Delany on "Pay to Play" for Athletes

Submitted by MFanWM on September 26th, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Delany thinks that NCAA should work with NFL and NBA to allow players to go from HS to pro or to develop academies like IMG or another league for players who want to be paid for their sports abilities or their likeness instead of having schools get involved.





September 26th, 2013 at 12:06 AM ^

The issues in NCAAF and NCAAB are very different.  The solutions to their problems related to the pros are also going to be very different.  It's stupid to lump them together in one argument.


September 26th, 2013 at 12:15 AM ^

How many times has there ever been a football player who could have gone from high school straight to the NFL? Maybe Bo Jackson, Marcus Dupree, or Maurice Clarett. What kind of program do you set up for the one-in-a-million kid who could do that?


September 26th, 2013 at 12:49 AM ^

Two of those guys were in a very different era, and even if they had the talent, they would have been so overwhelmed by the increased speed of the game that they either couldn't have kept up mentally, or would lose so much confidence they might never have recovered. Dupree had mental issues anyway as I recall, and Clarett, well, yeah.


September 26th, 2013 at 12:24 AM ^

Yes, let's see how many kids like Johnny Manziel can make money playing for IMG instead of Texas A&M. You give me an IMG teams full of paid 5 star kids and Michigan team playing Ohio with nothing but 2 star students and I will watch Michigan students over IMG athletes every time.

If you want to get paid, you should turn pro. It is not NCAA's fault that NFL is trying to save money by using NCAA to develop their talent.


September 26th, 2013 at 12:45 AM ^

It doesn't matter who forbids it, because there's never been a high school athlete that would get drafted at 18. Maybe if the NFL started drafting on potential like the NBA, but the only place they'd get enough PT to develop is in college anyway.


September 26th, 2013 at 2:14 AM ^

Of course they would.

The reason they don't want that system is that there's a lot less certainty in 18-year-olds than 21-year-olds. They'd waste a lot of money on Kelly Baraka types and they'd need to set up a minor league. Right now the NCAA provides everything they need for free. This is the same logic that led to the NBA age limit.

But make no mistake, if some external force made high school players eligible for the NFL draft, then Leonard Fournette et al. would be first round picks.


September 26th, 2013 at 6:37 AM ^

I very much doubt they would.  Maybe the Lions would dumb enough to take an 18-year-old.  But maybe one 18-year-old in a thousand is physically ready for the NFL.  And with the salary cap, NFL teams just can't afford to pay first-round money to a player they have to stash on the bench til he lifts enough weights.

In this day and age of player safety becoming a major front-burner issue, there is absolutely nothing that can make the NFL open itself up to high school kids.


September 26th, 2013 at 9:12 AM ^

No one is saying a high schooler is ready for pro football. What he's saying is that in other sports like baseball, kids are drafted at 18, then the team is responsible for his development the next few years. If that were the case, teams may very well take 18 year olds and develope them a few years (each team would have an academy, those academies would then start playing against each other....and so on). The league could still forbid someone for playing until they were 20, but there are plenty of 5 stars who would rather get paid 30K a year to train with pro coaches then go to college. The costs for the NFL would be huge, so they're currently letting the NCAA do it for free.


September 26th, 2013 at 9:16 AM ^

OK....when someone can figure out a way to convince the NFL to do that, I'll listen.  People everywhere complain about corporate greedsters when the corporate greedsters make them pay for what they used to get for free, so I don't really expect that the corporate greedsters will want to do that either.

Let's face it: solutions that require the NFL to make a major negative change to its balance sheet are off the table.

French West Indian

September 26th, 2013 at 10:21 AM ^

They National Football League is rolling in cash and is the beneficiary of a large assortment of political and tax exemptions.  The Atlantic magazine just posted an excellent article on this:

Delaney is absolutely right.  Professional leagues should be responsible for developing people who want to be professional athletes.  Instead, the NFL & NBA punt on the issue with their draft age rules and indirectly steer athletes who have no business whatsover being students onto college campuses.

Even though 99.9% of 18-21 year old football & basketball players won't get drafted, they should still be eligible for the draft, if for no other reason than dash of cold water to their young inflated sense of self worth.

It isn't rocket science.  Every other sport (baseball, hockey, soccer, tennis, etc) has venues for developing young talent.  Only the NFL & NBA are such prima donnas that they refuse to do this dirty work.  As fans of the college game we need to start realizing how damaging this is to college football & basketball. 


