Daily Archives: May 30, 2015

A reminder that it’s always better to be a have

Andy Staples looks at the oodles of dough the SEC Network is already spinning off for its schools and has a vision.

It also means that anytime someone affiliated with the Big Ten or SEC says they would have to cut sports if forced to pay football and men’s basketball players more, that person is a lying liar who lies. It means that person is peddling more bovine excrement than the fine folks at Black Kow, whose core business is the sale of cow manure. This new money will allow the Big Ten and SEC to easily pay full cost of attendance scholarships, but all the schools in the Power Five leagues should be able to easily afford that.

The federal courts probably will force the schools to pay the athletes more on top of that, and for a legitimate reason. The schools decided to become the sellers of television programs when they sued the NCAA in 1981, and while that has allowed them to enjoy the spoils of the TV business, they soon will learn what other programmers have learned: Eventually, you have to give the performers a raise or somebody will bury you in court.

Athletic directors will claim their programs don’t make money, but that’s also a lie at most Power Five schools. They would make money if they weren’t giving their coaches huge raises and putting gold-plated waterfalls in their locker rooms. Do not confuse an inability to manage money with a lack of money, and don’t believe people who just got $10 million more when they say they can’t pay for the programs they were already funding with $10 million less.

The key month to remember is October, when Jenkins v. NCAA is scheduled to have its class certification hearing. That case, spearheaded by famed sports labor lawyer Jeffrey Kessler, seeks to obliterate the business model in major college sports and create a completely open market. As you’ve read above, the dollar figures in major college sports are too large to simply walk away. So something will happen if the class gets certified. Either the wealthiest leagues in college sports will cut a deal with their athletes or they will roll the dice and go to court.

A loss would result in a radically different landscape. A deal collectively bargained with the athletes would keep the money flowing and probably allow for an antitrust exemption that stops the lawsuits. And the athletes wouldn’t ask for much. They’d probably take 10-15 percent of athletically related revenue right now. Go to court, and a judge or jury might treat these college sports leagues that make money selling television programs just like the other sports leagues that make money selling television programs. The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement gives players 47 percent of basketball-related income. The NFL’s gives players 55 percent of television money, 45 percent of NFL Properties money and 40 percent of locally generated revenue. Suddenly, 10 percent sounds like a bargain.

What does all this court-related discussion have to do with the SEC’s celebration of its network haul? Everything. The leagues realized their people could get rich by diving headfirst into the television business, and now they’re reaping the rewards and the consequences. But for two leagues, the rewards are going to be far greater.

If you think about this for a minute, the Big Ten and SEC are in something of a no-lose situation.  If the schools and the NCAA are smart enough to settle the antitrust litigation, they’ll be the two conferences that are in the best position to do so. And if they don’t and Kessler wins, they may be the only two conferences that will be able to afford the aftermath without missing much of a beat.

What that says about trial strategy and maybe even how the politics of seeking an antitrust exemption may be something to watch unfold.  And nobody says these guys are smart enough to work things out optimally.  But being the camel farmer sitting on top of all that oil sure beats the alternative.

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Mark Richt’s Open Records request

Jon Solomon fleshes out a lot more details about what people in the SEC are concerned about when it comes to the COA calculations each school goes through.  There really is a lot involved.

Auburn has one of the SEC’s highest cost-of attendance averages at $5,586. However, even that figure is not a one-size, fits-all calculation and can vary based on whether the student is in-state or out-of-state and whether there are other personal needs provided to the financial aid office, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said.

“If you live in Birmingham and I live in Auburn, if I go through the financial aid process, my number could be lower than yours because I live closer to Auburn,” Jacobs said. “But if I have a child, then my child care could increase and you may not. Ours is an average number so it could fluctuate.”

Mississippi State has an average cost of attendance figure of $5,156. Bulldogs athletic director Scott Stricklin supports SEC schools sharing within the league who’s getting cost of attendance exceptions, how much those exceptions are worth, and how often players receive them.

“To me, that’s helpful to know,” Stricklin said. “If our campus is rewarding on average four to six appeals per semester and all of a sudden our student-athletes have 40 to 50 winning appeals, I’d think if I’m another school I’d want to know that.”

So, yeah, enquiring minds – in this case SEC coaches and ADs – want to know.  And Mark Richt wants to get all Pork Rind Jimmy over it.

“I’m curious to know how they get to their numbers,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt, whose school’s cost of attendance average is $3,221 for in-state students and $3,746 for out-of-state. “I’m sure a lot of people are curious about that. Do you (reporters) want to know? You got open records law? Can you all ask and find out?”

Um… guys, I don’t think he’s kidding there.  Help a head coach out.

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Filed under Recruiting, SEC Football

The SEC gets a little more transparent.

This kind of slid under the radar.

The SEC also passed legislation that will aid transparency in understanding the full cost of attendance stipends that will be given to athletes. Those figures, which are based on formulas from each school’s financial aid office, have produced variations as much as $3,000 per year within the SEC. Earlier this week, Alabama coach Nick Saban called for a cap on cost of attendance (the federal judge who ruled in the Ed O’Bannon case made that impossible) and said the differences invited fraud.

Under the new SEC rules, each school will provide an annual report to the conference office describing the methodology used to come up with cost of attendance figures and explaining any individual case in which an athlete’s individual cost of attendance figure is above the school’s published average.

It’s a start, and under the circumstances, probably the best outcome that could have been expected.

I can’t wait to read some of the explanations from the usual suspects, though.

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“All those things are for the welfare of the student-athletes.”

I’m sensitive to many of the criticisms minority coaches have raised over the years and am the first to concede that some have had validity.  But this?

A new organization of minority coaches on Friday sharply criticized NCAA eligibility standards set to take effect next year for incoming freshmen, saying they will deny too many athletes the opportunity to go to college.

The National Association for Coaching Equity and Development, a group led by Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith, Georgetown coach John Thompson III and former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, issued a statement to The Associated Press said the standards disproportionately target minority and less affluent students in “an unintended consequence beyond acceptability.”

The new rules require high school athletes to have a grade-point average of at least 2.3 in 16 core courses (up from 2.0 in 13 courses). And 10 of those courses must be completed in the first three years of school in order to be eligible to compete as a freshman. Once a student completes a core course in his or her first three years, it cannot be retaken for a better grade.

The NAFCED group said they fear the bar has been raised too high for some athletes hoping to play college sports.

C’mon, man.  You’ve had four years to prepare for this rule change and only now are you raising the alarm?

Even under the new NCAA guidelines, student-athletes get preferential admission standards.  Is it too much to ask that they at least be prepared enough coming out of high school that college isn’t a glorified re-run of eighth grade studies?

Instead of venting your anger at the NCAA (can’t believe I’m typing that), why not try pointing the finger at state governments that tolerate shitty public secondary education systems?  A little accountability on that level might go a longer way, and for more than just student-athletes.

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“I know the first question you’re going to ask.”

Actually, Steve Shaw, yours isn’t my first question.

Mine is why it took you guys so long to take what is an obvious step in going to eight-man officiating crews.

… The conference first shifted to seven-person crews in 1986, and Shaw said it was high time to add another official since the game has changed significantly since that time.

“In 1986, we still had teams running the wishbone. The veer was probably the most prevalent offense out there. Yes, the game has changed,” Shaw said.

“Nobody had heard of the spread back then. Nobody thought to send five receivers out on a route. Well now, obviously we’ve got the spread, we’ve got tempo, people all over the field, and it’s a tougher game to officiate.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it’s finally being done.  But wouldn’t it have been nice if someone in a position to do so had told Bobby Gaston to get his head out of his ass a decade ago?

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