Don’t say you weren’t warned, CAPA.
One of the five witnesses, Stanford athletics director Bernard Muir, told the committee that if his school’s athletes were allowed to unionize, the school “might opt not to compete at the level we are competing in.” And in an interview with USA TODAY Sports after the hearing, he was unequivocal: “If (Stanford’s athletes) are deemed employees, we will opt for a different model.”
“I just know that from our board of trustees, our president, our provost, the Stanford culture, it just wouldn’t be appropriate to deem student-athletes as employees,” Muir said. “We would deem that inappropriate, so for that purpose we would have to look at other alternatives.”
I wonder how many of those alternatives include lucrative broadcast deals.
This, of course, is so much bullshit, as Andy Schwarz, a sports economist who also testified at the hearing, explains.
“The idea that this is a money-losing industry is incredible,” Schwarz said. “If you look at a money-losing industry, you wouldn’t see rising employee [coaches] pay, you wouldn’t see firms flocking to join the industry. The money is in the system. It’s just that it’s being denied to the primary generators.”
Schwarz compared the NCAA to a rich investment banker on Wall Street who makes over a million dollars per year. That’s a lot of money. But what if the same investment banker buys a lavish apartment on the Upper East Side and a vacation home in the Hamptons, and then has some kids and needs to change his lifestyle? Of course, he won’t want to do that and could claim he doesn’t have money to raise his kids. But he does if he reallocates his money.
This is the same predicament facing the NCAA. Its schools need to operate in budget. But they also want to, as Schwarz said it, build “recruiting palaces,” shifting the burden of funding athletes to tax-funded Pell grants.
The phrase “cutting off your nose to spite your face” comes to mind, except the big schools aren’t going to walk away from all that money. They’ll simply bitch and moan about not being able to afford it all the way to the bank.