Category Archives: The NCAA

Sweet deal

Only in America:

Tennessee student Breana Dodd is dating Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Josh Smith. She has cultivated an Instagram following. She is now using that following to promote Jolly Ranchers.

We presume Jolly Ranchers is paying Dodd for this ad placement . She includes the “#ad” lest anyone mistake this for an unbidden candy endorsement (Media members take note). If that’s the case, she is now earning more endorsement income than every college football player combined.

I gotta keep asking:  who’s not making bank off student-athletes?




Filed under The NCAA

I got your massive package right here.

You may recall that, earlier this year, the NCAA announced with some fanfare an initiative with regard to time demands on student-athletes.

Division I athletes will have a say in shaping NCAA policies about time demands through a survey distributed this week to all 346 schools.

Athletes in every Division I sport will be asked to provide feedback in the survey, distributed Monday by the NCAA. The Power 5 conferences, the NCAA Division I council and the Division I student-athlete advisory committee formulated the survey. Results are due March 21 and will be relayed to the Division I council, which will meet in April.

The survey is being conducted online and not being administered by coaching staffs that could attempt to influence the responses.

According to a survey sent to a Football Bowl Subdivision player and obtained Friday by ESPN, respondents complete sections on in-season countable athletic-related activities (CARA), out-of-season time demands and travel.

A “massive legislative package” regarding time demands will be introduced by September, according to Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips, chair of the council. After several months of review, a proposed policy will go to a vote at the NCAA convention in January 2017.

Yeah, well, the results are in and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of shape that so-called “massive legislative package” will take.  Not because of a lack of response from players, but because, shall we say, there’s a certain lack of consensus between labor… er, student-athletes, and management… er, coaches and ADs.

To start with, here are the spots where the parties see eye to eye:

All of the participants in the survey generally agreed that there should be at least eight hours overnight between activities that can be counted toward the NCAA’s 20-hour-per-week limit on what athletes can do with their teams during the season. There also was agreement about implementing what is termed a “mandatory no-activity period” immediately following the end of a season, as well as offseason no-activity period in which athletes would be encouraged to participate in an educational or career-development activity.

But even that last point was the start of a disagreement as to how long such a period should be.

Meanwhile, where the rubber meets the road…

The survey showed that a majority of athletes felt that travel to and from games, compliance meetings and organized team promotional activities also should be counted toward the 20-hour limit. A majority of the faculty athletics representatives agreed, but a majority of AD’s, coaches and administrators disagreed. For example, 63% of athletes said travel should count against the limit while 7% of coaches and 25% of AD’s said travel should count.

Participants also were asked: If the definition of countable activities was expanded, would you be supportive of increasing the hours limit? Athletes in some of the NCAA’s most prominent sports were among the least supportive of this idea. FBS football players were least supportive (34%), followed by those in men’s lacrosse (35%), women’s basketball and FCS football (38% each), men’s lacrosse (35%) and men’s basketball (41%). At least 60% of the head coaches in each of those sports supported that idea (73% in men’s basketball) and 64% of the athletics directors did so, including 56% of the ADs at Power Five conference schools.

Athletes in these sports also largely supported the creation of time limits on team activities during preseason practice and academic vacation periods, while majorities of head coaches in those sports did not, except 52% of men’s lacrosse coaches said they supported this during vacation periods.

Somehow, I think that legislative package may not be so massive now.  And the beat goes on…


Filed under Look For The Union Label, The NCAA

Just like any other student

Current NCAA policy:

Critics of college sports’ current health insurance model complain that it’s inefficient, contains costly gaps in coverage for the NCAA and its members, and creates policies that don’t guarantee equal coverage for athletes across all conferences and schools. The NCAA requires that athletes have insurance paid for by the school, the athlete or his or her family. The insurance must cover up to the $90,000 deductible of the NCAA catastrophic injury program.

In other words, if a student-athlete doesn’t cover the deductible, he or she doesn’t get the NCAA coverage.  Former Rep. and Oklahoma football player J.C. Watts is pushing for a replacement of that model.

Among the proposed coverage provisions through the benefits plan:

• Ensure no out-of-pocket expenses for players and their family for injuries that occurred while participating in college sports. Schools often pay a lot of these costs but there are no requirements and some athletes get saddled with thousands of dollars in medical bills from injuries sustained in college.

