Archive for the NCAA Category

I Can’t Stop Writing About This Damn Dying Organization

Posted in NCAA, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 12, 2013 by cueball

Playing college sports is not some moral choice.  Many in and out of the media have somehow begun the idea that believing the NCAA is a broken system and being paid for your skills as an athlete are immoral.  It is almost the idea that the athletes are to blame for the system being wrong if they have the temerity to believe they should be paid.

Many who have bought into the NCAA’s tax and labor law dodge known as the concept of the student-athlete.  Somehow, in the weakening of the NCAA, it and its media supporters have imbued being a student-athlete with the moral equivalence of a monk taking a vow of poverty to become closer to God.  The athlete who know they are going to play professionally at a high level are not taking a vow of poverty as athletes to better themselves, they are doing so because the system is set up to make them play in college.

Let us remember that many of the athletes that go to college on scholarship are not going simply to get an education.  Harrison Barnes did not go to my alma mater because of the Well, the Bell, or the stone walls.  He came because he wanted to go to the NBA and the only real way to get to the NBA is to spend what eventually amounts to less than two semesters in college.

In combination with the NBA and the NFL (and to a lesser extent the NHL, MLB, and MLS) the NCAA has managed to diminish education for many athletes.  They have created a situation where an elite athlete must decide between being a student or being a potential professional athlete.

I believe in education and education as its own reward.  The problem I have with the NCAA is that the system it has in part willfully created and in part fallen into in many ways diminishes education.  Again, it says if you are an elite athlete you must choose to be either a student or athlete.  Many do transcend this dichotomy.  Those student-athletes would succeed in whatever system was around.  The NCAA’s job should be to aid the other student-athletes in achieving the same scholastic heights as Myron Rolle who won a Rhodes Scholarship as a Florida State football player.

I think what has really bothered me is the way the arguments for the NCAA by its supporters pretends that those who criticize the NCAA are somehow evil and want some kid from a poor situation to be used up and destroyed by the dirty professional sports machine.

That is a dichotomous and idiotic argument.  I want people who want to go to college to be allowed to go to college by using their athletic ability (or any other skill they have) to provide a gateway to an education and better life.  I also want someone who only wants to play professional basketball (and not go to classes about 18th century literature) has the opportunity and mechanism to do so without taking away educational opportunities for athletes who want to take a class about 18th century literature.

This is not my best writing mostly because I keep trying to avoid writing about the NCAA.  It will be dead soon enough.

Hopefully this is the last time I talk about this

Posted in college basketball, college football, NCAA, sports with tags , , , , on August 23, 2013 by cueball

Amateurism is dead, smothered by NCAA commercialization. Yet, NCAA drags it around like it’s in a bizarre remake of “Weekend at Bernie’s.” – @JayBilas, ESPN Basketball Commentator Jay Bilas via twitter

How did I end up here?

I, like most people who love college sports started out believing in the sanctity of the NCAA and the current college sports model.

I love reading and writing and I believe in the concept of education as a good unto itself.

College football and basketball is a part of my Saturday’s and has been for as long as I can remember.  Back in the ancient times before the explosion of ESPN I remember waiting for the Jefferson Pilot introduction to start with the pilot himself on his boat in his yellow rain slicker.  That always meant the start of college football or basketball for the day was at hand.  The voices of Keith Jackson and Ara Parseghian are still ingrained in the football loving part of my brain.  I am a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and a devoted fan of all of its athletic teams.

Yet, I sit here right now hating the NCAA and what it pretends to represent.

The first cracks in my blind devotion would come with the Fab Five.  This is a fascinating group of players.  On one hand they actually won nothing, yet they are more famous the then teams that beat them to win national championships and Big Ten Championships.  On the other hand, they were the first athletes to openly ask, “Why does everyone else get to make money off me except me?”

My knee jerk reaction at the time was the same as many now, “You’re getting a scholarship.  Shut up and be happy.”  However, the seeds were planted and I didn’t wholly believe what I was saying.

