Category Archives: Political Wankery

Amateurism is what the NCAA says it is.

This year’s NCAA convention is meeting in California, of all places.  Expect plenty of whining like this:

“It’s plausible that some states that are considering various bills right now could act and have them go into effect even during 2020, and that of course would be very, very disruptive of college sports,” Emmert said. “We’ve got maybe over 30 states that have indicated an interest in or have dropped bills, whatever the number is, with varying implementation dates and varying models of what they think college sports should look like. They’re moving at a faster pace than Congress and a faster pace than can be done through the NCAA legislative process.”

Maybe if you didn’t wait until the states started moving to act, you wouldn’t have that problem.

Of course, that’s not really Mark’s problem.  This is:

“… At the same time…moving from a collegiate model of students to paying employees is utterly inconsistent with what universities and colleges want.”

That’s a fine attitude in a world where what college athletes want isn’t relevant.  Unfortunately for Emmert’s constituents, that’s no longer the world they operate in.  The question is what’s it going to take for them to realize that.


Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

“This NCAA price-fixing is counter to America’s economic principles of free enterprise.”

I wonder how Mark Emmert’s blood pressure is doing.

NCAA executives met with the Justice Department’s antitrust chief in November to discuss the association’s plan to change its rules that prevent student-athletes from profiting on their names, according to people familiar with the matter.

Several officials, including the NCAA’s chief lawyer, Donald Remy, met with Makan Delrahim to explain the organization’s views on the issue and its thinking on changes it is considering, said the people, who declined to be named because the conversation was deemed confidential. Delrahim, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, meanwhile, told the NCAA that the antitrust division is following the issue, the people added.

The meeting highlights the mounting political pressure the NCAA is facing to change a system that critics have argued is unfair or even akin to price fixing, putting it in potential violation of federal antitrust laws.

“Following the issue”?  What does that mean?

At Notre Dame, Delrahim called amateurism a “laudable goal,” but said it in of itself “does not grant antitrust immunity, and rules designed to promote amateurism need to be carefully tailored so they don’t unreasonably limit competition.”



Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

“This is not about a money grab. It may be about too much money.”

In case you’re wondering, Jim Delany is still an asshole.

Come for the “the NCAA is gonna sue everybody to keep states from legislating NIL rights as long as possible” dickishness, but stay for the “we need an antitrust exemption so we can cap coaches’ salaries” bonus.

At least we’ll always have Rutgers in the Big Ten as his legacy.


Filed under Big Ten Football, Political Wankery, The NCAA

“… I’m really grateful that the NCAA is willing to be part of this conversation.”

So, yesterday, Mark Emmert got to hang out with a couple of Senators who appear to be receptive to the concept of federal regulation of college athletes’ NIL rights.

Meanwhile, the guy who’s introduced legislation in the House to restrict the NCAA’s ability to prevent kids from getting paid, seemed none too pleased about the meeting.

He’s not happy.

Later, at an event here staged by the Aspen Institute, Walker said the NCAA has “refused” to arrange a meeting between him and Emmert, even though he has tried for one “multiple times.”

Walker added that he met with a lobbyist for the NCAA last winter and was immediately asked: “What do you think you’re trying to accomplish here?”

I wish he’d have given the guy the Auric Goldfinger response.

Anyway, if Emmert thought he would get a warmer take from the Senators, well, at least they sat down and talked.  I’m not sure how much comfort he can take from this quote from Mitt Romney, though.

Romney also said he was concerned about differing rules across states, adding “there probably needs to be some kind of national standard or series of guidelines, although at this stage I don’t know what those will look like, and … one of the areas of my personal interests is to see a way not just for the very top athletes to be able to take advantage of the name, image and likeness – which is appropriate – but also athletes that are in sports not quite as visible.”

Looks like it’s gonna be a fun dance for a while.


Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

And, a pony

The athletic director at UC Davis thinks it would be a swell idea if Congress, at the same time it looks into regulating the NIL rights of college athletes, would go ahead and tackle legislation that would limit “excessive spending on salaries and facilities”.

This is needed — I know you’ll be shocked, shocked to hear it — because college athletic directors are inept at negotiations.

Salary market inefficiency is especially apparent when athletics directors and presidents find themselves renegotiating contracts to retain successful coaches. The non-profit structure creates an odd principal-agent dilemma: It is almost always in the personal job-security interest of athletics directors to pay highly popular coaches whatever it takes to retain them, lest they be blamed by influential constituents for allowing a beloved coach to get away. Agents representing coaches understand this negotiating dynamic, and are thus able to extract exceptional value for their clients. Negotiating circumstances are different in professional sports, where management is closely supported by an owner with a personal incentive to optimize financial efficiency and maximize return on investment.

