Category Archives: The NCAA

Sunday morning buffet

Eh, what the heck.

About these ads

2 Comments

Filed under ACC Football, BCS/Playoffs, It's Just Bidness, Recruiting, SEC Football, The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

“Are we done with all the money?”

So yesterday, it was big Jim Delany’s turn to take the stand in O’Bannon.  The media reports seem to make it sound as if the plaintiffs unearthed a smoking gun from his testimony:  “O’Bannon trial: In defending NCAA, Jim Delany also helps plaintiffs” (USA Today); “Jim Delany reinforced plaintiffs’ key points in O’Bannon v. NCAA” (SI.com); “Big Ten’s Jim Delany ends up hurting NCAA in O’Bannon trial” (SBNation).  The reality is a little less dramatic than that.

Simply speaking, Delany was honest.  And as we’ve already seen throughout the trial, honesty doesn’t help the NCAA’s case, because that case doesn’t hold together logically.  Andy Staples describes:

Delany is tired of athletes being asked to spend all year on voluntary — read: mandatory — workouts. He’d like to see athletes get a chance to spend a semester abroad if they chose. He believes they are supposed to be students first. As he said all this, he admitted he remains very much in the minority among the policymakers in college sports on those issues. (Case in point: The schools have recently passed rules allowing football and basketball coaches to spend more time with their players in the offseason.)

That admission from Delany hacked several questions off his cross examination.

The plaintiffs have spent the entire trial trying to prove that in today’s NCAA, players are athletes first and students second. The NCAA’s attorneys and most of its witnesses have insisted that isn’t the case. They say the athletes are students who just happen to play sports. They say allowing football and men’s basketball players to sell their name, image and likeness rights would drive a wedge between the athletes and the student body. The plaintiffs contend the wedge was driven long ago and extra money in the pockets of the athletes won’t change that. Delany helped them make that case Friday by explaining the reforms he’d like to see that actually would make the players feel more like regular students and then by explaining that they’d get steamrolled if they came up for a vote.

Talk to a coach or an athletic director, and it becomes obvious such reforms are pipe dreams. The schools have moved too far the other way, and why should they go back? Football and men’s basketball are a multi-billion dollar business. Why shouldn’t the players hone their craft year-round? But if they do, plaintiffs’ attorneys say, they should get a cut of the action from schools that rake in cash on television deals such as the one Delany struck when he created the Big Ten Network.

Delany’s baby, a partnership with Fox that he said brings in about $110 million a year for the league’s schools, also got some unflattering time in court Friday. During Delany’s cross examination, Hausfeld showed a release form that Big Ten athletes were required to sign in 2007. Here’s what it said:

“I hereby grant to the [school] and The Big Ten Conference and their assigns the right to publish, duplicate, print, broadcast or otherwise use in any manner or media, my name, photograph, likeness or other image of myself for any purpose the [school] or The Big Ten Conference determines, in its sole discretion, is in the interest of the University of Illinois or The Big Ten Conference, including without limitation uses in promotional and marketing materials and uses by the Big Ten Network, CBS, ABC and ESPN. All such uses shall be consistent with all applicable NCAA and Big Ten Conference rules and regulations. I agree that neither I nor my heirs shall be entitled to any compensation for the use of my name, photograph, likeness or other image of myself.”

That’s an awfully broad release. After all, it spans generations. Delany called it “boilerplate.”

And while it might be standard legal language, it’s damaging to a case built on the idea that a market for the names, images and likenesses of college athletes doesn’t exist. “The NCAA and the schools have spent a lot of time studying — work groups, task forces, releases, contracts — and talking about name, image and likeness rights,” Isaacson said. “And they come into court and say ‘We’ve never really heard of this before.’ It hasn’t made any sense to us.” It probably hasn’t made much sense to Judge Claudia Wilken, either.

The stunning part of O’Bannon isn’t what’s coming out in court under oath.  It’s that the presidents thought it was in their best interests to go to court in the first place.

33 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

Georgia Tech’s immaculate sense of timing

Mark Emmert is getting hammered today on the use of players’ images in ads.

This isn’t helping.

