Category Archives: Academics? Academics.

The further comical stylings of Bernie Machen

Florida’s former President shared some wisdom with Mike Slive first and then with Andy Staples:

“We’re backing our way into a pay-for-play model for football and men’s basketball,” Machen said. “I think this is a Hail Mary from Delany to say, ‘Wait a minute. What if we do it the way it used to be?’”

You mean like when you people didn’t chase broadcast money like crack whores chase johns?  Like when you didn’t treat conference alignment as a game of musical chairs?  Like when you didn’t arrange conference scheduling to be a joke?  Like when college football had real traditions like the Nebraska-Oklahoma game?

Yeah, that would be a real Hail Mary.  Instead, Machen’s just parroting the party line bullshit; the money ain’t going anywhere.  But he thinks it can all be made better.  Really, he does.

Machen believes the collegiate model works. For evidence, he points to graduation rates for athletes in every sport except football and men’s basketball. Most of the others outpace the general student body, and the success beyond graduation for former college athletes is well documented anecdotally. The problem, Machen said, is anyone can see that football and men’s basketball at the highest level aren’t using the collegiate model. Players are essentially required to practice year-round, which makes it tough for the NCAA’s lawyers or lobbyists to keep a straight face when they call college sports an avocation that enhances the college experience. “You look at the schedules of these kids,” Machen said. “They are essentially in a full-time mode.”

With all the money at stake for schools and coaches, why on earth would you expect anything different?  The answer is straight out of Delany-land:  you don’t really, but at least it sounds like you’re trying to change the perception of what you’ve been up to.

That’s why Machen thinks Delany’s proposal has merit. Instead of merely voicing support for the collegiate model and then doing exactly the opposite in two sports, schools would instead walk that particular walk for the first time in years. “I just think the collegiate model doesn’t hold up when you look at football and men’s basketball,” Machen said. “I don’t care how hard you put lipstick on that sucker. It still is a pig.”

The subtext of Machen’s theory is this: If the schools don’t actually start doing what they claim, the courts will push them into the professional model that they have been hellbent on creating—with the exception of the giving raises to the labor force or the paying taxes parts—for years. Federal judges, especially ones not versed in the quirks of the economic model for major college sports, will tend to look at what schools have done. They will see conference realignment for the purposes of higher television revenue. They will see soaring salaries for football coaches and athletic directors. They will see a refusal to budge on any additional benefits for the athletes until the athletes started filing lawsuits.

But if the schools were to make freshmen ineligible—something that would be expensive for them for reasons I outlined last week—that might offer tangible proof they do care about the education of athletes in those two sports. If schools voted to further restrict organized practices and time commitments out of season, it might offer more proof of that dedication. Instead of merely saying they aren’t running quasi-professional programs, officials would actually do something to back up what the NCAA’s lawyers keep saying…

And, a pony.

The tell here is obvious:  why the concern for the academics of college football and men’s basketball players only?  Is it that they need more help with the books, or that they generate more income for the schools than athletes playing in other collegiate sports?

I think we know the answer to that.  And with all the patronizing in the world by Machen notwithstanding, I expect your average federal judge would too, even if he or she isn’t as “versed in the quirks of the economic model for major college sports” as the intellectual giants running college athletics.

Machen’s arrogance would be irritating if it weren’t so amusing.  These guys are either cynical enough like Delany to think a ploy like this is going to change how others see things or they’re actually convinced by their own nonsense into believing it will change things.

Maybe I’m wrong, although I doubt it.  Then again, maybe Machen can convince me he really is a sharp cookie by explaining how Jim McElwain offering two eighth-graders helps to advance the academic perception of the University of Florida.  Talk about putting lipstick on a pig.


Filed under Academics? Academics., The NCAA

“Institutional autonomy should reign.”

Well, maybe not so much when it comes to pedophilia, but academics?  Hells, yeah!

If you really want to get a handle on how cramped this approach is, check out this baby step:

McDavis said in a recent interview with The Associated Press the committee has already agreed that any time a coach or paid member of the school’s athletic staff is involved in an academic-misconduct case the NCAA should be involved.

‘Ya think?

Too bad nobody’s paying players to work hard in the classroom.  The NCAA would be all over that shit in a New York minute.


Filed under Academics? Academics., The NCAA

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.


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.


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)


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?


Filed under Academics? Academics.