“This is a watershed moment in college athletics.”

I linked to an Andy Staples piece last weekend in which he speculated that the conferences are looking at a choice between settling the antitrust litigation for 10-15 cents on the dollar, or fighting to the death and looking at a split with student-athletes more along the lines of 50-50.  Facing those choices, most rational people would make the effort to settle, but, hey, this is the NCAA we’re talking about.

The funny thing is, it sounds like there may be a few cracks in the glass starting to show.  Take, for example, what Ohio State AD Gene Smith has to say about O’Bannon:

“I don’t struggle with (covering) the cost of attendance because it’s in our financial model,” Smith said. “What we had (in the NCAA) was antiquated. But we could be getting to the O’Bannon thing, which is really pay-for-play. That’s going to be real interesting.”

U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken ruled in August 2014 that the NCAA’s restriction of compensation to college athletes for use of their name, images and likeness is in violation of the nation’s antitrust laws.

The federal judge’s injunction allows schools to offer deferred payments to Football Bowl Subdivision players and Division I men’s basketball players for use of their name, image and likeness beginning in the 2016-17 academic year.

Wilken ruled that the NCAA is allowed to cap those payments at no less than $5,000 per year, but the Aug. 1 start date could be delayed if the NCAA wins its ongoing appeal before a three-judge panel in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“With the O’Bannon case, there isn’t much you can do,” Smith said. “You just got to sit and wait and see what (the appeals ruling) is and what the clarifications are. There are a lot of questions around that.

“You can ask questions all you want, but at the end of the day, you have to have finality in order to have clarity. And we’re not there yet. Even with the ruling, whatever it ends up finally being, you still have a million questions even if you just go down the Title IX route.”

Smith isn’t high enough in the food chain to make that call, but you have the sense he knows what’s coming down the turnpike soon and would prefer to get on with making plans to deal with that.  That’s about all an AD at a P5 school can say right now.

However, Harris Pastides is a horse of an entirely different color.

NCAA Division I board of directors chairman Harris Pastides said he is not inclined to have the NCAA try to get the US Supreme Court to hear the Ed O’Bannon case if the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals rules unfavorably against the association.

Pastides, president of the University of South Carolina, said that an NCAA committee is currently working on creating new NCAA bylaws allowing football and men’s basketball players to be paid if the O’Bannon injunction goes into effect. Depending on the outcome of the NCAA’s appeal, schools could begin offering players deferred payments for use of their names, images and likenesses (NILs) beginning Aug. 1. The payments would go into effect in the 2016-17 academic year.

Pastides said he thinks the NCAA made a good case in its appeal and described the O’Bannon decision as a “hybrid ruling” that at least would allow the NCAA to limit how much money could flow to athletes. The NCAA could cap the amount of money for NILs at no less than $5,000 per year.

“My hope would be that we’d get beyond this,” Pastides said in an interview with CBSSports.com from the SEC spring meetings. “You ask me if I’d like to see it appealed to the Supreme Court. I’m one member of the board. I’m eager to see us turn the page on that and start working within whatever framework we have to start working in.”

You wonder how many of Pastides’ peers are also ready to turn the page.  It’s hard to believe he’s expressing himself in a vacuum.

Besides making peace at least on one front, there’s an added benefit from structuring NLI payments.  Conferences could use them, as long as they meet Judge Wilken’s minimum requirement, to level out uneven COA stipends.

CBSSports.com: Wilken did include cost of attendance in the O’Bannon injunction in addition to the allowance of money for NILs. So is it your understanding that it would be $5,000 plus cost of attendance, or it would be a combination?

Pastides: I thought it would be a combination. I really do. That’s why I think (the dollar amount is) not that far away. … I think her decision would be just a bump up to five grand. But there are details that would have to be figured out. In fairness to us, if it goes through unobstructed by appeal, there would be some clarification. The NCAA would immediately have questions back: What did you mean by that? How does that get adjudicated? Literally, if we wanted to implement that ruling, it’s not clear. Just like the questions you had for me.”

Pastides may not have the court order exactly right, but you can tell where he’s going with his thinking.  And this doesn’t come as much of a surprise, either.

CBSSports.com: Some members of Congress want to create a presidential commission to examine issues in college sports. Do you think that is going to happen and what do you believe Congress’ role should be in college sports?

Pastides: I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think there will be a constant din. There will probably be a minority of people wanting this anytime there is a flagrant problem [in college sports], because there will be these problems, I’m sure, every year. Congress’ role ought to be inquiring, to be interested, to be observant, but not to be managing or legislating because I think we’ve done very well all these years.”

