Category Archives: The NCAA

So, Chris Conley has a question.

The problem is with the answer.

Georgia wide receiver Chris Conley’s question last January midway through a three-hour discussion about the new NCAA model seemed to catch the adults off guard. “Where do the student-athletes fit into this governance structure?” Conley asked at the NCAA convention before about 800 attendees.

Wake Forest president Nathan Hatch, the chair of the Division I Board of Directors, responded awkwardly, “That’s not something we’ve wrestled with.”

The header to the link article implies there’s a possibility that the new governance structure gives student-athletes a meaningful opportunity to have impact into rules that affect their lives.  The math tells the real story, though.

The new model, assuming it’s not vetoed by the membership over the next two months, gives athletes 18.8 percent of the votes on all autonomy legislation proposed by the Power 5 conferences. For shared governance, athletes get 3.1 percent of the vote.

Wrestle with that, Chris.  At best, it might give student-athletes a chance to broker something tightly contested where their small interest is just big enough to swing a vote.  But there’s a problem with that, too.  Let Conley spell it out.

Given their time demands and other interests, many college athletes understandably don’t actively follow NCAA issues that can directly impact them. Conley, who has been a committee member on SAAC and passionately

“Not everybody knows who to ask the right questions to,” Conley said. “A lot of guys will ask their teammates in the locker room and their teammates don’t know. So it’s like the blind leading the blind. We need to break down some of the barriers that people have when it comes to going to speak to administrators or going to speak to coaches or people who have worked extensively with the NCAA.”

Add in the fact that the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is essentially gelded by the NCAA (a member of SAAC produced an NCAA document that she said requires any position of advocacy taken by SAAC must be approved first by the NCAA’s president or its executive committee) and I think it’s safe to hold off on any victory celebrations if you’re someone in favor of greater student-athlete say-so.  And why unionization still makes a lot of suits nervous.

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Filed under Look For The Union Label, The NCAA

Autonomy, if you can keep it.

Welp, they’ve up and done it.

The NCAA Division I board of directors on Thursday voted to allow the 65 schools in the top five conferences to write many of their own rules. The autonomy measures — which the power conferences had all but demanded — will permit those leagues to decide on things such as cost-of-attendance stipends and insurance benefits for players, staff sizes, recruiting rules and mandatory hours spent on individual sports.

The Power Five (the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12) could begin submitting their own legislation by Oct. 1 and have it enacted at the January 2015 NCAA convention in Washington, D.C.

In a remarkably pessimistic piece, John Infante says it’s the beginning of the end of Division I.

Sooner rather than later, Division I will be gone. NCAA governance reforms have a short-shelf life and it would be shocking if this one sees the next decade before we hear agitation for the next logical step (a fourth NCAA division) or the next realistic one (separation of the power conferences from the NCAA). That day will be lamented as this end of Division I, but that will be like putting down an undead zombie. Today is the day that Division I as an idea, its soul, is well and truly dead.

I get his point.  When you think about it, what’s the only thing holding D-I together right now?  That’s right, March Madness revenue.  That’s a pretty weak glue in an era when chasing down every last dollar counts.  The big boys already don’t want to share football revenues with the little kids.  What do you think will happen when they come to the same realization about basketball?

That is, if they’re allowed to.  Infante makes another good point when he writes,

But that leaves Division I as simply a grouping of teams that play against each other. For some, that is enough. But college athletics is not simply a sports league, and it’s not a private business. It is a massive taxpayer-backed (when not explicitly taxpayer-funded) government program. The members of the NCAA are all either public universities, tax-exempt private universities, or for-profit universities heavily dependent on federal student-aid. A portion of every dollar that is guaranteed in a coaching contract or issued as debt by an athletic department might potentially be paid off by money that came from taxpayers. For that investment, we should demand more of our public institutions than simply playing games against each other.

Cue an old friend.

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) issued a statement Thursday saying the NCAA’s new model may warrant Congressional review from the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which he is a member.

“The NCAA should be responsible for promoting fair competition among its participating institutions and their student athletes,” Hatch said. “I am concerned that today’s actions could create an uneven playing field that may prevent some institutions from being able to compete fairly with other schools that have superior resources to pay for student athletes. I also worry about how this decision will affect a school’s Title IX requirements and whether this consolidation of power will restrict competition and warrant antitrust scrutiny.”

Hatch and other Congresscritters like Joe Barton were easy to mock during the Great BCS/Playoff debate because it was a foolish, mockable quest in which they were engaged.  This go ’round is likely to be a very different animal, mainly because I’m convinced that sooner or later the NCAA is going to make a hard go at Congress to get an antitrust exemption.  Not sharing involves a lot of heavy lifting.  These guys have no idea what asking for help from the likes of Orrin Hatch involves.

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Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

One step beyond cream cheese

You are simply not gonna believe what South Carolina reported as a secondary violation. Seriously.

I hope somebody gets a quip from Spurrier about it.  Should be priceless.

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UPDATE:  Honestly, I’m a little disappointed.

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Filed under The NCAA

The NCAA’s concussion settlement

It’s hardly more than a good start, if that.  The NCAA puts up $70 million in a fund that can be accessed by players to screen as to whether any suffer head-injury problems, but no money is set aside for actual damages.  Instead, any player with issues will have to sue to collect compensation.

There are some agreed to mandates on current policy…

– Preseason baseline testing for every athlete for each season in which he or she competes

– Prohibition from return to play on the same day an athlete is diagnosed with a concussion. Generally accepted medical protocols recommend athletes not return to play the same day if they exhibit signs of a concussion or are diagnosed with one, but a 2010 survey of certified athletic trainers conducted by the NCAA found that nearly half reported that athletes had returned to play the same day.

– Requirement that medical personnel be present for all games and available for practices for all contact sports, defined in the settlement as football, lacrosse, wrestling, ice hockey, field hockey, soccer and basketball. Those personnel must be trained in the diagnosis, treatment and management of concussions.

– Implementation of concussion tracking in which schools will report concussions and their resolution

– Requirement that schools provide NCAA-approved training to athletes, coaches and athletic trainers before each season

– Education for faculty on the academic accommodations needed for students with concussions

… but also a question as to how far those mandates go.

Huma told ESPN the settlement also falls short of protecting current players because it does not mandate new return-to-play protocols. Instead, the NCAA and the plaintiffs agreed that remaining guidelines for schools and the implementation of those guidelines are subject to the NCAA’s rule-making process.

“And we know what the regular NCAA rule-making process is like. It could take years, or they could shoot it down,” Huma said. “The settlement represents yet another refusal of the NCAA to protect players from unnecessary brain trauma. Instead of agreeing to rules that protect players’ brains by reducing contact in practices and mandatory return-to-play protocols, such protections would remain optional.”

He has a point about the NCAA’s rule-making process.

And one other thing – that $70 million isn’t all for screening.

The NCAA, which in the settlement denied the plaintiffs’ allegations, agreed not to oppose attorneys’ fees up to $15 million. Those fees and expenses would come out of the $75 million assigned for medical monitoring and research.

So, progress of a sort, at best.  And the agreement still has to be approved by the court.  In other words, this one has a long way to go.

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Filed under The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

It’s America, people.

Amari Cooper, with the best one-sentence criticism of amateurism you’ll ever read:  “I don’t know if it’s ever a bad idea for people to want to get paid for something they do.”

Amen to that.

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Filed under 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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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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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