Category Archives: The NCAA

“I mean, you only have four years as a college athlete.”

Amateurism romantics, college athletics as you know them ended and you weren’t even aware it happened!

Meet Chloe Mitchell.

Instead of seeing boosters with million dollar paychecks everywhere, you really should be pondering social media a whole lot more, because that’s where the bulk of the NIL money will be coming from.  (I know, that’s gonna be tough for y’all.  But try.)

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Today, in outrage

Oh, boy.

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Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

Market power

For those of you who like to promote the concept that if college athletes don’t like what schools offer them for their services, they can always choose to take their skills elsewhere, Justice Thomas would like a few words.

Hint:  they’re not.

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I don’t think competitive balance means what they think it means.

So, in response to a survey the Associated Press took of 357 Division I athletic directors came this cry of despair:

“NIL will be a game changer for all,” one respondent said. “Many will get out of college athletics as this is not what they signed up for. Schools should resist NIL and go Ivy [League] non-scholarship model. I do not see why NIL is good for all.”

It’s when you get a little further into the piece you find the giveaway:

Nearly 69% of respondents came from the 22 conferences that do not play FBS football. Only 10% of respondents came from the Power 5.

I give Chicken Little credit for cutting to the chase.  No mention is made of what’s in it for college athletes, because that’s not really a concern for an AD.  And if I were an AD at Podunk Southeast U, I’d love for the SEC to go Ivy League.

But it ain’t gonna happen.  None of it.  Just ask Tulane’s AD.

Tulane athletic director Troy Dannen was among the 15% of ADs who said they believe NIL payments will have no impact on competitive balance.

“The kids that are going to Alabama are still going to go to Alabama. The kids that are going to Southern Cal are still going to go to Southern Cal. The kids that are going to Tulane are still going to go to Tulane,” said Dannen, whose school competes at the top tier of Division I football (FBS) in the American Athletic Conference.

Looking back five years from now, which athletic director do you think will be proven right?

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Once again, amateurism for thee, but not for me

Sally Jenkins is full of righteous indignation, and I am here for all of it.

Never again let someone from the NCAA call women’s basketball or any other sport a “cost.” Connecticut’s Paige Bueckers is not a cost. She is the entire damn point. The real cost, the real burden in this iniquitous, contemptible system is the legion of skimmers and coasters led by the devious do-nothing NCAA president Mark Emmert and his board of governors cronies. There is the dead weight.

How many AT&T cellphone plans do the Connecticut women have to sell on ESPN to subsidize Emmert’s steakhouse dinners? How many bottles of Coca-Cola must the Stanford women peddle for free before their game is treated equitably and promoted decently by the NCAA? The biggest drag on collegiate sports, the real liability, is not women’s basketball. It’s these murkily titled, excessively salaried suits, who try to paint women’s teams as a revenue fail to cover their soft-padded seats.

At the top of NCAA headquarters sit 10 executives whose collective salaries amount to $8 million annually, topped by Emmert’s $2.7 million in compensation.

That’s the U-Conn. women’s operating budget for an entire year.

Let me repeat that. The salaries of just 10 NCAA administrators could sustain the most successful program in women’s basketball for a whole season.

Woof.  And she’s just getting started there.

Meanwhile, the NCAA overlords, with a bloated staff of more than 500, soak this system for $44.8 million a year in “administrative” costs and another $58.4 million in sundry business expenses. Then there is the whopping $23 million devoted to “governance committees” and an annual convention. That’s $126 million — for what? For double-talk and book-cooking.

Don’t stop now.

Somewhere along the line, the NCAA began to operate more like a strip-mining operation than an educational nonprofit. And the trouble with this conduct at the top is that it has leached downward. The bloat-and-spend habits have taken over virtually every major member school in the organization — and so has the mind-set that revenue is all that matters and if a women’s team isn’t driving enough dollars it’s somehow undeserving. “We’re made to feel like we’re not contributing, and I think we are,” McGraw says.

As The Post’s Will Hobson documented in a 2015-2016 investigation, over the space of a decade payrolls for administrators at Power Five conference schools jumped by 69 percent, while the number of teams essentially didn’t change. At UCLA, the athletic director tripled his salary to $920,000. At Michigan, the number of administrators making $100,000 or more rose to 34. “Everybody’s got a director of operations of operations,” one athletic director acknowledged.

