Georgia’s busy passing laws criminalizing people who pay college athletes, while there’s a South Carolina legislator who wants to make it legal for the home state powers to pay theirs.
Category Archives: Political Wankery
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that as the NCAA was willing to wade into the murky waters of Confederate flagdom, it’s now preparing to take a stand on another culture war matter.
On the eve of next week’s Final Four in Indianapolis, the NCAA expressed concern about a new Indiana law that will allow businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers based on “religious freedom” and suggested future NCAA championships in the state could be impacted.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday signed into law a measure that has created uproar in the state where the NCAA is located. Some conventions are threatening to pull out of Indianapolis. Greg Ballard, the Republican mayor of Indianapolis, broke with the Republican governor on the bill and said it would put the city’s economy at risk.
“The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement Thursday after the bill was signed. “We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees. We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill. Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.”
I don’t know where the NCAA has been on this before now. It’s not as if Indiana is setting a trend here. Does this mean Emmert’s prepared to announce that the organization will prohibit championship games it sponsors in every one of those nineteen states (soon to be twenty, if Georgia’s proposed law passes) that allow individuals to discriminate against gays?
UPDATE: The Big Ten weighs in.
I’m not sure what I like best about this AP story on the UAB memos, that the university president thinks the old story line still works despite printed evidence to the contrary, or that the state legislator who’s calling for his head runs a Rivals Web site dedicated to UAB sports.
Either way, it’s quintessential Alabama.
Honestly, in my lifetime, I can’t recall an US President as interested in the framework of college athletics as the current occupant of the White House. Yeah, I remember Nixon being heavily into football, but not about, say, whether college football should have a playoff. Or what the future may hold for a sport having a serious problem with concussions. Or chest bumping with Trooper Taylor…
But I digress.
The latest foray into college athletics by the Kenyan Marxist Usurper is in the area of – gasp! – amateurism.
Weighing in on the growing debate over amateurism in college sports, President Barack Obama said on Friday that universities bear “more responsibilities than right now they’re showing” toward their athletes and that the NCAA should require schools to guarantee athletic scholarships with no strings attached.
“[T]he students need to be taken better care of because they are generating a lot of revenue here,” Obama told The Huffington Post in a sit-down interview. “An immediate step that the NCAA could take — that some conferences have already taken — is if you offer a scholarship to a kid coming into school, that scholarship sticks, no matter what.”
“It doesn’t matter whether they get cut, it doesn’t matter whether they get hurt,” the president went on. “You are now entering into a bargain and responsible for them.”
Ordinarily, I would expect this to provoke immediate catcalls on the right (it wouldn’t be the first time), except Obama had to go and complicate things by saying this:
He stopped short of saying that it was time to pay collegiate athletes or that they should have the right to unionize — a possibility now under consideration by his appointees to the National Labor Relations Board.
“In terms of compensation, I think the challenge would just then start being, do we really want to just create a situation where there are bidding wars?” Obama asked. “How much does a Anthony Davis get paid as opposed to somebody else? And that I do think would ruin the sense of college sports.”
Mark Emmert just pumped his fist.
Needless to say, I disagree. Further, I have no idea where the President is going with this thought.
“What does frustrate me is where I see coaches getting paid millions of dollars, athletic directors getting paid millions of dollars, the NCAA making huge amounts of money, and then some kid gets a tattoo or gets a free use of a car and suddenly they’re banished,” Obama said. “That’s not fair.”
Emmert just put his hand back in his pocket. I’m using mine to scratch my head.
Why does everyone have such a hard time with this? Is a free market for all that hard a concept to grasp?
I haven’t said much about the Todd Gurley bill, the one that would criminalize people who lead college athletes into behavior that jeopardizes their NCAA eligibility, winding its way through the Georgia legislature because:
- I have a natural antipathy towards knee-jerk legislation that’s crafted in response to something that happened to a specific person. (“Numbered House Bill 3 to reflect Bulldog’s jersey number…”)
- It’s unlikely to pass in the Senate.
- It’s a really stupid idea.
Doubt me on the stupid? Let the bill’s author explain.
“The individual who enticed him to sell his autograph was not punished, and that is the reason for this bill,” said the bill’s author, Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem.
A 2003 law allows colleges to sue one of their own alumni whose actions harm the whole school’s eligibility, but that didn’t cover the Gurley situation.
“We punish the person who sells alcohol to minors as well as the person who buys the alcohol,” Fleming said, arguing the buyer of the autographs should have been punished the way Gurley was with the four-game suspension he served during the fall.
Nice analogy. Evidently nobody has bothered to point out to Rep. Fleming that the NCAA’s rules aren’t codified criminal law in this country. Although I’m sure Mark Emmert wouldn’t mind if some legislative body out there wanted to make the attempt.
Oh, and as far as punishing somebody “the way Gurley was”, Fleming’s bill imposes a $25,000 fine and jail time on somebody who is doing nothing more than engaging in normal commerce. And by normal commerce, I mean doing something that with any person on the planet other than a college student-athlete wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. You know, that whole free enterprise thing that we love to sing praises to here.
Fleming’s a Georgia grad, natch, so I’m sure this will stand him in good stead at whatever tailgates he attends. But it’s a really dumb stunt.
By the way, make sure you read the second story in the piece about LSU football to which I just posted the link. It’s the quintessential story of financial life at P5 schools in today’s South.
Think because LSU’s athletic department pays all of its own bills that the slashing and burning of higher education funding isn’t going to affect the Tigers?
LSU announced Tuesday the construction of its long-anticipated Tiger Athletics Nutrition Center will be postponed indefinitely.
Construction on it was supposed to begin in April. But because of the unseemliness of building another athletic palace while the academic side of the university is crumbling, the athletic department has decided to postpone said construction for now.
The athletic department has raised the money. That’s not the problem. The nutrition center will get built eventually. The problem is building a four-star restaurant while your neighbor is struggling to pay for his groceries.
Image, as they say, is everything.
Most SEC schools have or have plans to build a nutrition center. Oregon already has a fancy one, which bears a sign over the serving line that encourages Ducks athletes to “Eat Your Enemies – And The Other Food Groups.”
Whether LSU’s athletes truly need a dedicated nutrition facility is a matter for worthwhile debate another time. But what isn’t debatable is that Louisiana’s lack of commitment to higher education is starting to impact whether LSU will be able to land some high-profile commitments in a tangible, brick and mortar way.
SEC athletic programs are rolling in dough. The schools they’re affiliated with, well, that’s another story. LSU is in a worse case situation, exacerbated by Jindal’s ideology trumping competency, but there’s little doubt that, across the region, there is less and less financial support for public institutions coming from state government.
And while this story is about not rubbing people’s faces in the athletic department’s prosperity, the underlying message is that these schools need money to run and that won’t change in the face of public funding drying up. Schools have no choice but to go where the money is coming in, and in the SEC that’s television. Every bit helps, and the presidents whom Slive answers to know that. So don’t expect any moves that would endanger the cash cow. They literally can’t afford that.