Category Archives: The NCAA

Tuesday lunch buffet

A little later in the day, but just as tasty.

  • John Pennington argues that the SEC Network may actually work against national exposure for the conference’s schools at first.  I understand the point he’s trying to make, but I think he forgets that SEC schools have benefited from national exposure on CBS for many years now.
  • Here’s a nice Xs-and-Os preview of the Clemson-Georgia game.  The author thinks it’ll be “all about Clemson’s ferocious defensive line vs. Georgia’s all-world backfield.”  Agree or disagree?
  • Phil Steele has nine sets of power ratings he uses to evaluate teams.  One of those sets has Georgia going undefeated; another four call for an 11-1 season.
  • College football players want NCAA Football 15 back.
  • Bobby Petrino compares the ACC Atlantic to the SEC West.  I guess that’s his way of telling Louisville fans not to expect any division titles.
  • Jimbo Fisher said Jameis Winston was not subject to more discipline for shoplifting seafood at a supermarket in April, because, as he was punished by the baseball coach, double jeopardy attached (“… you don’t punish a guy twice for the same crime.”).  Kinda like a Law and Order episode minus the Lennie Briscoe quip.
  • Be still, mine heart.
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Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, Crime and Punishment, Fall and Rise of Bobby Petrino, Georgia Football, PAWWWLLL!!!, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water, SEC Football, Strategery And Mechanics, The NCAA

Who’s running this place, anyway?

Another Media Days, another conference commissioner proclaiming his powerlessness to deal with a problem.

And whose fault is that, dude?

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Filed under The NCAA

Another O’Bannon retreat

The NCAA throws in the towel on use of a standard form.

Athletes who signed the release had granted permission for the NCAA or an associated third party, such as a school or conference, to use his or her name or picture to promote NCAA championships or other events without being compensated. The NCAA’s removal of that component from what is known as the Student-Athlete Statement, which includes a series of other releases on disclosure of personal information and eligibility, is yet another indication that the NCAA is trying to distance itself from legal entanglements that have arisen as a result of growing questions about who owns college athletes’ names and likenesses.

NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn was not immediately available for comment.

That last sentence tells you all you need to know.  (It probably needs to become a Lexicon entry.)

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Filed under The NCAA

The NCAA, sensitive to student welfare issues

John Infante notes that Brad Wolverton’s reporting that the folks running college athletics are pondering the possibility of lobbying Congress for an antitrust exemption.  Now while John explores the likelihood that none of these people have glommed on to the reality that Congress is going to expect some legitimate horse trading on the NCAA’s part to reach its goal, I suspect that even if Emmert’s bunch does realize that, it’s not the approach they’ll take, at least at the start.  Nah, look for more of the same loaded language and appeals to emotion that have been such a convincing part of the O’Bannon defense.

Don’t believe me?  Welp,

One way for the NCAA to protect itself, Mr. Schulz said, is to lobby for new federal regulations that would help define a student-athlete and give colleges more latitude in limiting spending. The NCAA and the Big 12 Conference, of which Kansas State is a member, have recently hired lobbying firms to work on issues related to student welfare.

“Legislation might be the only way we don’t bleed ourselves to death over the next 20 years,” said Mr. Schulz, a member of the Division I board and of the committee shaping the NCAA governance changes. “This is not ‘win one and it goes away.’”

Antitrust exemption is an issue related to student welfare?  Only the NCAA might believe that would work.

Mr. Schulz, by the way, is the current president of Kansas State.  He recently demonstrated his unswerving commitment to student welfare in the Leticia Romero transfer debacle.

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Filed under The NCAA

If Mark Emmert didn’t exist, Claire McCaskill wouldn’t want to invent him.

As far as problem solving goes, yesterday’s appearance by the NCAA president in front of a Senate committee hearing was expectedly short on specifics, but as far as political theater goes, it was boffo.

McCaskill offered some of the sharpest criticism of Emmert, questioning why his role exists if he can’t shape reform or prevent athletic departments from investigating sexual assaults.

“I can’t tell if you’re in charge or a minion” to the schools, McCaskill said. “If you’re merely a monetary pass-through, why should you exist?”

As best I can tell, the bulk of Emmert’s day was spent listening to harsh criticism of the NCAA’s role in college athletics and quite often commiserating with his critics.

But it was New Jersey’s Cory Booker, who played football at Stanford, who got off the shot of the day.

Booker questioned why the NCAA can move quickly when schools’ money and reputation are at stake, but not on basic issues for athletes. Booker noted that Cam Newton’s eligibility problems at Auburn were adjudicated quickly in 2010 so he could continue playing, yet Ramsay’s academic issues at North Carolina took far longer.

Sounds like the man’s been reading a few comment threads at a football blog somewhere.

I’m not being totally fair to McCaskill, as she did manage to drop a major substantive matter into the discussion.

More than 20 percent of universities give their athletic departments oversight of sexual violence cases involving college athletes, according to a report released Wednesday by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

I may be appalled by that statistic, but I am not surprised.  Unlike Emmert and his constituents.  Supposedly.

Emmert said he only read McCaskill’s sexual assault data on Wednesday and wants to better understand the results. He agreed the survey results contain an “enormous” amount of conflicts of interest that don’t help sexual assault victims.

Emmert said most NCAA members “are going to be very surprised” by the sexual assault data. Several senators called on Emmert and university presidents to change their procedures immediately.

If Emmert is right there, that’s just further proof of how detached school presidents are from the reality of how college athletics operate.  Not to mention that it’s more fuel for a certain kind of fire.