And Emmert’s compensation, already in the seven figures, more than doubled. Yet women’s sports are the ones he has framed as a cost?

Hey, give the NCAA some credit here.  At least they’re equal opportunity exploiters.

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The fine line between arrogance and cluelessness

Shot.

“We’re asking [Congress] for a framework within which we can do what we want to do,” Emmert said Thursday.

Chaser.

“What I’ve heard about the conversation with Mark Emmert is a clear sign of lack of leadership,” Sen. Richard Blumenthall (D-Conn.) said earlier Thursday during a media call with a player-led group. “He says he wants Congress to help him—well, we’re going to give him hell.”

Whatever they’re paying Mark Emmert almost three million dollars a year to do, reading the room clearly isn’t part of that.

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Alston goes to the Supremes.

If the NCAA felt good about its chances of having the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in Alston overturned — after all, it’s not a stretch to assume the SCOTUS wasn’t taking the appeal simply to pat the 9C on the back for a good job — it probably doesn’t feel that way after the line of hostile questioning its side took yesterday.

In many respects, the justices hammered the NCAA. They pried into the organization’s amateurism policy, criticizing a model that allows coaches, administrators and executives to make millions while “the workers,” says one justice, go unpaid. Several justices questioned the merits of the NCAA’s grievances, referring to them merely as “complaints” that shouldn’t be before the court in the first place. After all, asked Justice Brett Kavanaugh, what’s an extra $5,800 per athlete when executives make billions from television revenue?

“Schools are conspiring, agreeing with competitors, to pay no salaries to workers,” Kavanaugh said. “It seems somewhat disturbing.”

In one of the most significant and maybe stunning moments, Clarence Thomas, another conservative justice who experts say rarely speaks up during cases, prodded Waxman over million-dollar coaching salaries.

“It strikes me as odd,” he said, “that coaches’ salaries have ballooned and they are in the amateur ranks, as are the players.”

Later on, Thomas showed his affinity for the college game, citing the “transfer portal” during one question.

The justices seemed to agree that the NCAA provided no evidence in its filings to suggest that fans would be less interested in college sports if athletes receive greater benefits, striking at the heart of the organization’s case.

On the other hand, several of the justices seemed uneasy about the consequences of siding with the plaintiffs.

Addressing acting solicitor general Elizabeth Prelogar, who joined the arguments for the plaintiff because the Justice Department has taken a position on the case in their favor, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said: “I’m not sure that you have given me comfort on some of the questions that my colleague, the chief justice, asked, which is, ‘How do we know that we’re not just destroying the game as it exists, meaning we’re being told by Mr. Waxman that all of these educational-related payments can become extravagant and, as a result, be viewed by the public as pay for play?’ ”

Or, as Justice Elena Kagan called it during questioning of Kessler, “the kind of floodgates argument – like what’s next? (Athlete compensation) is just going to go up and up and up, and pretty soon it will just be a regular labor market.”

It’s a mug’s game to rely on oral arguments to predict the outcome of the case, so I won’t even try to go there.  Dellinger outlines the four most likely outcomes:

A decision is likely to come in one of four forms: (1) a narrow plaintiff ruling that upholds broader amateurism policies; (2) a more broad plaintiff ruling that destroys the amateurism defense and cracks the door for more legal challenges to the NCAA model; (3) a narrow ruling in favor of the NCAA that strikes down the lower courts’ decision; (4) a more broad NCAA ruling that upholds the amateurism model.

My feeling is that, intellectually, the Court knows the NCAA’s position is untenable.  However, emotionally, there is some sympathy for the abstract notion of amateur athletics that’s tugging at the justices.  Combined, that suggests to me whatever comes as a ruling (probably not until mid-summer) will likely be more narrow than not.

If anything surprised me about the questioning yesterday, it’s how well informed most of the justices appeared to be about the issues and, specifically, about how the NCAA and the schools manage college football.  We’ll find out in a few months where the SCOTUS is letting amateurism head.

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Filed under See You In Court, The NCAA

NIL comes to Georgia.

Welp, that didn’t take long.

College student athletes in Georgia would start receiving financial compensation under legislation the General Assembly passed Wednesday.

The bill, sponsored by House Higher Education Committee Chairman Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta, would allow Georgia athletes to earn compensation for the use of their “name, image or likeness” by the public, private or technical colleges they attend.

