The true meaning of amateurism


Screenshot_2020-06-05 Getting clucked


That sure is an awful lot of concern to have for a bunch of kids who are just students playing the game for the sheer love of it.  The best things in life are free, but if I didn’t know any better, I’d say it’s about the money.

Be true to your school, indeed.

Here’s the real tell, though.

The vast majority of college athletic directors who responded to a poll do not believe the NCAA is capable of policing a potential future market for college athletes making money from endorsement deals.

There is a growing consensus among college sports stakeholders that an independent oversight board will need to be created to enforce new rules if the NCAA adopts a proposal to allow college athletes to make money from their names, images and likenesses. Those proposed rule changes, which were supported by the NCAA’s board of governors in late April, would allow college athletes to make money while in school as long as the moneymaking ventures fit within a set of yet-to-be-determined “guardrails.”

The NCAA rule-makers have not yet figured out what those guardrails would be, or who would enforce that no athlete or school steps outside of them. NCAA leaders such as president Mark Emmert indicated earlier this year that initial plans were leaning toward using the organization’s current enforcement staff and campus-level compliance officers to fill that role. Roughly 85% of respondents to a recent poll conducted by Lead1 — a professional association of athletic directors — said they are “not confident at all” in the NCAA’s ability to enforce its proposed rules, according to Lead1 president Tom McMillen.  [Emphasis added.]

These guys are so worried about the money that they don’t want the outfit their own schools created to enforce an amateur regime for college athletics regulating this.  That’s what amateurism is all about.  You want to know how desperate they are about protecting the hen house?  This desperate:

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, who is working on a federal bill to address the future of college athlete compensation rights, said he is favor of using a third party to oversee the process.

“A lot of these unanswered questions could be answered by an independent oversight body that reports to Congress,” Gonzalez said Thursday during a webinar organized by the Knight Commission, a group that works to reform college sports with education as its priority.

An oversight body that reports to Congress sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

Gonzalez’ bill wouldn’t give schools the antitrust exemption they crave (“legislatively impossible,” per Gonzalez), but his bill will include safe harbor provisions intended to protect the NCAA from legal challenges that threaten rules that prohibit schools from paying athletes directly.

The best part of the story:

Both Ackerman and Gonzalez acknowledged that the major change to NCAA policy will be bumpy. Ackerman said she is hoping for at least an “oiled machine” as opposed to the potential for a well-oiled one. Gonzalez said the odds of getting everything right on the first attempt are “basically zero.”

Given the parties involved, I wouldn’t expect anything less.


UPDATE:  There are some revealing quotes in this piece from Nicole Auerbach and Andy Staples ($$).

“I think there are some things in their blueprint that I would agree if I was the one writing this, but overall, I’m quite frustrated with them,” Walker said. “Here is such a huge tax-exempt, non-profit that — bless their hearts — just can’t seem to get it together. And now they’re almost looking at the federal government as a cop-out.”

“The pro leagues, at least at various times, have had strong leadership of their teams — either a commissioner or a group of owners — who can see their way looking at the long-term good of the sport and coming up with compromises and settlements that make progress for everyone,” Kessler told The Athletic. “We couldn’t do that here in part because there really was no cohesive boss on their side to come up with a collective position. The only default position they have is to defend their system. They go to trial more than anyone because they’re not really capable of exercising that leadership.”


UPDATE #2:  The Alston plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote a letter to Congress.  (h/t)


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

19 responses to “The true meaning of amateurism

  1. As always, a very lucid takedown of the BS, Senator. Not being contrarian here – but honestly curious – at what point is it all so much that you just walk away from the whole thing as a fan and find better ways to spend time and money? I am toe-ing that line now.


    • As I’ve said before, I find I have a high tolerance for watching the sausage making. I really don’t know what my limits are, but I doubt it’ll be player compensation that does it for me.


      • Poor Man

        Understood. Player comp doesn’t bother me. Enabling the administrators Incompetence with my money does.


  2. DawgPhan

    Of course they are worried about money moving from them to the students. A ton of that money that students would be getting wouldnt be “new” money but rather just money shifted from the schools/coaches to the students.

    I wonder if they have figured out that students might want a 3rd party looking after their interests, maybe a organized labor type of 3rd party.


  3. junkyardawg41

    I think NIL and Pay for Play opens up all kinds of 2nd and 3rd order effects that I do not believe will be good for the future of the sport. Having said that, I really don’t understand why the NCAA and EA Sports have not gone back to the well which has led us down this path. In my mind, EAs NCAA Football, ESPN Basketball would be a perfect initial compromise. The schools aren’t getting money from the game now. Why not create a DI pool of dollars for distribution. Schools could get a small share for use of the trademarks. Again, money they don’t have. And yes, all DI athletes in said game would get the same amount. I think it would serve as an incremental step with regard NIL that the NCAA and lawmakers need.

    Liked by 1 person

    • siskey

      As a big-time fan of the EA sports games going back to when it was Bill Walsh College Football on SEGA, I too wish the NCAA could figure this out. While the game wouldn’t sell like the really big releases it would still bring in a lot of money for the athletes.
      From what I have read and heard the reason that this is impossible now is that the athletes can’t collectively bargain with the makers of the game or the NCAA for that matter. Given the NCAA and ADs comments over the NIL were the players to unionize I am sure that most, if not all the ADs would resign from their positions and the NCAA, would cease to exist due to the morality of the situation with the AD at UNC leading the way followed closely by Dabo and Fitzgerald at Northwestern.
      Maybe the NCAA petitioning congress for relief will lead to some unintended consequences and we will get clarity on “amateurism” and potentially a game before I am too old to know how to work the controllers.


