Archive for January, 2013

Why Does The NCAA Exist?

Posted in NCAA with tags , , , , , , on January 31, 2013 by cueball

The short quick origin story of the NCAA is that President Teddy Roosevelt liked football and wanted college kids to keep playing, but the game had no standard set of rules and players kept getting seriously injured.  So, he held two White House conferences on collegiate sports which led to the formation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States in 1906, which would be rechristened the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 1910.

The NCAA began with the idea of protecting its student-athletes by organizing and standardizing the rules that governed collegiate sports.  That is why it was created, but what does it do now?  It still organizes and standardizes the rules that govern collegiate sports, but does it do so to protect the student athletes or to protect its own interests?

At times the NCAA seems to be more concerned with defending amateur athletics then it is with defending amateur athletes.  While most of their rules are bureaucratically baffling, their most odious and paternalistic are reserved for protecting the names, likenesses, and images of student-athletes from the capitalistic hordes in the name of amateurism.

“Don’t worry young student-athlete, we will protect you from those dirty agents and businessmen just out to make a quick buck.  As long as you are a student-athlete we will control your image so those people can’t use it to make money for themselves.  Of course, since we control your image we will use it to sign multi-million dollar television contracts and sell tickets to our tournaments.  Don’t worry we will only use your image in the context of your team and our tournament and because you are an amateur we will not sully you by paying for that usage.”

Now the NCAA has decided to lose its recruiting contact restrictions because they cannot figure out how to enforce these restrictions.  They have also decided to let football programs that can afford it, create a recruiting department.  They can’t recruit off-campus, but they will also have no coaching responsibilities, meaning they will be recruiting all day, every day.

I don’t see how either of these rules changes help the student-athlete at all.  That is my issue with the NCAA:  It doesn’t seem to do anything to really help the student-athletes anymore.  All their major rules and decisions lean towards helping bolster their conception of amateurism and the existence of their organization.

“…I was so busy trying to keep my job, I forgot to do my job.” – President Andrew Shepherd, The American President


When an organization gets old enough and big enough, it starts making decisions based on protecting the organization.  They seem to be so busy keeping their organization in power, they forget to use the organization’s power for its intended purpose.  The NCAA does not exist to run a huge basketball tournament every March or April.  It exists to protect the interests of students who want or need to use their athletic ability to get an education and to find a better life for themselves and their families.  Anything the NCAA does that does not protect the best interests of the student athletes is flatly wrong.  I am for any rule that protects amateurism as long as it also protects the amateur athlete.  It just seems that most of the rules governing amateurism in the NCAA rule book protect the NCAA more.

Stupid NCAA Rule Of The Day, No. 4

Posted in NCAA, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 31, 2013 by cueball

13.02.15 Telephone Calls. All electronically transmitted human voice exchange (including videoconferencing and videophones) shall be considered telephone calls. (Adopted: 1/10/95, Revised: 1/9/96 effective 8/1/96, 1/14/97, 4/27/00 effective 8/1/00, 9/6/00, 4/29/04 effective 8/1/04, 4/26/07 effective 8/1/07)

I just thought it funny that the NCAA had to define what a telephone call is in order to keep coaches from figuring out a way around any restrictions on telephone calls.  It is especially interesting since in the name of simplifying the recruiting rules the NCAA has decided to eliminate restrictions on “methods and modes of communication during recruiting.”  Some coaches will now send texts to recruits at all hours of the day and night.  The recruiting process, already a shady and disgusting business, will become even more of a free for all.

With the list of changes the NCAA has approved (Stewart Mandel has a great break down here) they are saying, “There is no level playing field between the big, rich schools and the smaller, poorer schools, so we aren’t going to try to pretend otherwise.  In other words, we can’t enforce the rules we have, so we are going to eliminate them all together and let the strongest survive.”

On one hand, I am glad the NCAA decided to trim down their voluminous recruiting rule book.  However, they decided to get rid of some rules simply because they could not figure out how to enforce them.  This helps the bigger schools because they can use more of their resources legally without restriction.  They can call, text, or write whenever they want to and they can send out as many letters and media guides and comic books as they want to.

This also helps the NCAA because now they don’t have to figure out how to monitor text messaging, among other things.  The one group it doesn’t help: recruits.  The people most adversely affected by the elimination of these restrictions are the amateur athletes the NCAA is supposed to protect.  They are the ones who will have to deal with the mountains of mail and torrents of texts.  But, hey, the NCAA stopped caring about them a long time ago.

