I missed a lawsuit. This is how it's going for the NCAA these days: I managed to overlook a new lawsuit they're facing. Drumroll:
Former University of Minnesota football player Kendall Gregory-McGhee is suing the NCAA, SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 over capping scholarships below the actual cost of attendance listed by universities. The suit was filed in federal court in Northern California, the same location where a similar case was brought in March by former West Virginia running back Shawne Alston against the same parties.
I in fact missed the Alston lawsuit, as well. This is not the Jeffery Kessler lawsuit, but the court is deciding whether to roll all these things into one. Blood in the water, man.
The Alston and Gregory-McGhee suits are alleging that the NCAA is bad because it's capping scholarships below the full cost of attendance while Kessler wants to blow the whole thing up, so there is a case the cases will remain separate.
One thing that we'll know for sure in the near future: whether or not the NCAA has lawyer-cloning capabilities. Change is coming.
When it comes, certain people are going to become smarter overnight. One of the most common rhetorical gambits deployed in the service of the status quo is The Avalanche Of Supposedly Unanswerable Questions that will suffocate college sports once Pandora's Box is opened. They are hilarious when they come from a newspaper columnist, since the answers to most of them are "duh":
To understand just how erroneous and ill-serving Ohr’s ruling is, ask yourself some simple questions. If Kain Colter is an exploited laborer, then is a female tennis player at Stanford an exploited laborer, too? Is a lacrosse player at Virginia an exploited laborer? Is a rower at Harvard?
The NCAA is made up of 15,000 institutions and 20-odd sports. What’s the bargaining unit? Is it just football and basketball players who can unionize? Or all scholarship athletes? Can a freshman demand as much pay as a senior? Is there seniority? Can women demand equal pay — and if not, why not?
That's Sally Jenkins in the Washington Post, and those questions go on for another five paragraphs, all of them seemingly asked by a person who has been hiding in an East German bunker since 1989. Attn Ms. Jenkins: the green stuff can be exchanged for goods and services, and is acquired by participating in the economy.
It is yet another level of hilarity when the people directly involved with the enterprise throw up their hands when it is suggested that any other system is even possible. When Mark Emmert is proposing a Supposedly Unanswerable Question…
…you don't just ruthlessly fisk someone who has a job at a newspaper for no discernible reason. You get to scream "THIS IS YOUR JOB." It is Mark Emmert's job to figure out how the NCAA is run, or at least to organize the fractious community under him that does so. He more than anyone else is in a position to say, "you know, certain aspects of the college sports experience are required to maintain its popularity and certain other aspects are not." Instead he sits and… well, "plays" dumb is the idiom that usually goes here. Recent statements suggest it is no act. Plays dumber, I guess.
Emmert is far from alone in this department. Poke an athletic director and he'll give you a question equal parts enraging and hilarious. Here's SMU's Guy Just In Charge Of Things For No Reason:
"Are you going to fire student-athletes? Is that really what we want?" Hart said. "I think we want the same things but I'm not sure this is the correct avenue."
Athletes get fired all the time already, but of course you know that, and SMU knows that, and the main thing holding even more athletes back from getting canned is not the existence of a union—one of the problems with unions is that in certain cases it becomes almost impossible to fire anyone—but the fact that anyone other than Alabama that turns their roster over that rampantly is going to be untenably young and get recruited against extensively.
But the answers to these easily answerable questions aren't really the point. The point is the sighted men asking them, pretending to be blind. There is a recent precedent for this.
hashed out faster than you can pass out at a Lars Von Trier movie
All this is reminiscent of when BCS flacks would attempt to grapple with the idea of a playoff. They would posit themselves as orangutans trying to jam a playoff banana into a college football square and grunt/holler about how it was ENTIRELY IMPOSSIBLE. When observers pointed out that literally every other level of college football featured a playoff, the orangutans would grunt/mutter that lower levels of football didn't involve as much effort, then point and exclaim "BUT WHAT ABOUT SCHOOL?!" before dropping a smoke bomb.
When they were still present after the smoke bomb dissipated, it turned out a playoff was something that could be hashed out in 45 minutes at lunch. How many teams? Uh, four. What locations? Uh, rotating bowl sites. Done. Now what? Let's try to make our logo as titillating to 13-year-old boys as possible. Sounds good, everybody, let's all congratulate ourselves with million-dollar bonuses! And bananas, because while we're not literally orangutans, bananas are terrific!
They did this almost the instant their system spat out an LSU-Alabama rematch that the nation rejected in the television rankings. As soon as it became clear that they could make more money, all problems and issues magically evaporated. Expect the same in the weeks following a judge's gavel sometime in the next few years.