CBS’ Spencer Tillman is back with his promised solution for the problem of the exploited college athlete and I must say I’m underwhelmed by the whole thing.
Much of the article is spent discussing the almost “unimaginable wealth” generated by college football – TV contracts (although what the Super Bowl has to do with college football revenue escapes me) and coaching salaries getting the usual finger pointing you see in articles like this. There’s even a nice touch from Tillman letting us know he’s an insider on stuff like this, so that you’ll think his opinion is tinged with a little more gravitas than your average pundit:
…sports programming is unique in holding the viewers’ attention, and that is what we call in the trade a “lost leader.”
And, of course, college athletes don’t share in the wealth, at least not directly.
From there, Tillman gives us a rather pointless appraisal from some Houston-based executive who’s hired student athletes after they’ve graduated and finds that some succeed and other don’t. Oh yeah, a lot of them seem to lack maturity. Real insightful stuff.
Anyway, to solve the problem, Tillman somewhat surprisingly doesn’t propose paying student athletes – maybe he recognizes that the math for that is rather daunting – but instead offers two incentives: a “college enterprise fund” that would establish financial support for players to get their degrees once their eligibility expired and a “legacy guarantee” that would obligate the school to admit the children of its student athletes.
The first is admirable, although the devil is in the details, as even Tillman acknowledges. The second is just plain weird. I’m not even sure it would pass a legal challenge. But how many 17-18 year olds would be motivated by a promise like that to choose a particular school? For places like Duke, Vandy or Stanford, it might be a compelling sales tool, but I can think of more than a few schools where it might be little more than the punch line to a bad joke. (Assuming a kid even cares to think that far ahead…)
In the end, there’s just not much there, although I guess he deserves a pat on the back for trying.
By the way, Spencer, the expression is “loss leader”, not “lost leader”. The former is what you have when Kroger sells a gallon of milk for a buck; the latter is Lloyd Carr after the Appy State game. I tell you what – between this article and Stewart Mandel’s embarrassing stab at English in a recent Mailbag, I’m beginning to wonder if the big media sites are outsourcing their editing to India or China.
And while we’re on the compensation topic, you might want to read what this blogger has to say on the subject, if only because the idea of Mike Gundy directing his rant at the Okie State brass instead is so detached from reality. Had Gundy actually tried something like that, he’d be out of a job faster than T. Boone Pickens could say, “are you sure you have enough coverage?”.