An agreement to agree

As the leaders of the free world college athletics’ power conferences work their way through their own private Yalta, it’s becoming clear that the easy part is the D-1 power grab itself.  What they’re going to do after they’ve achieved autonomy?  Well, therein lies the rub.  Right now, it looks like the commissioners don’t seem capable of much more than passing wish lists around to each other.

“I think what was reflected in that memo is a growing consensus,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. “I think we’re going to get there.”

Among the topics addressed in what is labeled an “Attachment to Memorandum”:

– A lifetime opportunity fund that would allow former players to complete their education after leaving school. It would benefit players who depart early for the draft or who don’t graduate after their eligibility expires.

This point was mentioned specifically by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany last summer.

– Provide full cost of attendance to players. This long-discussed topic seems to a certainty in the future. Players would be given a prescribed amount extra in living expenses based on the cost of living in the particular college town.

– Redefine rules governing agents. That’s a preference of SEC commissioner Mike Slive. While Slive hasn’t been specific about what those changes would be, assume that new rules would allow more contact with agents while players are in school.

Slive often uses the example of students in other majors having access to experts in that field. Why shouldn’t an athlete be given the same advantages of a concert pianist who consults with great composer?

– Meet the healthy, safety and nutritional needs of players.

Those first four bullet items had been previously mentioned among the commissioners.

You think that’s a little amorphous?  It’s rock solid granite compared with the rest of what’s in that memorandum.

New to the memorandum are these points the commissioners may want to change “if future circumstances warrant revision.” …

– Addressing scholarships that are reduced, cancelled or not renewed at the whim of a coach. Coaches have been criticized for promising a full-ride in recruiting then have the power to cancel scholarships on a year-to-year basis.

In 1973, the NCAA went from four-year scholarships to one-year renewable scholarships.

– Provide paid transportation for parents for official recruiting visits to championship events. (College Football Playoff, NCAA Tournament, bowls etc.)

– Rescinding rules that inhibit a player’s desire to pursue a non-athletic career. A Minnesota wrestler was declared ineligible last year because he posted music videos of himself online. NCAA rules prohibit a player from using his name or image for commercial use.

That rule seems to going away one way or another. Players’ rights to their image and likeness are at the heart of the O’Bannon lawsuit.

– Permit schools or players to get loans regarding “career-related” insurance.

– Policies regarding athletes’ time demands. Northwestern players were allowed to unionize, in part, because a National Labor Relations Board official concluded that players do devote at least 40 hours per week to their sport.

– More flexible transfer rules.

“if future circumstances warrant revision.” ?  Translation:  if we keep getting our asses kicked in court, here’s a potential Plan B to fall back on eventually if we can’t get Congress to intervene.  A profile in courage it ain’t exactly.

As for the items themselves, there’s little to object to there – unless you’re a head coach, of course – but I think I like where John Infante goes with his list a little better (there is some overlap), because it’s more tailored to keeping the academic part of the student-athlete in the equation.

I suppose they deserve credit for even acknowledging there are conditions that require change.  But not much, at least until there’s real action.  Maybe Nick Saban can reassure them.

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17 Comments

Filed under College Football, The NCAA

17 responses to “An agreement to agree

  1. Russ

    Looks like some good topics for discussion. All of these areas could use reform so it will be interesting to see what they actually do.

    • Macallanlover

      Agree, hard to see anything on that list that shouldn’t be addressed ASAP, shame it hasn’t been done before. There was an orchestrated attempt for support last year for stepping up on the stipend but much of the difficulty seemed to come from the smaller schools. Even more reason to split the bigger schools away, the small budget schools cannot step up to all of these reforms.

  2. JG Shellnutt

    What do you want to bet the “cost of living” is deemed to be much higher in Tuscaloosa than in other comparable towns…

    • AusDawg85

      The price of gas, beef jerky, guns, ammo and toilet paper in Auburn will increase exponentially and be indexed to Tuscaloosa.

  3. Bulldog Joe

    Our player rep should negotiate in “the Athens amendment”.

    Provide full cost of attendance to players. This long-discussed topic seems to a certainty in the future. Players would be given a prescribed amount extra in living expenses based on the cost of living in the particular college town, including costs for misdemeanor legal representation, bail, and transportation expenses incurred from petty, overreaching law enforcement.