Then the slow drip, drip of all the television contracts, coaches contracts, “one and done” rules, etc. washed away the improvised splatter of “amateurism” the NCAA keeps trying to paint on itself to protect its revenues.

One of the arguments you will often hear by defenders of the NCAA’s status quo is that the huge CBS/Turner contract is split between all the NCAA schools and all of the teams in all of its sports, so it doesn’t equal that much money per school per team.  However, I look at it differently.  Having to split that money between so many athletic departments means that you have to protect what little revenue you have at all costs.  In this case that means making sure you don’t have a huge expenditure line of paying players eating into those revenues.

I think it is clear that the current system is going to collapse in on itself sometime within the next 10 years.  A system where the group at the top gets all the revenue and the group at the bottom who does all the work gets compensated in tuition and housing yet can’t get an outside job or use their own name to make additional money seems unfair because it is.  Coaches can quit and go to different schools with no repercussions as long as they can pay the buyouts, but a player leaves to go to a different school for whatever reason has to sit a year, unless granted a waiver by the powers that be.  Additionally, schools who claim poverty when asked to pay their “student-athletes” a living wage better not have a coach making millions of dollars.

Again, if the system seems unfair, it is because it is.  If we were still in a time when all the money surrounding college sports was solely the province of outside agents than the NCAA holding the line for amateurism would be more acceptable.  However, you can’t sell a jersey with a player’s number on it and then claim that you were only selling the team and the individual.

How many #50 Tar Heel jerseys were sold before Tyler Hansbrough matriculated to Chapel Hill?  Now, I love Rich Yonacker, Cecil Exum, Octavus Barnes, and Brian Bersticker as much as the next Tar Heel fan, but the school wasn’t moving a whole lot of merchandise with 50 on it when those guys wore the number.  The NCAA getting caught using the names of players as a search parameter for jerseys on their website was humiliating for them and funny for us, but it was at best a symptom of a failed system built upon a manufactured belief system with no basis in reality.

I Just Started Putting Words On The Page And This NCAA Post Happened

Posted in NCAA with tags , , , , , , on February 21, 2013 by cueball

This is a strange morning.  I really have nothing I want to write about.  By this time most mornings I have come up with some angle, sometimes half-assed, to allow me to pontificate about something going on in the world or in my life.  The only thing mildly interesting to me is the continuing saga of the NCAA vs. Miami.

Unfortunately, we are in the name calling, posturing portion of this show.  On one side is the usual arrogance and hypocrisy of the NCAA.  They figure out that their investigators broke their own rules in investigating Miami and actually release a report detailing most if not all its missteps.  However, unlike the responsibility they place on head coaches for knowing what their players and assistant coaches are doing at all times, the top of the NCAA is spared any blame for this mess.

On the other side, you have a school, who has a booster, who is in jail, caught providing athletes with prostitutes, strippers, swag, and money as well as “helping” coaches recruit.  Those coaches then lied to NCAA investigators.  Of course, Miami basically claims this was all a setup and they are being railroaded by the big bad NCAA.

This is a case where a shady cop catches a known criminal, but in the course of the investigation violates about 40 evidentiary rules letting the criminal get away with his current set of crimes and allows the criminal to act as if he is as pure as the driven snow.

This leaves the rest of us trying to decide who is worse, the bumbling crooked cops or the unrepentant pimp.  Actually, that sums up all the major cases the NCAA investigates.   You have NCAA Enforcement which is staffed for the most part by good and dedicated people who unfortunately have been charged with enforcing what rules that are often contradictory to the concept of common sense.  They are usually chasing coaches, boosters, and various hangers-on who see the NCAA rules as either an impediment to be conquered or an inconvenience to be ignored.

One of the arguments some sportswriters make when discussing the NCAA, its rules, and the enforcement of those rules is that they like schools who ignore the rules because it shows the hypocrisy of the rules surrounding amateurism.  Now, I may be recent convert to the idea that the rules of amateurism are an anachronism created as a way to avoid paying taxes and salaries, but you can’t ignore them if you are a member of the NCAA.

