Tough Luck

NCAA vice president Oliver Luck and ESPN analyst Jay Bilas appeared at a debate this week at Texas A&M about whether college athletes should be allowed to be paid.  Check out this absurd discussion:

The most compelling dialogue occurred after Bilas described how revenue continues to increase in the multi-billion-dollar industry without players being allowed to maximize their value. Luck said he’s happy the industry’s money increases because it supports many sports teams. Bilas pressed Luck on whether it’s antithetical to what college is about when the money returning to schools gets paid in exorbitant sums to coaches and administrators. Luck acknowledged it’s a “challenge” to justify some of the coaching salaries but added there’s no legal mechanism for an NCAA cap.

“It doesn’t change in my mind the rationale because those are adults,” Luck said. “We’re talking about college students age 18 to 22, whatever it may be.”

Bilas: “Which most people would call adults.”

Luck: “They are in many respects adults. Right. They can go serve in the military.”

Bilas (laughing): “Like the law. The law calls them adults.”

Luck: “Correct. But there’s still a lot of in loco parentis (legal responsibility for an organization to take on some of the functions of a parent) on campus with athletic programs because ultimately teams are responsible for the health and safety of student-athletes.”

This is the best the number two guy at the NCAA can do to defend its bedrock principle.

And that wasn’t even the dumbest thing Luck had to say.

Luck argued that allowing athletes to be paid would make it difficult to motivate them for an education. If athletes could market themselves for money, Luck said, “there’s simply no time to do that, particularly an 18- or 19-year-old who’s not necessarily sophisticated in business or promotion.” Said Bilas: “I can tell you right now there are Texas A&M athletes on a plane flying to SEC (basketball) media day so they’ve got the time to promote college athletics when it’s making the enterprise some money. If it’s making themselves some money, we’ve got to stop that. They don’t have time for that.”

Aside from Bilas’ rebuttal, if you take Luck’s comment there out to its logical conclusion, no college student should have a paying job on the side.  Unless Luck is arguing that only student-athletes have a motivation problem, which is dumb… although, come to think of it, in the midst of taking so many dumb positions, what’s one more?

28 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

28 responses to “Tough Luck

  1. Coweta Dawg

    Stop making sense, ESPN! Sad day for NCAA when it makes ESPN sound like the voice of reason.

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  2. Connor

    The NCAA’s position is comical. I want to get mad but I think I’m really mad at myself. Why am I supporting this? Rational or not, I don’t think about this stuff much when UGA is winning big, but I do drift back to it during the bleaker moments. Can Richta and UGA please ascend to the top of this garbage heap before the courts and natural justice tear it all down?

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  3. charlottedawg

    The NCAA is like a parent that’s why student athletes shouldn’t be paid.

    But when it comes to concussion lawsuits or player health. You’re on your own kid.

    I’ve said it a million times. If any other industry colluded the way the NCAA does, especially since the purpose of said collusion is to keep labor from getting monetary compensation , that industry would be crucified and rightfully so. Instead people accept it because gosh darn it amatuerism is how it’s always been so it must be the correct and natural order of things.

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  4. Go Dawgs!

    The NCAA simply doesn’t have any logical or ethical ground to stand on. What it all comes down to is that they can’t afford to pay the athletes in revenue sports and non-revenue sports alike and still continue to line the pockets of the decision makers and coaches at the current level. Greed will not allow them to surrender their “high ground”.

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  5. Cousin Eddie

    Difficult to motivate them for an education, “Stay in School, Make passing grades, Stay out of trouble, and Preform on the field and the money will come in but if you Flunk out, Act up, Get placed on Academic suspension or Stink up the playing field the money goes away,”? How would that be more difficult than now when the money isn’t in the equation?

    On a second item did he just open the door for long term medical care with his, “ultimately teams are responsible for the health and safety of student-athletes.”?

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  6. Oliver Luck is no dummy, but he made himself out to look like a complete fool in this case.

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    • That’s what happens when you’re stuck defending the indefensible.

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      • Stick jackson

        Just what I was going to say. He’s a Rhodes Scholar, but when your client’s position is that bad, the only way to avoid looking dumb is to find a better client.

