Threat assessment, NCAA edition

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.)

Here’s another.

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.

A similar bill is being introduced in California

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.

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17 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery, The NCAA

17 responses to “Threat assessment, NCAA edition

  1. Reverend Whitewall

    To be fair, were I involved, I wouldn’t weigh these other leagues into my decision making/policy making very much. There’s no reason to believe the XFL will be a success. Even if you did lose a few elite players in the short term, that problem will be resolved when the XFL folds again.

    Now the politicians getting involved is another arena and certainly must be factored in. But until/unless the XFL proves itself to be financially viable for at least 3 years, I wouldn’t factor it into my decision process at all.

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  2. Go Dawgs!

    Justin Fields was chafing about his playing time after the FIRST game last year. The XFL could have had him easily, and most other NCAA athletes at any grade level for that matter. I’m going to be a Georgia grad and a Georgia fan no matter who is playing for the team and the most rabid among college sports fans would keep showing up if the blue chips were going into whatever minor pro league. The vast majority of sports fans who pay the freight through their TV viewership and not necessarily by putting butts in the seats wouldn’t. The NCAA needs to be careful. And they need to give some very serious consideration to paying the players something, because the scales are tipping towards the athletes.

    And the situation is even more dire for basketball if the NBA decides to rescind the one-and-done league eligibility rule.

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    • Reverend Whitewall

      I don’t know. NCAA Basketball has already been through an era of the top players skipping college and going straight to pros, and came through it fine. It was the NBA that pushed back on that trend, not the NCAA (tho certainly the NCAA benefited). I understand it could be more prevalent now with the G league, there’s more spots available so it’s not like only 4 or 5 high school kids are good enough to get drafted. But I don’t see it as the death of NCAA basketball either.

      And again, I just don’t see the XFL lasting much longer than it did the first time. Even with college stars for a year or two. I’ll just use Trevor Lawrence as an example – I care about watching him because he’s at a major school that is a rival of ours, and we know our team probably has to get past his team if we want a national title. I have an interest that goes beyond just a football game, so I’ll turn on a game to see him play even if I don’t care about the opponent. But Trevor Lawrence playing for whatever random XFL franchise in the middle of March? Probably not gonna move the needle for me. I’m no more likely to watch an XFL game with Trevor Lawrence than I am without him. I’ll probably watch as many XFL games as I did AAF games – I watched the first half of the first game out of curiosity, then that was it. The appetite for minor league football just isn’t there, IMO. I just don’t see the XFL as something the NCAA needs to factor into long term outlooks.

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      • In truth it was the OTHER PLAYERS that pushed back on the draft rule. Teams were betting the world on unproven 18 year olds… and cutting proven veterans to make room for guys with potential. The G-league will help alleviate some of that angst in today’s NBA.

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    • To your point – UGA hasn’t had a one-and-done player in the 19 years I’ve been following the program, including when I was in school. I still watch and cheer for the team when we are struggling like this year. Now I may be an outlier because UGA isn’t really a basketball school, but if you translate that passion to football – I am sure there would be many who watch/love/cheer for the football team, even if they stunk. I personally think UGA football (And college football for that matter) would be just fine without the 5stars of the world.

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  3. DawgPhan

    Not sure how you can provide name and likeness rights without cutting players in on TV money.

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  4. Russ

    I read that quote from Ross yesterday and thought the same as you. And Go Dawgs! makes an interesting point about Fields. He was obviously dissatisfied over his playing time at Sackerlina, so I guess it’s more widespread than I thought.

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    • Justin Fields is anything but “normal” when it comes to expectations. And yeah, while the XFL might throw some cash at him because he was the #1 QB out of HS, the second his footwork sucks and Kurt Warner 2.0 is kicking his ass in practice every day, he’ll ride the pine, just like he did at UGA.

      I’m not really trying to bash Justin here – just trying to express a point. When you’re paying someone, you don’t have to coddle them by giving them playing time. Also, I assume the XFL can’t afford to pay many players that have “potential” vs actual skills like the NBA can.

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  5. Bulldog Joe

    This Sunday at the NewSpring churches, a collection plate will be passed for Justyn Ross’ ‘family’.

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  6. 92 grad

    Clemson fans around me fret over rumors that Trevor Lawrence will bolt to the xfl if he is offered a franchise level salary. It’s been going around for a while now.

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  7. whb209

    Yes Senator.. Pay them all. See if “The Georgia Way” allows UGA to be competitive with Al, Fl, and The Farm School in Al, .. Will the liquor barons really compete with the crazy rich people in Alabama (even though there are very few rich people in Al).? Will Athens Chevrolet compete with the twenty used car dealerships in Mississippi? The answer is hell no. Therefore UGa will be trying to defeat Vandy so we are not last in the SEC every year. Regarding a players name and likeness: what is Fromm’s name and likeness worth if he is not wearing a Ga uniform? This whole thing is going to be a total mess…

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  8. TN Dawg

    College football is bigger than the players.

    I’m up here in Knoxville. The Vawls have had one, maybe two competitive seasons since Fulmer was canned. They still average between 90-100K fans per home game with multiple times those numbers paying for cable
    to watch them at home or in a bar.

    No one gives a fuck if it’s Jim Bob Cooter or Dan Marino at quarterback. They root for their local team. The fans’ commitment and fan hood is to the university, not the players. If players want to leave and play in the AAF or XFL, go for it. Good luck to you. No one will miss you, we will still be watching our teams.

    If Jake Fromm went to play in the XFL, fans would still be watching UGA on Saturdays, newspapers would still write stories, bloggers would still blog. So please, let’s get some semi-pro leagues going and get all the “but muh paycheck” players off doing what they want.

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    • Do you understand the NCAA has been found to be a price-fixing cartel? The question now is how will athletes be compensated not whether they will be or whether fans care.

      I lean toward the Olympic model which wouldn’t cost the universities one cent more than they pay now and would give those with earning power the ability to profit from their name and likeness. For many student-athletes not one thing will change, but for Jake Fromm, maybe he ends up with the use of a truck. For Todd Gurley or A.J. Green, it would have meant he would have been suspended for signing autographs or selling memorabilia.

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  9. Former Fan

    While I agree that the kids should be paid. I am not so sure that fans will stop watching if the best bypass college ball. The reason schools spend like they do is to stay competitive with other schools. If the best bypass college for the pro leagues (or semipro or any other league), the colleges will still spend to stay competitive. I doubt that NCAA BB recruit spending went go down when kids were skipping college and going straight to the NBA.

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  10. Hi. My name is Chopdawg. I’m a really, really good football player. I’ve played several years for a team that was really, really good when I played for it. I’m hoping to be drafted into the NFL later this month. I’m going to set up a table in front of my house on Friday and Saturday, April 19th and 20th. If you’ll come by, I’ll sign an autograph for you. Thanks, hope to see you there.

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  11. Oh, almost forgot, the autograph will only cost you $25. Sorry, I can only sign once. But if you bring another $25, my buddy the Senator will sign too.

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