The Artlessness of the Deal

John Infante’s rebuttal to the indentured servitude argument that gets thrown the NCAA’s way is so spot on I’m tempted to add “The Deal” to the Lexicon just so I can use it as shorthand in response to every future whine about paying student-athletes to play.

… The onus then in put on the NCAA to improve the deal it offers to student-athletes. And not just at the margins in terms of multi-year scholarships or better training. Rather, the NCAA membership is pressured to change the fundamentals of the agreement by eliminating the restrictions on profiting from one’s athletic ability and/or reducing or eliminating the academic requirements.

But it was not the NCAA who made the current deal offered to student-athletes the only one available. It was the NFL and NBA who took advantage of the fact that the NCAA operates the only 18-23 year old developmental league at zero cost to the professional league it feeds athletes into in the world. If Division I athletics were not played at the level they are, it would be both unconscionable and unprofitable to both bar high schoolers from entering the professional ranks and refuse to operate a minor league focused on development.

Make sure you read it all.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

17 responses to “The Artlessness of the Deal

  1. TennesseeDawg

    It could be worse, you could be an NFL slave like Adrian Peterson.


  2. Scott W.

    So the NCAA is a pawn to everyone except the student athletes which are the NCAA’s pawn until they are no longer useful or are in a position to shrug off their “educational, if not moral” obligations. Is the NCAA still a pawn when it’s collecting revenue?


  3. Ausdawg85

    Not sure I agree with the “no alternative” argument for football / basketball vs. baseball, soccer, etc. That limitation of choice is only an age restriction. You are more than welcome to go try-out for the Dallas Cowboys…once you are of sufficient age. That’s an NFL rule. Skip college, or better yet, go to school and focus on academics, and train on your own if you don’t like the NCAA imposed “Deal”. Such a choice is not likely a clear path to success…but isn’t that true for anyone seeking a professional career yet chooses to skip college?

    What he still avoids in the “bargain” is how NCAA institutions shamelessly profit on the personal brand of the student-athlete. Maybe AJ can’t sell his jersey on eBay, but he should get a % of the revenue from #8 jerseys sold in the campus bookstore while attending UGA. Probably a small %, and only for sales over a certain volume that would otherwise be attributed to sales due to the UGA brand alone, but it would probably cover a modest Spring Break trip, no? And if framed photos of UGA’s NCAA Champion Equestrian rider (and horse) are sold, same rule applys.

    Not real sure how the horse would spend its money on spring break though…donkey bar in Mexico?


  4. Monday Night Frotteur

    Every anti-competitive conspiracy can make the same argument. ADM could argue “those livestock producers could always stop producing livestock; they voluntarily agree to buy lysine at an artificially high price.” The options (or lack thereof) that market entrants face is of little consequence to an analysis of whether it’s okay for a bunch of competitors to agree not to compete against each other when they hire their labor. These schools are making a killing off of men’s basketball and football, and redistributing the resources that should be going to labor to coaches, other athletes, compliance drones like Infante, and so on. That’s not okay.


    • The options (or lack thereof) that market entrants face is of little consequence to an analysis of whether it’s okay for a bunch of competitors to agree not to compete against each other when they hire their labor.

      You honestly don’t think market barriers affect anti-competitive behavior?


      • Monday Night Frotteur

        I think that barriers to entry of alternative leagues would be relevant to some antitrust issues regarding the NCAA, but where there’s an overt agreement between competitors with monopsony power to fix and cap compensation (absent a CBA drive non-statutory exemption) it isn’t very relevant.

        And on a more basic level, the question should be, is the anti-competitive transfer of resources from basketball and football players to female athletes, male and female pointless-sports athletes, coaches, construction companies and bureaucrats legitimate? I’d say no, and I’m troubled by the fact that a lot of purportedly pro-market people suddenly because very anti-competition when the beneficiaries of that competition don’t look like the pro-market folks.


        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          Do you mean the government mandated transfer of assets required by Title IX? No market forces there that I can see. And what exactly is a “pointless sport?” And to whom is it “pointless?” Certainly not the athletes who participate in that sport. I guess the answer to the “pointless” question would be: “Monday Night Frotteur” who has established himself as the end all and be all of athletic wisdom.


  5. Zdawg

    Universities and the NCAA profit from unique brand building model that blends regional loyalties with experience (attending a college). Mix this with America’s favorite sport and you have a recipe for big $$$$. Even if the NFL had a developmental league that sapped a majority of talent from the college ranks, I doubt there would be much drop off in profitability.

    Do I think the NFL should man up and create a developmental league? Sure. This would take the pressure off ‘the deal’. But go ahead and ask the players union (or should I say former players union?) how easy it is to get the NFL to funnel money into anything that does not make a profit. Maybe more of the pressure should be put on the NFL and not the NCAA?


  6. W Cobb Dawg

    The older I get and the more experienced I become with our capitalist system, the more obvious the inherent unfairness of our system becomes. It’s certainly not a free market, as it’s fixed to over-reward one party, almost always at the expense of another party. Anyone who expects the situation with college players to change is foolish, as the ncaa and colleges are never going to willingly part with their huge profits. Fairness is a discussion left to the 90% of us on the bottom of the food chain. But Infante’s argument makes a good philosophical read.


  7. Cojones

    Ausdawg 85- and don’t forget the fillies would get to watch the Budweiser Clydesdales play nude football on the beach at Cancun.
    -“donkey bar in Mexico”? ,Unh, Unh, Unh….boy oughta be shamed of hisself.


  8. Cojones

    Sorry. Didn’t mean to interrupt all this politico-economic jive by keying in on Ausdawg 85’s plainly hilarious reference , but some of this stuff is like wading thru peanut butter . Personally, I prefer Charles Barkley’s reference to the “Plantation System” because us Southerners can identify with personalty.