Tuesday, June 14, 2011

More on Pay for Play

It was announced yesterday that NCAA chief Mark Emmert will convene a meeting of the minds in August to address broad issues surrounding college athletics, namely whether players should be compensated beyond what they already are. Gathering at the summit will be 50 or so college presidents and chancellors. FWIW, Michael Adams has accepted his invitation.
Among topics on the agenda are how to maintain the governing body's policy on amateurism, a definition that allows schools to restrict how athletes are compensated for playing sports. That's not all Emmert wants to talk about. 
"How do we look at issues around the integrity of the collegiate model? Is there a sense that we need stronger investigative tools? Is there a sense that we need a more understood and more comprehensive penalty structure?" Emmert said in a statement. "How do we look at the embedding of athletics in a way that sends clear messages to institutions before student-athletes even arrive on campus that there is an expectation of academic success?" 
But it's the pay-for-play issue that will certainly get the most attention. 
It has been debated publicly for decades, and has gained fresh traction in the wake of high-profile infractions cases including that of reigning Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and former Heisman winner Reggie Bush.
The ramifications have been felt at some of the nation's most prominent programs. 
Gee, thanks Cecil. I've made my case and even posted a poll here. But I'd like to revisit it at least once again here, because I see and hear some painting the stance of not paying athletes as some form of jealousy...or a case of the haves (as in athletic ability) and the have nots (...me...and maybe you).

For me it's not about that. Beyond my hang up with a growing sense of entitlement and the fact that I still feel an education is worth something, I just get this awful taste in my mouth for what the college game will become should we venture down Delaney and Spurrier's path.

Let me break it down some: currently your average Joe goes to school and gets as much of his expenses covered as possible through various means (parents, scholarships, savings, grants, part-time job, etc). Whatever is left over that is not covered is dumped into a student loan most likely. Nothing made me value my education more than working to pay it off once I was through.

On the other more athletic hand, if a school covers the expenses for attending classes beyond what it already does (tuition, room, board, books) it simply becomes a general manager, handing out stipends for a new pair of shoes or tickets to the latest Journey (...whatever) concert. The education component is completely taken out of the equation. The school is just a landing spot in a vast farm system.

One other point. I'm particularly interested in seeing how coaches handle this hot button topic now and going forward. The safe play is to voice support for the idea like Spurrier did. That way players, both current and potentials, see you as on their side.

Purdue hoops coach Matt Painter might be swimming upstream:
"Just handing them money so they can get new Timberlands or whatever, I don't think that's right," Painter said during a conference call with reporters Monday. "I don't want to lose the amateurism. They are getting their education paid for and a lot of people say that's what the NBA is for. If you want to get paid, go to the NBA."
Again, I'd be surprised if we don't eventually get to a point where we're extending this immense money bag towards the hands of the athletes who help create it. I'm just not convinced that's what is best for the college sport.


dawghouse23 said...

Coach Painter has point but the problem is they can't just go to the NBA or NFL. There are rules that keep them out for a certain period of time, and the NBA's may increase soon. Coach Painter makes it sound like they have a choice, when the choices are limited.

If the player is offered a full ride, what does that mean? Tuition, books, transportation, room and board, food, etc.? When I went to school I could borrow a certain amount of money based on the estimated cost of living. I could borrow up to that much if I chose. I also had time to get a part time job and still get all my studying done. Some of these student athletes do not have that opportunity. The time demanded of them by the coaches (or you could say the school) does not allow them to be a normal student. We really can't compare them to a typical student.

I think they should get financial aid up to the cost of living. The school pays whatever they don't get from other scholarships and government grants. If they are going to call it a full-ride than it should be a full-ride. (Maybe I'm the only one calling it a full-ride.)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but the high school athlete does have a choice. They can elect to spend three years (in the case of football) in the CFL (if they could make a team) or working out on their own if they don't want to go to college. The value of the scholarship, development, training (including medical care), and equipment (including clothing) they receive is plenty of compensation from the college program of their choice. UGA doesn't give the Foundation Fellow recipients "walking around" money, so the UGAAA shouldn't have to give student-athletes money either. "Pay for play" will kill collegiate athletics if it's ever allowed by the NCAA.

dawghouse23 said...

True, that's why I said the choices are limited. But if a player wants to go to the NBA or NFL going through college is the best option, so even though they could go international to play they are not very likely to get into the national leagues if they go that route. So yeah, they have that option, but be realistic, it's not a good option.

I don't see how it will kill collegiate athletics. We aren't talking about much money. 3 to 5k a year isn't much at all.

Anonymous said...

Dawg House,

I agree the post-high school options are limited for athletes with NFL or NBA dreams. That's not the universities' fault, and the university shouldn't compensate for that fact. If the NFL and NBA saw a market for a feeder system similar to the NHL and MLB, they would have entered the market a long time ago. Now, they have free developmental leagues where the athletes are developed much better than they would be otherwise. If Roger Goodell and the owners thought they could make money on minor league football in Raleigh, Orlando, Little Rock, Memphis and other non-NFL cities, we would have minor league football on Saturdays in the fall instead of college football.

It's also true that $3K-$5K per player doesn't seem like a lot. Then you have the question of whether walk-ons get paid because they make similar commitments to the scholarship players. Next, this could not be limited to revenue sports only (plus Title IX), so now you're paying the women's volleyball and men's cross country teams. By the time you've paid everyone, a university has paid out at least over $1M. At that point, the only things that can happen are that the minimum contributions go up, ticket prices go up, fewer competitive athletic teams (and the underlying Title IX implications), student athletic fees increase or universities lose money on athletics (UGA is one of the few that doesn't).

Finally, paying players above the table will not solve the problem. Players and their representatives will still have their hands out, and corrupt boosters, agents, and hangers-on will be more than happy to give them the cash or Visa debit cards. The NCAA compliance office will still be as arbitrary and idiotic as they were before.

Bernie said...

Appreciate the comments guys. This is going to be an interesting one to follow.