September 26th, 2013 at 11:02 AM ^

In hockey we're constantly on the watch for recruits getting poached by the junior system and simultaneously complaining how the juniors screw them over.  Brian had a headline about Cianfrone on mgolicious not that long ago.  How is this a better system?  College hockey is not better just because the CHL exists.

Soccer is the same.  Players leave all the time, and not just for the MLS draft.  They go anywhere they like.  Why is college soccer so much better?  And if football and basketball are in such shitty shape because athletes are "forced" to go there, why is lacrosse, where players never leave early, not the worst sport imaginable?

Plus I don't know why you're bagging on the NBA.  They have a D-League.  You can play in it straight out of high school.  Gee, why does nobody ever go there?

Your "dash of cold water" is the most callous thing of all.  You can only be drafted once.  If you fail, you fail.  You don't get more chances.  You don't get to re-enter the draft after you've been cut.  Haha fuck you, your 18-year-old ego cost you your entire livelihood for the rest of your life!  That's hilarious!  Let's all point and laugh at the wasted talent!  It's not a "dash of cold water", it's throwing a three-year-old into the deep end and calling the system a success because some of them made it to shore safely.  Those that drowned, well, that's a shame, but at least the really good ones got to make money, right?


September 26th, 2013 at 1:02 PM ^

He talked about "damaging to college football and basketball."  That sounds pretty broad and general to me.  I didn't say it was about my enjoyment of it, I put it in the same broad terms.  Again, how is college hockey better off because the CHL exists?  Are the players themselves even better off, given that Brian has repeatedly exposed the sham of a deal that the OHL keeps offering?  Are players like Korleone Young better off because they were able to go pro out of high school?

And again, you can still go pro - in the US, no less - in basketball out of high school.  So why doesn't anyone?  Answer: the excellent point gbdub made down below.  Anthony Davis (for example) could easily have gone to the D-league - but does anyone give a liquid shit about the Fort Wayne Mad Ants?  No.  His famous trademarked unibrow would've been worthless.  Ergo, the school provided value to the player.  Davis was much more marketable because he played for Kentucky, even after he left Kentucky.  So the only conclusion here really is that the notion of a developmental league - even for football - is overrated in terms of the value it provides the player.

French West Indian

September 26th, 2013 at 1:28 PM ^

...because the athletes whose #1 priority is "getting paid" are kept out of it.

If a young athlete (a hockey player, for example) decides to split after 1 or 2 years then maybe that's tough shit for you the fan but at least the athlete isn't resorting to cash handshakes or shady jobs from alumni that have the potential to torpedo the entire program with NCAA sanctions.

French West Indian

September 26th, 2013 at 1:37 PM ^

"So the only conclusion here really is that the notion of a developmental league - even for football - is overrated in terms of the value it provides the player."

You are right, development leagues are overrated in the value they provide to a player except in one important category and that is getting paid.  In all other respects, young athletes benefit from college but some of them are too thick-headed to see this and have the audacity to say that colleges should pay them too.

The point is that 18-21 year old athletes in a free country should have a right to choose whether to take the money by going pro or further their development by investing in the opportunities of college.  Even if they technically have his choice presently, the status quo of the current system obscures it so sufficiently that few 18 year old realize it.


September 26th, 2013 at 6:15 AM ^

Why pay a kid millions to learn to play. That is a stupid business model. You wait for the person to get some experience and prove he can do the job and than hire him. It's like almost every other business on the planet and it is why the NFL is so good. There is no reason for the NFL to start taking younger less experienced employees.

Ali G Bomaye

September 26th, 2013 at 11:09 AM ^

Of course the NFL loves the current model, in which the NCAA develops their players and generates publicity surrounding them for free.  The issue is that it takes an anticompetitive rule (banning employers from hiring a certain section of the potential labor pool) to maintain that system.

It's nothing like "every other business on the planet."  It's like if all the law firms in the country joined together in a cartel and said that they wouldn't hire anyone unless the prospective employee completed a 3-year unpaid internship.  For one, that would be illegal.  But the bigger issue is that it would be unenforceable - someone would hire a young lawyer who has proven to be a rising star after one or two years.  Just like in the NFL, some team would have surely drafted Clowney last year, because he's one of the rare kids that is obviously ready to play at a high level.


