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?