For the second time in less than two weeks, schools are objecting to a reform measure sought by university presidents and endorsed by NCAA President Mark Emmert.
More than 75 schools are asking to override a plan approved in October to allow multiyear athletic scholarships rather than the one-year renewable awards schools currently provide. That’s the minimum number of dissenters needed for reconsideration by the Division I Board of Directors when it meets next month in Indianapolis at the annual NCAA convention. The NCAA announced the change the Friday before Christmas….
“The NCAA and presidents step up with this legislation and then the universities want to vote it down,” said Christian Dennie, a former compliance officer at Missouri and Oklahoma who practices sports law in Fort Worth and writes an NCAA oversight blog.
Dennie thinks it’s all about the money, but the comments posted by the schools show it’s about something else.
… Indiana State offered a more blunt assessment, suggesting the change could “create some real nightmares.”
The “problem is, many coaches, especially at the (Football Championship Subdivision) level, in all sports, are usually not around for five years and when the coach leaves, the new coach and institution may be ‘stuck’ with a student-athlete they no longer want (conduct issues, grades, etc.) or the new coach may have a completely different style of offense/defense that the student-athlete no longer fits into,” the school wrote. “Yet, the institution is ‘locked in’ to a five-year contract potentially with someone that is of no athletic usefulness to the program.”
“The current system works. We don’t need to get into bidding wars where one school offers a 75% (scholarship) for two years and the other school then offers 85% for three years, etc., etc. This puts the kid into a situation where they almost need an agent/adviser just to determine the best ‘deal.’
Horrors! I bet Ann Alexandra Charlebois wishes she’d been allowed an adviser when she signed with her school.
… Earlier this month, former Missouri women’s soccer player Ann Alexandra Charlebois sued coach Brian Blitz and the university’s governing board, claiming that she agreed to attend Missouri only after Blitz vowed in writing to provide more than $106,000 in support through 2015, with the player and her family needing to contribute only half of her college costs in her first year.
Charlebois received a 50% partial scholarship in 2010 as a freshman. After complaining about receiving a similar amount of financial aid this year, she was kicked off the team in September, her attorney said.
I guess that family isn’t buying the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” defense.
Let’s ignore Indiana State’s nostalgia for a minute and see if we can come up with a few rules that might offer better balance without wrecking the NCAA’s wish to preserve its amateurism rules. Here’s what I’ve got for starters:
- Pass NCAA proposal 2011-97, which allows schools to offer scholarships as multi-year grants.As I posted before, there isn’t a down side to this, other than taking some of the control of the signing process away from the schools.
- Allow student-athletes whose scholarships aren’t renewed to transfer to any other school with immediate eligibility. If a coach transferring to a new program doesn’t have to sit out a year, it’s hypocritical to hold players to a more restrictive standard. And it’s harmful to deny them the opportunity to attend a school of their choice on scholarship.
- Allow student-athletes to consult a third-party legal advisor before signing with a school. You know, Indiana State has a point. Signing is confusing enough for 17- and 18-year olds who aren’t exactly the most worldly people; giving schools the opportunity to propose different scholarship offers complicates things even further. The schools have their lawyers. The kids should, too.
- Adopt Andy Staples’ proposal to eliminate national signing day. As he puts it, “Want to offer a high-school freshman? Go ahead. But you can’t send him some empty promise. You have to send him a national Letter of Intent. If he signs, you promise one of your 85 scholarships to him for at least a year, and he promises to attend your school for at least a year, whether you’re there or not. Coaches wouldn’t have to baby-sit committed players as rivals swarmed, and players wouldn’t have to worry about a coach giving away the scholarship he already promised to them.” Trust me, that would do more to reduce grayshirting abuses than anything on the books right now.
- Allow student-athletes who are draft-eligible to sign with an agent. They’ve gone to school and developed marketable skills, supposedly the point of an education. Yet as they weigh the prospects of future employment against remaining in school, the only advice they’re allowed to get is from their coaches and the NFL. Good thing there are no conflicts of interest there. Like it or not, players need their own source for advice. To keep things on the up-and-up, agents would have to be certified by the NCAA and would not be allowed to pay players. It’s got to turn out better than the crap we’re seeing now.
- Either the players get to profit off their likenesses, or nobody does. Of all the bullshit that emanates from the NCAA and the schools, there’s nothing bullshittier than how the institutions are allowed to generate revenue from a player’s name, but the player isn’t. It’s a corrosive practice. It demeans the NCAA official stance on amateurism. Either end it completely, or devise a system that lets the players share the wealth. What’s wrong with a 50/50 split on jersey sales, for example? Yes, guidelines would need to be put in place to make sure that rogue boosters don’t game things, but if schools stay in the loop, I think the NCAA can come up with something that’s fair. (And for those of you about to get on your high horse about players receiving pay for their ability to play well, let me remind you that the NCAA allows for student-athletes who are professionals in one sport to play as amateurs in another. Hard to see how one’s okay and not the other.)
That’s what I’ve got. Any suggestions/criticisms/offers of support for Indiana State? Let me hear about it in the comments.