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      • Bilas absolutely pantsed Luck in this debate. Why can’t the NCAA and its members get it through their fat heads that every time someone opens their mouths about this topic, the perception of the organization goes down? Why don’t they just let athletes trade on name & likeness and get jobs with appropriate reporting and disclosure?

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      • 81Dog

        this is what happens when bean counters try to argue with attorneys about what the law says, or even what is logical. Oliver Luck may be a genius when it comes to keeping the books, or medieval history, but Jay Bilas is a Duke trained attorney. I guess for his next act, Luck will argue about surgical techniques with Jimmy Andrews.

        “No, Jimmy, we feel good about using leeches in our training rooms. We’ve gotten great results.”

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  7. Hogbody Spradlin

    Claiming ‘in loco parentis’ is rich in irony. Since the 1960’s most colleges have fully abdicated in loco parentis for ordinary students.

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    • JCDAWG83

      Absolutely, colleges will not even provide grades to students actual parents now, citing privacy concerns. College students are ADULTS, they are fully responsible and accountable for their own choices and decisions.

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  8. JCDAWG83

    At this point, the NCAA should simply adopt the parent response “because I said so” and be done with the argument. Or, if they want to go in another direction, say “if you don’t like our rules, don’t play in our system”. The NCAA doesn’t set coaches salaries. Getting caught up in that argument is stupid on their part. The NCAA is a regulatory body. Until they lose in court and their rules are thrown out, anyone who wants to play college sports has to live by their rules, end of discussion.

    I think the scholarship is compensation enough, others disagree with me and I accept that. I’ve been saying here and anywhere else the discussion comes up, the NFL 21 yr old/3 yrs out of high school rule is the root of the problem. If the NFL rule is changed, the college player pay issue goes away.

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    • JC, you’re right the problem lies with the suits on Park Avenue at the NFL, but the solution isn’t easy because the league has an antitrust exemption. Therefore, as long as the owners and players’ union agree to keep this barrier to entry in place, there’s not a damn thing the NCAA or anyone else can do about it. As a result, Kessler’s lawsuit is going to take care of the NCAA.

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      • JCDAWG83

        I’m afraid you’re right and the irony is; the Kessler suit’s ultimate result will be the destruction of the NFL farm system called college football. Once programs have to start paying players, many programs will go the D3 route or drop football altogether and the NFL will have to come up with another developmental league to draw from. I can see a day, fairly soon, when there are only about 20-30 big time college football teams.

        I love college football and I hate that I will see it, as it is now, go away. I hope to live long enough to see it return as it was in the early years, a game played by students and watched by fans and alumni who cheer the team and the school. The current game of mercenaries with NFL dreams who are athletes first and students second playing a game hyped by ESPN in a system designed to grab as many millions as possible from fans will be a thing of the past. I guess in the end, things work out for the best.

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        • After Kessler gets done with the NCAA, I still think the Power 5 + ND will be able to afford to play college football (and men’s basketball) at the highest level. The money is too good to walk away from because those schools will still have big dollar contracts for coaches and administrators as well as the bonds to repay for facilities, etc. Contributors to and alumni of those universities will still demand football, basketball, baseball, and gymnastics (at some schools). In addition to contributions (unless the IRS goes after not-for-profit status), get ready for personal seat licenses and other ways to extract as much cash from the consumer as possible.

          For the “non-revenue” sports, most of those student-athletes will continue to find that the university is only willing to provide the full cost of attendance scholarship (or less). For instance, few athletes on scholarship for a “country club” sport are on full scholarship now.

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        • Chopdawg

          I’m pretty sure there have always been mercenaries playing college football.

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  9. rocksalt

    I’m asking a serious question here. Has anyone made an argument of how colleges would overcome the “equal pay for equal work” calculation? If the university decides they will pay athletes, the’ll have to pay all scholarship athletes correct? They can’t just pay Football, and definitely not men’s sports only. So, they’ll have to pay ’em all. Once that happens, will the university be able to make the argument that Nick Chubb is worth XX/semester, while the starting point guard of the women’s bball team is only worth 10% of XX/semester. To my mind, it’s a quick jaunt down the path of unintended consequences as universities cut more scholarship sports so that they can only afford to pay the athletes of a few sports. Or, they pay everyone, but what’s “fair” for a men’s lacrosse player will be a joke to the Heisman frontrunner on the university football team. At which point, ESPN still gets to profit off of headlines of students being unfairly compensated.

