Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Big Five conferences get autonomy: Will college athletes reap the benefits?

Pay to Play?
The NCAA board of directors have voted (16-2) to grant autonomy to the Big Five college football conferences.

The Big 12, ACC, Pac 12, SEC and Big 10 are now empowered to govern themselves and push through rules changes as they see fit.

Make no doubt about it, this is a huge seismic shift in college sports as we know it -- and not just football. The three R's -- repercussions, reverberations and ramifications are epic.

Some are saying, this is the biggest college sport decision since the landmark Title IX. 

When I attended the ACC Media Days this past July 20-21 in Greensboro, NC, ACC commissioner John Swoford addressed the Big Five demands and confidently declared:

“The good ship status quo has sailed.”

And as the NCAA big money makers, few doubted autonomy would be denied. Smart money was on them being granted authority to create a Big Five governing board, or saying adios to the NCAA Division I altogether.

Perhaps, other factors influencing the board of directors include.

Now, about the three R's: What does this decision mean?

Will players have a more prominent national voice?

Will athletic scholarships get redefined?

Will players receive stipends?

Will players receive compensation for usage of their likeness?

 National College Football Writer reports:

What issues will the Power 5 tackle on their own?

The first big one is a cost of attendance stipend to cover the gap between an athletic scholarship and what financial aid offices determine to be the actual cost of attending college. Other topics could include medical coverage for athletes, time demands on athletes, allowing schools to pay for athletes' families to attend games, loosening the rules on contact between athletes and agents, and putting in dead periods when athletes can't officially workout at their school.

In the end analysis, college sports, particularly men's football and basketball, may be amateur sports but, they are billion dollar enterprises. Pulling back the NCAA curtain leads to discovery of the big profit reapers of college sports (note to readers, it ain't the main entertainers aka the players).

Players' issues, as delineated by Solomon, have historically been at best secondary or worse not even on the table. If autonomy gives the Big Five more juice and leverage to adequately address these issues then it's a step in the right direction.

1 comment:

  1. A commission for usage of their likeness, I could see where that could work in theory. But then it's a question of popularity and whose likeness is being used. Men will be exponentially more popular than women. Football and basketball players will be far more popular than other collegiate sports. So, after a few years when women start complaining that it's unfair, what's to be done? Split the money evenly amongst everyone? Or when MD's football team fusses because the basketball players are earning money and they're not, what's to be done?

    There is a lot of greed going on in the NCAA that there's really no need for. Plenty of reports and studies show how much money is wasted and paid to people who treat it like a business. However, I'm not sure paying the players is the answer here.

    One thing the system was before it became about the money, it was fair. There wasn't a lot of money. Nobody got paid a lot, and no player was allowed to seek outside payment. Television contracts and bowl games -- these are fairly new phenomena, and unfortunately a few fat cats exploit it.

    But are they exploiting the kids? That's the question. I mean, our love affair for football is such in America that high-school ball could easily be a billion-dollar enterprise with the right television contracts. Jerseys, video games, broadcast events, etc -- 15-year-olds could be in that spotlight. Pay them too? I don't know; this is a nuanced, layered, deeper subject than it appears.

    The kids are receiving an education. They're playing a sport they love. They're receiving nationwide exposure. They're becoming celebrities with huge cache. Their hard work is enabling colleges to offer more sports that don't get money otherwise. The downside: They don't get paid.

    I think the only answer is to allow the student athletes to seek payment from wherever they wish. Paying athletes wouldn't work because it would necessarily result in a meritocracy, which isn't really the philosophical leanings of those who feel these kids are being exploited.

    Greedmongers figured out a way to exploit the surging system, but IMO they're not exploiting the kids. They're hindering the kids by imposing strict, nonsensical rules on them.