A couple of things:
I know some of you blithely insist that collegiate men’s basketball and football could be stripped of its elite talent and not miss a beat. I see things like bloated recruiting budgets, infrastructure spending on meeting space for recruits, theme park accoutrements (looking at you, Clemson) and $10k lockers and think that most schools disagree with that.
So I can’t help but wonder how much of a problem these startup pro football leagues are perceived to be by P5 programs. It’s not so much that I see them as having viable futures — AAF, we hardly knew ye — as I do recognize the short attention span of some eighteen-year old boys. I mean, check this out:
Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross thinks that for the right price some college players will leave the NCAA to play in the XFL.
Ross told Bleacher Report that before his big breakout he was ready to transfer and felt disappointed over receiving little playing time in Clemson’s first two games of the season. His mother told him to stay at Clemson, but he admitted that an XFL paycheck could be an alluring reason for some players to leave college before they’re eligible to enter the NFL.
Damn, two games in and a true freshman was already chafing over playing time? Can I see an agent or a league rep swooping in and promising a player like Ross cash money and a better opportunity and getting a receptive response? That I can. Can I imagine Dabo’s head exploding in response? That I can.
And I can only think of one way the schools could combat that. (HINT: It’s not by putting the XFL on probation.)
The NCAA does nothing to change its hallowed “collegiate model” — aka amateurism — without pressure…
That’s why it was refreshing to hear NCAA president Mark Emmert open the door just a bit on players owning their name, image and likeness.
Novel concept, I know. Athletes taking control of their own human essence. Judging from what we heard Thursday at the Final Four, this is the latest legal hill the NCAA is not going to die on.
The legal pressure on that issue is a bill introduced by a North Carolina representative that would allow athletes to profit off what is lawfully theirs.
When asked about Walker’s bill Thursday, Emmert seemed open to considering some form of athletes capitalizing on their name, image and likeness.
“We’ve talked to the congressman and tried to understand his position,” Emmert said in his annual state of the union address at the Final Four. “There is very likely to be in the coming months even more discussion about the whole notion of name, image and likeness [and] how it fits into the current legal framework.
“Similarly, there needs to be a lot of conversation about how, if it was possible, how it would be practical. Is there a way to make that work? Nobody has been able up with a resolution of that yet.”
What you didn’t hear is Emmert dismissing the concept out of hand. He’s too smart for that now. The NCAA has been found guilty twice in the last five years of violating federal anti-trust laws. It’s not even worth debating whether the NCAA is a monopoly.
If it’s hard for Emmert to understand Walker’s position, I don’t think that’s because Walker has done a poor job of communicating his bill’s purpose. It’s hard because Emmert doesn’t want to cede ground on amateurism unless he has no choice.
That’s not because the NCAA stands to lose money if student-athletes can market themselves. What concerns Emmert is if the change occurs without any resulting negative impact to collegiate revenue producing sports. Because if it plays out that way, that’s going to grease the skids on the inevitable slippery slope for schools and the NCAA to share their revenues with student-athletes.
I wonder which of these is the bigger concern right now.