Category Archives: The NCAA

Turning down easy money

I know this is going to come as a shock and a disappointment to those of you who think the obvious solution to fixing college athletics’ amateurism issues is for some pro league to start signing high school kids, but the newly hatched Alliance of American Football is not gonna go there.

The new league will not accept players straight out of high school.

Ebersol explained that they’ve yet to decide whether a rule similar to the NFL’s standard (three years after graduation of the player’s high school class) or an age minimum will apply. Regardless, high school players need not apply to the AAF as an alternative to college football.

Another blown opportunity.  Sad!

Maybe we should organize a boycott to change Ebersol’s mind and make him understand his league’s purpose in life is to save college football.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

“I will be playing football this season.”

Lemme see if I’ve got this straight.

  • If Nike paid Kyler Murray $4,761,500 for his endorsement, the NCAA would declare him ineligible to play college football.
  • If Oklahoma paid Kyler Murray $4,761,500 as its starting quarterback (assuming it could — stay with me here), that would be disastrous for team morale, as each offensive lineman would be consumed with jealousy because he wasn’t getting the same check.
  • If the Oakland A’s pay Kyler Murray $4,761,500 and he starts for Oklahoma as its quarterback, it’s all good.

Amateurism romantics, help me out here.  In what world does that make logical sense?

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

“We’ve got nothing but really positive feedback across the board.”

This one sentence ought to tell you everything you need to know about how radical the coming changes in the college football transfer rules are likely to be.

The changes will not be quite as extensive as some had hoped and the work is not complete, but considering previous failed attempts, getting anything accomplished on transfers can be counted as a success.

Not exactly worth popping any champagne corks for, eh?

As far as I can tell, this is the extent of the reform.

Currently, an athlete must ask a coach for permission to contact other schools when choosing to transfer. A school interested in recruiting a transferring player also must ask the athlete’s current school for permission to recruit the athlete. Without permission from the athlete’s original school, the athlete cannot get financial aid from another school.

The new model would free athletes to be contacted when they notify their current coaches. The athletes’ names would go into a database created and managed by the NCAA, alerting schools of who can be recruited. The changes will come with stricter tampering rules to help appease coaches who worry illegal recruiting could rise.

So, you won’t have to go ask Nick for his permission to look around anymore.  That’s a decent start, but it’s also as far as it goes.

“We aren’t going to get as far down the path on transfers as I think most people hoped we would,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said this week during the conference’s meetings in Dallas. “But the permission to transfer is gone, we think it will be gone, and the notification of transfers coming in. What that does at a practical level is it switches the control from the coach or the institution to the student-athlete. We think that’s the right way to go.”

Well, whether control is really being switched is something we’ll have to wait to see how it plays out, but note that the current requirement that players have to sit out a year at their new school remains in place.  There’s also this:

Transfer rules also vary from conference to conference and those rules are being reconsidered at league-level meetings as well. Most notably, what to do about transfers within conference. Some leagues are stricter than others.

At the Southeastern Conference meetings in Destin, Florida, this week, the league is considering whether players who transfer from a school under NCAA sanctions should be allowed to go to another SEC school. There is also a debate about whether graduate transfers, who are not required to sit out a season by NCAA rules, should be allowed to transfer within the SEC and play immediately. The SEC requires grad transfers to sit out a season if they want to stay in conference.

The one thing I’m curious about is how strong those new tampering rules are.  It seems to me that if you make those sufficiently effective, then maybe it frees up the decision makers to focus on what’s really best for the student-athlete, rather than coaches’ fears about free agency.

Along those lines, check out what’s been left in the feedback stage:

The transfer working group is hoping to have feedback from conferences on two other ideas:

—Allowing incoming recruits to transfer without sitting out if there is a coaching change after they sign a national letter of intent.

—Making schools commit a scholarship to a graduate transfer for the length of the graduate program, no matter how long the athlete stays in school.

Looks like there’s a ways to go.

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Filed under The NCAA

“Nothing here has changed.”

