Why it’s hard to take Jim Delany at face value.

Andy Staples tries to be fair-minded about Delany’s stance on freshman ineligibility, but here’s where the buck stops:

… Unfortunately for Delany, reality has shifted since 1966. Back then, college sports were a business but not a multibillion-dollar business. Coaches, athletic directors and conference commissioners in the most powerful leagues made decent enough wages by the standard of the day, but nowhere near the megabucks they make now. No commissioner would have envisioned that he’d be the de facto head of a cable television network.

But that’s what Delany is now. He has made millions off college athletics. He created the Big Ten Network. He will be the one watching as ESPN and FOX trip over one another to throw money at the Big Ten when its first-tier media rights become available next year. In fact, it’s easy to argue no one is more responsible for turning college sports into the cutthroat business it is today than Delany. It also doesn’t help that Delany and his fellow commissioners needed a host of federal lawsuits to convince them to give the football and basketball players whose efforts produce all of the money their first raise—if you can call the cost-of-attendance stipends coming down the pipe a raise—since the 1940s. When an administrator suggests anything that appears to take something away from the athletes upon whom the business is built, he will be accused of having ulterior motives.

Particularly when said administrator has a track record of overstating his case.  And when his latest stand is conveniently limited to the two sports which generate the main part of college athletics revenue, that doesn’t help.

Another thing Staples touches on that deserves more attention is what the end game of returning to a model where freshman football and men’s basketball student-athletes couldn’t see the field would look like.

… The idea is that players would have fewer responsibilities as freshmen and would have more time to acclimate to college life and college classes. The most pie-in-the-sky model would severely limit the amount of time the athletic programs could require of their freshmen. Yet the truth is no matter what the rules say coaches would still force players to do everything except play in the games. So, realistically, the players would miss out on the most fun part of being an athlete and only get a few hours back in return. That’s hardly a fair trade. Plus, most coaches would want to field freshman teams that would then play one another. That’s what happened before 1972, and it would probably happen again.

Given that we live in a world of “voluntary” summer practices and 20-hour per week limitations that are conveniently worked around, I think that’s spot on.  Most of these kids aren’t enrolling at State U for the chance to become Rhodes Scholars, and their coaches aren’t expecting that either. They need those kids preparing for their sophomore years on the field.  If all ineligibility boils down to is these kids having a few extra hours on their hands on a few Saturday afternoons in the fall, it’s hard to see how that magically translates into full-blown scholarhood.  But maybe those of you who think Delany’s on to something here can explain how it would help more.



Filed under Academics? Academics., The NCAA

6 responses to “Why it’s hard to take Jim Delany at face value.

  1. reipar

    It would help more in basketball where there is midweek travel. In football it would only free up their Friday/Saturday. I am not sure how much value there is to that.

    What I do not understand is why is this idea not being applied to every sport. The golf teams can be gone for a week at a time. Most baseball teams play at least one and sometimes two midweek games.


    • Cousin Eddie

      The reason it is not being applied to every sports is because UK isn’t setting up a 1 and done championship in other sports every year.


  2. Dog in Fla

    “Why it’s hard to take Jim Delany at face value.”

    Because he and friend always go off deep end?


  3. Let’s assume just for this analysis that the federal appeals court or perhaps the USSC upholds the conclusion that the antitrust laws apply to the markets in which the colleges and players are buyers and sellers. Would unilateral action by one participant in the markets affecting the other participant’s access be an anti-trust violation?

    The NBA, NFL and MLB are able to restrict entry because the conditions of entry are the products of collective bargaining between buyers and sellers. Folks get involuntary capillary reaction when the letters p,l,a,y,e,r,s,u,n,i,o, and another n all appear in close proximity to each other, but in the long run if the players had some organization with which the NCAA could negotiate turns it may be better able to resolve issues.

    That is why as part of the negotiating process the last time the NFL collective bargaining agreement expired the players threatened to decertify the NFL Players Association and the NFL wanted the NFLPA to continue to be the bargaining agent.


  4. joe

    Wonder how many more arrests there would be? How would the 5th year transfer rule work? How many kids would Alabama greyshirt every year? Lord knows their freshman team would have 200 kids on it.

    There are so many unintended consequences that would come from this.


  5. diving duck

    Can you imagine the hype machine Nick Chubb would have generated last season playing in freshman scrimmage games? I’m sure tickets would be sold and these games would be prime time television during the weekdays.