September 26th, 2013 at 1:19 PM ^

"It's like if all the law firms in the country joined together in a cartel and said that they wouldn't hire anyone unless the prospective employee completed a 3-year unpaid internship."


Well... except the CFL has no age limit... and a number of semi-pro leagues don't have age limits.


So you CAN play professional football as soon as you graduate high school - just not in the NFL. You'll have to go to Canada or to a semi-pro team.

You CAN play professional basketball as soon as you graduate high school - just not in the NBA. You can go to Europe and play, Central America and play, South America and play, or you can play in the NBDL.



September 26th, 2013 at 9:16 PM ^

But your example makes my point. No law firm hires a lawyer without a law degree, which generally takes three years to complete. The NFL requires three years of post high school experience. No difference and if they did not do it the quality of their product would decline sharply, just look at the NBA.

Your argument is also based on seeing the NFL as 32 separate entities, which it clearly is not. It is one entity with 32 investors ( okay, it's more than 32 but you get the point).


September 26th, 2013 at 12:59 AM ^

They forbid it because they can't make money from it. Which is why it is silly to say these kids need to be paid. If they could make money by paying these kids, NFL would be doing it right now.


September 26th, 2013 at 3:08 PM ^

The reason these kids get the attention they get, so that it appears they should be able to command high earnings, is because they represent the schools and teams that they do. Put them in generic IMG uniforms and set up Saturday afternoon games in off-campus unused stadiums and they'd be playing in crowds a tenth the size they see now, at best. No merchandizing revenues, no ticket sales, little TV interest (how do the ratings of the Shrine Bowl and East/West Bowl compare to the actual bowl games between schools?)...where's the money going to come from to pay the players salaries far in excess of the value of a scholarship?


September 26th, 2013 at 12:35 AM ^

I just can't take Delany or anything he says seriously when I take his hair cut into consideration. If he thinks that's a good look for him then I have to question everything he thinks is a good idea.


September 26th, 2013 at 1:27 AM ^

Delany's trying to make the pay-for-play issue an NFL PR problem instead of an NCAA PR problem.

The last thing Delany or anyone in college football wants is an MLB-style minor league system. He's only mentioning it because he knows it'll never happen. Think we'd be talking about Jabrill Peppers and Da'Shawn Hand if they were in a position to sign 7-figure draft bonuses?


September 26th, 2013 at 6:15 AM ^

I agree with Delaney.  It seems that Delaney's point is that if you don't like the current landscape, then go with plan B, which shifts the risk and costs to the athlete and or a professional sports league.  I won't suggest for a moment that there is no merit to the O'Bannon suit, but the direction some would like to take this debate, I just don't buy.

For starters, most kids will not play professional sports.  So, they receive four or five years of assistance valued at between 250 and 300 K, plus training, valued at over 100 K per athlete per year in the major conferences.  This is not some minor pittance which should be cast aside lightly.

If the players don't like it, from my perspective, that's tough.  Playing football is not involuntary servitude. 


September 26th, 2013 at 1:19 PM ^

The problem I see is how you maintain balance and an emphasis on "team".  There will always be a few kids in the better programs who will be in the spotlight, but in the process of making things good for them, you have the potenial to compromise everyone and everything else.  I wonder how long the prize QB or RB wiill last when their OL decides to take  few plays off.

As I said, if you don't want to play sports in college in exchange for an education and training, then look somewhere else.


September 26th, 2013 at 1:41 PM ^

Why would this even happen? What proof is there? That's life. Just because Peyton does commercials, I highly doubt Clady is going to get a play off and let him take shots. Guess what, if he does that, he won't be playing/kicked off the team. This whole fear is unfounded strawman. 

Also, I'm fine with the model you described. Can we please de-emphasize college athletics from the money? No more liscencing to addidas and Nike for merch, no more college football on TV, the BTN, etc. 

You can't have it both ways. 


September 26th, 2013 at 6:18 AM ^

I wish this would work out somehow.   Let the kids who only care about money go play for money, let the kids who want to go to school and get a degree go play for a university.   The Cardale Joneses  ( " I ain't come to play school, classes are pointless " ) of the world can go stuff themselves.