At least they’re starting to get a clue about what things to be concerned with.  On the other hand, you’ve got to laugh at this:

Pastides: I know, but I would say 90 percent or more of NCAA members — even the 65 universities in the five autonomy conferences — are not going to find it easy to find the extra money because you can’t divert it from the coaches. The only thing you really can do is either in the best case defer projects that are of value to the university and the players themselves, or increase tuition or take state appropriations away in order to pay the athletes more. There’s not a huge treasury that allows us to do that. We’re fortunate with the [SEC] Network we have some new income. That’s where we’re going to get the money.

They’re stuck with the coaches’ salaries, salaries that have been set in a market distorted by free labor costs.  Poor babies.

Bottom line:  college football’s landscape a year from now may look very, very different from how it appears today.

47 Comments

Filed under See You In Court, The NCAA

47 responses to ““This is a watershed moment in college athletics.”

  1. JCDAWG83

    I want to see the presidents and ADs tell the non athlete students “we are going to have to raise your tuition so we can pay these 100 or so students who already get to go to school for free and already get a stipend of sorts to play a game”. That should go over great with the students who are taking out loans to pay for school, especially the one who don’t care anything about sports.

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    • Wah… it’s just a bullshit excuse.

      Besides, if you read my post about what the U of Cincinnati is doing with student fees, it’s not like the schools feel the need to tell students anything right now about athletic spending.

      Just stick to saying you don’t like student-athletes getting paid and leave it at that.

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      • Having a law professor as your University President is going to be a definite plus. The College Presidents that run the NCAA cartel are starting to pull their heads out of the sand.

        Man am I glad Michael Adams is gone!

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      • JCDAWG83

        Whether I like them being paid or not is irrelevant. The issue is WHO pays them. If the money to pay the players comes from television, ticket sales, “donations” to the athletic associations, etc, that seems fine. The people who are attending, watching or otherwise enjoying the sport are funding the players pay. That is how the system works now, the money for the players scholarships comes from the Hartman fund and the proceeds of the sports programs and flows from the UGA Athletic Assoc to the university to pay tuition, room, board, etc.. When the rest of the student body is forced to pay for some of their fellow students to be paid to play a game the regular student may, or may not, care anything about, that seems to be a problem. Additionally, how does the school justify to the softball, tennis, golf, baseball, etc player who is on partial scholarship that they will need to pay more tuition so the football and basketball players can get a COA stipend and a paycheck?

        You’re correct, I don’t want athletes to be paid and I’m certainly not alone in that line of thinking. If it does come to paying them, I would hope to see the athletic associations be the ones to pay them. After all, the associations were set up to separate the sports programs from the actual university so the coaches could be paid more and the sports programs could avoid all those pesky university rules and make huge profits. Now, when it appears the costs might be going up fairly considerably, the associations seem to want to turn to the actual university for the extra money. At least that’s what Pastides seems to be saying.

        I don’t really give a crap about what the University of Cincinnati is doing. Maybe you can turn off your default setting of disagreeing with anything I say and read and think about my comment before you respond?

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        • If all you care about is how Georgia players get paid, you’ve got nothing to worry about. There’s more than enough in the till for that without having to hit up the student body for more.

          You’ve slightly misread what Pastides said – he’s giving out the usual song about most schools not being able to afford to make NLI payments, but he’s using the term in an inclusive way with regard to their athletic associations.

          As for not caring what UC does, perhaps you need to switch to a default setting of saying your only concern is that Georgia players not be paid.

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        • DawgPhan

          The problem is that you created some hypothetical (in your head) that would destroy the paying players argument, except that it is already happening and hasnt destroyed anything.

          maybe you should stop saying things that are so easy to disagree with.

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          • JCDAWG83

            Or, maybe the AAs should not be allowed to pass the increased cost of paying players on to the regular students? Let the AA and AD figure out where they can cut some costs or generate more revenue from the ticket holders to get the money to pay the players. If the programs said to their ticket buyers “we are going to go up on the price of tickets $5 to cover the cost of paying the players” and the ticket buyers said “OK”, that would be fair to all concerned. To hide the increased cost in student fees seems wrong to me. If fans want players paid, let the fans pay for the cost of paying them.

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            • RocketDawg

              I almost never agree with anything that you say but for once I have to agree with you. I personally don’t think that the player should be paid over and above a scholarship and full cost of attendance but that is an argument for another day. If we go to a true “pay for play” system and the extra funding comes in any way shape form or fashion from the tuition or fees collected from students then I have a huge problem with that. School is already expensive enough and there are already too many budget shortfalls on the academic side to justify taking money to give to the athletic side of the house.

