Category Archives: The NCAA

Fun times: back in court with O’Bannon

The NCAA has a lot on its plate today.

The Ed O’Bannon class-action antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA reaches another milestone Tuesday, when the sides engage in oral argument before a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

It’s part of a busy day on the court — and in the courts — for the NCAA. The association will be starting its Division I men’s basketball tournament in Dayton, Ohio, and participating in oral argument in the appeal of another significant legal case: The state of New Jersey’s bid to legalize sports betting there.

There’s probably a metaphor in there about the current state of collegiate athletics, but I don’t have the energy to fish it out.

That being said, there’s bound to be a little something today that’ll give the 9th Circuit panel hearing the NCAA’s appeal a chuckle.

In disagreeing with Wilken’s ruling that would allow some payments for players, the NCAA wrote, “The court’s alternative would blur the line between amateur college sports and their professional counterparts and thereby deprive athletes of a genuine choice between the two endeavors.”

“That sentence bears re-reading,” lawyers for the Shawne Alston cost-of-attendance plaintiffs wrote in a friend-of-the-court brief. “In (the NCAA’s) view, it is the athletes that are going to be harmed because of the district court’s ruling. That contention likely does not pass the laugh-test, let alone provide a bulwark against antitrust liability.”

College athletes, of course, could “refuse the ‘minor’ payment at issue should they find it unpalatable (as unlikely as that may be),” the Alston plaintiffs wrote. Why college athletes, if given a choice, would turn down money is a head scratcher…

That must be why the NCAA wants the NBA to raise its age limit to 20, to give kids a genuine-r choice.

I’m guessing this is something about which Stacey Osburn has no comment.

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UPDATE:  Since this was mentioned in the comments, feel free to watch.

13 Comments

Filed under See You In Court, The NCAA

“At the moment, the NBA is abetting the NCAA. It should be the other way around.”

It’s funny, but if you look at the issue of player eligibility from the perspective of the NBA’s developmental league being an underutilized asset, you sure can come up with an interesting way to address the problem.  And that’s just what agent Arn Tellem proposes.

If we reorganized the D-League and made it stronger, maybe these players (and their teams) would have more options. That’s why I am proposing the NBA roll back its minimum age requirement (from 19 to 18) and allow high school standouts to become eligible for the draft again. Within that plan, I am including the following caveats and incentives:

• No prospect would be required to declare, making everyone eligible, much like baseball’s amateur draft. Prospective picks would be asked to sign a “memorandum of understanding” as a condition for consideration, whereby they would agree to forgo college if drafted. If they declined to sign, they would effectively be choosing college over pro ball and couldn’t be drafted for two more years. If they declare but never get drafted, they should be allowed to retain their eligibility and attend school. Currently, they aren’t. The crucial point here: Players shouldn’t be penalized for an ill-informed decision. Draftees should be given the option of signing in the NBA, going to the minors, or playing overseas.

What’s great about this is that his pitch isn’t being made from the perspective of helping the NCAA out of its one-and-done box.  He’s proposing it as a way of allowing the pro league to better manage the development of its future talent.  And given that the D-League already exists, it’s not as if the NBA has to spend a bunch of money and effort on building an entire new infrastructure to support that.  But I doubt the NCAA and the schools would complain about the trickle down results.

Sadly, I suspect this is one of those “it makes too much sense to have a chance” kind of proposals.  Which is too damned bad.  The NCAA and the schools ought to signal they would be willing to cooperate with the NBA on something like this.  They’ll waste a lot of time on freshman ineligibility instead.

9 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Amateurism’s been berry, berry good to M.E.

“I, for one ,as a Big Ten AD, am tired of being used as a minor league for professional sports,” Burke said. “What was right for the NCAA in the first 70 years of its history, maybe we ought to go back and say, ‘What’s changed?’”

Let me give you a little hint, dumbass.

The NCAA had total revenue of nearly $1 billion during its 2014 fiscal year, according to an audited financial statement the association released Wednesday.

The total resulted in a nearly $80.5 million surplus for the year – almost $20 million more than the surplus the NCAA had in 2013 and the fourth consecutive year in which the annual surplus has exceeded $60 million.

USA TODAY Sports has compiled the NCAA’s financial statements for each of the past 10 years, and the latest surplus is the largest the association has recorded during that time. Its greatest previous annual surplus was the $70.9 million it recorded in 2012.

The latest surplus increased the NCAA’s year-end net assets to nearly $708 million — more than double where they stood at the end of its 2008 fiscal year.

Mind you, that comes after a whopping $547.1 million distribution to Division I schools and conferences.

For that kind of money, Morgan, I’d let ‘em use me all they want.  It sure beats the way student-athletes get used.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

The further comical stylings of Bernie Machen

Florida’s former President shared some wisdom with Mike Slive first and then with Andy Staples:

“We’re backing our way into a pay-for-play model for football and men’s basketball,” Machen said. “I think this is a Hail Mary from Delany to say, ‘Wait a minute. What if we do it the way it used to be?’”

