“Do you think it’s exploitation of them or something you don’t want happening?”

I’m gonna go out on a limb and suggest that it’s not a good thing when the judge asks the NCAA president that question in the context of justifying the amateurism protocol Mark Emmert was attempting to defend yesterday.  Emmert’s answer, while honestly given, didn’t help much:

“When this rule again has been discussed by the membership, the answer to that would be both.” Wilken sought additional clarification, asking how receiving money for the use of their likenesses would harm the athletes. “The assumption is that by converting them into a professional athlete, they are no longer a student-athlete,” Emmert said. “They are not part of the academic environment. They’re not in a position to gain the advantages of being a student-athlete and being a student at that university. They are not there avocationally but vocationally.”

Wilken asked one more follow-up question. “And that is what you consider to be exploitation of them?”

“Yes,” Emmert replied. “In this language, yes.”

I guess anybody with a paying gig is exploited, then.  Or just having a moneyed family.  No, really.

In earlier testimony, Emmert said payments to players would “separate” and “isolate” the athletes from other students and from the academic life of the school. Wilken then asked whether the same isolation would apply to “students whose parents were rich and had money that other students did not.”

“It is the same problem,” Emmert said.

Hoo, boy.  What’s the NCAA gonna do about that?

By the way, it’s not just student-athletes having money now that’s a problem for Emmert.  It’s anytime in the future, too.

When Pomerantz asked whether Emmert and other NCAA officials had discussed the trust fund idea, Emmert replied, “Yes, we have discussed it and concluded that even it were paid after graduation, it was still not amateurism. It is still pay, whether paid today or paid tomorrow.”

But you know what is amateurism?

It didn’t get any better for the NCAA when Isaacson produced several images of current and past NCAA athletes appearing in promotional materials for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and other NCAA-sanctioned events. A photo of Wisconsin’s football players appearing at a Rose Bowl news conference — in front of a Vizio logo — also was presented into evidence. So was a photo of Texas A&M’s football players celebrating a bowl victory in front of a table featuring the Chick-fil-A and Kia logos.

“And that’s perfectly fine?” Isaacson asked Emmert.

“That’s fine under the rules,” Emmert replied. “It’s not something I’m personally comfortable with.”

Well, at least there’s that.

It’s not that Emmert is a putz.  Okay, check that – he is a putz, but that’s not why he foundered so much yesterday (and probably will again today).  He, just like everyone else on his side, is stuck having to defend the logically indefensible.  It’s enfeebling.

To paraphrase the immortal words of Michael Corleone, Mark, you’re part of the same hypocrisy.

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24 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

24 responses to ““Do you think it’s exploitation of them or something you don’t want happening?”

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    Well then, Exploit me daddio!

  2. diving duck

    Don’t ask me about my business, O’Bannon.

  3. 1996 Dog

    He’s either saying that getting money is an inherently bad thing, which is batshit insane, or he’s saying that getting money is bad because it would make you ineligible under NCAA rules, which is tautological. Either way, just….wow. This guy makes $1.6m/year and he can’t make a coherent argument about the essence of his organization?

  4. All these athletes from low-income families, scraping by on whatever their relatives can throw them in a given month, must be really gratified to know they’re in the same boat with the legacy kids who showed up for freshman orientation in BMWs their mommies and daddies bought them. Surprised Emmert hasn’t taken credit for solving poverty in this country yet.

  5. Macallanlover

    Emmert is right about “paying” would destroy collegiate athletics as we know them, simply not affordable across all NCAA schools. I feel it must be couched as: only available as a “full scholarship” in sports where the sport is revenue positive for the university, and in recognition it is for spending money since the athlete’s participation is time prohibitive to allow a part time university job. To try a short explanation of what I mean, I liken it to other students who get paid as teacher’s assistants, workers in the campus library, cafeteria, etc. They provide a “service” to the university for time given and deserve money for normal college student expenses.

    I realize this puts the “paying” angle on both sides of the line but feel it is a fair comparison and doesn’t make them true professionals. It also separates the discussion from the “cost of living” charade which will spiral out of control. (The cost of pizza, movies, gas, etc., doesn’t vary that much from region to region.) I envision an expense allocation of approximately $500 per month for these “full scholarship” athletes. Baseball, golf, equestrian, etc. athletes would get a partial scholarship which would not qualify for the expense allocation. There are at least dozens of ways to shoot this down, but it is how I feel it should be approached to save the sport…..and it should have been done years ago.