Stupid NCAA Rule Of The Day, No. 3

Posted in NCAA with tags , , , , , , , on January 30, 2013 by cueball Promotion of NCAA and Conference Championships. The NCAA [or a third party acting on behalf of the NCAA (e.g., host institution, conference, local organizing committee)] may use the name or picture of a student-athlete to generally promote NCAA championships. A student-athlete’s name or picture may appear in a poster that promotes a conference championship, provided the poster is produced by a member that hosts a portion of the championship or by the conference. (Adopted: 1/11/89, Revised: 8/7/03)

 Ed O’Bannon was a rangy swingman who starred on the 1995 National Champion UCLA team.  He was named Final Four Most Outstanding Player that year and would go on to have short NBA career and retiring in 2004 after bouncing around South America and Europe.  However, his most important contribution to sports may come in a court of law.  O’Bannon is the named plaintiff in a class action suit against the NCAA and EA Sports.

O’Bannon and the Former College Athletes Association (FCAA) are suing on the basis that the NCAA and EA Sports owe them part of the revenue gained from video games sold using the likeness and images of the athletes without their permission.  The NCAA has long held that they are able to use the likeness and images of current athletes.  However, the FCAA claims the NCAA should not be allowed to use the video game images and likenesses of former players, even without using their actual names, without the athlete’s permission.

Yesterday, Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that a hearing must be held to determine whether current NCAA athletes can be included in the suit.  Judge Wilken dismissed the NCAA’s motion to dismiss the addition of the current athletes on procedural grounds and set a June 20th hearing for the argument to be decided on its merits.  Allowing those athletes to be a part of the suit would increase the monetary damages from hundreds of millions to potentially billions.

This is all just the preliminary skirmishing before the real battle of the trial begins.  If the current athletes are allowed to participate in this case and the athletes win, this could force the NCAA to change its policies towards paying athletes and it will certainly change the way they deal with its corporate media partners.  The NCAA will have to either include the player’s cut in all negotiations going forward or ESPN, CBS, EA Sports, etc. will have to negotiate with the players on a separate basis.  Of course the NCAA has a lot of money and a lot of lawyers and could still figure out a way to screw athletes in the future by rewording some of its bylaws.

The one thing we do know is that this case is moving towards being heard in a court of law.  Regardless of the outcome this will not end well for the NCAA because even if they win, they will be arguing publicly their interpretations of amateurism and their reasoning for control of the images, likeness, and names of human beings without those human beings having any say in the matter.  That is not going to be a good look.

How I Came To Hate The NCAA

Posted in NCAA with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2013 by cueball

Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten, they’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people…better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave.

–Capt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity

If you had asked me 6 weeks ago if I thought the NCAA should exist, I would have said yes.  Despite its limitations, ivory tower academic arrogance, and outright hypocrisy I thought the NCAA at least as a concept was doing the best it could.

I have increasingly begun to believe that this is not true and that the NCAA is doing more harm to sports in this country in general and collegiate sports in particular then it is doing good.  My primary problem with the NCAA is that there is no one in charge and no one to which the organization answers.  All other problems and issues spring from this void of leadership.

It isn’t that the university presidents, who give the final OK for any decision, won’t change their rules of amateurism; it is that they cannot conceive of the need to do so.

If you have ever been around a group of highly intelligent and highly educated people with only a tenuous connection to the hurly-burly of everyday life, you know they have all the answers and can solve all the world’s problems.  Just ask them.

However, if it were merely the arrogant preening of academia the problem wouldn’t be so bad.  It is that combined with the self-serving nature of many of the rules that has finally pushed me over to the opposition.

Reading rule 12.4.4. Self-Employment was my Road to Damascus moment.  Here it is in its entirety:

12.4.4 Self-Employment. A student-athlete may establish his or her own business, provided the student-athlete’s name, photograph, appearance or athletics reputation are not used to promote the business. (Adopted: 12/12/06)

This rule on its own is bad enough in a twisted Orwellian way.  It says you don’t own your own name or image.  The kicker is the very next section of the rule book is 12.5 Promotional Activities.  Section 12.5.1 Permissible lays out the activities the student-athlete’s likeness can be used for, and low and behold the member institution can use the student-athlete’s likeness to raise money and the NCAA can use that same student-athlete’s likeness to promote its championships.

Self-serving only begins to describe the level of arrogance that allows an organization to, in essence, steal a person’s identity.  They are saying, “As long as you are a student-athlete under our organization, you cannot use your own name or likeness to make any money, but we can use your likeness as we see fit to promote our programs and to raise as much money as possible.”

They believe they know what is best for everyone, and for too long all of us have been their accomplices.  We believed them when they said they were doing what was right and good for amateurism in this country even as they signed billion dollar contracts to televise their amateur athletes.  Only by pointing out and holding them responsible for the idiocy they are foisting upon us will things change.

If you know me, you know I am a graduate of UNC and I love Tar Heel sports.  You may think this is about the academic fraud investigation and the belief that UNC did nothing wrong.  Well, UNC did a lot of things wrong and should be punished for the stuff we know happened and the stuff we are still finding.  The problem I have is that I don’t trust the NCAA to know the difference between right and wrong, nor do I trust them to mete out any type of sensible or effective punishment.

