“We didn’t get to this problem overnight.”

I know my focus on the threats facing the NCAA’s amateurism standard is a sore spot with some of you.  I do it because, like it or not, those threats have the potential to change college football as much as, say, conference realignment has.  Both are driven by the same engine of commercialism that is engulfing college athletics.

Don’t take my word for that.  Take it from the former commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.

Beebe agreed.

He said realignment increased students’ desires to get their share of the money generated by football and men’s basketball. He noted programs like women’s volleyball and softball in the Big 12 now fly to games and stay in first-class hotels with the bills paid by the revenue generated from football and men’s basketball.

In a capitalistic world, kids aren’t any less motivated by financial considerations than adults are.  And that’s not simply meant in the purest sense of “I want some of what you’re getting”.  It’s also meant in the sense that it becomes harder and harder to swallow amateurism as a defense to practical demands for changes.

That’s why the NCAA suddenly announced it’s getting the hell out of the food service business.  That may sound like a minor tactical retreat, but this is the NCAA we’re talking about, the same organization that until recently prohibited schools from letting players schmear a little cream cheese on their bagels.  No retreats are minor.

That’s why Mike Slive is bleating.

“We also have to accept the fact that college sports are evolving,” Slive said. “We are in an evolutionary mode.”

Translation:  the players are winning.

The thing Conley needs to realize is that the players got what they wanted and Napier got the attention he did for the same reason – the heat that’s coming down on the NCAA and the schools from the NLRB ruling and the antitrust suits.  The public may not be thrilled with a college players’ union or Johnny Football getting paid, but it’s not so blind to miss some of the obvious indefensible positions being taken in the name of amateurism.  And that’s having an effect.  Tell me where you would have heard talk like this from college administrators ten years ago:

Barnhart pointed to the Olympic model.

He said the organization changed from purely amateur athletes to today’s system where many, but not all, Olympians earn money without turning off fans.

The thing is, we’re in the low-hanging fruit part of the contest.  There are plenty of easy decisions to make about things other than how a school can feed its student-athletes.  That the NCAA membership is struggling even with those isn’t a good sign.  Change is coming and if the suits don’t come up with a satisfactory course of action soon, a quote like this a couple of years from now is going to sound much more dire:

“We’d be in a better place,” Beebe said, “and if it happened a couple years ago it could’ve held off some of these outside pressures.”

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23 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Look For The Union Label, The NCAA

23 responses to ““We didn’t get to this problem overnight.”

  1. AusDawg85

    I think you missed the obvious header for this…NCAA Now Let’s Them Eat Cake

  2. Purely hypothetical question: If the power players (especially the conference commissioners) had been able to foresee the storm on the horizon that conference realignment whipped into a frenzy, do you think that would have changed anything? i.e., do you think they would have held off on all the realignments? Or do you think they would have figured the extra money that was on the table was worth it anyway?

    • Noonan

      Their only motivation is greed and power.

      • Yeah but that’s kind of the point of my question. They are on the verge of losing a lot of power due to everybody getting so worked about all the extra money from realignment. So would the greed of the extra money drive the decisions, or the fear of loss of power?

        Like I said, just a hypothetical question, nobody knows the actual answer, just curious about opinions. My opinion is it might have made realignment move along at a slower pace, but eventually we would have ended up where we are now anyway, maybe took an extra 4 or 5 years to get there.

    • South FL Dawg

      Absolutely they would have taken the money and I think that is their tactic still today. The people that run college athletics are cashing in. By the time reform comes they will have taken enough to not have to work another day. What lasting benefit this has brought to the colleges or students I don’t know.

  3. Does anyone think this bunch of academics and administrators have enough common sense among them to fix this where they don’t alienate their customers and fix the underlying structural problems where we’re not right back here 10 years from now? I don’t, and it’s likely not many other people do either. How Mark Emmert continues to have a job just boggles my mind.