For those of you in the peanut gallery here who occasionally chide me about my negativity by asking why if things are so bad, I am still an engaged follower of college football, I have what may be a surprising response.

You have a point.

Oh, not about my complaints directed at Butts-Mehre.  In a world where the customer survey is SOP, I hardly think it’s questionable to offer constructive criticism of an organization’s business model that doesn’t seem as devoted to enhancing the fans’ experience as it could be.  (But, sadly, I digress.)

The cynical and hypocritical garbage that the NCAA routinely pumps out about its sacred mission, though?  Yeah, that’s a problem.  And it’s not getting any more palatable.

If you watched the first of those Steven Godfrey clips I posted yesterday about the Ole Miss scandal and found them of interest, then you’ll really be taken by the long-form edition of his findings posted here.  It’s clichéd to read a relentlessly negative, sad story and reach the conclusion that nobody comes out looking good, but in this case, after reading this…

And if you had a rooting interest for or against any person or program or institution in this story you can’t be satisfied.

If you believe the absolute worst about the NCAA — that they’re profiteers of a free labor system who seek to punish anyone who undermines that process all while having the gall to pass off their scam as an educational enterprise — you can’t be satisfied. The NCAA fake cops did whatever they could to shoehorn, manipulate, and omit information to fit a case that was rubber stamped by the NCAA’s fake court.

If you believe the absolute worst about Hugh Freeze — that he systematically orchestrated prohibited recruiting practices to further his career while posing a humble man of God — you can’t be satisfied.

Sure, Freeze was fired by the Rebels, but not for his role in the NCAA investigation. His two-game suspension by the NCAA only applies if he’s the head coach of a program in 2018. And if you’re naive enough to think the combination of the NCAA and phone sex scandals are enough to blacklist him from ever returning the same level in this industry, consider an April 16 report by AL.com that claims SEC commissioner Greg Sankey had to intervene to keep multiple conference schools from hiring Freeze for various potential assistant jobs — including national champion Alabama.

(I can confirm as a result of phone calls with multiple sources that Freeze was in contact with five different SEC programs for potential jobs, with at least three of those schools talking with him about potential on-field assistant coaching positions, not administrative or analyst jobs.)

Freeze will undoubtedly coach again. He will likely do so in the Southeastern Conference, and will likely become a head coach at a top program again in his career.

If you believe the absolute worst about Dan Mullen — that he encouraged one of his players to act against their own self-interests and rat out a rival school that had usurped his career momentum at Mississippi State — you can’t be satisfied. Mullen saw no reprimand.

Far from it: Less than a week after losing the Egg Bowl, Mullen signed a six year, $36 million deal with the Florida Gators, that dream job he reportedly always wanted. He now helms one of the strongest, most successful programs in modern college football. After years of missing out on big jobs, he hired Jimmy Sexton — who also represents Tunsil and Freeze — as his agent.

If you believe the absolute worst about Mississippi State — that the program and its boosters, poxed with little brother syndrome, schemed to help Lindsey Miller with legal counsel, funnel money to Leo Lewis, and encourage him and other MSU players to talk to the NCAA about Ole Miss and Rebel Rags — you can’t be satisfied.

Mississippi State’s boosters finish this story with an MVP stat line. They’re the real winners. You can’t help but applaud them. If you believe this version, Bulldogs boosters should conduct paid clinics for other SEC bagmen. Topic 1: How to launder recruiting inducements barred by the NCAA through family connections. Topic 2: How to ratfuck your sloppy rivals for fun and profit.

And if you believe the absolute worst about Ole Miss — that a program and booster culture so desperate to win encouraged and orchestrated wanton prohibited recruiting schemes and then lied to cover them up — you can’t be satisfied by the result. Despite the shadow of the investigation and losing Freeze days before starting practice, the Rebels finished 2017 with a respectable 6-6 record.

As of this writing, the Rebels’ 2018 bowl ban still stands. Also as of this writing, new head coach Matt Luke, a former Ole Miss player, is overseeing a 2019 recruiting class that currently ranks 13th in the nation, according to 247 Sports.

