professional sports league that has imposed a salary cap. In Football that salary cap is 85 scholarships. The cap never changes. The NCAA has had absolutely zero "representation" for its players (unlike other major sports leagues) and thus, there is no CBA or anything similar. The NCAA makes the rules, just like the pro leagues used to before the players could strike. As Brian points out in the numbers, the football (and to a lesser extent bball) money doesn't just pay for every other athlete's scholarship, it's increasingly paying for more and more salaries of people in the AD. All that new TV money has to go somewhere, why shouldn't some of it go to the players? Put it in a trust, make it the olympic model, do something with it so that the product gets paid more than just a scholarship.
For anyone claiming it's not fair, it's already not fair. OF COURSE EMU won't compete with Michigan when money is involved. Money is already involved! The best athletes already go to the best programs! Stipends or booster cash isn't going to change that.
This is such a tough debate to have without quantifying how muc a student athlete individually earns for the U.
Does anyone have a study on that?
I would guess for all but the top 1-3 at each big time program, the student makes far less for their school than the cost of their scholarship + living stipend
The part that messes up the discussion is throwing in all the high-profile athletes at programs that lose money. It would be harder to make an argument that they should get paid when the AD is in the "red" and technically does not have enough funds to cover the cost of scholarships.
...that a lot of professional teams lose money too.
Paying players could lead to open markets, free agency and eventually your school getting burdened with long-term guaranteed contracts for some kid that flamed out with a bum injury.
Think you'll like it when the school needs to raise tuition because they overpaid for Drew Henson? Who ended up not being as good as Tom Brady anyhow.
I don't think you can ever know that with 100% certainty what a given player brings. NFL free agency would be a lot easier if that was possible. What I do think we can do is this: compare the revenue of the Michigan football team with the benefits given to the players as a whole and then compare that to the revenue of the average NFL team when that is compared to the average benefits paid out to a team of NFL players. I can only imagine that the Michigan players will appear to receive a pittance in comparison.
Except that you also have to remember how many non-contributing athletes there are at any university. Yes, the football players may be undercompensated. But their "salaries" are going to provide the benefits which are given to the girls lacrosse team, men's wrestling, rowing, gymnastics, etc. All of those sports are net losers (and by a massive margin, I'd imagine). Yes, Denard was undercompensated with his ~$200,000 "package" from the University. But maybe then you could also say that a 2nd string TE is "properly" compensated at ~$200,000. But then you have to also remember the hundreds of gymnasts, runners, swimmers, etc. who also receive the same ~$200,000 "package", but provide no income to the school.
Hell, I say cut all the sports who can't hack it and only keep those which either bring in revenue, bring in alumni donations, bring national recognition, or increase applications. The athletes would be happy then, right? They're being justly compensated for what they bring in and if they can't prove that their sport is bringing anything in, why should they be compensated? And if the sport brings in a disproportionate share of the revenue, allow them to take a disproportionate share of the benefits.
Maybe ADs are important?
You can mock it all you want, but tons of people spend tons of their time and money watching and reading about college athletics, especially football and basketball. The same people that go crazy about uniforms also call the guy in charge of that irrelevant. That seems contradictory. You may not like the AD, but he apparently makes all kinds of decisions worth obsession over.
Plus, the media's obsession with this issue strikes me as hypocritical. How much money does ESPN make off college football? CBS off of the tourney? Mgoblog make off of Michigan athletics? Yet somehow these folks consider themselves as part of the "vampire" contingent.
Who would watch minor league football or basketball without the association of the universities? Most student-athletes are much better off because of the system.
I'd think a much better approach than paying the players would be mandating that a certain percentage of revenue be spent on financial aid to students, research into relevant areas, like athlete safety and health, and funds to help injured student-athletes, or something along those lines.
...people getting paid to be ADs don't also make mistakes along the lines of Brian's wanting to keep RR a fourth year (which I don't believe is even an entirely accurate characterization by the time the decision was taken - all hail the Process - but point taken).
I also don't believe that Brian's income is exploitative of the athletes, but that could be open for rigorous debate.