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      • Mayor

        Maybe it’s time for Saban, et al to take a haircut? 🙂

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    • Like the universities already are having students paying years worth of increased student loan payments to pay coaches millions of dollars and to pay for shit such as waterfalls in the weight room? Jimeny Crickets, the ACOA stipends are much lower percentage of the budget than the other gold plated stuff is.

      Why do you not lead the charge to reduce wasteful spending on athletics stuff that already sucks dollars from the students?

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      • Because that’s not where the romance of CFB lies.

        I really do understand the complaints, because I was there once, too. But with everything that’s gone on in big time college athletics over the past decade, it’s impossible for me to romanticize about amateurism any more.

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      • JCDAWG83

        Generally, the universities don’t pay the coaches or pay for the coaches’ offices. Those things are paid for by the athletic associations which are funded by ticket sales, television revenue, donations, etc.

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        • Where do you think the money comes from when an AA doesn’t have enough to cover expenses?

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          • JCDAWG83

            And therein lies the basis of my original post. When the payers start getting paid 10-15% of revenue and the AA has even less money available, the student body will have to fork over more money to pay players who are already going to school for free while the regular students are not. Schools like Georgia will not face this problem, the UGA AA has plenty of money to pay the players. My question is; how does a school whose athletic programs already operate at a loss go to their students with a straight face and say “we need more money from you to pay these other students to play a game that is already losing money for the college and now it’s going to lose more money because we are going to pay the students to play it”?

            Whether or not I, personally, want players to be paid has nothing to do with that question. You feel very strongly that not paying the players is morally wrong, I feel that forcing regular students to subsidize the paying of players (who are fellow students) against their will is equally wrong. At what point will the AAs or schools be, for all practical purposes, forcing students to pay professional athletes whether they care about the sports or not? I have the option of supporting an NFL player by buying a ticket or merchandise or whatever, I can choose to or choose not to. If college players are paid and the students are required to pay the increased fee, they have no choice but to pay the players, they cannot opt out of the fee.

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            • Jesus, first you attempt to rebut my argument by telling me you don’t care about what Cincinnati does and now you do a full 180 and tell me you do care.

              Contrary to what you assert, your personal feelings about player compensation are what’s driving your arguments.

              The problem for you is that schools have already compromised themselves so completely over the last ten years that there’s nothing left for you to object to than that.

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              • JCDAWG83

                This is not about whether or not they are paid, I’ve said I’m opposed to it and I’ve also said this has nothing to do with that. I’m making the assumption they WILL be paid, my whole issue is with where the money will come from to pay them. If I was all in on paying players, I would still have a problem with the idea of increasing costs to regular students to pay them.

                I agree that the sports programs have gotten so big and there is so much money that they have become a force unto themselves. I don’t think there is no turning back though. If there is a will to change what college sports have become, it can be done. I’ve said before that the NCAA could change things overnight by increasing entrance requirements for athletes to something approaching real college standards.

                There’s too much money in it right now for anything to really change, I know that. However, the paying of players could be the first step in a change of mindset among the fans.

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                • The money will come from the same places it’s been coming from. Most schools will have the means; some will not.

                  Basically, business will continue as usual, despite all the concern. The idea that there’s a will to change died a long time ago. There’s just too much money in the system now. The schools are slowly waking up to the concept that they’ll have to share some of the loot with the help. And in the end, they’ll choose to do that rather than stop taking the checks.

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                • However, the paying of players could be the first step in a change of mindset among the fans.

                  But you keep saying it’s not about whether or not they are paid. So which is it?

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                • JCDAWG83

                  That’s why I used the word “could” and not “will”. We’ll have to see what happens. I could be wrong, I have been before. I guess we’ll wait and see how the ticket holders respond. I’m realistic enough to know the only thing that affects any decisions in BM is money. If the ticket buyers keep sending the checks after the players start getting paid, things will continue like they are now except the players will get paid. If enough ticket holders decide they don’t like the NFL Light model in college and stop sending in checks, things will change.

                  No AA is going to walk away from the money on principle. I think it’s going to open a Pandora’s box of issues. I guess we’ll see.

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                • Dog in Fla

                  Inside the box they’ll find this but only because they’ve been asking for it for so long

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        • DawgPhan

          Auburn collected $4.384 million in student fees(FY 2013-2014), while Alabama collected nothing. Essentially, Auburn students are directly subsidizing the athletic department. Alabama hasn’t charged student fees for athletics for seven consecutive years.