      • junkyardawg41

        I am not sure that the players would need to collectively organize to negotiate with the NCAA or EA. The NCAA didn’t need to negotiate with players to start issuing Cost of Attendance stipends. I would think, based on the tea leaves, the NCAA would actually want to take ownership of the negotiation and distribution of funds. Open kimono would (perhaps) give some credibility back to the NCAA and by extension, Athletic Directors. I would assume, based on the lawsuit settlement, that players could expect $1200-$1600 annually. I would just think that would be a win for all parties.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Gurkha Dawg

    “The odds of getting everything right on the first attempt are basically zero” Talk about setting a low bar. Wow.


  5. mp

    I was listening to a podcast with Andy Staples this morning and it made me wonder how to quantify what big-time athletics actually do for the universities. They do not wind up sending much money (if any) to the University itself. They do stimulate donations from alumni that go into the general fund. But they also do take student fees that otherwise could go to the university. Local businesses are stimulated by big crowds, but that is 7 weekends a year. Winning yields a better applicant pool, etc.., Anyway, lots of pluses and minuses. I just wonder when you add it up what the net position is.

    As we talk about it being a billion dollar business, a lot of the cash seems to stay in the closed system of the Athletics department itself – either to the administrative staff and expenses or subsidizing other sports.

    Maybe the donations and reputational halo really help the Alabama and Clemson’s of the world, but I wonder how far down the list you have to go before it is a net negative from a dollars perspective


    • Bill Glennon

      Big time athletics fund all women’s and non-revenue men’s sports. Even if they contributed nothing else to the University’s general funds, football and men’s bball revenue is extremely beneficial for tens of thousands of student athletes who might not be able to go to college or compete.

      If men’s football fails to generate revenue, these women’s and non-revenue programs would be cut because they operate at a huge loss. That would be a real shame.

      That’s why it is important to do things carefully and get it right. Unfortunately, that won’t happen.


      • If men’s football fails to generate revenue, these women’s and non-revenue programs would be cut because they operate at a huge loss. That would be a real shame.

        Will nobody think of the obscenely priced facilities race?

        Clemson, one of the Bulldogs’ chief recruiting rivals and 2021 season-opening opponent, raced ahead of UGA and many SEC schools with its $55 million, 142,000 square-foot building in 2017.

        Nebraska, meanwhile has had plans for a $155 million 350,000 square foot football facility adjacent to Memorial Stadium.

        $155 million would pay for a lot of non-revenue sports, Bill.


      • By the way, with regard to “do things carefully and get it right”, given that the NCAA and schools have had years to get their shit together on this, how much more time do you think they need for that?


      • Poor Man

        It’s worth asking if something like women’s volleyball scholarships is the best use of that money. What if that money could be used to attract students or grad students who are have great engineering or business or medicinal or whatever potential? Then those students theoretically stay in Georgia and benefit the state. UGA can take the football revenues and make that happen. The AA can only hand out scholarships for sports they can’t even pay people to care about

        Liked by 1 person

    • Poor Man

      It certainly helps UGA more than it hurts. It just doesn’t help UGA as much as it helps the UGAAA

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Union Jack

    I have made this point several times. While there might be some concerns for the football and basketball, it is sponsors abandoning the “Olympic” sports and the high profile women’s sports which vary from University to University.

    If a UGA football sponsor like BMW decided to drop their sponsorship to associate with Jamie Newman or JT Daniels et al – it is very likely they could sell to another luxury car brand pretty easily. Same for most of the other major corporate partners.

    It’s the sponsor of women’s gymnastics or women’s basketball, who may decide that they can get the same marketing advantages by paying the athletes directly at less than the UGAA rate.

    Also, one thing that isn’t mentioned here that should be – this is not just scaring the AD’s. Behind the scenes, IMG & Learfield are pushing back on this too. Anyone seen any comments from them on NIL? They have 23 or so people working on the UGAA team. IMG must be working behind the scenes at their corporate offices to broker a solution for all of their schools.

    Finally, I don’t think they can keep the students from wearing the colors based on what I have seen in the UGAA Brand Identity Guide. Someone is probably going to need to go to court but it is just red, white, black, listed as basic pantone colors. However, the University has created color identity unique the the University “Arch Black”, “Bulldog Red”, “Hedges” – probably would want to stay away from those.


  7. FlyingPeakDawg

    I wonder if the ADs have contacted their big corporate sponsors and asked if they’ll choose to funnel “millions” to NIL deals of top athletes while reducing their spends to the athletic departments. Does Nike want one player (who can’t display the logo on game day)or the whole team?

    I’m more astonished by the terrible arguments put forth to defend the status quo than the actual resistance to change.


  8. Jack Klompus

    My employer won’t let me go earn money that they’re rightfully entitled to, so why should the universities be forced to tolerate the same? 😉


  9. DawgByte

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    Let me respond by sharing a link that may save you. Free your mind…