What’s a little money between buds?

I’m someone who’s long thought that the NCAA is wrongheaded to prohibit student-athletes from signing with agents, but even I’m a little uneasy with Andy Staples’ enthusiastic approval of former agent Josh Luchs’ proposal for the NCAA to let agents sign and loan money to college athletes.

I get the “better to have ‘em pissing inside the tent than outside pissing on the tent” aspect of Staples’ argument and it’s good that Luchs wants to structure these loans so that they’re only repayable if the kid ultimately lands a professional career, but there’s something about the easy assertion that “(t)his way, no one gets sued or shaken down after failing to reach his potential” that I’m a trifle shaky about.  These are agents we’re talking about, after all.  It’s not like some of them don’t have a propensity for skirting rules they find inconvenient.  Not to mention possible conflicts of interest between what a school demands from a kid both on the field and in the classroom and what an agent thinks is best.  Each party has skin in the game, but whose direction is the student-athlete more likely to follow?

And let’s not even get into what happens when an 18-year old kid fires an agent to whom he owes money.

I continue to have this nagging feeling that in the name of being fairer to the kids, we’re making things more complicated than they should be.  Letting college players have representation?  Sure.  Making agents into personal bankers?  Eh, not so much.  Wouldn’t it be cleaner to let these kids have marketing access to their names and likenesses as every other person on the planet does so that they can have money in their pockets without having to borrow it?  (And isn’t earning instead of borrowing a better lesson for these kids to learn about getting ahead, anyway?)

Of course, the cleanest thing of all would simply be for the NFL or somebody to create a paying alternative for those 18-year olds who don’t want to play college ball for nothing more than a scholarship.  (Along those lines, see this provocative post from John Infante.)  I know, I know…

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12 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

12 responses to “What’s a little money between buds?

  1. 69Dawg

    What ever happened to the military football teams (not MASH like). Ernie Wheelwright of the Atlanta Falcons played for a Marine team I believe. The NCAA seems to miss the obvious point that most of the powerhouses in college football are government schools. There are exceptions USC BYU ND etc but most are state schools. Why would the government not want to have a say and control over how a government school spends money and treats it’s citizens. The IRS code makes a 501(c)3 organization (charity) available for any youth organization that trains participants for Olympic sports. It’s often fun to explain this to youth American football leagues. Basketball, soccer, horseback riding even sailing are all ok but not American Football because it is not an Olympic sport.

    We in the USA have built a system using government and private schools unlike any other nation in the world. We let kids get free educations for entertaining us. At the same time as far as football is concerned we have let a for profit private entity take advantage of this to develop their players. Of course that is what college does for all of it’s graduates. IBM Google, they all let the schools develop their talent for them. The NFL, NBA and MLB differ in that they will take a player as soon as he is ready, not as soon as he graduates. The NCAA is attempting to punish schools now for athletes not graduating but they are not trying to even make the NFL, NBA and MLB have a uniform policy of when they harvest the crop. How about this to solve the problem, the NCAA allows the players to get reps but once they sign with a college for a 4/5 year scholarship it is a valid contract. If the athlete
    is drafted by a professional team and chooses to leave the school the league has to pay the school for tortuous interference with a contract. The sum would make the school whole for the cost of developing the player. Why shouldn’t the school get something from the league and the money could be used to help pay the stipends of the remaining players. The mere act of drafting the player would not trigger this, the player would have to leave for there to be any damage. It just a little outside the box thinking but this whole subject is just a mess.

  2. There was an American Neymar – his name … Herschel Walker. Enough said. Anyone who doesn’t think Herschel would have been ready to compete in the NFL at 18 is kidding themselves.

  3. Hogbody Spradlin

    “And let’s not even get into what happens when an 18-year old kid fires an agent to whom he owes money.”

    No kidding. You’re too polite. And let’s not even get into what happens when a 21 year old senior, who’s been bankrolled by an agent for 2 years, has an agent with a sidekick named Luca Brasi tell him to take it easy in the last few games.

  4. “…nothing more than a scholarship…”

    That’s where you lost me. I worked my ass off for that “nothing more than a scholarship.” I’m not saying it’s enough for these players, but still, it’s not nothing.

  5. Cojones

    No tolerance on here for agent shit. For the very reasons posted above. It’s a revulsive thought.

  6. Always Someone Else's Fault

    I know it sounds silly, but it bears repeating:

    These kids can pursue professional careers in any sport of their choosing at any TIME of their choosing. But if they want to play college football, there are rules. They don’t have to like the rules. They just have to follow them. Or take up tennis. Or go find a home in the CFL. Whatever.

    The stipend is the cleanest way to fix the cash flow/inequity issue. Merchandising puts a lot of money into AJ Green’s pocket and none in the pockets of the linemen holding their blocks long enough for him to get free downfield. That fixes the problem for 5% of the team – not exactly an effective solution.

    • Bulldawg165

      Not to mention the fact A.J. green would be making a lot more money at Georgia than he would at Kentucky, even if his performance was just the same. And who audits the sales of individual merchandise to make sure an athlete is getting the right amount and not too much?

      I can hear the coaches on the recruiting trail now… “Just look at so and so, he’s making $100K a year from his merchandise deal! You could be too!” Shoot, let’s just get Billy Mays to do our recruiting.

  7. E dawg

    Tortuous interference is a great way to make money