    • Normaltown Mike

      “Does anyone think this bunch of academics and administrators have enough common sense”

      No

  4. DawgPhan

    Jared Lorenzen won the internet yesterday.

    ll u what the NCAA really lucked out that I don’t have any eligibility left.
    — jared lorenzen (@JaredLorenzen22) April 15, 2014

  5. reipar

    Of course Beebe wants to blame realignment. A large part of the reason he lost his job was over that issue. The TV money was going to be there regardless of any conference realignment. Look at the recent TV contracts for the Dodgers, Phillies, Etc. No doubt realignment increased that amount and the colleges smartly sought to maximize that money through realignment, but there would have been massive amounts of new money flowing into the game with the players concerns still ignored without it. Realignment or not we would still be where we are today.

  6. Hank

    Just my 2 cents. I don’t have a problem with the focus on what is happening, in fact I appreciate being kept in the loop. I look at this site all the time, especially when I am not traveling (this week). I’ve been lurking behind the scenes since you and McDawg were going at it (I miss his insight, by the way).

    My problem is that it seems like you are rooting for the united steel workers union to get in on the pie. I’ve seen that scenario too many times. It will not turn out good if that happens. If the changes that are happening now are a result of the threat, mission accomplished. If they vote and let the union in, most everyone other than the union will come to regret it. I know I have a biased opinion on this subject as my work involves providing employees with what they need to not want a union. I’ve worked in and with businesses that were non-union, that shut doors when the employees voted to go union, and union shops. When employees vote to go union a culture shift takes place that cements an Us vs. Them (both ways) environment that you can never get back. It can’t go back for the union to survive. The union’s primary concern is for the union. Period. Ever been to Pittsburgh?

    I’m all for players to get some $. Always have been. I’m not for them to be paid like professional athletes, but once that pay threshold is crossed it’s a slippery and steep slope – in my opinion.

    I’ll shift back into the shadows. Keep up the good work!

    • The union and the litigation are pretty much the last resort for the players to have their grievances addressed in a meaningful way. I regret it’s come to that, but I can’t say I blame them for it, either.

      If that makes me pro-union, so be it.

    • Macallanlover

      Great post. I also have no problem with keeping the subject before us because the Senator is right, it will impact CFB significantly, indeed, it may bring it to a halt as the game we currently know. I have also long supported paying CFB players a reasonable amount of money, but feel unionization will bring about ruin. Truthfully, I would not know as much about what is happening on this front without the material posted on this site. While I disagree with much of the Senator’s position, I respect everyone’s right to differ. I don’t read all the material on the subject any longer as much of it is repetitious at this point and the positions have been pretty clearly established. I don’t think this will end well, and feel the NCAA’s lack of vision and leadership is to blame.

    • South FL Dawg

      This is a very sensible post. If the union thing sticks – and we are not there yet – I would hope it is like the teachers’ union that provides tenure and post-retirement benefits, but the salaries are just fair salaries. You have to see that the people who are leading the amateurism charge are getting paid a king’s ransom right now, and it is being paid with tax-free dollars. Imagine if your employer didn’t have to pay taxes (35%) and they gave the rank-and-file cost of living increases while multiplying their own salaries on the basis of “market value” when they ARE the market.

      • AusDawg85

        Let me introduce you to how many not-for-profit hospital systems work…

      • Debby Balcer

        Obviously you don’t teach if you think teacher’salaries are just.

        • South FL Dawg

          Debby, call it whatever you like, my point is teachers are unionized but they aren’t getting near the millions of NFL players. To me what the college athletes are asking for sounds more like what teachers get – job tenure (guaranteed scholarships), retirement benefits (health coverage after playing days), 3 months off (enough time to study).

  7. Chuck

    I am very grateful for your work in getting all the developments out because whatever side you may be on (and right now, I like the players more than the admins, but that’s complicated and could change) it is important and most of us are slack asses too lazy the mine the information. Thank you for your work, and what strikes me as even reportage. That’s something you don’t get on every blog.

  8. E dawg

    Senator is smart

  9. DawgByte

    Do the chickens run the hen house or the adults? America has seriously lost its balls. Grievances? You mean the hamburger line is too long? The bed is too short? You mean you want me to do my homework too?

    Give me a f*cking break.