I don’t know if any of you flipped through the rest of the NCAA override report I linked to yesterday, but if you didn’t, I suggest you pop it open again, turn to page fifteen and prepare to become pissed off. I know I am.
It’s the response to proposal 2011-97, which allows schools to offer scholarships as multi-year grants. As much crap as I toss in Mark Emmert’s direction, here’s something he’s pushed that deserves nothing but praise. It’s laudable for at least two reasons I can think of off the top of my head: it strikes a legitimate blow against the roster management excesses most of us find objectionable and it drills in the point to every student-athlete that a scholarship isn’t more than a one-year commitment unless it says so in writing.
Another plus is that it gives smaller schools a market-based tool to use in the recruiting wars. Duelling one-year offers between an SEC school and a Sun Belt school may seem like a no-brainer type of decision for a recruit, but what happens when the mid-major’s offer is twice as long as the big boy’s? Nothing wrong at all with a little leveling on the playing field, in my book, especially if it results in a win-win for the school and the player.
So you’d think the small fry would be all in on this baby. Wrong, bacon breath. Just read what Boise State “believes”:
2001-97 creates a recruiting disaster that affects both the prospective student-athletes and the institutions. Institutions will be competing for recruits by “making the best deal.” One school may only be able to offer a one-year grant while another offers 2-years and another 4-years. In order to be competitive, institutions may offer multi-year awards so they can sign higher level recruits. However, there is never a guarantee that the incoming student-athlete will be a good fit for the program and the institution. If it is a poor fit the program is put in a difficult situation to continue to keep a student-athlete on scholarship.
Please don’t make us pay for our inability to assess a kid’s talent and character, NCAA!
Part two is an even more naked assertion that the NCAA’s feature is the Broncos’ bug.
When you combine 2001-97 with 2001-96 it creates a culture of brokering. For a prospective student-athlete, the decision as to where to attend college and participate in athletics is most likely the biggest decision they will make at that point in their lives. That tough decision becomes more complicated when the student and his/her family have to factor in what school “offers the best deal” versus where they may want to attend if all offers were for one year without the enticement of 2,000.
God forbid we give these kids a little more control over their fates.
And that’s the real issue here. Andy Staples’ righteous indignation is spot on.
So why does Boise State hate the idea so much that its officials wrote that the proposal would “create a recruiting disaster?” “When you combine 2001-97 with 2001-96 [the stipend proposal] it creates a culture of brokering,” reads the override request. “For a prospective student-athlete, the decision as to where to attend college and participate in athletics is most likely the biggest decision they will make at that point in their lives. That tough decision becomes more complicated when the student and his/her family have to factor in what school ‘offers the best deal…’”
Hmmm. People brokering the best deal for themselves. Why does that sound so familiar? It almost sounds like a school that by 2013 will have hopped conferences twice in two years. Apparently, that’s OK for Boise State’s athletic department, but it’s not OK for an 18-year-old. Hypocrisy, thy name is Smurf Turf.
All those people bitching and moaning about the NCAA’s amateurism fetish not allowing players to be paid being a form of slavery… folks, this is the plantation you should be itching to burn down. Because this is nothing more than a bunch of schools seeking to hang on to power and control over kids with none once they sign on the dotted line. As Staples notes, Todd Graham can skip from school to school without an issue. Indeed, Graham’s former employer can jump conferences seemingly at a moment’s notice without any repercussion. Hell, both do so because there’s a benefit to it.
But when it comes to the student-athlete, the free market, even the limited one granted by this proposal, is one of those “good for me, but not for thee” deals that simply can’t be tolerated. More Staples:
… Each athlete’s eligibility is finite. He or she has five years to play four. That makes eligibility a supremely valuable resource. The schools know this, which is why, depending on if the athlete has already redshirted, he is tethered to the school by the threat of losing one-fourth or one-fifth of a career.
How is the school tethered to the athlete? By that one-year, renewable scholarship. Schools can drop a player for no reason, and the player has no recourse to get his scholarship back. If an athletic director fires a pro-style offensive football coach and replaces him with a coach who runs the option, every quarterback on the roster becomes expendable. If a run-and-gun hoops coach gets canned in favor of a bleed-the-shot-clock defensive whiz, then the hair-trigger point guard becomes dead weight. Can these athletes leave for another school of their own volition? Sure. If they want to sit out a year or fight for a waiver they may not get that would allow them to play immediately.
This is the part where the anti-athlete faction usually chimes in to say athletic scholarships should be no different than academic scholarships, which are almost universally annually renewable based on a series of scholastic benchmarks. That argument works only to a point. Here is where an athletic scholarship differs from an academic scholarship: Georgia Tech will not allow a new president to suddenly convert the campus to a liberal arts college and yank the scholarships of engineering students so he can recruit more philosophy majors. Universities do not alter their missions overnight. College sports teams — especially college football and basketball teams — alter their missions overnight relatively frequently.
Indiana State officials believe the system “isn’t broke” because it is so ludicrously tilted in favor of the schools. As long as the schools make rules to give the Todd Grahams of the world all the power, the Todd O’Briens don’t stand a chance.
It’s outrageous. It’s just wrong. And, by the way, as Staples notes, they’re only three schools short of derailing this proposal with the start of an override process.
Brian Cook shares some additional, caustic thoughts on the matter here.