Proof that amateurism makes people stupid

How can the people who run our nation’s universities sound this clueless?

His football program is installing new football lockers that cost an eye-popping $10,500 each, but Texas President Gregory L. Fenves “cannot comprehend” paying UT athletes.

That’s the main takeaway from an interview Fenves gave for a class-action antitrust lawsuit filed against the NCAA. The lawsuit seeks to challenge what schools can give to athletes playing football and men’s and women’s basketball.

The notes from the interview, first discovered by USA Today, were taken during an interview on Feb. 22 and attached to a legal filing. Fenves was one of five current or former university administrators interviewed by Kenneth Elzinga, an expert for the defense.

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart and former Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke were also interviewed. A UT spokesman declined to comment on Wednesday.

Fenves told Elzinga that he “cannot comprehend how athletics could be a part of university life” if athletes were paid like professionals. The UT president related an anecdote of going to a men’s basketball game this season and watching freshman Jarrett Allen, although his name is mentioned specifically.

Allen, described in general terms, was a “a very good basketball player, but he also makes mistakes ‘like a freshman,’” according to Elzinga’s notes. If Allen was paid like a professional, fans may watch him make “stupid turnovers” and may choose not to come watch him play.

So, over the top lockers, lavish training facilities and all the other bells and whistles players receive that regular students never get a whiff of don’t cause any dismay in the general student population, but Johnny Football getting a check for his work or his likeness/endorsement — something any of them can do now, but the players can’t — is somehow a bridge too far?

Tough call between stupidity and outright denial right there.  Should make for a fun deposition, though.



Filed under It's Just Bidness, See You In Court, The NCAA

17 responses to “Proof that amateurism makes people stupid

  1. Connor

    I hope it’s denial. I can understand craven efforts to maintain an inequitable system by the people most benefiting from that inequity. It’s not excusable, but it’s understandable. But if he’s really that stupid…


  2. AusDawg85

    The article also adds: *Fenves said during the interview that “students go to games to watch their fellow students compete, and that they would not be as interested in attending if the players were professional.”

    Alumni return to experience “multi-generational camaraderie,” Fenves said. Those fans would not be as supportive of the school after graduation if the team was “just another professional sports team,” he said, according to the notes.*

    Some much to unpack here. First, the argument that to pay players an additional slice of an enormous pie makes them a full “professional” and not a student is ridiculous. They would still have academic standards to fulfill, no? And for him to bless the “one and done” athlete in college basketball to support his argument on this is equally bizarre.

    As for alumni “camaraderie”….please. I’m watching student athletes at my alma mater compete in a common spirit of pride in our institution. As long as they are students, why should I care if they are receiving a stipend as a % of the revenue they are generating from…US ALUMNI…coming to watch them?

    Kessler is going to burn this thing down without even having to try very hard, but I’m less certain we get a product we’ll like on the other side.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dog in Fla

    They were already thirty meters beyond the Do Long bridge too far when they made the inconceivable over the top command decision to terminate the lockers with prejudice. Then, as part of the neverending story of their manifest destiny, they had some spicy shrimp 🍤 to prove they were man enough to be in charge


  4. CardDawg

    But I though Johnny Football DID get paid for his likeness/endorsement.


  5. Sherlock

    Per usual, I have a different take on all of this. What I find surprising is the determination to perpetuate having “Student-Athletes” that have absolutely no business attending top tier National Research Universities. If they can not get through the normal admissions process, they should not be attending that school. I find it strange that people accept the normalization of running some kid through remedial courses and class shopping for two and a half years in an attempt to keep him eligible for 3 seasons before entering the draft. That is not a student; that is a hired hand.

