Category Archives: The NCAA

“At the heart of the problem is an addiction to lavish spending.”

Matt Hayes (yeah, I know) cites a report that claims 86 percent of college athletes live below the poverty line.  Now before you go running off from that, note that Hayes manages the correct take in response:

However, a majority of students in college—those who play sports and those who don’t—fall well below the federal poverty line. Moreover, many current student athletes wouldn’t qualify academically under current freshman guidelines.

The NCAA sees this as a tradeoff: Athletes receive a free education, are trained by coaches and athletic trainers at the top of their profession, and receive free academic tutoring (among other things) to play and make millions for their schools. Athletes—and the NCPA—of course see it differently, and have a solid argument.

Still, by adding the “poverty” argument, the NCPA—a group that has been a strong advocate for student athletes—is confusing the narrative and looks desperate. Instead of talking poverty, the NCPA should continue to drive home these numbers:

— Texas football players were valued at $513,922.

— Duke basketball players were valued at $1,025,656.

That’s not all the NCPA should drive home, though.  There’s plenty more to shout about, beginning with P5 athletic departments spending money like drunken sailors on shore leave.

Big-time college sports departments are making more money than ever before, thanks to skyrocketing television contracts, endorsement and licensing deals, and big-spending donors. But many departments also are losing more money than ever, as athletic directors choose to outspend rising income to compete in an arms race that is costing many of the nation’s largest publicly funded universities and students millions of dollars. Rich departments such as Auburn have built lavish facilities, invented dozens of new administrative positions and bought new jets, while poorer departments such as Rutgers have taken millions in mandatory fees from students and siphoned money away from academic budgets to try to keep up.

Auburn?  Why, whatever would make you look at Auburn?

Jacobs’s pay has steadily risen since he started in 2005, from $407,300 to $648,700, and he’s been able to hire some help. In January 2014, Jacobs created a chief operating officer position, a No. 2 to take over the department’s day-to-day operations.

For that job, Jacobs chose Benedict, whom he lured away from Minnesota athletics with a salary of $310,000.

Benedict strongly disagreed with characterizing any Auburn spending as bloated.

“I don’t think it’s any different than any other competitive industry,” Benedict said. “As college athletics has generated more money, we’re going to invest more.”

It’s not accurate, Benedict said, to analyze college athletics in terms of profits or losses.

“There’s no for-profit company that would operate the way college athletics do,” he said. “We don’t make decisions based on the bottom line. If we did, things would operate very differently.”

Er, um… nevermind.

These guys aren’t strapped for cash.  They just operate in a world with different rules.  Which is why you have to laugh at this:

There are athletic departments that profit without a perennially great football team, and without taking millions away from students. Indiana University routinely does it, despite being in the middle of the pack of the Power Five in earnings, with $84.7 million in 2014.

How do they do it?

“Hoosier tightwadness,” Indiana Athletics Director Fred Glass said. “We don’t spend more than we take in.”

Glass expressed puzzlement when asked why so many departments struggle to turn a profit.

“If I knew the answer to that, maybe I’d be head of the NCAA or something,” he said.

Dude, with an approach like that, they wouldn’t let you near running the NCAA.

The money is there at major programs to treat student-athletes properly.  The schools just aren’t going to spend it that way until they have to.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Monday morning buffet

Fuel up, folks.

  • The Georgia Way  – it’s not just for the athletic department anymore! (h/t Lrgk9)
  • How was this kid not ejected from the game?
  • Add Iowa State to the coaching carousel list.
  • They’re just now getting around to figuring out how to fill all the bowl game slots?
  • Les Miles’ fate at LSU sounds like it’s moved from the if to the when stage.
  • Stuff like this probably doesn’t help.
  • Does playing Georgia Southern’s triple option help the Dawgs prepare to play Georgia Tech’s version?
  • Speaking of Tech, the season’s been disappointing enough that even the denizens at StingTalk can’t work up much an argument against Georgia being installed as a 4.5-point favorite.


Filed under ACC Football, Big 12 Football, Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, SEC Football, Strategery And Mechanics, The NCAA

Collect them all!

While I’m on my high horse this morning, I thought I’d share something with you an alert reader sent me.

Check out the Georgia Bulldog toys you can buy here.  Todd Gurley, Knowshon Moreno, Jarvis Jones, Matthew Stafford and A.J. Green, all bedecked in red and black, school jersey numbers included.  So much for that “what’s on the front of the uniform is all that matters” stuff.

They’re all professionals now, so there’s no NCAA violation to worry about.  But, assuming those five were paid for their names – and if they weren’t, it’s time to go see a lawyer, boys – doesn’t that shred the whole “how could the schools ever figure out a way to pay student-athletes for their likenesses?” argument?

Sharing money is such a bother, though.  Can’t everyone just leave the schools alone about it?