… The Senate passed the bill by 50-2 Wednesday with Republican Sens. Steve Gooch of Dahlonega and Blake Tillery of Vidalia voting against it. The legislation now heads to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk after clearing the state House of Representatives unanimously three weeks ago.

Not many no votes there.  Assuming Kemp signs it — now, there’s a real stretch — the bill would go into effect July 1, which means that Florida would not get a jump on Georgia.  Crootin’ be undefeated, y’all.

That being said, it appears that a limitation was added to the bill, one that I don’t believe appears in the Florida legislation.

Student athletes would also have to deposit their earnings in an escrow account from which they could not withdraw funds until at least one year after they graduate or leave school.

Aside from the obvious “why?”, assuming there are other states with NIL legislation that allow college athletes immediate access to their earnings, it’s going to leave rival coaches with something to bang on Kirby Smart on the recruiting trail.  I will be curious to see if this gets revisited down the line.

In the meantime, the more states passing legislation like this, the harder it gets for the NCAA and schools to fight this in court.

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UPDATE:  The bill was amended on the floor yesterday to add a sunset provision.

Basically, if Congress or the NCAA grants college athletes’ NIL rights, then Georgia’s law would be superseded.

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Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

The law, in all its majesty

The Alston oral arguments are underway right now.

Question:  if you had to pick the Supreme Court justice who would be the first ever to mention the transfer portal, whom would you choose?

Answer in comments.

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UPDATE:  I just…

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Filed under See You In Court, The NCAA, Transfers Are For Coaches.

Is the NCAA looking for a scapegoat?

I mean, it’s understandable, in a sense.

The N.C.A.A. is embroiled in perhaps the most crucial stretch of its long relationship with Washington, where top government officials have increasingly voiced doubts about the management and restrictions of college sports.

On Wednesday, the 115th anniversary of the N.C.A.A.’s founding under pressure from President Theodore Roosevelt, the Supreme Court will hear the association’s appeal in a case about caps on certain benefits for student-athletes. This summer, around the time the justices could announce their ruling, a Florida law is scheduled to take effect and allow players to profit off their fame, disrupting the uniform rules that have regulated college athletics for generations.

Those potentially seminal developments were brewing before this month’s N.C.A.A. basketball tournaments demonstrated unequal treatment between the men and women competing in them, prompting new outrage from members of Congress. And, encouraged by Huma, star athletes at both tournaments called attention to what they condemned as overly restrictive N.C.A.A. rules that have remained in place even as the industry’s financial might swelled.

The confluence of events could ultimately push Washington toward a few outcomes, including national protections for student-athletes or sustained scrutiny on the N.C.A.A. from Capitol Hill and the Justice Department. What lawmakers say is already clear, though, is that the N.C.A.A.’s political standing has eroded in recent years, diminished by protracted internal debates and bipartisan, coast-to-coast pressure for changes that benefit athletes.

I doubt that qualifies as times that try men’s souls, but, still, an existential threat to a business model is an existential threat to a business model.  So, if you’re someone at a school in a P5 conference that’s concerned about what kind of hit your bottom line might be taking, there’s a certain logic to… um… creating a little separation between you and your front man.

NCAA president Mark Emmert has long passed the point where the failures of his tenure register as shocking news. Emmert has been so ineffective and so unpopular for so long that leaders within college athletics have long given up hope that he could evolve into a functional leader.

So when Emmert became the face of the equity issues between the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments last week, it only further entrenched opinions among leaders around college sports.

… Yahoo Sports spoke to multiple commissioners who estimated that there’s at least an 85% disapproval of the job Emmert is doing among college commissioners. Among Division I athletic directors, his support is about the same. And those estimates are considered conservative. All are quick to point out that his job is hard and thankless because it lacks unilateral power, but there’s a consistent message that they want more for the $2.7 million he was paid in the last reported year.

One major conference had an athletic directors conference call recently where the unhappiness with Emmert was so unanimous that the athletic directors all agreed to take their issues with Emmert to their president.

Ooh, look, Martha!  The natives are getting restless.

Don’t get me wrong.  Mark Emmert is a contemptible human being.  But he’s been doing what the schools that are paying him millions want him to do.  He may be a shitty messenger, but it’s the message that generated the political reaction.

That being said, I don’t think there will be a moment’s hesitation if it’s deemed necessary to hand over Emmert’s head on a platter in order to move forward on a new amateurism platform that keeps the cash flow rolling.

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