Boy, give a guy a blue turf and a bowl win over Big Game Bob – like that’s so freakin’ unusual – and the next thing you know he wants to dictate terms to the rest of college athletics.
You may remember these classic hits from Boise State President Bob Kustra:
- “The BCS is a fundamentally flawed system that is unfair in its access, governance and revenue distribution…”
- “We want to propose to the NCAA a mandated home-and-home scheduling arrangement for I-A non-conference football games. Why should Boise State go to Georgia, but more than likely they’re not going to return it?”
- “… Nowhere is the inequality of the BCS system more evident than in revenue distribution.”
- “There is considerable irony in the fact that in the highest temple of political correctness, American higher education, the BCS worships the false idols of monopoly, inequity and greed at the expense of the virtues of fairness, access and competition.”
Then again, you may not, because, quite frankly, nobody outside of Kustra’s family really cares what’s bothering him. That’s not slowing him down, though. There’s always a new issue du jour to rage against, and today it’s big conference autonomy. Kustra has submitted an op-ed to USA Today, but since that isn’t the same thing as getting it printed there, he’s turned it over to local media, too. It’s a real call to arms.
To assure the largesse that intercollegiate athletics needs to feed itself and to perpetuate the dominance of a few, for years now the NCAA leadership has carefully controlled the decision-making structure at the Division 1 level. In the past, the BCS structure guaranteed monopoly control, but the so-called “high resource” five conferences seem to pull the strings these days, with two of the conferences taking the lead in calling the shots for the others. It seems they are never satisfied with their bloated athletic budgets, especially when threatened in recent years by upstart, so-called mid-major programs that steal recruits, oftentimes beat the big boys, “mess with” the national rankings and sometimes take postseason bowl games and revenue away from the anointed few. If they have the resources to outspend their Division 1 colleagues with fewer resources, then why not fix the NCAA rules to do so.
The latest round of NCAA reforms proposes a new governance structure that President Harris Pastides of the University of South Carolina described in a New York Times op-ed piece as allowing universities “to independently determine at what level they can provide resources to benefit students.” Now there’s a sure-fire way to kick off a race for larger athletics budgets. At the very least, they are to be commended for their honesty.
Of course, this grab for money and power is couched in the noblest of terms – it’s all about the student-athletes and paying them beyond the scholarship because they generate revenue for the programs.
Now this shit might be taken seriously, except that Kustra’s had his hand out for some of the loot the big boys keep to themselves for so long that it comes off as little more than comic relief. And, yeah, more than a little hypocritical.
It is sometimes hard to believe that our finest universities and their presidents are behind this effort to fuel what the former NCAA President Myles Brand termed the “arms race” in Division 1 athletic budgets. You would think that the primacy of the academic mission and the long-held principles of amateur athletics would trump the drive toward commercialism and professionalism in the athletic department. You would think that university presidents would be up in arms at the way the NFL and the NBA use the universities’ athletic departments as training camps and minor league clubs for professional sports.
Kustra would be more than happy to have Boise State take part in the arms race. It’s just that the Jim Delanys of the world won’t cut him in on the deal.
In related news, Boise State just sold the naming rights to its stadium for $625,000 per year for the next fifteen years. No doubt that’s to insure that the academic mission retains its primacy. Wait, what?
With unlimited meals already approved and cost-of-attendance stipends fast approaching on the horizon, the cost of competing in big-time college football is set to increase substantially in the coming years. To his credit, athletic director Mark Coyle wasn’t shy in connecting those developments to today’s.
“There’s a lot of things that are coming down the pipe line,” Coyle said. “A lot of those things need to be defined, but these are things that will help our program to provide for our student-athletes in every way we can.
“We talk about providing a first-class experience to our student-athletes and when we are able to secure a partnership like this with Albertsons, that’s a difference maker for our program to help us address some of those concerns that are coming up in the future.”
Yes, it’s hard to believe.