I do agree with your last point, though I'd make the funds available only after eligibility has been exhausted, for things like health insurance and maybe a small pension depending on the size of the pot.
What percentage of what MGoBlog makes is paid to the athletes it covers? Maybe a drop in the bucket for a big athletic program, but it's the same principle. This isn't a news organization that could cover the mayor of Ann Arbor if sports were slow. And it wasn't that long ago that the site was selling things featuring player likenesses on tshirts before they were all cease and desisted. So shake our fist at EA for making money off players without giving them anything.....but make sure your old "Shoelace" t-shirt isn't on when you're doing it.
...is a fair point. You are right.
I was referring strictly to blog posts, which I view as receiving a positive externality from the athletes (akin to covering the mayor), but not actually exploiting them.
But take a look at the banner and tell me if you know who that is or not.
And then how that is different than "EA QB #16"...other than the vast quantity of $$$ being brought in.
...but I suppose Brian should genericize it.
Ideally though post O'Bannon, Brian could just send the U of M a check and suddenly have the rights to use players in the banners and other promo material. Common sense would suggest this fee be small in that more journalistic coverage means more hype, more jersey sales, more benefit to the player, etc. Ideally O'Bannon could at some future date lead to the end of the grey market usage of player images. Either you paid or the lawyers come for you.
You could argue that at least Jake signed a contract with UM and gets something out of it -- not just the degree that gets poo-poo'ed, but the coaching (that could help land bigtime NFL dollars), the fame, the alumni connections. What does he get from the t-shirts sold showing what probably is carefully designed so that everybody knows who it is but can escape the cease and desist letters. Or the twosie shirt that carefully omits actually using Lewan's name, even in the t-shirt rollout, even though everyone knows who it's about?
...I'm not asserting that Brian (or even ESPN, for that matter) is exploitative. I'm just pointing out that media businesses drive the vast majority of money/increases/decisions, yet everyone in the media somehow ignores this, calls the ADs "vampires," and considers themselves champions of the downtrodden. I do think an interesting discussion could be had on who brings what to the table and who are the vampires/leaches/whatevers.
As for your first point, sure, ADs do make mistakes -- so do governors, presidents, etc. I guess you could argue (and some people do) that any one person is irrelevant and could disappear, but the general consensus is that those jobs are important.
Health insurance might be a great use of the funds, particularly as some of the sports seem to put students under great physical risk.
along the lines of "should we keep RR, or should we hire Brady Hoke?" . I'm pretty sure that debate never existed, but I'll leave it to the historians among us.
If the outlay to athletes must be fixed (one scholarship), then that of the ADs, coaches, staff, etc. must too. Set the maximum salary at something like $250,000 for any Div I athletic employee. Or set a tiered pay structure based on what position you hold. But not even a tenth of the $4 million they're paid right now. It would also curb some (but not all) of the job-hopping.
If they want to make more money, they can go to the pros too.
Super-powerful people have been very successful in the past five or so years in extorting things from the American public by threatening to shoot themselves in the head if they don't get what they want. He's really just following in the footsteps of others.
So this is what I don't get about this whole lawsuit. Unless I've been living in crazyville for a while, this kind of stuff happens all the time and everywhere. Don't huge companies like Microsoft claim everything an employee develops at work as Microsoft's intelectual property? So if employee X develops some awsome operating system, Micosoft can make a billion dollars off it, and employee X just gets a pay check. So if O'Bannon wins, doesn't that mean that employee X can then just turn around and sue Microsoft claiming the same price fixing that O'Bannon is? Such that if Microsoft didn't make employee X sign the contract, they could have sold their operating system for more money?
Heck, doesn't this even happen at every major university's research department? If grad student Y develops some great new lab technique (or whatever really), the University gets it as intilectual property and can make oodles of money of it? Sure, grad student Y can win a Nobel Prize for it or something, but wouldn't this O'Bannon thing then mean they could also then just sue the University for the money they made of the lab technique?
It just seems this could have wide-spread impacts. Wouldn't this discourage venture capitalists and investors from trying to help someone try something if the person they're investing in can just sue them and get all the money back?
The boring answer is probably that likeness and work product are two legally distinct things, but that's just a guess.
