I have what I think is a super-awesome-ncaa-fixing idea which I have mentioned to a few friends in conversation and most seem to think it is a pretty good one. I'd be curious if y'all have any thoughts on it:
The obvious problem is that many NCAA athletes contribute way more to a school than they are compensated by way of an athletic scholarship. Of course, any NCAA commercial will tell you that the value of the student athlete's education is beyond measure. Meanwhile, for every Denard Robinson that seems to squeeze every ounce of value out of his college experience, there are 12 [insert one and done from Kentucky here]'s who have no interest in what a college education has to offer.
A degree from USC, or even a year of free education from USC, had no value at all to OJ Mayo, I'm sure. At Michigan, I remember knowing of several classes which were specifically known to be 'football classes,' (at risk of pissing someone off from the Ojibwe department, I won't mention that Ojibwa was definitely one such class). So here's the thing: let's not force athletes to rack up 120 credits in Ojibwe to complete their degree. It's a joke, and it does no one any good. Another issue with the degree is some kids come from such worthless high school backgrounds, that they are completely unprepared for college level courses, so they don't get as much out of the free education as they should.
Let's make the Michigan football experience what it actually is: a serious education in multi-million dollar industry which has just as many career opportunities as linguistics, history, medicine, or engineering (ok, maybe not engineering/medicine). Make athletics a major. Film study and off-season workouts? Make them classes. Are they not learning how to be players or coaches or fitness experts or nutritionists? Is there any less opportunity in these fields than there are in traditional college majors? Also, it's a cool way for coaches to enforce attendance rules on what used to be 'optional' workouts. If the kid doesn't do summer workouts, they fail the class, and then their grades are not good enough to participate in the sport.
All sorts of majors have to satisfy basic requirements, so I am not suggesting they take no English or history or math. I am only asking that they be given course credit for the 40 hours a week they put into mastering their craft, just like a music performance major might. And for those kids I mentioned previously who come to college unprepared, let's allow the 'school of football/baseball/whatever' to offer some *truly* remedial courses. I am *not* suggesting watering down the degree. I am suggesting that we make players receive fantastic, personalized education that meets their needs. Some athletes are crazy smart and have a strong high school background. I am not suggesting that they have to get 120 credits of remedial reading, I can think of all sorts of cool/advanced courses. How sweet would it be to get to teach a game theory course, coaching 423-Expected Value and the Punt?
Also, since this 'school of athletics' (or whatever better name someone comes up with), is a bit of a special case, I would say that athletes should be allowed to dual enroll in another school if they choose. So, speaking of the crazy smart athletes above, (like Jordan Morgan and Devin Gardner) let's still let them enroll in social work, or engineering if they choose. Honestly, Jordan Morgan has been working his ass off for 4.5 years at basketball and school, he totally deserves to have 2 degrees. Or a volleyball player or a swimmer might wisely choose to dual enroll in athletics and education, for example, since she knows her field has a few less opportunities than football or basketball. But still, she is learning a lot of the same fitness/nutrition/competition/management skills the football players are, and she should receive a degree that reflects that.
Of course, this does not entirely solve the fact that Universities are making millions of dollars and the kids don't see any (much) of it. But I think less people would poo-poo the idea that a degree is a special and important thing if we made this clear distinction. "I'm coming to Michigan to play football and learn football. If I master my craft, I could get drafted and make millions. That sounds like a worthwhile degree to pursue." And again, I think if this school of athletics could offer some really dynamic classes to serve the needs of those that really have weak backgrounds, then this education could be so valuable.
I think it would be really cool if a few schools pioneered an idea like this. "Come to Michigan, the first University to ever have a school of football. Lloyd Carr teaches handling the media, and Mike Barwis teaches how to get paralyzed people to walk again."
Obviously, this does not address every issue with the amount of money that there is in NCAA sports. But at the same time, I feel most pay-for-play options being considered have a lot more drawbacks than my idea. Instead of rehash them all, I will simply say that to me the most compelling anti pay for play argument is in a quick comparison of attendance at college football games vs. attendance at arena football league games (or whatever your minor league system of choice is). People love cheering for these kids that lived in the same dorms, went to the same classes, dealt with the same ridiculous weather and long walks, etc. I love Michigan football because I had the best time of my life there. As soon as athletes are legit superstar millionaires walking around campus, those kids have *nothing* in common with me, and my love/association with Michigan football will definitely be diminished. There is a reason college sports are the only ones who approach the professional leagues in terms of popularity, let's try not to mess with that.
Sorry, this got really long, but I would love some feedback on why this idea won't work, as I feel it's pretty unique and the best way to deal with the problem that I have heard.