          Or generally they do.

          So Auburn has gone to their students and asked them to subsidize their athletics. They are paying for the coaches and the offices.

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        • GaskillDawg

          And “coaches [salaries] ….the coaches’ offices and [t]hose things” are also funded by student activities fees. I was a UGA student from September 1979 to June 1979 and I paid a student activity fee every quarter. That fee went to the UGA AA. Current UGA students do, too. Therefore, for at least 43 years every UGA student has paid directly into the UGA AA. It was not discretionary. At least half of the UGA student body does not get football tickets or go to the games. About 90% of the student body does not attend mens basketball games. Those substantial percentages of the student body do not care for football and basketball but pay out of their pockets to the UGA AA. A bunch of them fund those payments with student loans. Just think, today’s students will be paying student loan payments in 2030 for those students’ share of the cost of really plush football player lounges at Butts-Mehre.

          Come on, man, be righteously indignant about that, too.

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          • JCDAWG83

            Well, if the AA is getting money from student fees, then the AA should fall under the university’s rules. I honestly have no problem with the high salaries, plush offices and all the neat stuff the AA has, as long as the money is paid voluntarily by the people who enjoy the sports the AA produces. If the AA is forcing everyone to pay in, everyone should have access and the AA should be held to the same rules as the rest of the university. I’m not naive enough to think the system is going to change, but I can disagree with how it’s set up.

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            • DawgPhan

              So in other words, you have no idea how any of this works, but you have strong opinions on the subject and feel like everyone should listen to them.

              gotcha. my 4 year old does the same thing.

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              • JCDAWG83

                Sorry, I guess your 9 months as a UGA student makes you an expert on the system. Just so you know, your student activity fee did not go to the AA, some of it went to other clubs and organizations. There is a student athletic fee which provides for free or reduced admission to university sporting events. The athletic fee is the only fee the AA gets any of.

                Having just had a daughter graduate from UGA and being an alum myself, I am very aware of the many fees paid in addition to tuition at UGA. Here is something you may want to read. I think I have a pretty good idea how all of this works.

                http://dos.uga.edu/services/businessoffice/activityfee.html

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            • I honestly have no problem with the high salaries, plush offices and all the neat stuff the AA has, as long as the money is paid voluntarily by the people who enjoy the sports the AA produces.

              But you do with player compensation.

              My default position’s looking pretty accurate.

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            • Gaskilldawg

              You are fine with requiring UGA students to subsidize high salaries, plush offices and neat stuff as long as all the students have access? I understand the access to the football and basketball weight rooms, but how does Joe Freshman have access to Richt’s salary and office?

              If you are saying you are fine with the arrangement prior to the O’Bannon judgment from last summer then you really are not concerned about students who care zero for sports having to pay to subsidize sports. Your real argument is about how the UGA AA spends students ‘ money once it gets the students ‘ money.

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              • JCDAWG83

                I’m really not fine with it. I don’t think the AA should get any money from student fees. The AA is a private corporation. That it forces students to pay it any money by the university requiring them to pay fees is wrong to me. Georgia sports should be either run by the university or by the AA, not some hybrid of both. If Georgia athletics are so profitable, let the AA stand on it’s own. If they need university subsidy, put it all under the oversight of the university.

                How the money is spent is really not a central part of this discussion.

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                • Really? I thought the discussion was about paying players.

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                • JCDAWG83

                  I thought it was about where the money would come from to pay them.

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                • That’s how you read my post?

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                • RocketDawg

                  Maybe JCDawg isn’t articulating his point well enough or maybe I get what he is saying because I feel the same way. The argument here isn’t about paying players (at least from what I interpret) it is rather a case of where the money is coming from to pay the players. At a school like UGA the AA has the budget to pay whatever the judge or whomever else makes these decisions decides they should be paid. In a case like Cincinnati or Auburn where the AA has a major shortfall and the schools are basically robbing the everyday student to pay athletes then that is wrong.

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                • DawgPhan

                  While you might not agree with it, it has been happening for a long time and has nothing to do with paying or not paying players.

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                • He’s articulating his point just fine. He just doesn’t want to admit that. 😉

                  As for your last sentence, if you’re saying that it’s wrong to rob the everyday student to pay players, why is that the bridge too far? And if you’re saying it’s wrong to rob in general, well, yeah, at least not without properly disclosing it first, but… why is that just now an issue for you?