Tech sent that out yesterday.  Pure Keystone Cops.

35 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

Competitive balance, my arse

If Emmert’s testimony yesterday about player compensation was little more than a combination of sanctimonious wishful thinking and denial, his defense of competitive balance in college football was downright dishonest.

Emmert said amateurism is essential to competitive balance in college sports. While he has supported reforms such as cost-of-attendance increases — though he wouldn’t call them stipends — he added that requiring further compensation to athletes would result in some schools having to drop other sports programs or drop out of Division I altogether, which require schools to offer 16 sports in order to qualify.

He even went to the extent of citing Alabama’s loss to Louisiana-Monroe and Michigan’s loss to Appalachian State in support of that.  (Nevermind that losses like those are so rare that it’s easy to remember them by name.)

But this is where my bullshit detector’s needle broke:

“To convert college sports into professional sports would be tantamount to converting it into minor league sports,” Emmert said. “And we know that in the U.S. minor league sports aren’t very successful either for fan support or for the fan experience.”

Professional minor leagues aren’t the minor leagues because their players are paid.  They’re minor leagues because their teams are under the control of parties who don’t have a stake in the outcome of their seasons.

Back in the 1930′s Branch Rickey came up with a revolutionary innovation, the baseball farm system.  Twice, Commissioner Landis freed a number of players in Rickey’s system from their contracts because he opposed turning the minor leagues into vassal states of major league teams.  Read this exchange between the two to understand what the real issue is with minor league play and fan interest.  Landis’ final observation - “I think it is as big as the universe.  This is just as important in the Three-I League as it would be in the National or American Leagues.” – is the crux of what defines being a minor league.

It’s not about pay.  It’s about independence.  Until the NFL can dictate to Mark Richt during the week before the Georgia Tech game that Todd Gurley is being brought up to play for one of its teams, Emmert is completely off base with his analogy.

But skip past that.  If you want something in the here and now that exposes the phoniness of Emmert’s concern about competitive balance, check out one of the impending fruits of the Big Five’s push for autonomy, a proposed change to the transfer rules.

The wealthiest college football conferences (Big 12, Big Ten, Atlantic Conference, Pac-12, Southeastern Conference) are willing to work with all of Division I to come up with a solution, but they also want the power to make their own transfer rules if need be as part of an autonomy structure the NCAA is moving toward.

If you think this is making mid-major schools nervous, give yourself a nickel.

That worries the schools outside those powerful leagues, concerned they’ll be in danger of losing their best players to the Big Five.

Most of the areas in which the Big Five conferences are seeking autonomy are related to how schools spend money on athletes. Transfer regulations are seen more as purely competitive-balance issues.

”I still haven’t gotten a good answer as to why transfer rules have been included in the autonomy bucket,” said SMU athletic director Rick Hart, whose school plays in the American Athletic Conference, one of the other five leagues in the top tier of college football knows as FBS.

I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one, Rick.  Besides, I think you already know the answer, even if it isn’t what you’d call a good one.  Or the one the Big Five commissioners – or Emmert, for that matter – will give when they enact their own version.

**************************************************************************

UPDATE:  More thoughts on competitive balance here.

49 Comments

Filed under College Football, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, The NCAA

“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.

24 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

Friday morning buffet

Just because it’s June doesn’t mean I can’t fill a few chafing dishes for you.

  • I’ll go into detail later this summer about it, but perhaps this is the best thing Georgia’s secondary has going for it this season.
  • Bitcoin is going to sponsor a bowl game.  Will it hand out a virtual trophy?
  • The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Aereo case may impact how we watch the NFL, but keep in mind what’s written in this piece could also apply to CBS and its contract with the SEC.
  • Here’s the Post and Courier’s preview of the Clemson-Georgia game.  And here’s the preview of the South Carolina-Georgia game.
  • One reason the schools fear Jeffrey Kessler’s lawsuit:  one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys used to be an associate director of enforcement for the NCAA.
  • Believe it or not, ESPN preseason rankings have Georgia’s secondary as seventh best in the conference.
  • Gene Chizik predicts a 10-2 season for Auburn, with losses to South Carolina and Alabama.
  • Vanderbilt checks in at #74 in Paul Myerberg’s preseason roundup.
  • College coaches try to figure out the best way to utilize the new rules on summer supervision.  (Brian Kelly knows what to do, but if he told you, then he’d have to kill you.)
  • We’re guessing that many people would agree that college president or medical school dean is slightly more beneficial to humanity than being a football coach.”  Depends whom you ask, I suspect.
  • Bill Connelly looks at this year’s Clemson Tigers team and comes away impressed, particularly with that defensive line.