The 2019 college football recruiting class from the state of Mississippi is considered one of the deepest and most talented classes in history. So what do you think is about to happen? What would stop all of this from happening again?

Mississippi is still football rich and money poor. Boosters still want to win and high school recruits still need their cash.

… it’s inescapable.  So is this truth:

This will keep happening. All of it. Even the NCAA said the culture stretches over decades.

This, face it, is the sewage that flows freely under collegiate sports, the waste product that is generated by the money that accumulates in increasingly epic amounts and the reinforced poverty of the majority of its participants on the field through a system that is motivated to exploit that for the financial benefit of coaches and administrators.  And as Godfrey says, it ain’t changing any time soon.

If you want proof of that, look no further than college sports’ next gold rush:  sports betting.

There was $58 billion in illegal bets on pro and college football last season with only $2 billion bet legally, according to the American Sports Betting Coalition.

“It goes on – right? – in certain places already,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said. “When I open a newspaper there’s already a line on the game, so if you want to do it you can do it somewhere. I think maybe it becomes better regulated. I think a lot of things in the world, sometimes, it’s better to have things legal and regulated. This is something we’ll find out.”

The Supreme Court ruled on May 14 that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 is unconstitutional, siding with the state of New Jersey and other states wanting sports gambling.

Mississippi, which legalized sports betting last year in a law regulating fantasy sports, could have it implemented in its 28 casinos, as could other states already that had set the stage for sports betting including Delaware and West Virginia.

“The biggest thing is our administration is trying to get out in front of it but if it does go through, we spend a lot of time educating our players on what they can and cannot do,” Ole Miss coach Matt Luke said.

Sportsbooks could be in place by this football season, Allen Godfrey of the Mississippi Gaming Commission told The Athletic. Tennessee legislators are planning bills for the next session in January, according to WKRN.com.

“I’ve not seen any restrictions from some states on restricting college sports gambling,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said. “We need to prepare and have conversations about ground level issues.”

Those conversations are already happening this week as Sankey speaks to athletic directors, football coaches, men’s and women’s basketball coaches and presidents and chancellors here on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

He said he told coaches “the pressure on you may increase. On an NFL team there are 53 players that enter usually a fenced off facility. If you practice players here, you have twice that number. You have student-assistants, student trainers, student strength coaches, student support staff members not to mention large support staff members so there’s a lot of touch points. And then our student-athletes go onto campus to go to class. So we have to be thinking differently.”

Would schools get a piece of the action? Marshall and West Virginia have a tentative agreement for a cut in that state, according to ESPN.com.

Missouri joined Rutgers and UConn on a conference call with Major League Baseball in which a possible mechanism was discussed to have schools receive a percentage of the amount bet on college games.

“If some schools are really struggling to generate revenue, they may look at that as a revenue source,” Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said.

People, when Greg McGarity, the face of the moral side of the Georgia Way, normalizes betting as a revenue source, the war’s over.  Now if someone could just explain to me how taking a piece of that action relates to schools’ sacred academic mission, I’d be much obliged.  Because I can’t make it fit, try as I might.

If I’m honest, I have to admit that while I take respectful issue with those clinging to what I call the romance of amateurism, I’m just as guilty in my own way of holding my nose to enjoy the game.  The only difference is that I’m feeling a greater degree of guilt, or disgust, or something I can’t even label properly than the romantics among us do.  I’ll say this, though — it’s getting harder with each passing reminder of how the money chase is thoroughly corrupting college athletics to maintain my passion.

Somebody asked me how long I plan to keep blogging.  That’s pretty easy to answer; a labor of love continues until the love is gone.  Right now, that love is being sorely tested.

And that, folks, largely rests on the shoulders of the NCAA, which to say the schools that make up its membership.  As much finger wagging and inept attempts at maintaining an enforcement framework as goes on, the sad reality is that the old joke about Big U violations of NCAA rules means it’s time to punish Little Guy A&M lives on proudly.  Just ask N.C. Central.