    • Shorter Macallanlover: As long as we put “pay” in scare quotes, players will remain amateurs.

      Makes as much sense as anything Emmert said.

      • Macallanlover

        I realize my opinion has inconsistencies if we break down each word of it, but it is based on what I consider a workable solution that would allow us to continue the sport as we have enjoyed it in the past. Your assessment may be technically correct in a theoretical sense but wilI in reality destroy the game and do more damage than necessary, imo.

        I don’t buy the “exploitation” BS one bit, and feel we can fix the insurance/liability and stipend issues (albeit later than what should have been tolerated) without throwing the baby away. I mean give me the “plantation life” if that is what you think a full ride is at a major university is these days. Can it be improved upon? Yes, but the predator approaches of the lawyers and unions will bring the system down. Is the cost of being “technically right” worth that to you? It isn’t to me. Fix it and let’s move along.

        • Mac, there’s a difference between what you don’t find aesthetically satisfying and the destruction of the sport.

          The reality is that everything around college athletics has become increasingly commercialized over the last three decades except for player compensation. You can argue if you like that as long as you don’t “pay” players, it’s still an amateur setting. But there are literally billions of reasons flowing around college sports that suggest otherwise.

        • By the way, I love your “fix it” conclusion. The only reason the schools and the NCAA are making any effort to address the problems raised by student-athletes is because of the lawyers and unions.

          • Macallanlover

            I don’t deny there was horrendous leadership failures at the NCAA, conference offices, and schools that led to the need to move faster. When something is wrong/broken, it is still better to repair the damage late than to kill the patient with a nuclear option.

            And we will have to disagree about what the impact will be, I stand pat with my prognosis of destruction. Unfortunately, I fear we get to find out who is right in the near future. I am not trying to be an alarmist with this prediction, I seriously do not see how it can end any other way.

            BTW, that doesn’t change my consistent thoughts for years that a developmental league for those simply wanting preparation for the NFL, combined with a directional move toward a “student athlete”, isn’t the best solution anyway. I say directional because I don’t know that we have ever been at a “true student athlete” in my life time.

            • I don’t deny there was horrendous leadership failures at the NCAA, conference offices, and schools that led to the need to move faster.

              Past tense? :)

              • Macallanlover

                Hardly limited to the past but, that is all that is known. Do I expect a change in forward thinking from this group? Not much, but I have seen management teams who were guided by the rear view mirror approach replaced before for more proactive managers. Generally older institutions are often guided by stogie old men who are not risk-takers preferring to stay the course and take the sure money. That continued money stream is in significant jeopardy now so it is pretty easy to calculate there will be more acceptance to changes. We saw the development of that last summer when Spurrier led off the SEC media days endorsing some form of stipend; it was echoed (orchestrated) in every conference following that. I think the past 12 months was spent on how to negotiate their way through the complexities of how to achieve that under the NCAA umbrella as one size doesn’t fit all. This has had a major impact on the “breakaway” group’s threats on adding another division.

                Academia isn’t the place to look for forward thinking management, imo. My guess is their reluctance will cause them to screw up whatever changes they agree to and they have Big Brother and the PC crowd to contend with. So yeah, I am not too optimistic about this ending well but the preponderance of the blame can be placed on what has transpired before….past tense.

          • DawgPhan

            shhh….he is going to get to tort reform in a minute.

  6. Normaltown Mike

    Emmert better hope that Slive and the other big commissioners don’t ask him to go fishing on Lake Tahoe….

  7. Crochety

    Senator,

    I don’t really have any comment on the article, but I did want to drop a note to say thank you for your proper use of the word founder. The use of the word “flounder” in those situations makes me cringe.

    (To those who might object: yes, I know that some say this is now an acceptable use of the word flounder. I’m not conceding that it is acceptable, but if it is, it’s only acceptable because so many have used it in the wrong context that this improper usage has passed into acceptability.)

    /pedant_mode=off

  8. AusDawg85

    Emmert really should have helped the judge clarify the NCAA position better…”We (the NCAA) don’t want the athletes exploited by anyone…but us.”

  9. ME

    How about putting the $ earned while in school in a trust fund until they earn a degree? Not just until they leave. That would keep academics first.

    • Macallanlover

      Careful, you are trying to incent positive performance and not just hand it out. Scandalous!