    The teams from 2012-2013 were some of my favorites simply because of guys like Aaron Murray, Artie Lynch, Keith Marshall, and Chris Conley. Those were intelligent guys that would have been admitted on academic merit alone. They were excellent students that all graduated on time with meaningful degrees. None of them got into any legal trouble or did anything to embarrass the University. They were also excellent football players.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherlock, I totally agree with your perspective. If college athletics is to remain amateur, then require the athletes to be accepted by the university academically first. If the status quo remains, let these guys earn money off their name and likeness or get a job in addition to the value of the scholarship. Otherwise, blow the whole thing up, Jeffrey Kessler.


    • Russ

      Well said, Sherlock.


  6. David K

    Non-profit public universities with the intention of providing higher education somehow also existing as multi-billion dollar sports and entertainment providers is ludicrous. Big time college sports masquerading as a source of higher learning is a joke. It’s a farm system for the pros and a source of revenue and programming for media empires. Why even make these kids be students? I’m not being facetious. There was a time decades ago when TV money wasn’t dictating every decision made and they could get away with “wink wink” amateurism. The ship has long sailed. Blow it up.


  7. It’s funny. The biggest cost driver in higher ed is human capital, namely health insurance, just like it is in all industries. Only, higher ed is a higher human capital industry than most others. You can’t automate what faculty do, but you can keep making stupid arguments against paying some labor (football and basketball players) as a way of containing those costs (not to mention all the other constraints on s/a).

    Of course the other big expenditure is physical plant, right? Nice lockers, Prez.


  8. reality check here

    Stupidity? Denial? I wouldn’t argue with either but I vote for greed and hypocrisy as more descriptive.

    I spent many years getting graduate degrees so I could make more money, but I am hard pressed to think of an “industry” I respect less than higher education. from ultra liberal professors who think they are smarter than everybody else to ultra liberal administrators who think they are smarter than everybody else the whole thing makes me sick.


    • Macallanlover

      Truth all the way through your comment. And as for stupidity and denial, there is plenty on both sides of the argument as they stumble all over themselves to waste the windfall of money that has come their way so rapidly they have no plan on how to best use it. All we see is both are wetting themselves just drooling over the prospect of all that cash. Using the vulgar example of these lockers makes a valid point but is overkill unless balanced against the sight of our great game lying “full on dead” in a casket if we move more in the direction of professionalizing the game. It will never be purely amateur again, but if we go as far in the direction as many propose, take it off campus and run it as a true “minor league”.

      I can’t argue that the term “amateur” has been bastardized in the whole process but to think throwing more money at the amateur makes things better is truly denial. Using amateur in this manner is as off-target as the term “student athlete” is in many of these situations. We could spend the additional money hiring “co-professors” to provide a moderate view of issues so they aren’t all brain-washed by the radical positions they are currently bombarded with. That would provide them with a true education, one so many are being denied today, imo.


  9. MooseDog

    Basic Math (from the University’s side)…$10k lockers are a one time expense (until the next “upgrade”). Player payments are an annual expense. Bonus answer..the players change and the Locker does not. Win for the balance sheet on that competition.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. WarD Eagle

    I wouldn’t call it stupidity. Those are fixed assets, similar to improved laboratory facilities, designed to attract the best talent. Colleges go through similar expenditures as football to create the best facilities and hire the best instructors. It’s just that 90,000 people don’t show up and watch those kids take a test every weekend. Nobody’s blogging about the accounting department. But everyone wants the college their degree came from to remain successful & competitive, too.

    Whether or not football advances (or has anything to do with) the educational mission) is a completely different argument. It’s been shown, at least anecdotally, that highly succesful football increases admission applications, which presumably leads to better students (maybe not).

    I don’t think anyone can blame the administrations for getting a larger slice of the TV pie that was always there. And, no one is saying the players shouldn’t be compensated. What they are saying is that the players are being compensated with an opportunity to become wealthy without ever setting foot on a football field again.

    It’s essentially this. Some think they should be paid more, some think they are adequately compensated. The market will decide no matter how much we talk about it.


  11. Essentially, everyone at Texas in their AD make much more money now than they did years ago due to the rising TV contracts and rising money in college…..except the people doing almost 100% of the work.

    Makes sense.