29 Comments

Filed under 'Cock Envy, Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, College Football, Gene Chizik Is The Chiznit, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Media Punditry/Foibles, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, The NCAA

Feelings, nothing more than feelings

If you’re wondering how the O’Bannon defense could come off sounding so dumb throughout the trial, let South Carolina President Harris Pastides explains it to you:

Wednesday, Pastides and Muir did a great job explaining why college and college athletics are good, but they failed to explain why athletes would be harmed by gaining the ability to market their name, image and likeness rights — which is all that really matters in terms of the case. Asked what might happen if players gained such rights, Pastides said this: “It would render athletes who don’t receive these rewards as second-class citizens. It would make them feel worse about themselves.”

Makes you wonder how Pastides feels about Steve Spurrier making millions more than he does.  Them hurted fee-fees are a bitch, ‘ya know.

Besides being sensitive to student-athletes’ feelings, Pastides also demonstrated some short-term memory issues on the stand.  If the players wind up getting a cut from the revenue pie, he warned that something would have to give, because there just wasn’t any more money in the system.

Mah goodness, whatever shall they do, Miz Scarlett?  And to think it was only about a month ago Pastides and his SEC brethren were receiving the Word of Gawd from Mike Slive himself about all that new SEC Network money that would be rolling in soon!  Heavens to Betsy, do you think that just slipped ol’ Harris’ mind?

Pastides, remember, is a college president.  He’s one of the guys driving this train.

31 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

When the going gets tough, the weird turn pro.

Talk about your Freudian slip:

Skeptical, the lawyer for the plaintiffs read Pilson a quote from the writings of the late Paul “Bear” Bryant, in which the legendary University of Alabama coach observed in retirement, “I used to go along with the idea that football players on scholarship were student athletes, which is what the NCAA calls them, meaning student first and athlete second. We were kidding ourselves, trying to make it more palatable to the academicians. We don’t have to say that, and we shouldn’t. At the level we play, the boy is really an athlete first and a student second.”

That was a win for the plaintiffs, just getting that in the court record. But then it got better.

Much better.

The lawyer, Bill Isaacson, asked Pilson if he thought such an opinion has an impact on the affection that Crimson Tide fans have for their team, and more broadly, television ratings for games.

Pilson bristled, responding, “We’re talking about the strongest possible school in terms of pro football. I read what Bear says, but I — I think, frankly, the University of Alabama football advocates follow their team win or lose, paying them or not.”

You read that right. The court transcript did not get it wrong. Pilson called Bama a pro team.

Besides the pro team comment, read that last sentence of Pilson’s carefully.  He took the position that paying student-athletes would make college football less attractive to its fans, yet there clearly says that Tide fans couldn’t care less about payment.  (Hell, let’s face it – a major chunk of that fan base would support payment if it got Nick Saban even one more five-star, right?)

Then, again, maybe it wasn’t a slip after all.

Most interesting about Pilson’s oral gaffe on the stand was that no one — not the judge or even the NCAA’s lawyers — tried to correct his testimony.

19 Comments

Filed under The NCAA, Whoa, oh, Alabama

So much for that “it’s what’s on the front of the jersey that counts”

EA Sports executive Joel Linzer is on the stand for the plaintiffs in O’Bannon today.  Here’s one thing he just said:

Please, amateurism supporters, explain to me how he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

8 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

All by himself

Pat Forde makes a good point here – how’s a guy who’s had his recent major public appearances shielded by mixing him with others going to do on the witness stand tomorrow all by his lonesome?

10 Comments

Filed under The NCAA