If you are a member school of the NCAA you have 3 choices: 1) Follow the rules, 2) Try to change the rules, 3) Blow up the whole system.  You can do a combination of 1 and 2 and maybe 2 and 3, but you can’t do 1 and 3 together.  Either try to change the rules from the inside or foment a complete revolution and blow up the system.  I hope someone does try to lead a charge to rip the NCAA asunder   The resulting chaos would be pure comedy gold.

If/when this whole thing blows up (I see you BCS/playoff system/whatever your name is) it won’t just be the schools and conferences involved.  Their television “partners” will also have a say in this mess.  With that much money comes the fun idea of watching schools within conferences openly backstab and betray each other.  Again, comedy gold.

I think the NCAA is in its death spiral.  I just want what happens next to at least be fun to watch and talk about.  Because right now, it’s just annoying and sad.

Stupid NCAA Rule Of The Day, No. 5

Posted in NCAA with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 1, 2013 by cueball

19.01.2 Exemplary Conduct. Individuals employed by or associated with member institutions for the administration, the conduct or the coaching of intercollegiate athletics are, in the final analysis, teachers of young people. Their responsibility is an affirmative one, and they must do more than avoid improper conduct or questionable acts. Their own moral values must be so certain and positive that those younger and more pliable will be influenced by a fine example. Much more is expected of them than of the less critically placed citizen.

With what happened in the current (It is rather ridiculous that I have to specify this.) investigation at the University of Miami, the fact that this is in the NCAA Bylaws is comical.

This is the arrogance and hypocrisy people like Jay Bilas have been railing against.  Honestly, I have no problems with a large bureaucracy being institutionally arrogant and hypocritical.  I read a lot of Albert Camus in high school and college, so I have a very developed sense of skepticism towards institutional culture.  Strangely though, that skepticism is combined with a conservative, institutionalist streak.   That means on one hand I think large institutions mostly spout gibberish when speaking of their culture and values, but on the other hand I think they are necessary for a functioning society.

This is why it took me so long to get to the point of seeing the NCAA as more an impediment to the rights of student athletes then a tool to improve the rights of student athletes.  Many people who want to reform the NCAA see all the “good” it does and say that its model is better than whatever big school, big conference money making apparatus that will follow, because the NCAA does try to help the athletes in some ways.

I believe that even if the next college sports governing body is a nakedly greedy organization trying to wring every dime out of college football, it will be a more honest set up then the current one.  Also, if this next thing is more openly profit driven, it should, in theory, provide student athletes a better shot at receiving legal remedy whenever they are inevitably screwed over by the powers that be.

Getting rid of the NCAA will not solve all the problems student athletes have under the NCAA, specifically a lack of representation as a class.  Honestly, it will be the first step in a longer fight.  That fight will be a major part in defining the future of college sports in this country.

I think in the near future two things will happen.  First, the NBA will continue to increase its investment in the NBA Development League (Dleague).  With more and more players using the NCAA as a one year way station before becoming a professional, the NBA has noticed players are entering the league younger and without preparation to be a professional.

This season is the first that I can remember in the short history of the Dleague that teams have sent rather high profile players down to the Dleague, not for injury rehab, but to just get playing time that they can’t with their NBA team.  I believe NBA teams will push more and more players into the DLeague for a season or two before calling them up and I think in the near future they will also start allowing players to jump straight from high school to the DLeague.  That will allow those players to take their year between graduation and being eligible for the NBA and actually learn in a professional environment where they can gain the skills their NBA team thinks they need.

Second, the big football conferences will morph the BCS/Playoff Whatever It Is into some type of governing body for college football.  These schools may not want to be responsible for putting on a bunch of softball, lacrosse, or soccer tournaments, but they will want to control the profit stream of football.  This is will most closely resemble the largest soccer clubs in England creating the Premier League in 1992.  They remain part of the larger Football Association, but have created a tidy little club that splits a higher amount of the profits between a smaller amount of teams.

This next 20 years is going to be the most interesting 20 years in the history of college sports.

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

12.5.1.8 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.