If you caught Meet The Press yesterday, you were privileged to see Mark Emmert live down to expectations. Emmert continues to pretend there is some concrete difference between the $2,000 stipend the he would like to see the big conferences hand out and pay for play in general. Charlie Pierce shreds that distinction into tiny pieces.
The star of the proceedings was Mark Emmert, who makes six figures as the head of the NCAA and who works in a $35 million headquarters in Indianapolis, all of which was paid for primarily by the proceeds of unpaid labor. But, I paraphrase.
EMMERT: Well, the gap needs to be closed around the context of being a student at a university. So if we provide the N.C.A.A. members, universities and colleges, provide a young man or a young woman with all the expenses they have, legitimate expenses as a student athlete, including this so-called stipend, right, that extra amount of money.
The “stipend” is the last redoubt of the buffet-grazers who rake in the cash. Unfortunately, once you institute a “stipend” for athletes, that’s the ballgame. You are doing pay-for-play no matter what you choose to call it. And you won’t be able to argue that a $200 a month stipend is all right, but a $2000 stipend is wrong. Not if you want to make sense, anyway.
Like pregnancy, there is no “little bit” to payment. There is no slippery slope here. Instead, you simply step off a cliff.
But I can’t say that Emmert was the individual most detached from reality on the show. That honor would go to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who evidently believes that athletic directors can sit down and reason with the likes of Jimmy Sexton to usher in a better age for all men.
Universities need to tie bonus pay of their coaches and athletics directors more prominently to their college athletes’ academic performance, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said today on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“The incentive structures for coaches, the incentive structures for ADs have to be changed so much more of their compensation is based not upon wins or losses but around academic performance and graduation,” Duncan said. “And university presidents and boards have been very complacent and soft in this issue, and you have to really look at the leadership of universities here.”
The university presidents and boards have followed the wishes of their constituents to the letter. That’s how you wind up with circumstances such as Bruce Pearl being hired at Auburn at $2 million+/year four months in advance of a show cause order being vacated.
Nobody’s paying Nick Saban ungodly sums of money to boost academic performance and graduation rates a decimal point beyond what it takes to keep his players eligible and his program out of APR limbo. And barring government action – fortunately, that wasn’t a shoe Duncan was prepared to drop yesterday – that ain’t gonna change. At least not until the day when ESPN is paying big bucks for the broadcast rights to psychology class.