Blame the players for not accepting their exploitation gracefully, if that helps you make it through the night.  It won’t change events on the ground in the slightest.  And, honestly, that’s the cause of my greatest despair.  I don’t see a way out of this mess any time soon.  Even something as dramatic as Jeffrey Kessler winning isn’t going to change the way schools, athletic conferences and the NCAA have taken to whoring themselves out.  If anything, that would likely serve to intensify the money chase.  I’m afraid we’ve reached the point where the money chase is the only pure thing left in big-time college sports.

I think I’m close to discovering I don’t love sausage that much.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

“I can tell you this. It ends terribly for everyone involved.”

If you are an amateurism romantic, I warn you that Steven Godfrey’s inside the sausage factory look at Mississippi recruiting won’t give you the warm and fuzzies.  Sure, Hugh Freeze’s sanctimony and chutzpah make him an easy target, but the real finger-pointing goes towards the NCAA and, indirectly, our love of the game that makes us willing accomplices to the comfortable fiction that the NCAA sells.

You can watch the first installment, which centers around the Laremy Tunsil saga, here:

There are three more installments that follow, so hang on.

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Filed under Freeze!, It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Always a price to pay

That this is even a question (okay, series of questions) summarizes the current sad state of affairs otherwise known as transfer rules.

What are the rules for other teams to recruit your walk-on players? With Stetson Bennett potentially leaving UGA how does a walk-on player like him see what options he has available with other programs? Are other schools able to actively reach out to him to gauge his interest and offer him a scholarship? Can we put restrictions on where he potentially transfers (i.e. not within the SEC)?

Stetson Bennett is a walk-on.  He has no scholarship.  He signed no national letter of intent.  The carrot Kirby Smart offered to entice him to stick around Athens another year was the mere possibility of a future scholarship.

In short, the school owes Bennett nothing.  And yet…

According to Will Lawler, UGA’s director of compliance, “another institution would have to receive permission to contact a walk-on student-athlete who has enrolled at UGA before making contact.” Lawler said there is more flexibility to contact potential walk-ons without permission prior to enrollment.

Also, there was this interesting caveat, which may apply to Bennett: “Generally speaking, a football transfer student-athlete would have to serve a year in residence if he transfers to another FBS institution unless he meets an exception to permit immediate eligibility. Exceptions are fact-specific and depend on a number of factors that must be evaluated by and in the context of the future institution (e.g., recruited status, participation in practice, sponsorship of sport, and many more).”

The tl;dr version of that?  For all intents and purposes, minus Georgia’s consent, if Bennett transfers to another D-1 school, he’s treated as a walk-on about the same way he’d be if he were a star player on scholarship.  “Generally speaking”, in other words, he’s just as fucked.

And some of you think I complain about this stuff too much.  Jeebus.

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Filed under Georgia Football, The NCAA

Just when you think the NCAA couldn’t possibly behave more contemptibly…

they go and do this.

A player battling epilepsy will not be able to play as a walk-on safety at Auburn because he uses a prescription for cannabis oil to combat his illness, according to WXGA-TV.

C.J. Harris was diagnosed with epilepsy as a sophomore in high school, and after his 14th seizure he was prescribed cannabis oil by his doctor, which has allowed him to live a seizure-free life since January 20, 2017.

The safety was offered a preferred walk-on spot at Auburn, according to WXGA-TV, but the NCAA will not allow him to play at the school because of the prescription for cannabis oil.

“I broke down,” Harris told WXGA-TV. “This is my dream. I saw everything lining up perfectly for me.

The NCAA does not allow athletes to inject THC. Cannabis oil contains THC, which would register on drug tests.

Harris is exploring junior colleges and NAIA schools to play football, and is also exploring alternative medicines so he could play football and pass a drug test, according to the report.

“You’re taking something away from a kid who’s worked so hard in his life to get there,” his father, Curtis Harris, said, according to WXGA-TV. “And you’re just taking it away because he’s taking a medication that’s helping with his disability.”

C’mon, dad.  It’s the NCAA.  Try not to act so disappointed.

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Filed under The NCAA