The system is rotten from the ground up.  These people have twisted and deformed an idea that is part and parcel to a grand tradition in this country: Using your athletic skills to get an education and make a better life for you and your children.  Somehow this ideal has become this billion dollar monstrosity of sanctimony and arrogance, and we have allowed that to happen, and only we can stop it.

Stupid NCAA Rule of the Day, No. 2

Posted in NCAA with tags , , , , on January 29, 2013 by cueball

On one hand, a student-athlete cannot use his/her own likeness to promote their own business, but on the other hand: Institutional, Charitable, Education or Nonprofit Promotions. A member institution or recognized entity thereof (e.g., fraternity, sorority or student government organization), a member conference or a noninstitutional charitable, educational or nonprofit agency may use a student-athlete’s name, picture or appearance to support its charitable or educational activities or to support activities considered incidental to the student-athlete’s participation in intercollegiate athletics, provided the following conditions are met: (Revised: 1/11/89, 1/10/91, 1/10/92)

In short, as long as you are raising money for the member institution, the member institution can pimp out your name and likeness as much as it wants.  You, however, can’t do the same to make money for yourself.

Stupid NCAA Rule of the Day, No. 1

Posted in NCAA with tags , , , , , on January 28, 2013 by cueball

In creating a daily post, I want to highlight an NCAA rule that is truly stupid.  The well-worn Jay Bilas attack of the bagel rule is more of a case of bureaucrats writing a bad rule and then having to go around their elbow to create a good interpretation of it.

What I want to highlight are the hypocritical, sanctimonious, and arrogant interpretations of amateurism and student-athlete eligibility.

For the first rule, I pick this doozy from section 12.4.4 of the 2012-2013 NCAA Division I Manual:

12.4.4 Self-Employment. A student-athlete may establish his or her own business, provided the student athlete’s
name, photograph, appearance or athletics reputation are not used to promote the business. (Adopted:

This means that you, dear student-athlete, can, in all the spare time you have after going to practice and games and going to class and doing homework, start a business on your own using your own time and money.  However, if at any point in your promotion of this business, if you use your own name and/or likeness wearing your uniform to promote this business, you will put your eligibility in jeopardy.

Let that sink in.  The NCAA will not allow an athlete to use his own name or image to promote a business he is starting.  So, if you are a student-athlete, the NCAA owns every part of you.

More Beating of a Dead Horse, The NCAA Is Corrupt

Posted in sports with tags , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2013 by cueball

The laws governing amateur and Olympic sports in this country have set up the NCAA as organization governed and answerable to no one outside its membership.  That is a problem.  Any organization that has as large an economic footprint as the NCAA cannot and should not be allowed to operate with impunity.

Last week’s admission by NCAA President Mark Emmert that investigators had at best violated legal ethics and at worse violated federal law was just the latest in what is a growing pattern of behavior by investigators.  During its investigation of the University of Miami and felon Nevin Shapiro, the NCAA put one of Shapiro’s civil lawyers on the payroll and had her ask questions of potential witnesses during a deposition.  All this was done probably to skirt the little fact that the NCAA does not have subpoena power.

The New York Times Joe Nocera lays it this case and string of similar instances from the NCAA recent investigative past in an article from Friday.

The problem isn’t that the NCAA fessed up to its potential misdeeds.  The problem is that there is no one who has defined authority over the NCAA.  The Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Athletic Act grants the US Olympic Committee jurisdiction over all non-restricted amateur athletic competitions and governing bodies.  However, the NCAA is the governing body of restricted competitions.  In this case competitions restricted to college athletes.  This means the NCAA is not governed by the USOC and it is very tenuously governed by the federal government.

This lack of defined oversight would not be so bad if all the NCAA did was organize Division III rowing championships.  However, the NCAA is a bit more economically stout then that.  In 2010, the NCAA signed a deal with CBS and Turner Sports to televise the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament that pays NCAA $10.8 billion over 14 years.  ESPN and the Bowl Championship Series group (soon to be the College Football Playoff group) just signed a 12-year $5.6 billion deal.  While this college playoff system is not governed directly by the NCAA it’s member institutions are the ones benefiting directly from it.

By not being a part of the USOC, the NCAA can operate under a different definition of amateur.  Therein lies the problem.  The NCAA can define amateurism however it wants and it consciously chooses the most restrictive definition possible.  Like prohibition, the NCAA amateurism rules are creating more criminals then they are catching.  You can tweak the rules of amateurism and still keep Nevin Shapiro from providing hookers to athletes.

The NCAA is operating freely in a free market system.  The organization is signing contracts for a service and getting all that the market will bear from buyers of that service.  On the other hand, the organization uses the likenesses and sweat equity from its restricted class of participants for free and then pats the athletes on the head and tells them they are protecting them.  Hypocritical and sanctimonious are simply the first two words that come to mind.

When you get to a point where thinking the USOC and the federal government might be viable options to fix a problem, you have really stepped into the abyss.