  4. Otto

    Cost of living should be based off of a couple of national recognized studies. The kids are expected to workout with the team just about anytime of year, and if they do get jobs they have to watch out for NCAA rules. Who in Athens doesn’t have some tie to UGA?

    I am very much for more open transfer rules too. Players sign on to a team for the coaching staff and their style of play. If it all changes a player can be good but still not see much playing time. QB, TEs, and RBs come to mind. If the coaching staff can change at a moments notice the players should be allowed to transfer with fewer restrictions. I would also like to see players get 5th and maybe 6th year redshirts easier if they have not received much playing.

    • Otto

      Further reading this again, if a coach cough Saban cough does not renew a scholarship or puts a player on medical scholarship, the palyer should be free to transfer anywhere with out sitting a year.

      I also do not undertand agent rules, a student can be on a full ride academic scholarship and talk to a profession recruiter but a player can’t discuss his option with an agent?

  5. The Joel Bauman case continues to piss me off, for two reasons. One, it’s bad enough that the NCAA won’t allow players to earn money from their own likenesses and achievements on the football field; apparently they can also weasel their way into every other aspect of a player’s life and say they can’t earn money for anything they do publicly. (The NCAA, of course, can rake in all the profits they want.)

    The other reason is because it shows how completely the deck is stacked against players if they want to earn any assets beyond the value of their scholarship. Can we pay the players? No. OK, can they earn money for their artistic talents or something of that nature? No, they can’t profit off their likenesses. OK, that’s stupid, but can they at least hold down a job flipping burgers or something? Sure, if they can squeeze it in between their athletic and studying obligations, but any job they do get hired for is going to be scrutinized to hell and back so we can ensure the player isn’t pulling a Rhett Bomar and getting paid by a booster to sit at a desk and play solitaire all day.

    The response to that always seems to be “Well, that’s the life they chose in exchange for a scholarship.” But I got a full ride too, and I didn’t have to suffer under any of those arbitrary conditions. Which is why I don’t blame athletes one bit for perceiving an extremely unlevel playing field and wanting to change it.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      Congrats on your scholarship.They are not easy to come by. I’ve got/had two sons at Georgia, both had a scholarship and Hope. They had parents that supported their effort$ and they worked 12-15 hours a week. Amazing stuff. I don’t think a football player can work and go to school. The NCAA hypocrisy is mind numbing. I don’t think soccer players are any less challenged. They certainly get injured. I think there might be more than meets the eye with the Joel Baumen deal. Just sayin’
      ” While Bauman did win two high school state championships wrestling at 189 pounds, he isn’t a starter on the Minnesota team, and hasn’t wrestled since sustaining a concussion last year. He has dreams of an MMA career, but he’s receiving far more acclaim for his songwriting than his wrestling acumen.

      Moreover, this entire venture isn’t sitting well with the very first university authority figure to whom Bauman should listen: his coach. “I don’t think Joel is dealing with this the right way,” Minnesota coach J Robinson told the New York Times. “He came here to be a wrestler, not a singer. He’s got to decide what he wants to do. You can’t do three or four things well.”

      • 69Dawg

        O’Bannon attorney’s are now giving Bauman an all expense summon to testify. If the judge doesn’t LOL at this example she has no sense of humor. Remember the Olympic skier that was also a DB for Colorado. He could not take advantage of his Olympic skiing to make money because the NCAA used the same rule against him. I think he sued but must have gotten a Colorado alum as the judge.

      • True, Bauman might not be the 100%-ideal test case for this sort of thing. But that quote from the coach — “You can’t do three or four things well” — just reinforces how difficult it is for student-athletes to carve out any kind of walking-around (i.e. non-scholarship) money. If his coach is flat-out telling him he shouldn’t try to hold down any sort of gainful employment while he’s on the team, how’s he supposed to come up with some extra cash to take a girl out or get his car fixed?

        And to the other quote — “He came here to be a wrestler, not a singer” — one could certainly respond that he actually went to Minnesota to get an education. Just a reminder of how easy it is for the “student” half of “student-athlete” to get short shrift these days, which did not go overlooked in the NLRB’s ruling on the Northwestern players’ union.