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

The true meaning of amateurism

A couple of years ago, I touched on a hideous lawsuit filed against the NCAA in the wake of a Division III player’s death because… well, because some of his coaches were assholes, the school had no coherent policy regarding head injuries and the NCAA, for all its blathering about concern for the student-athlete, admitted it took no steps to monitor its member schools about that.

David Klossner, former NCAA director of health and safety, admitted as much in a deposition this year in an unrelated federal lawsuit challenging the NCAA’s concussion policy:

Q: Are member institutions required to submit their concussion management plans to the NCAA?

A: No.

Q: Have any member schools been disciplined regarding concussion management plans?

A: Not to my knowledge.

Q: Has the NCAA considered disciplining any member institutions regarding concussion management plans?

A: No, not to my knowledge.

In an interview with The Washington Times weeks before the deposition, Mr. Klossner and an NCAA representative said no university, to their knowledge, had been investigated or penalized for violating the rule.

A slew of internal NCAA emails made public in July from the unrelated case revealed an organization where staffers worried about liability and some mocked concerns about the issue.

If you look up the word “callous” in the dictionary, it’s accompanied by a picture of Mark Emmert.

I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t catch a more recent development in the case.  No, it hasn’t settled.  It hasn’t even gone to court yet.

That’s because the NCAA has done its best over the past couple of years to stonewall it.  And there’s where things have moved from callous to putrid. (h/t)

Last month, the NCAA asked a Montgomery County Circuit court judge to seal 14 documents in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of late Frostburg State University football player Derek Sheely.

The internal emails, memos and meeting minutes in question deal with the NCAA’s response to concussions, including research and proposed rule changes.

In court documents, the NCAA said that allowing the documents to be public “would have a chilling effect on the candid and frank debate necessary to ensure a thoughtful process” and “may be harmful to the NCAA’s legitimate business interests.”

Are you getting that?  Student-athletes, those noble amateurs, aren’t allowed to have business interests, but the NCAA’s half-assed approach to dealing with their well-being – that has to be weighed against its legitimate business interests.  What might those be, you ask?  Welp,

Disclosing the documents could damage “student health and safety” if “picked up by the media,” the NCAA said in the documents.

Legitimate?  I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Burn the whole joint down.  The sooner, the better.


Filed under See You In Court, The NCAA

Pencils ready? Begin.

Your GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) question of the day is this:

College Board members strongly claimed that college athletes will never be paid for a salary to play for their schools. College athletes are easily awarded a scholarship worth $15,000 – $25,000 or more per year, plus a career after college that can be worth a million dollars over a lifetime. Additionally, the athletes receive all kinds of perks while they are in college, like staying at fancy hotels and being seen on national TV. It’s hard to put a price tag on all of that.

Which of the following, if true, most severely weakens the argument presented above?

A. It is very difficult to put a numeric value on exactly how much an athlete is worth to a college.
B. Certain college sports generate millions of dollars for college athletic programs. It’s estimated that the university gains $70,000 per year in revenue per scholarship player. The actual number should actually be higher.
C. All those millions of dollars from TV contracts and ticket sales only help athletic departments balance their bottom line.
D. The NCAA doesn’t allow the universities to sell a college football jersey with a player’s name on it, but they will sell the jersey with the player’s number on it.
E. Amateurism means that one plays strictly for the enjoyment of the sport, not the remuneration.

Surprisingly, “School presidents and Mark Emmert are a pack of greedy swine” isn’t listed as one of the answers.

The correct answer to the question is here.


Filed under The NCAA

“There’s no doubt that safety is maybe the issue of the day.”

Before you get all misty-eyed at the thought that the NCAA might finally be on its way to making sure that its amateur student-athletes have health-care coverage after they have finished their college careers, let’s remember that schools have to be prudent.  Or at least give lip service to being prudent.

Ohio State president Michael Drake joined Pastides in this view, saying: “It’s a complicated issue … but it’s certainly something that I’d like for us to be able to discuss and would think upon very favorably.”

Complicated = “before we do this, we’ve got to make sure we can still afford to keep spending money on shitty coaching contracts, bloated administrative staffs and unnecessary facilities”.

Maybe they’ll be able to pay for it with the next round of playoff expansion.  Sounds like the perfect opportunity to create a study group that’ll get back with recommendations in a few years…


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

“Gary did about the only thing he could do.”

It’s not about us, we just wanted to use our platform to take a stance for a fellow concerned student on an issue, especially being as though a fellow black man’s life was on the line,” Missouri defensive back Ian Simon said while flanked by wide receiver J’Mon Moore and defensive end Charles Harris. “Due to the end of the hunger strike, we will be ending our solidarity strike to not practice and returning to our normal schedule as football players. It is a privilege to be playing for the University of Missouri’s football team and we are very thankful for this opportunity. We love the game, but at the end of the day, it is just that — a game.