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    • JCDAWG83

      Do the players on the teams whose sport loses money, i.e. every sport but football at Georgia, even get paid? How does anyone make the argument that those athletes are not being treated fairly? They are getting a scholarship and their coach is being paid with money taken from the hard work of the football team. This reeks of socialism to me, surely the defenders of the “business” model, where labor should be paid since they create the profits, don’t want to endorse a socialist model. Why not take that a step further and cut or do away with scholarships for money losing sports if we are going to go full on business model here?

      Do schools where no sport makes money drop inter collegiate sports altogether? How do they justify subsidizing sports with tuition and fee money from the regular student body? Do they go totally intramural?

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      • Gurkha Dawg

        Right, money losing sports get no schollys and the athletes could even be charged for the privilege of playing. It’s that way at the private HS my kids go to. You don’t want to pay? Fine, don’t play.

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      • stick jackson

        Men’s basketball doesn’t lose money. It doesn’t make nearly as much as football, obviously, but it is in the black.

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    • DawgPhan

      I think that just allowing players to trade on their likeness rights solves the problem.

      That isnt the school providing the benefit, it is the NCAA allowing a market.

      Though it will be interesting to see how the COA portion of all this continues to play out.

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      • JCDAWG83

        I would have no problem with that. I bet it would be shocking how little money athletes could/would make if they could trade on their likeness. I don’t see the video game companies paying them anything, they would simply make all the players look the same or change numbers on jerseys. I don’t think schools sell jerseys with player names on them now, so that wouldn’t generate any income.

        Maybe there is a market for college player autographs? I know I would never pay for a college kid’s autograph, I wouldn’t pay for anyone’s autograph.

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        • DawgPhan

          Would people have lined up for Gurley autographs? Seems like it.

          Would the conferences need to get the likeness rights before broadcasting a game, probably.

          Would colleges then start begging athletes to form a union so they could just negotiate with 1 party instead of 100, probably.

          It also doesnt bother me in the least if some Auburn guy wants to give a college player $1million.

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      • AusDawg85

        Then an Auburn rep gives Jacob Eason $1millon contract to promote his wood chip products. The “solution” is for the schools to stop marketing the kids, but Pandora’s Box has been opened for too long to go back and fix it. Sadly, we probably do need the legal system to step in and represent the kids to provide them with their rights and the NCAA (which is the member schools) will have to create a fair and legal framework to prevent my Auburn example from happening unfairly…which may be something closer to a draft and payment system vs the recruiting model of today.

        As the Senator has repeatedly pointed-out, amateurism left the room a long time ago. That model is now indefensible.

        Side thought…if a draft & payment with long term contract model were developed, it might force the NFL to act differently. Todd Gurley might jump for NFL money ASAP, but lower round picks might hang around college ball and be paid for 5, 6 or 7 years. College coaches would love the more experienced “pros” on their squad while the NFL will start starving for enough talent. It would be like a new league with 120 teams of 85 players each sprung up overnight. Free market forces FTW and all.

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  10. Bobby Bowden Syndrome

    Look at your cable bill, that will tell you how they cover the expenses…

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    • JCDAWG83

      Look at the number of people, especially young people, who either don’t ever buy cable or get rid of it and you will see why that gravy train might run out.

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  11. I met a student-athlete today – a woman in a non-revenue sport – who has missed 3 days of her first-year English class. That’s the max allowed by the department. She went to Puerto Rico (4 days) and Los Angeles (7 days) to represent her school in her sport. She’s competing this week for a chance to go to nationals, but if she makes it she will have to decline because she’ll miss a fourth day of class. We are now beyond the midpoint withdrawal deadline, so if she goes and is withdrawn by the department, she’ll get a “F” and risk her future eligibility. If she withdrew before today, then she’d fall below the required number of credits she must take to maintain her eligibility. Sometimes, the sports do it to themselves. I was a bit dumbfounded at how much class she missed.

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