• Provide health coverage to former athletes related to college sports injuries. The coverage would extend to the age of 26, which would be consistent with the current Affordable Care Act requirements.

• Serve as the athlete’s primary medical coverage during college eligibility.

• Lower the cost of comprehensive basic injury, dental, vision and catastrophic healthcare coverage.

• Protect athletes from substantial and unexpected medical expenses and help a university’s ability to respond in those cases.

• Add additional support to athletes through family travel benefits, financial literacy and career counseling programs, lifetime scholarships, and compatible cost of attendance stipends.

Sounds fair.

“I’m not one that says you should pay a player to play college football, but I don’t think a college athlete should have to pay to attend the University of Oklahoma when you don’t have the type of benefits these players should have,” Watts said. “And it’s not just the time they’re at Oklahoma but after they’ve left. Stadiums have gotten bigger [and] weight rooms have gotten bigger [while] the benefits have largely stayed the same.”

Not only that, but the plan’s sponsors claim it will save almost $300 million.  Who, I ask you, couldn’t get behind a proposal like that?

Do you really need to guess?

Where the NCAA stands on the “Student Athletes’ Enhanced Benefits Plan” is unclear and a frustrating issue for Watts Partners. Watts and Pruitt said they met in October 2014 with NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy, NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline and NCAA director of travel and insurance Juanita Sheely to lay out the idea.

“Our basic response from them was, ‘Go build it and come back to us,’” Watts said. “They’ve been lukewarm at best. Tom really is the one that has turbo-charged it in the last six months because of his credibility and access to the ADs and conference commissioners. It doesn’t hurt having a Rhodes Scholar trumpeting your plan.”

The NCAA declined comment regarding the benefits plan being considered by athletic directors. Last year, Sheely defended the NCAA’s insurance coverage for athletes in this online article.

Earlier this year, the NCAA sent out a medical insurance survey to its members. The survey was described internally by the NCAA as a starting point to examine where coverage gaps exist before moving forward.

“We’re two years ahead of them and have done the kind of analysis that even their survey will not pick up the data for,” Pruitt said. “Their survey is mostly a cost accounting survey than it is looking at the actual benefits and policies that the schools require and how those interface with what the NCAA offers. We’ve already done all that.”

Some NCAA officials have privately expressed concern that the Watts Partner plan overlaps with what’s already being provided to athletes…

Yeah, can’t have any overlap.  What would the rest of the student body think?



Filed under The NCAA

Same as it ever was.

For the hopeless romantics out there…

Ah, the good old days, when college administrators could sanctimoniously deny paying players and were believed.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

I think I’m kidding when I ask this.

Given Sally Jenkins’ theory of the crime

The NCAA has become a black market. At some point, Laremy Tunsil’s petty, common, under-the-table transactions as a college football player at Mississippi metastasized into something else, something that looks suspiciously like a smear campaign and a blackmail attempt. This is the ultimate ill of an old-world system that earns millions for everyone but the players: It left a 21-year-old vulnerable to a vengeful shyster operating in an underworld…

The worst part of this subterranean economy is the way it criminalizes the wrong people for perfectly trivial behavior…

There’s not a person in the pro or college football worlds who doesn’t have a pretty good idea of what happened: how Tunsil probably grew sick of having to grovel to the assistant, who made him feel like a thief for even asking; the growing awareness of the future awaiting him in the NFL coupled with the need-it-now frustration; the peekaboo teasers of wealth to come and overtures from the “runners” for agents trolling for clients, offering to front him what he needed in exchange for the ability to steer him come draft time; followed by the rage and the threats of exposure when the mutual use fell apart with the arrival of Sexton in Tunsil’s life.

… would it be much of a stretch for some prosecutor to go after the NCAA under Todd’s Law the next a Georgia player runs afoul of the unlawful benefits rule?

Before you laugh, let’s not forget the passionate rationale behind the bill, folks.

“That’s what really got most peoples’ dander up,” said Fleming, a rabid Bulldogs fan with undergraduate and law degrees from UGA. “I was disappointed when it happened. But I understand the young man comes from a very humble background. His mother didn’t have funds to properly repair the roof on the trailer she raised him in.”

The law has two possible penalties, one criminal, one civil, Fleming said.

“We plugged it into a law about alumni being overzealous,” he said. “Now it’s a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. It can be up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

“On the civil side, the university can sue the person who does this for any damages sustained, like losing a TV contract, not going to bowl games.”