“Through this experience, we’ve really began to bridge that gap between student and athlete in the phrase student-athlete by connecting with the community and realizing the bigger picture. We will continue to build with the community and support positive change on Mizzou’s campus. Though we don’t experience everything the general student body does and our struggles may look different at times, we are all Concerned Student 1950.”

“Let this be a testament to all athletes across the country,” Harris said. “That you do have power. It started with a few individuals on our team and look at what it has become, look at where it’s at right now. This is nationally known and it started with just a few.”

And that’s the scary part, if you are a sports administrator now.  As an athletic director at a school in a Power Five conference (“The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.” – no shit, Sherlock.) told USA TODAY Sports,

“That’s the scary part about it. Something can come out of nowhere in a hurry.”

The person, as well as an athletic director at another Power Five conference school, separately emphasized the need, more than ever before, for proactive and consistent communication with student-athletes.

The first athletic director’s initial reaction was: “Man, I’m glad it’s not me — and then I thought, ‘Are we doing enough to have lines of communication open with our student athletes?’ ”

They aren’t really scared about political statements (probably because they aren’t right-wing hacks like Ben Shapiro, who actually wrote of the players without a trace of irony that “Their only job, after all, is to play football.“).  What they’re scared of is the student-athletes turning their sights on things that cost ADs real money, which, after all, was the implicit threat behind the Missouri players’ stance.  Here’s a scenario from Andy Staples that illustrates that:

Now imagine if players in an entire conference decided they wanted lifetime medical coverage for injuries incurred while playing college football. Or imagine they decided that they merely wanted a bigger cut of the millions that currently go to their coaches, their athletic directors, their locker room waterfalls and to subsidize sports on their campus that don’t make any money. Here are a few potential courses of action and their likely results.

  • They could write a strongly worded letter. That would be ignored.
  • They could sue. That would take years.
  • They could threaten to skip their games. They would have everyone’s attention immediately.

If they did it, the schools, conference and NCAA could do absolutely nothing but begin negotiating. Why? Because those groups gave the athletes the power the moment they got into the business of producing and selling television shows. Then, in an attempt to defend their economic model in court and before the National Labor Relations Board, they took away any opportunity they would have had to threaten retaliation.

The Pac-12 and Big Ten own pieces of their eponymous television networks. The SEC takes a huge licensing fee from ESPN to take part in the SEC Network. All the leagues sell games—television shows, essentially—to networks independent of any conference cable network deal. Media companies pay through the nose for the right to broadcast those television shows. How mad would they be at the people who sold them those shows if the casts suddenly didn’t show up for scheduled episodes?

What could the schools do in such a situation? Nothing. They can’t revoke the players’ scholarships, because the NCAA’s attorneys have spent years spitting out court filings that claim the key reason athletes should not be paid to play college sports is that they are simply members of the student body participating in an extracurricular activity. Northwestern’s attorneys argued to the NLRB that athletes are not employees because they are, in fact, regular students. “Northwestern considers its students who participate in NCAA Division I sports, including those who receive athletic scholarships, to be students, first and foremost,” Northwestern vice president for university relations Alan Cubbage wrote in a statement on March 26, 2014. “We believe that participation in athletic events is part of the overall educational experience for those students, not a separate activity.”

Of course athletes are different from regular students. Of course the athletic scholarship is a form of compensation that has far less to do with school than it does with sports. But when you’ve spent years pretending under oath that athletes are average students and their scholarships aren’t tied to their performance on the field, then you can’t yank their scholarships for organizing a boycott. That’s something regular students do a lot. They belong to a very idealistic age group. Protests are part of the deal on a college campus.

To discipline players who boycott would be an admission that their scholarship is compensation for their athletic participation. (Again, of course it’s compensation for athletic participation. The people in charge have chosen to pretend it isn’t.) It would also be an admission that revenue sport athletes aren’t regular students. Regular students wouldn’t lose their financial aid for protesting peacefully.

You can call it awakening the sleeping giant.

“Our student-athletes are smarter than they’ve ever been before,” the first athletic director said. “We’ve worked hard to educate them about where cost-of-attendance (funding) comes from and tell them about their rights and privileges. They’re more aware than ever before.”

Or creating a monster.  Either way, it’s a problem.  Schools have made their beds and now they’re worried they’re gonna have to lie in them.

It’s about financial control and the fear of that slipping away.  The most unattractive part of this has to be how decentralized the threat is.  In the absence of a national players’ union, a wildcat strike of SEC players that gets resolved has no effect on, say, Big Ten players and schools.  Yet player unionization is anathema to D-1 schools right now.

How carefully can you calibrate throwing bones to the kids to keep a lid on things?  That’s a balancing act that I’m not sure the likes of Jim Delany are capable of pulling off, but we’ll see.  Because one way or another, another blow up is a growing possibility.


Filed under Look For The Union Label, The NCAA