More Beating of a Dead Horse, The NCAA Is Corrupt

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.


One Response to “More Beating of a Dead Horse, The NCAA Is Corrupt”

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