September 26th, 2013 at 6:21 AM ^

While I do not believe student athletes should be paid, creating other leagues does not solve the issue if the NCAA schools are still making millions, or at least some of them. People will still complain they are exploited. Plus, the NBA already has this and nobody wants to go that route. Why? Because college gives these athletes much more exposure that they can cash in on. It's almost like they do get more than just a free education. Odd.....


September 26th, 2013 at 6:59 AM ^

Sure I'll be sad that we aren't getting the 5* recruits any more, and perhaps the talent will take longer to develop. However, I just can't get on the "pay these kids" bandwagon. College is expensive, so is room & board, as well as the training facilities, etc. The entitlement culture could certainly ruin college football. I'm glad this is they tone set by the Big Ten commisioner.

Hockey and Baseball are the two sports that come to my mind regarding kids being drafted out of high school and having the ability to choose to go to college or sign with a semi-pro team that will get them ready for the big leagues. Basketball is still trying to find its way... I suspect Football will probably be like Basketball is today in 5 years.


September 26th, 2013 at 9:07 AM ^

Basketball and Football have their semi pro leagues its called the NCAA. If the college baseball and hockey were as popular and lucrative to the NCAA as say basketball and football were, do you really think kid would pick to go to the minor leagues in those sports.A baseball and hockey player gets more exposure in the highest level of their minor leagues then do their ncaa brethen on the same sport. Also I belive the age limit in the nba is a joke because it limits american born players by forcing them to be one year removed from high school but has no such provision for international players. The NCAA and NBA made unofficial deal in my opinion. The NCAA gets a least a year of the Andrew WIggins' of the world and the NBA then gets a packaged product in terms of promotion and marketing when he does go pro after his freshman year.


September 26th, 2013 at 7:06 AM ^

Agree. If they want to get paid, go get paid. It's not like they are not already being fairly compensated. Cash in hand is overrated. Not having to fit the bill for college tuition (at Michigan!) and getting all the extras/fame they get should be enough. I'm really tired of the whole thing.


September 26th, 2013 at 10:38 AM ^

I don't want to start an argument or anything but I disagree. 

You say they are already being fairly compensated but that could not be further from the truth. If you make the university literally millions of dollars off your name and likeness alone, and then you receive maybe $100,000 in scholarship/living expenses, etc. I would not call that fairly compensated. Especially considering that your teammate who never plays and noone knows from Jack is also receiving that same $100,000 just for showing up to practice every day. 

And, financially speaking, cash in hand is vastly UNDERrated. 

I am also tired of the whole thing though and look forward to a positive resolution for all. 



September 26th, 2013 at 11:11 AM ^

How many players make a U millions of dollars?  How do you discern how to pay those amateur players?  How do you define exactly how much that athlete made the U and how much that is worth in pay?  There really is not fair system.  The answer is go pro.  "Jack" may be getting paid the same now, but he won't when the star athlete goes pro and he doesn't.  Same as college, the ones that do great and can convert these skills they continued to develop into great things get paid more when they leave and go pro (in a general sense).

Anyone is more than welcome to correct me if I am wrong here with my example, but say a research student at a U comes up with some novel way to cure some disease, or track terrorists through satellite, or whatever.  It makes the U millions.  Does the student get the money too?  How about all the others that had a part in it? 


September 26th, 2013 at 2:49 PM ^

So what does he deserve to get paid?  What do the rest of the players deserve to get paid?  If someone at USC, Michigan, Alabama, etc has a Heisman winner and that jersey sells, how much of it is the school, how much is the player?

My wife's #16 jersey may have recently been worn by DR, but it had its ties to Arrington and Navarre before him.  If I buy the #1 jersey, who gets that money?

There are WAY too many variables to start paying amateur players.  College athletics will be ruined when these players are going to have to start hiring agents to negotiate for them.


September 26th, 2013 at 11:24 AM ^

So if the answer to "where does all the money they generate go" is "mostly other student athletes" - that's a little tougher to get upset about.

It's basically just an extreme version of the union rules already in place in the pro leagues (and really most union shops) - salary caps and minimum salaries mean that not everyone gets precisely their free market value. Some get more, some get less. In the end everyone goes along because it's relatively optimal for most everyone, or at least they perceive it to be.

And also keep in mind that much of Devin Gardner's value comes from the Michigan brand. How many of you own a 98 eastern michigan jersey? In a couple years that will turn into your "Shane Morris jersey" and on and on for years, because while you value watching Devin Gardner, you value watching MIchigan more.