What O'Bannon and the like are arguing seems more like: "Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc have conspired to create an enviroment in which every employee gets 30k a year and they make millions." With the profitable athletic programs being the Apple, Google, and MS. Plus they sell your likeness as well. So there is no chance to take your amazing programming skills over to some company that will hook you up with six figures and stock options at least.
As fans of a school that makes money on sports, sure I can see why some here would say, "Let's pay the players!" After all, we are in a position to be one of the only schools that can do that, and therefore get all the top players. But if we were not in that handful, how would people here look at the situation? Where is the money supposed to come from? Cutting out even more non-revenue sports? Raising athletics fees for the rest of the student body?
is completely hollow and empty as a threat goes. There is no way the fanbases of the larger and more powerful (in terms of size & influence of alumni associations) Big Ten schools, such as ours, OSU, & PSU, will allow the league to pull out of the NCAA and be like Division III. He'd be fired within minutes, and there's probably some whackjob that'd go after him personally. As CRex said earlier, there'd probably be a kickstarter to have him be tortured too. There's just too much money at stake, and the fanbases would not be pleased if the quality on the field decreased.
He's seriously acting like the whiny annoying kid that doesn't want to share his toys, so instead he threatens to take his toys and leave.
I wonder if an acceptable alternative to paying athletes would be to give them the option of either :
A) taking a full-ride as it currently exists, or
B) they could take the cash-equivalent of a full ride and automatically get a low-interest student loan that would fully cover their costs for attending school
Obviously 99% of them would choose the cash and the loan, but this seems like something the NCAA could actually agree to.
Low interest is still paying interest. And if these athletes are really interested in money then they'd be fools for choosing the loan instead of scholarship.
Frankly, if you consider that it's the school they might be charging them interest too, then that proposal is even more exploitive than anything happening now.
Obviously 99% of them would choose the cash and the loan,
99%? I think these guys are a little smarter than you're giving them credit for. That's a terrible deal - you'd have to pay income taxes on the dollar amount and then graduate massively in debt.
I thought one of the key underpinnings of the four superconferences system was that the superconferences would split from the NCAA into an ultra league, which would then enable the paying of players because the Indiana States of the world wouldn't be there to object. I guess this is not the case? Does Delaney's response indicate anything about the grand vision (or lack thereof) of the realignment race?
...there is no way that most schools want to be able to pay players. They'll avoid this at all costs because they have no desire to start managing professional teams.
the federal government sets limits on the least amount of money you can make as an employee. i would be ok with something like "all scholarships come with a minimum wage (perhaps tied to local cost of living) multiplied times the ncaa allowed practice time for the year." i have worked this out before, i think its like 40 hours per week practice and games during the season and some additional during spring for football. so 40 x 14 weeks x $7.25 = $4,060 per year per scholly means $345,100 per year per football team or 1.5% of the B1G tv revenue per team. as a player, an extra $4k goes pretty far, i am sure some tattoos would be bought, but at $75 a week so could some families' groceries and clothes.
and yes, i would do this for every single scholarship student, wrestling is big in nebraska, not in florida, but that does not mean that a kid should have to take a pay cut to stay home and wrestle if he is from florida.
i also would have no problem if this money went into some sort of trust fund or something that was tied to completion of a full time course load or graduation or something.
But for schools that lose money on sports (the majority of BCS), would this mean they have to limit the number of scholarships they offer in order to keep from sinking into an even deeper hole?
I think part of the issue (and the reason for the lawsuits) is there was that cost of living stipend proposal that the Indiana States of the world killed off. The idea was schools would have the option to provide extra money for living expenses, but the smaller schools protested it because they wouldn't have the funds and thus as Indiana State's AD whined "be able to compete with the bigger schools".
So long as the NCAA is a democracy and most of the voters are actors who are break even or in the red, the players are never going to find themselves voted a piece of the pie. You pretty much have to go to court and hash out if the departments really are in the red for legit reasons or because the AD keeps renting private jets and dropping money at Caesar's Palace in Vegas.
1A is going to split into the BCS conferences and the rest. Then the top tier (64 or so) schools can have their own set of rules without the Indiana States getting in the way.