Rockefeller, who has said he isn’t seeking re-election in 2014, said that if the Democrats control Congress “we want to make this a continuing subject of this oversight committee. We have oversight of sports. All sports. We have the ability to subpoena. We have a special investigative unit. We are very into this subject. This is part of a process here.”

Remember, these are the people Jim Delany hopes to engage for protection after the NCAA gets its clock cleaned in antitrust litigation.

In the end, though, it always comes back to Emmert’s leadership, or lack thereof.

Emmert said the hearing was a “useful cattle prod. It makes sure we know that the world is watching, that the Senate is watching. I believe we will wind up in the right place in a couple of months (after NCAA governance changes). If we don’t, I’m sure we’ll have these conversations again.”

As long as Mark Emmert’s talking, you know he cares.

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Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

“The concussions I think is the thing that really drove this.”

By now, you’ve  probably seen something about the new NCAA guidelines on contact practices, the key thing about them being guidelines, i.e. suggestions, and not mandated rules.  Read this quote from Ron Courson and you’ll understand why that’s all they could do at this point.

“Common sense would seem to think you would have a decrease, but where do you draw the line?” Courson said. “That’s the debate in coaching circles. For example if you say, we’re only going to do contact once a week, that might translate better in the NFL than in college because in the NFL you have guys that are very experienced and know how to hit. In college, maybe you bring in an 18-year old freshman and they need to have good fundamental work. If you don’t get that in practice, are they more prone to get hurt in a game because they’re going out there and they don’t know how to practice?”

Where do you draw the line between player safety and game preparation?  I suspect Courson would draw it in a different place than, say, George O’Leary would.

The ADs are the ones stuck in the middle.  But I also suspect a couple of bad concussion verdicts and most of them will start siding with the Coursons of the CFB world.

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Filed under The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

In for a penny…

The NCAA decides it would be a good idea to repeat everything it argued during the O’Bannon trial in an amicus brief supporting Northwestern’s appeal of the ruling by a regional director of the NLRB.  It’s joined by six Republican members of Congress – gosh, who would have ever expected that development?

The truly amusing part’s gonna come down the road when the schools, having gotten their asses kicked in antitrust litigation, realize they need a players’ union to negotiate with and find Republicans fighting them on it. Because, you know, unions and freedom.

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Filed under Look For The Union Label, Political Wankery, The NCAA

Wednesday morning buffet

Need something to get over the World Cup elimination blues?  The buffet’s here for you.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics, The NCAA

The status quo cuts both ways.

A suggestion I’ve seen repeatedly offered as a way out of the NCAA’s amateurism trap is the European soccer model.  And this does sound appealing:

Players enter the Ajax academy when they are as young as seven, and train to become professional players. Though private tutors provide a secondary education, Ajax and other European clubs make no pretensions about the arrangement: they are training soccer players, not “student athletes.” After school, the worst players get cut and return to civilian life, the better players star professionally for Ajax, and the best players are “sold” when another team purchases their contract for an often exorbitant fee. Why so much cash? A fully developed star is a rare commodity, and big money teams like Manchester City are willing to be exorbitant fees to acquire one. Last summer, Spanish super club Real Madrid paid London’s Tottenham Hotspur a reported $132 million to acquire Welsh star Gareth Bale. The Dutch model (buy low, sell high!) has been copied across Europe. In recent years, the sale of five Ajax players netted the team $80 million in transfer fees as bigger teams purchased Ajax’s premier talent.

So what would a European-style development system look like in American sports? Imagine if the Cleveland Browns had to pay the Texas A&M directly for the rights to Johnny “Football” Manziel. Want LeBron James? Let’s start the bidding at $50 million. The days of the draft, the annual pro sports meat market where scouts drool over college prospects, would be over.

Money.  Yum.  Manna from heaven if you’re the school that won the lottery with a stud player.  (And, sure, you could tweak the system to make it more academically palatable.)

But there’s an obvious catch with this arrangement.

Big teams in big markets would pay top dollar and get the best players, and the relative parity that characterizes many American sports leagues would vanish. In such a competitive economic environment, professional teams would be incentivized to develop their own players; big-time college sports, long cloaked in a veneer of amateurism, could become a distant memory.

That’s what happened to baseball’s minor leagues in the first half of the 20th century.  Major league owners got tired of shelling out major bucks for stars developed by independent minor league teams, so people like Branch Rickey took the obvious step by co-opting the minors with their own controlled farm systems.  And that was the end of meaningful, independent minor league baseball.

Now, you can look at this as the author does and see it as a welcome, if radical development that might be necessary to save colleges from themselves, but I question whether coaches, athletic directors and presidents at schools with powerhouse athletics departments would share your point of view.  Does anyone think that Alabama’s current business model survives intact if Nick Saban is coaching kids who would have been at best lower-tier Sun Belt players?  I doubt Saban does.

Any sort of successor protocol to the NCAA’s amateurism model is going to have to be one that continues to allow the five-star studs to pass through the Alabamas of the college athletics world.  Put it this way – notice how articles like this never make an effort to get the players’ point of view?  Coaches want the talent, even if it’s for a limited amount of time.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Fever dreams

Now I enjoy an anti-NCAA rant as much as anyone, and this one certainly has its moments of rhetorical pleasure – “the fevered delusions of NCAA chief Mark Emmert, who swore under oath that what he presides over is as amateur as tiddlywinks on a playground” has a nice ring to it, no doubt – but the idea that Jim Delany, a man who just added two teams to his conference for the sole purpose of making its broadcast network a more attractive proposition, would be prepared one day to blow up the entire structure of college athletics and return to a simpler, purer arrangement is a fevered delusion of its own.

Money is the drug and they’re hooked on it.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA