it's time to fix the ncaa
By Mike Gilpatrick
February 23rd, 2018
February 23rd, 2018
It’s time to fix the NCAA.
The association is being rocked by a federal recruiting investigation into college basketball. Federal documents have named at least 20 schools and over 25 players partaking in an illicit recruiting operation, first uncovered by Yahoo Sports. The documents list violations for players at the highest levels: Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, and Kentucky, among others.
This report peeled back the veil that is the shady business of college sports. The NCAA has been less-than-effective at regulating this, and is more inconsistent than anything else. They’ve failed in keeping the game fair; and have, at times, appeared to care more about business than college athletics.
“These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America.” NCAA president Mark Emmert said, “Following the Southern District of New York’s indictments last year, the NCAA Board of Governors and I formed the independent Commission on College Basketball, chaired by Condoleezza Rice, to provide recommendations on how to clean up the sport. With these latest allegations, it’s clear this work is more important now than ever.”
The cleanup won’t work. We all know the association opts to choose which organizations are punished and when. Louisville was ordered to vacate the 2013 national championship, and all wins for four years; for their part in a prostitution scandal. While horrible, it’s insignificant compared to Baylor Football’s sex scandal, where 52 women were raped by members of the Bears football team. The NCAA claimed it was a legal matter, and out of their jurisdiction. North Carolina clearly cheated for 20+ years in multiple sports, fudging academic records with “paper classes”. The NCAA claimed it couldn’t find proof of academic fraud.
Inconsistencies aren’t a deterrent. Schools view the vacation of wins and loss of scholarships as a small risk of doing business. Their business is huge. Colleges everywhere make millions of dollars off athletes that are supposed to be at school to get a degree. It’s incredibly unfair, and ultimately leads to scandals as shown in the federal investigation. The NBA requires prospective players to sit out a year until entering the league. Many college basketball players view the NCAA as a small detour until they can hit the bright lights and tall buildings. The top tier is talented enough to enter the league right out of high school.
Instead, prospects are forced to play for colleges in America, sometimes in small towns, sometimes in small arenas. Technically unpaid, having to study something they don’t care about. They can’t get a job, can’t legally speak to agents, can’t even make their own money, in most circumstances. Meanwhile, schools and the NCAA make money off athletes’ likeness, jersey numbers, or awards. As soon as athletes can leave, they can.
Colleges, unfortunately, must attract these high-level players by using connections for illicit benefits.
And when they get caught, they apologize, and carry on as usual.
The NCAA has failed to prevent these shady business dealings. There is a way, however, to fix this. It involves legally paying players.
Colleges rake in the dough from these talented athletes in revenue, advertising, and exposure. Some high school students attend colleges only because of the championship they won the year before. There’s a fair market value for each college athlete.
These students should be able to use their likeness to sustain themselves and make money. Ideally, athletic departments should have a set-aside dollar amount, of let’s say 5 million dollars, in excess of scholarships, to split between all athletic programs with the sole purpose of player compensation. Schools could pick who the money goes to, if they don’t pay more than the allotted amount.
Since schools are capped at a certain amount, there is a level of economic competition that’s created. Players will take this into account when choosing which school to attend. It may create an even playing field.
The payment of players also opens avenues for the resurrection of video games like NCAA Football, which was disbanded after 2014, amid wide popularity. It also creates the option for more jersey sales, with actual player names, instead of a generic. Merchandise will expand revenue streams for the schools.
Paying players is just one part. The other involves ceasing head-scratching violations, such as Notre Dame’s vacation of wins. An act of kindness such as giving a recruit money for dinner, or to catch a plane ride home, shouldn’t be a violation. When violations do occur, they should be met with a consistent, standardized punishment. It should be fair, and enough to deter. Certain schools should not receive a slap on the wrist, while others are shelled for similar infractions.
If Mark Emmert and the NCAA truly wants to fix the “systematic failures,” they must change the way they do business. The NCAA makes millions off athletes for virtually nothing. It’s time they pay up.