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                • GaskillDawg

                  That is a false statement of the competing claims to the AA dollar. The money is there without passing the hat at the dorms and frat houses or in the stands during the Alabama game.

                  The conflict is between spending the money on stuff (the most blatant example is the waterfall in the Alabama weight room) and spending the money on players. The unrebutted testimony at the O’Bannon trial was that since the Power 5 schools were nonprofits (thus not required to write checks payable to The Department of Revenue) and had fixed player costs capped at the marginal cost of educating the student, these non-profits had lots of cash left to spend. Since they relied on contributions and stockpiling millions would not look good when they make woe is us pleas for contributions, the school spend the excess cash on gold plated facilities and on executive compensation.

                  The football players get the plush player lounges and get to enjoy watching senior administrators and coaches buy new luxury cars instead of getting cash.

                  A real world analogy. My late Father in Law was in the building trades. He subcontracted for a general contractor I know on a project. My Father in law had to pay his employees who worked the job every Friday and had to pay the supply house the first of the month for materials. When he finished the job and went to get payment the general contractor pleaded poverty, “I can’t pay you, I am being squeezed by the owner, I will pay you as soon as I get money.” The contractor then decided to go, and left for, a three week vacation to the Pacific Northwest.

                  He had the money to pay his subs. He chose to spend it on himself. His rationalization to my Father in Law that he could not afford to pay him was no more valid than the cries of poverty from the Power 5 teams. It really was a matter of what spending has priority.

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                • Dog in Fla

                  “(the most blatant example is the waterfall in the Alabama weight room) ”

                  Those waterfalls are used for legitimate student-athlete massage purposes in the Hydrotherapy Room

                  http://www.al.com/alabamafootball/index.ssf/2013/08/behold_the_waterfalls_inside_a.html

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                • Dog in Fla

                  “enjoy watching senior administrators and coaches buy new luxury cars”

                  And that is how we will know them

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  2. Soybean Wind

    Too much entitlement. Young people don’t deserve money. Old people do.

    It was a nice weekend at the Swinney household. After getting that end of the month paycheck from Clemson, we went out and bought a new boat. The kids are loving it! Although my unemployed wife is already saying that she wants a new SUV. Hers is only 2 years old! LOL!

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    • Dog in Fla

      Not only does Soybean not have HBO, he doesn’t care what John Oliver has to say about commodities or weather. Moreover, as a great patriot, Soybean is not afraid to speak out about the class war terrible injustices heaped upon oppressed P5 head coaches

      “Well, I don’t have HBO,” Swinney told the Sporting News. “I never saw the segment. I have no idea who John Oliver is, and a lot of that stuff goes in one ear and out the other. I was made aware of it, but that comes with the territory when you aren’t afraid to speak out and other people disagree with you.”

      http://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2015/03/30/john-oliver-ncaa-dabo-swinney-soybean-wind

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  3. doofusdawg

    Thanks for posting this synopsis. It was very educational. What jumped out at me is the comments regarding “clarity” from the university presidents.
    It appears that the feeling is that once everything shakes out that the schools will be able set new policies and budgets to govern the issues at hand. Setting aside the distinct differences in conferences and member institutions…muck less individual athletes… my feeling is that there will be subsequent lawsuits filed by individual players or groups of players to gain additional or equal financial compensation… and all they will need is one judge to sympathize with them and the much anticipated “clarity” will be nothing but precedent in the devolution of college football.

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    • You are correct. Settling O’Bannon doesn’t end the Kessler litigation.

      The way they’ll end the scenario you object to is to allow the student-athletes to unionize and collectively bargain compensation. Ironic, isn’t it?

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      • doofusdawg

        I don’t know how they can limit it to men’s revenue sports. Title ix was mentioned by the SC president.

        As I said in a previous post… Sanford Stadium will be half empty if the fans and donors have to pay thousands of dollars to go see unionized kids.
        That might fly in Wisconsin but this is still the South.

        Maybe that’s been their plan all along. 🙂

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        • The O’Bannon money could be limited, as it’s just for NLI rights.

          As for the rest of your post, there are other sports with unionized players that Southerners watch. People will grumble, but they won’t stay away.

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          • doofusdawg

            I think we are several years away from that but my main point was that nothing is ever over until it is over. What I find ironic is that two of my favorite past times… politics and college football are becoming much less mutually exclusive. Maybe it’s always been going on and it’s just like everything else and is now available for all to see because of the internet.

            But I appreciate your site allowing for the occasional discussion of both… some of us more occasional than others. When does college football start.

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