Let’s start this discussion off by agreeing on one simple point – when it comes to its management of sports, the NCAA is a cesspool of hypocrisy and greed. The organization has no moral authority whatsoever, despite its constant attempts to take the moral high ground on the position of amateurism. The New York Times’ Joe Nocera pointed out the lengths the NCAA will go to in order to propagate the myth that its stance on amateurism is OK (story here.)
The NCAA started the myth of amateurism in order to prevent worker’s compensation suits from injured football players and the thought that college athletes might actually unionize. It has propagated that myth through the years, even as television money has exploded.
But it’s not just the NCAA that exists in a moral cesspool. The NCAA has no say in where college football television money goes. That is all left to the college conferences and they don’t seem to be standing on any form of moral high ground themselves. It has been the conferences constant grab for more money that has led to conference realignment and the separation between what are now the five power football conferences and the rest of the college world.
This week’s IAG Conference in New York has been quite interesting. It’s included comments from Big Ten Conference commissioner Jim Delany that if other conferences don’t give in to the power five conference’s demand for more autonomy in making decisions on how much a student’s scholarship is worth (how much they can pay the athlete) they may just take their football and leave the NCAA for their own Super Conference.
Of course, they won’t do that, but the big football conferences are worried about the O’Bannon case. The NCAA is going to lose this one and if something isn’t done now, before the decision comes down, they’re going to lose money.
But that isn’t going to stop them from decrying the entire idea of paying athletes. Big 12 commissioner made it clear at the conference: “If we proceed down the path of employer-employee relationship. We will forever have lost our way.”(Story here)
At the same time, if the O’Bannon case goes to trial and the NCAA loses, it may be facing just such an outcome. And, instead of making concessions toward that, the current response is to threaten to cut non-revenue producing sports.
“It is highly unlikely that Michigan State could offset a $10 million shortfall [created by paying certain student-athletes fifty percent of broadcast revenue] without cutting between 4 and 8 sports,” Michigan State athletics director Mark Hollis wrote in a statement to the Detroit Free Press (story here).
That’s not true. Not even close to true considering the salaries the athletics directors, coaches and assistant coaches are making off the athletes’ work.
So the 65 football schools will gain more power to control their fates. What happens to the top of the line college basketball conferences? That doesn’t matter since, even though the basketball money is huge to everyone else, it’s just peanuts for the 65 football schools.
While attention has been focused on the power play by the Big 5 Conferences, news about the NCAA’s latest motion considering O’Bannon is also coming out. It’s fitting, considering how linked the Power 5s response is to the O’Bannon case.
Here is a piece that explains all of the NCAA’s arguments. (Story)
I’m going to spend the next few days responding to these arguments.