Category Archives: The NCAA

The NBA’s “three-way conversation”

How badly does professional basketball want to keep early entries out?  Badly enough to consider bribing subsidizing student-athlete compensation.

I do believe people are starting to freak out a little over unionization and the NCAA’s perceived incompetence.  Maybe that was Emmert’s plan all along.  Crazy like a fox!

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

She questioned, “whether the NCAA acted in accordance with its constitution and bylaws.”

Let’s face it -  so far, Mark Emmert is having a really crappy 2014.

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UPDATE:  And here’s quite a quote from Coach Cal’s new book:

“The situation reminds me a little of the Soviet Union in its last years. It was still powerful. It could still hurt you. But you could see it crumbling, and it was just a matter of time before it either changed or ceased to exist…. The NCAA will soon have to reform itself or it will not remain the dominant force in college athletics.”

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“I don’t care about what the perception is.”

Except Mark Emmert does.

The NCAA trotted out the same stunt in San Diego at its convention in January. After Emmert’s countless public missteps, the organization surrounded him with Division II and Division III leaders in an attempt to take the focus off of Emmert. And perhaps the most hilarious sight on Sunday morning was the NCAA public relations staffers incessantly refreshing Twitter to see if their ploy worked.

When you’ve got Twitter, who needs leadership?

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Pity the poor, hard working amateur

You know the schools’ argument for amateurism is running on fumes when you get to this level of hairsplitting:

“The fact is we have student-athletes in all sorts of sports that, if you apply any form of value to their labor, you cannot pay football players and not pay gymnasts just because the football player has the blessing of an adoring public,” Bowlsby continued. “That’s the only difference. There are a lot of student athletes that are worthy.”  [Emphasis added.]

Right.  Bowlsby’s conference members can’t reward football players for participating in an economically attractive enterprise because they don’t work any harder than other student-athletes.  However, that’s not stopping schools from demanding ESPN and Fox pay them more for their football players’ participation in an economically attractive enterprise because they don’t work any harder than other student-athletes.  The only difference in those two cases is the NCAA’s artificial amateurism construct.

Put it this way.

“Revenues derived from college athletics is greater than the aggregate revenues of the NBA and the NHL,” said Marc Edelman, an associate professor at City University of New York who specializes in sports and antitrust law. He also noted that Alabama’s athletic revenues last year, which totaled $143 million, exceeded those of all 30 NHL teams and 25 of the 30 NBA teams.

Now let’s play a little with that quote from Bowlsby.

“The fact is we have organizations in all sorts of sports that, if you apply any form of value to their labor, you cannot pay Alabama and not pay an NHL team just because the football school has the blessing of an adoring public,” Bowlsby continued. “That’s the only difference. There are a lot of sports leagues that are worthy.”

As a former wrestler, how does that sound to you, Bob?  If the management of a pro basketball team or pro hockey team works as hard as the Alabama athletic department, do you think Bowlsby would suggest that their revenues should be equalized, even though their economic popularity isn’t?  Not on your life.  So why should a football player be expected to relinquish his value in a way that Bowlsby would never consider doing?

You know, if the assholes running college athletics had to live by the same amateurism standard to which they seek to hold players, this whole charade would have been amicably settled a long time ago.

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Is college athletics about to begin eating its own?

Haves vs. have-nots, the story of college sports.  More than anything, it’s the essence of what the NCAA is struggling with right now.

And here that is, boiled down to one short paragraph:

“Our world is not the same in a small program. We don’t have the resources,” said Rita Cheng, chancellor at Southern Illinois. “As long as we know that we can be competitive in the tournament and that our athletes can have opportunities, it is appropriate for us to say, `Your world is different than our world.’”

But what happens when the power conferences no longer care what you think is appropriate, Chancellor?

That’s why those top 65 BCS schools know they could get along just fine without their smaller buddies. They could form their own division, or their own NCAA. Those 286 give the NCAA Tournament some of its Cinderella charm. They also drag down those top 65 schools — the Big 12 among them — who are about to run the NCAA.

“There are a number of points of differentiation between the 65 of and the rest of Division I …” Bowlsby said. “There’s stuff we’ve tried to get done for years. It’s an accumulation of frustration.”

Frustration from the guy, mind you, who proclaimed the pros were “irresponsible” for not taking kids out of high school.  And who also had this to say about possibly shortening the basketball season to a one-semester sport:  “Some of our TV partners would be apoplectic to actually think about such things,” he said.  Not ’til you actually try to do something about it, bub.

The bravado may be false, but the NCAA’s dilemma is anything but.  How do you hold things together enough to keep your goose laying those golden eggs, while giving the big boys more freedom to spend the revenue they generate as they see fit?

Another quick story: One BCS conference official proposed a $55 per day per diem for players at bowl games. During the legislative process, the lower-resource schools balked. So that BCS administrator compromised, going backwards in increments of $5, sort of like an auction in reverse. Finally, he was bargaining dollar by dollar.

I don’t think that’s gonna cut it, quite frankly.

Making matters worse, they’ve finally woken up to the realization that their precious student-athletes aren’t operating in a vacuum.  Those kids may not understand where every penny goes, but they’re aware that there’s a bunch of cash being haggled over.

Emmert’s organization would certainly appear to have the money to make those changes. The NCAA is expected to report revenue of $912,804,046 for 2013 — more than 80 percent of that derived from the Final Four. Yet student-athletes are currently denied so much as a single penny from that golden pot, or from any other revenue stream, including jerseys which bear their numbers or video games where the real-life players strongly resemble the video images.