Or being shut out of a national playoff game because of a star player’s sudden suspension or ineligibility, maybe?

Like I said, yeah, I think I’m kidding.  But I can’t quite bring myself to say it would totally surprise me, either.  If enough people were pissed off… er, uh, got their dander up about that, it would be good politics, if nothing else – and it’s not like our fair state doesn’t have a track record of going after the NCAA when there’s enough money involved.

Pretty funny, hunh?


Filed under Georgia Football, Political Wankery, See You In Court, The NCAA

Degree integrity

When “just win, baby” and the NCAA’s seeming inability to come to grips with academic fraud come together, the results ain’t pretty.

Fortunately for North Carolina athletics, being put on probation by the regional accrediting agency charged with approving North Carolina’s academic credentials doesn’t affect the school’s eligibility to compete.  Which is more than you can say for student-athletes who get put on academic probation.  As for worrying about the status of those degrees, kids, how ’bout that basketball team, eh?


Filed under Academics? Academics., The NCAA

“Tunsil and the agents”

Let me see if I’ve got this timeline straight:

  • At the end of June last year, Laremy Tunsil gets in a tussle with his step-dad that stemmed from an argument they had about Tunsil “riding around with football agents” and is arrested as a result of the altercation.
  • That, in and of itself, isn’t an issue with regard to Tunsil’s eligibility, as Tunsil can speak with certified NFL agents and still maintain his eligibility as long as he doesn’t accept any impermissible benefits or sign.
  • In the face of that, Ole Miss remained calm.  “We are aware that Laremy and his family have met with potential agents, which is within his NCAA rights as a student-athlete,” Freeze said in a statement to The Clarion-Ledger on Tuesday afternoon. “Regarding the altercation, we will continue to gather facts and cooperate with the proper authorities.”
  • Nevertheless, in an abundance of caution, the school elected to sit Tunsil for the first six games of the 2015 season.  Then, in mid-October, the NCAA issued a seven-game suspension that allowed him to return against Texas A&M on Oct. 24.  The suspension wasn’t tied to receiving benefits from an agent or signing with an agent, but it was made clear that Tunsil received impermissible financial benefits from third parties and “was not completely forthcoming when initially questioned by NCAA investigators”.

Whew.  I mention all of that to set up what Mark Schlabach and Nicole Noren report about Tunsil’s camp investigating the source of the embarrassing leaks on the evening of the NFL draft that cost Tunsil some money as his draft stock sunk.

Tunsil, a former All-American offensive tackle at Ole Miss, hired a man to work as his business manager and financial adviser in mid-October, about two-and-a-half months before his junior season with the Rebels ended, according to the sources. The man scheduled agents’ meetings with Tunsil and his mother, Desiree Polingo, and handled other duties for him.

Tunsil fired the business manager after other agents informed Tunsil that the man wasn’t licensed or registered to work as a financial adviser but was a “runner,” a term used to describe someone who gives money and other benefits to a player in order to entice the player to sign with an agent or financial adviser with whom the runner is working.

The sources said the business manager gave Tunsil a new cell phone in mid-October. People close to Tunsil believe the man might have accessed Tunsil’s social media accounts Thursday by logging into them through his old phone.

So while Tunsil was on suspension for accepting improper financial benefits, he takes on a business manager/adviser whom he then cans when he suddenly discovers it’s a no-no to deal with “someone who gives money and other benefits to a player”.  Are we really expected to buy that?  More to the point, are we supposed to believe that Ole Miss bought that?  Or was the school into full don’t ask, don’t tell mode by then, hoping to ride things out until season’s end?

And now, Team Tunsil is reportedly in hot pursuit of this guy.  So I wonder, what happens if they manage to finger him and turn their evidence over to authorities?  For one thing, do you think the NCAA might want to discuss things with this person?

College players cannot hire agents, per NCAA rules, while they are playing or undeclared for a professional league’s draft. The NCAA has rules that broadly define what an “agent” is, and those rules can include people acting as financial advisers to players. An NCAA official declined comment to Outside the Lines about whether it is investigating anything related to Tunsil’s former business manager/financial adviser, citing policy that prohibits it from commenting on current, pending or potential investigations.

I guess the NCAA might, after all.  And it’s Tunsil’s folks that are apparently driving the bus that might make that possible.  Makes you wonder if Hugh Freeze has spoken with his agent about that yet.



Filed under SEC Football, The NCAA