You mean like when you people didn’t chase broadcast money like crack whores chase johns?  Like when you didn’t treat conference alignment as a game of musical chairs?  Like when you didn’t arrange conference scheduling to be a joke?  Like when college football had real traditions like the Nebraska-Oklahoma game?

Yeah, that would be a real Hail Mary.  Instead, Machen’s just parroting the party line bullshit; the money ain’t going anywhere.  But he thinks it can all be made better.  Really, he does.

Machen believes the collegiate model works. For evidence, he points to graduation rates for athletes in every sport except football and men’s basketball. Most of the others outpace the general student body, and the success beyond graduation for former college athletes is well documented anecdotally. The problem, Machen said, is anyone can see that football and men’s basketball at the highest level aren’t using the collegiate model. Players are essentially required to practice year-round, which makes it tough for the NCAA’s lawyers or lobbyists to keep a straight face when they call college sports an avocation that enhances the college experience. “You look at the schedules of these kids,” Machen said. “They are essentially in a full-time mode.”

With all the money at stake for schools and coaches, why on earth would you expect anything different?  The answer is straight out of Delany-land:  you don’t really, but at least it sounds like you’re trying to change the perception of what you’ve been up to.

That’s why Machen thinks Delany’s proposal has merit. Instead of merely voicing support for the collegiate model and then doing exactly the opposite in two sports, schools would instead walk that particular walk for the first time in years. “I just think the collegiate model doesn’t hold up when you look at football and men’s basketball,” Machen said. “I don’t care how hard you put lipstick on that sucker. It still is a pig.”

The subtext of Machen’s theory is this: If the schools don’t actually start doing what they claim, the courts will push them into the professional model that they have been hellbent on creating—with the exception of the giving raises to the labor force or the paying taxes parts—for years. Federal judges, especially ones not versed in the quirks of the economic model for major college sports, will tend to look at what schools have done. They will see conference realignment for the purposes of higher television revenue. They will see soaring salaries for football coaches and athletic directors. They will see a refusal to budge on any additional benefits for the athletes until the athletes started filing lawsuits.

But if the schools were to make freshmen ineligible—something that would be expensive for them for reasons I outlined last week—that might offer tangible proof they do care about the education of athletes in those two sports. If schools voted to further restrict organized practices and time commitments out of season, it might offer more proof of that dedication. Instead of merely saying they aren’t running quasi-professional programs, officials would actually do something to back up what the NCAA’s lawyers keep saying…

And, a pony.

The tell here is obvious:  why the concern for the academics of college football and men’s basketball players only?  Is it that they need more help with the books, or that they generate more income for the schools than athletes playing in other collegiate sports?

I think we know the answer to that.  And with all the patronizing in the world by Machen notwithstanding, I expect your average federal judge would too, even if he or she isn’t as “versed in the quirks of the economic model for major college sports” as the intellectual giants running college athletics.

Machen’s arrogance would be irritating if it weren’t so amusing.  These guys are either cynical enough like Delany to think a ploy like this is going to change how others see things or they’re actually convinced by their own nonsense into believing it will change things.

Maybe I’m wrong, although I doubt it.  Then again, maybe Machen can convince me he really is a sharp cookie by explaining how Jim McElwain offering two eighth-graders helps to advance the academic perception of the University of Florida.  Talk about putting lipstick on a pig.

16 Comments

Filed under Academics? Academics., The NCAA

The need for an intelligent mouthguard

Another good story about schools looking to use technology to find ways to address concussion issues, this time at South Carolina.

One question, though.  Does anyone besides me find it a little strange that the NCAA apparently doesn’t monitor painkiller distribution at member schools?  You’d think that would be an easy enough thing for it to do.

17 Comments

Filed under Science Marches Onward, The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

Once again, the NCAA sweats the small stuff.

It may not do a damned thing about academic fraud, but when it comes to jerseys, the NCAA is on the mother.

6 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

Sunday morning buffet

A tidbit here, a tidbit there…

  • Something to keep an eye on with this season’s Kentucky football team:  “From that highly touted 2014 signing class, ranked No. 17 in the nation, UK was able to redshirt 16 players…”  That includes redshirting every offensive linemen the current staff has signed.
  • Bill Connelly ponders what the future of football analytics will bring.
  • Marc Weiszer Fletcher Page  has a nice piece on this year’s Paul Oliver Network gathering.
  • Les Miles thinks Matt Womack signing with Alabama is enough of a punishment for his program.
  • So Andy Schwarz is being hired to produce the new report evaluating the report that led to the shutdown of the UAB football program?  That’s beyond interesting, both for what he’ll have to say about UAB’s decision as well as shining a light on college athletic departments’ bookkeeping practices.
  • Here’s another roundup of questions as SEC spring practices get underway.
  • She may be a little girl, but she manages to hit on the essence of being a Georgia Tech fan in one sentence.
  • Speaking of Tech, the computer hacker has been sentenced, but “The district attorney said he believes Pickren entered a guilty plea, meaning failure to complete the program would bring the student back to court for further sentencing.”  So you’re saying there’s a chance?

14 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, It's Just Bidness, Life After Football, Recruiting, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, The NCAA, Wit And Wisdom From The Hat