Category Archives: Academics? Academics.

Mike Slive on freshman ineligibility

It sounds like Jim Delany’s got some convincing to do.

Hard to argue with any of that.  But if the Big Ten thinks it knows best, I’m sure Slive won’t object to that conference going its own way on the matter.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., SEC Football, The NCAA

Oh, so now you care about “legal responsibility”.

Kinda funny to hear that sort of defense from the NCAA after Mark Emmert moved heaven and earth to penalize Penn State.

Maybe freshman ineligibility will fix this.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., See You In Court, The NCAA

Why it’s hard to take Jim Delany at face value.

Andy Staples tries to be fair-minded about Delany’s stance on freshman ineligibility, but here’s where the buck stops:

… Unfortunately for Delany, reality has shifted since 1966. Back then, college sports were a business but not a multibillion-dollar business. Coaches, athletic directors and conference commissioners in the most powerful leagues made decent enough wages by the standard of the day, but nowhere near the megabucks they make now. No commissioner would have envisioned that he’d be the de facto head of a cable television network.

But that’s what Delany is now. He has made millions off college athletics. He created the Big Ten Network. He will be the one watching as ESPN and FOX trip over one another to throw money at the Big Ten when its first-tier media rights become available next year. In fact, it’s easy to argue no one is more responsible for turning college sports into the cutthroat business it is today than Delany. It also doesn’t help that Delany and his fellow commissioners needed a host of federal lawsuits to convince them to give the football and basketball players whose efforts produce all of the money their first raise—if you can call the cost-of-attendance stipends coming down the pipe a raise—since the 1940s. When an administrator suggests anything that appears to take something away from the athletes upon whom the business is built, he will be accused of having ulterior motives.

Particularly when said administrator has a track record of overstating his case.  And when his latest stand is conveniently limited to the two sports which generate the main part of college athletics revenue, that doesn’t help.

Another thing Staples touches on that deserves more attention is what the end game of returning to a model where freshman football and men’s basketball student-athletes couldn’t see the field would look like.

… The idea is that players would have fewer responsibilities as freshmen and would have more time to acclimate to college life and college classes. The most pie-in-the-sky model would severely limit the amount of time the athletic programs could require of their freshmen. Yet the truth is no matter what the rules say coaches would still force players to do everything except play in the games. So, realistically, the players would miss out on the most fun part of being an athlete and only get a few hours back in return. That’s hardly a fair trade. Plus, most coaches would want to field freshman teams that would then play one another. That’s what happened before 1972, and it would probably happen again.

Given that we live in a world of “voluntary” summer practices and 20-hour per week limitations that are conveniently worked around, I think that’s spot on.  Most of these kids aren’t enrolling at State U for the chance to become Rhodes Scholars, and their coaches aren’t expecting that either. They need those kids preparing for their sophomore years on the field.  If all ineligibility boils down to is these kids having a few extra hours on their hands on a few Saturday afternoons in the fall, it’s hard to see how that magically translates into full-blown scholarhood.  But maybe those of you who think Delany’s on to something here can explain how it would help more.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., The NCAA

“You can’t turn down thousands of people and say yes to one just so he can play…”

Maybe somebody at the NCAA can explain how this isn’t a textbook case of lack of institutional control, because, for the life of me, I sure as hell can’t. (h/t)

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Filed under Academics? Academics., The NCAA

The good ol’ days

Boy, if you think I’m cynical about the “let’s do it for the kids’ academics” angle being pitched in some quarters as a justification for reinstating freshman ineligibility, I don’t hold a candle to what’s expressed in this piece.  I bring that up because there’s a quote in it worth highlighting:

Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke said he believes in the NCAA policy that prohibited freshmen participation before a 1972 reversal.

“I, for one ,as a Big Ten AD, am tired of being used as a minor league for professional sports,” Burke said. “What was right for the NCAA in the first 70 years of its history, maybe we ought to go back and say, ‘What’s changed?’”

Among Big Ten leaders, he said, a consensus exists to “get education back on the proper platform.”

For those of you who buy the sentiment, here’s a question.  Prior to 1972, were student-athletes’ collegiate academic performances superior to what they are now?

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Filed under Academics? Academics.

Why they pay him the big bucks.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby made about $2.5 million in total compensation last year.  The amount of money doesn’t really bother me;  in the context of what CEOs make these days, that amount doesn’t strike me as being out of line for someone running an operation that’s returning almost $20 million a year to each of his bosses.

But I do have a question.  What’s he being paid for?  He’s running a sports league.  His job requires that he manage the organization of the conference, but, let’s face it, what he’s being paid for is to maximize that revenue stream.  That’s what the TV contracts, conference expansion and input into the CFP are all about (okay, maybe he didn’t do such a bang up job in the last department).

You know what Bowlsby isn’t paid for?  He’s not paid for academics.  He doesn’t teach.  He doesn’t set curriculums.  He doesn’t decide what priorities a given member school sets in how it allocates its academic budget, even. Nor does he lobby a state government or a board of regents for resources.

He runs a sports league.  He cuts deals to make money.  That’s basically it.

So why does anyone care what the likes of Bob Bowlsby or Jim Delany has to say about the academic experience of freshman athletes?  The answer is, that’s only relevant in so far as how it affects their primary responsibility. It’s a means to an end, nothing more.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., It's Just Bidness

Shoot, the messenger

I’m sorry, but I can’t help but chuckle about the hope some of you have that this time the schools are serious about academics in pursuing the pipe dream of reinstating freshman ineligibility for football and basketball players. Why is that funny?  Because it depends upon believing people like Jim Delany.  You know, the guy who once said we’d have a college football playoff over his dead body.  The guy who once said that if the NCAA lost the O’Bannon case, the Big Ten would have no choice but to explore turning to a Division III model.

A guy who’s full of shit when the need arises, in other words.

The thing is, he’s not even bothering to bluff this time.

“We’re sort of on the clock, is the way a lot of us look at it,” Delany said in a recent interview with the Big Ten Network. “We’ve got a lot of litigation challenging intercollegiate athletics, we’ve got congressional interest and we have public skepticism. What we want to do is drive the message that education is first, athletics is second, even though these are the two most popular sports commercially.”  [Emphasis added.]

Got that?  This isn’t about serious academic reform.  It’s about optics with the public and having a sales pitch for the courts and the feds.  That’s all.

Delany as the front man is pretty amusing, too, when you get down to it.

And yet Delany is also more responsible than any other college athletics figure of the past 30 years in commercializing those sports. He annexed Penn State in the early ’90s, touching off the first massive TV-driven realignment wave. He started the influential and money-printing Big Ten Network. He touched off Realignment Mania II five years ago when the league began hunting for a 12th member that eventually became Nebraska, and then he took it to another degree with his conference’s East Coast push.

You know what would really help Rutgers’ basketball players focus on academics? Not having to travel to Iowa City in the middle of the week for a conference game, as they did last week.

Ah, c’mon.  They could always study on the plane, right?

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Filed under Academics? Academics., Big Ten Football, It's Just Bidness, The NCAA