Apparently it’s impossible to say no to Charlie Weis.

But listen to the brave new world that would be ushered in if Congress gave those ADs a backbone!

… it suggests that limits on spending would increase competitive balance in college athletics, thereby protecting long-term fan interest and commercial value. Spending limits (structured appropriately for each level of DI competition) would be in the competitive interest of all schools except the small minority who currently generate the most revenue, and thus ought to be supported by a majority of institutions and their fan bases.

A small minority might object?  Ya’ think?

I can’t come up with anything that would be guaranteed to blow up the current structure of college athletics than putting limits on what P5 schools could spend on staff and infrastructure.

The problem here is the underlying rationale.

The unique non-profit economic system of college sports creates an inefficient salary market, systematically inflating salaries beyond what would reasonably constitute market value in a for-profit environment.

The economic system of college athletics (which can be read about in more detail here) is unique because it consists of non-profit organizations that, unlike in any other American non-profit sector, compete fiercely in a zero-sum game. In other words, a college athletics program can only succeed at its competitive mission (win) if another fails (lose). Non-profit organizations in other sectors – for example, religious organizations, hospitals, and food banks – do not encounter a similar competitive dynamic. The zero-sum nature of competition in college athletics creates an enduring incentive for athletics departments to make investments that drive winning.

Accordingly, rather than seeking profitable operating margins, non-profit athletics departments reinvest all available revenue in priorities that maximize the chance of competitive success – such as attracting and retaining the best coaches. So, when athletics-related revenue grows significantly, as has been the case in major college sports over the past decade, the non-profit nature of its economic system drives corresponding growth in salaries and other competitive spending.

These aren’t non-profit organizations because theirs is a noble calling.  They are the way they are because by being that way, they avoid the tax man.

If you want to remedy the dilemma you’ve constructed, it’s just as easy… hell, it’s easier just to do away with their non-profit status.


That’s not even the most detached from reality part of the piece.  This is:

Nationally enforced limits on competitive spending could help to resolve some of these problems. They would reduce the urgency to generate maximum revenue, since income above the spending limit couldn’t be used for competitive purposes, and thus enable schools to cut back on the number of revenue-maximizing tradeoffs that impact student-athletes and local fans.

Tell you what — write that into your proposed legislation and we can talk.  I won’t be holding my breath, though.

Help them help themselves, Congress.  After all, it takes real courage to create a framework for schools to deny coaches what they’re worth on a free market.




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

Mark Emmert’s having his “Save us, Obi-Wan” moment

With Congress, believe it or not.

Throughout the 113-year history of the NCAA, the notion of federal government intervention in the management of college sports has generally been viewed with both skepticism and outright disdain. But NCAA president Mark Emmert has carried a new message into the halls of Congress lately on the nationwide push for college athletes to be able to profit off their name, image and likeness: We need help.

Emmert acknowledged Wednesday at a sports business conference in Manhattan that he has met with members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate recently to discuss how federal legislation might help the NCAA deal with an onslaught of issues presented as more states pass bills similar to California’s “Fair Pay to Play Act.”

As a guy whose first option is always to brazen it out in the courts, that’s an admission that the NCAA is concerned the legislative brush fire on NIL rights risks turning into a full bore conflagration, one that the organization won’t be able to put out on its own through its working group.

Emmert is no doubt hoping he can lobby Congress into putting into law what the NCAA wants and nothing more, but this doesn’t sound like a guy who’s willing to play ball on the NCAA’s terms alone.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan Senate working group led by Murphy and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) was announced last week to discuss how college athletes can be more fairly compensated. Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C,) already has introduced a bill that would allow college athletes to make money off their names, images and likenesses. In addition, a legal challenge to the NCAA’s athlete-compensation rules has been set for oral argument before a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in March.

“This whole thing is a house of cards that’s going to come down one way or the other,” Murphy said during a telephone interview Wednesday. “College athletics is trying to be a multi-billion-dollar industry without compensating the people who are making the product. That’s not going to stand in the long run from a moral perspective or a legal perspective.

“The college athletics industry created this problem by professionalizing itself over the course of years and one way or another, this is not sustainable because of public pressure — fans aren’t going to allow for the coaches and the schools and the companies to make billions of dollars while the students make almost nothing — or because the courts are going to step in.”

I suspect the compromise that’s going to be crafted will be to loosen the reins around NIL rights more than Emmert would like, in return for building a firewall around the idea that schools would have to pay college athletes directly.  We’ll see.


Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

TFW you want to mix football and politics

For some reason, the state of Louisiana held its gubernatorial election yesterday — a football Saturday.  Its Democratic governor won reelection and chalked up at least part of his success to this:

It just means more.  Remember that when Coach O runs for governor in a few years.


Filed under Political Wankery, SEC Football