That's what I think the conference expansion end game will be. 64 football teams, providing their own de-facto playoff with 4 conference champ games, semis, and a final.
...but if this were the grand vision, surely Delaney would have responded to this issue differently?
if you are going to be a school that exists in Div1 (or whatever) only to play bodybag games to support the rest of your programs and make money, then i guess you need to up the cost of being a body bag team.
i think that the bottom line part of this whole thing is that we, college sports fans, are being asked for more and more and more and more money all the time. pay for seat licenses, seat license increases, ticket prices, ticket price increases, donations to keep licenses, cable cost, sports tiers, licensed merchandise. these things exist and there is no way to stop them or slow them down but none of these things contributes to those people directly responsible for these costs and who are repeatedly being asked to give more and more at no increased advantage.
i know that the NCAA will kowtow to the indiana state's of its membership, but i wish that if every school had to figure out some way to pay these kids and indiana state has to charge more to be a body bag game and ADs begin to hear that fans are sick of paying top dollar and more every year to see body bag games, i think the indiana state problem sort of solves itself. if you can't afford to be Div1 and no one wants to subsidize (overpay) you to be Div1, then i guess you aren't Div1...
and NOTHING would happen, to attendance, or to ratings. You could take several starters off every BCS team, and nothing would happen either. If Denard Robinson didn't exist, nor did Braxton Miller, the revenue and ratings for OSU/Michigan would be precisely the same, without any question whatsoever. College football is huge IN SPITE OF its star players, that is one of the things that makes it so great. People love it because they love their school, and follow it. I don't believe a single one of us on this blog would not watch a M game because the starters were different.
Look at the difference the Fab 5 made for Michigan in terms of selling t-shirts and such...I agree that you could take Denard or Miller away and not see much of a drop off right away, but you'd see one eventually. People will lose interest in the long run if you suck for too long. Look at how many people jumped off of the Michigan basketball bandwagon between 1994 and 2009.
...M basketball because the quality fell off a cliff after the Martin scandal.
Think most fans care about the individual players? Doubtful. College sports turns over players every four years and most fans keep coming back. It's really all about the brand of the team and the personal school/region/tribe connection.
and that's why we love it.
...the individuals create (or fail to create) the quality! That's why school put so much effort into recruiting the Chris Webbers of the world.
..."the Chris Webbers of the world"
Note the use of plural. Despite his name recognition, Chris Webber is not a singular talent and he is an easily replaceable cog in a much larger machine.
Chris Webber, Grant Hill, Glenn Robinson - how many guys belong on that list? Not many. Why would schools compete so hard for the sevices of guys like Webber if they were so easily replaced?
Let's look more at your logic: Are you excited when a five-star player commits to Michigan? If so, why? He's not a singular talent, after all, and Michigan could just as easily use any old guy to fill his place. Are you upset that Jake Ryan tore his ACL? Why? Can't Coach Hoke find ten replacements who are just as good?
The only thing that would make me stop watching UM sports is if it degenerated into bidding wars for players and contract negotionations. There's a reason I don't watch the NFL.
It's already a bidding war. Have you followed recruiting at all? Right now U of M can offer a scholarship, a chance at a great degree, and kick-ass faciliites. Michigan will even give you 4 full years of scholarship, while other schools can offer you only 1 year. The only thing missing is straight cash. See, since Michigan makes more money, they can offer more, better facilities, tutors, training table food, etc. It's already a totally unfair bidding war based on money!
There is an element to truth the that. But the difference is that enough straight cash will trump everything. Some universities can sell their education, some can sell their campus, some can sell their staff, etc. And a recruit can choose which is most important to him. If the current system were truely a bidding war, UM would almost never lose out on a recruit.
But once we're just paying straight cash, everything else about the university becomes irrelevent. It devalues all the virtues that I, and probably many others, find appealing about our schools. Even the current recruiting model is trememendously different than sitting in a conference room with an agent negotiating payment structures and bonuses.
At least, you've taken the top sophs, juniors, and seniors and sent them to the NBA. College baskeball seems to still make a good deal of $.