The riches are so vast that Donovan’s talk of free hamburgers makes one realize that the NCAA could theoretically buy a McDonald’s franchise for every player from all 68 men’s teams that began March Madness this spring, since a franchise runs between $1 and $2 million and the NCAA will report close to $1 billion in revenue for 2014.

“Of course you see it,” said UConn coach Kevin Ollie of the contradictions present in the current NCAA model. “We weren’t getting paid (when Ollie was a Connecticut player), but you’d see our jerseys getting sold. Hopefully we can keep the integrity of the NCAA and the student-athletes, but I’d really like to see us provide health care, for instance, until they’re able to get a secure a job after college. Or maybe a 401K, something they can fall back on when their playing days are over.”

That sound you just heard was Rita Cheng choking.

I’ve said before that the real challenge behind postseason expansion was whether Delany, Scott, Slive and Company were up to the task of calibrating more playoffs without losing a penny of regular season revenue.  It looks like we may discover how good these guys are at keeping all the balls in the air sooner than I expected.

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Mark Emmert’s got a plan. Trust him.

The NCAA thought to hold Emmert’s Final Four presser on Sunday in the hopes nobody would pay attention.  Given what was said, it hardly seems worth the effort.

At his news conference Sunday, NCAA president Mark Emmert said the association was in no rush to come up with plans in case college players’ unions sprout up across the nation.

The association hasn’t been in a rush about anything else, so why should this be any different? Oh, but this union stuff… it’s not good.

“To be perfectly frank, the notion of using a union employee model to address the challenges that do exist in intercollegiate athletics is something that strikes most people as a grossly inappropriate solution to the problems,” Emmert said Sunday. “It would blow up everything about the collegiate model of athletics.”

I could be wrong, but I suspect the players pushing for a union see that as a feature, not a bug. In any event, patience is advised.

“There’s some things that need to get fixed,” Emmert said. “They’re working very aggressively to do that. No one up here believes that the way you fix that is by converting student-athletes into unionized employees.”

If only…

Emmert was joined by other NCAA leaders who said many of the association’s biggest issues — including paying athletes and improving their health care — could be more easily resolved if the five biggest conferences were allowed to write more of their own rules.

So basically the NCAA’s collegiate model of athletics is to give lip service to player concerns, fail to take concrete action, blame the failure on not having enough control over the process and keep cashing the checks in the meantime. Hey, if it ain’t broke and all…

Oh, and stay detached from economic reality, too.

Say what?  Irresponsible to whom?  Mark Emmert? Maybe next year’s presser should be held at midnight.  In a closet.

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Bauerle: is the NCAA putting the horse back in front of the cart?

Somebody asked me the other day what to make of the Jack Bauerle situation and my answer was that I didn’t have much of an answer.  But John Infante points out that it’s an interesting test case for the new NCAA enforcement regime and that Georgia appears to be following the proper protocols.

Taking this information and looking at the NCAA’s penalty matrix, we can see how the penalties faced by the institution and coach differ based on the mitigating and aggravating factors. For Georgia, a Level I violation with mitigation puts most penalties in a range that includes no penalty. The only penalty required for a Level I violation with mitigation is a $5,000 fine. Bauerle on the other hand could be facing a Level I violation with aggravation. That would include a minimum show-cause order of five years and a minimum suspension of 50% of the season. The show-cause order could also restrict him from all athletically related duties, effectively banning him from coaching. Without aggravation, he would be facing a minimum two year show-cause order with partial restrictions of athletically related duties and suspension for 30% of a season.

So far the early indications are that the system is working as intented. A serious violation occurred, was reported promptly, and will be resolved relatively quickly after it was discovered. Georgia is getting credit for having a strong recent history of rule compliance and for detecting, reporting, and acknowledging the violation. Meanwhile the coach, who is alleged to be almost entirely responsible as an individual, is facing the more serious sanctions.

Which, in a situation in which the coach is the bad actor, seems like the proper distribution of punishment.  A shocking thought, I know, but could it be that, for once, the NCAA is getting its act together?

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What is this “voluntary” summer thing you speak of?

Oh, look.  A new NCAA rule.

Summer used to be the sole domain of strength coaches as on-field football coaches were not allowed to have in-person coaching contact or even evaluation until fall camp began. In fact, workouts were not allowed to be called mandatory although they had become virtually that at most major college programs.

Now, teams can have eight hours per week during summer school that can be supervised by a coach. Two of those hours can be used for film review…

On the bright side, I guess you could say they’re slowly starting to dispense with the pretense.  All for the players’ good, of course.

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Moved to respond

So how seriously is the NCAA taking CAPA’s trip to Congress in the wake of the NLRB ruling?  Seriously enough to compel its normally reticent spokesperson, Stacey Osburn, to, well, actually speak:

Stacey Osburn, director of public and media relations for the NCAA, said in a statement that Huma’s concern was “unwarranted.” A Northwestern official has said that the students were not employees and that unionization and collective bargaining were not the appropriate methods to address their concerns.

“The law is fairly clear and consistent with Northwestern’s position, so the NCAA has made no contacts with anyone in Congress attempting to ban the unionization of student-athletes,” Osburn said.

I wonder if Stacey got a bonus for that effort.  It’s almost above and beyond the call of duty.

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Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

Brave Sir Mark

Um, about that Final Four presser

The NCAA needs a strong leader now more than ever, someone with vision and backbone. So far, President Mark Emmert hasn’t shown any signs of having either.

Had Emmert held his state of the union Thursday, as has been the norm for years, he would have been front and center on a day when little else was going on. He would have had the chance to change the conversation, or at least mount a vigorous defense of his organization.

Instead, he’s not speaking until Sunday morning, a time slot that guarantees no one will hear a word.

Y’all enjoy the game!

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