Will Rubin proposes NCAA share money with players

In the ODE:

… With EA in the midst of fighting a class-action lawsuit led by former Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller, they went out of their way to show the public – and the legal experts – that the speedster in University of Oregon’s backfield isn’t De’Anthony Thomas,though everyone under the sun knows otherwise — including former UO great LaMichael James. 

James tweeted: “They got (Thomas) on the NCAA (sic) to real! I had 250 (yards), 9 carries yesterday lets just say I won the day but I lost the game lol.” Sorry LaMike, but that’s “RB #6″ who — although he’s the same height and weight as Thomas and has the same skill set — is of course not meant to represent the star sophomore at all. 

When one takes a closer look at the UO’s roster, it’s hard not to throw the controller down and walk away. For example: Redshirt sophomore Dustin Haines (Don’t give me any of that “QB #14″ crap) is not only listed as the backup to Bryan Bennett — he’s rated at 80 overall out of 100. In comparison, redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota is rated 75. Yes, you read that right; the guy who holds up the famed play cards is noticeably better than the possible starter.

Rubin knows more about video games than is healthy – but he’s also got a healthy cynicism about the NCAA.

NCAA moves to prop up cartel with tougher penalties.

2/12/2012: At its heart the NCAA is a classic hiring cartel. College athletic departments agree among themselves to all pay the athletes a bare minimum, so that the bulk of the profits can be used for inflated salaries for the coaches, assistants, athletic directors, and of course the NCAA administrators.

The catch is that every college has an incentive to cheat, and offer top players a better deal – a few thousand in cash from a booster, a loaner car, good deal on an apartment, and so on. If this gets out of hand the players get the profits, and the cartel can collapse, leaving little money for the NCAA insiders.

The NCAA knows it takes eternal vigilance to hold their cartel together. USA Today now reports that their latest plan is a drastic increase in the penalties for “cheating” – i.e. letting the players keep some of the money they earn. I love the way the insiders getting rich off this throw around phrases like “illicit benefits for student-athletes”:

The plan, which also would streamline the processing of cases and expand the adjudicating committee on infractions to help speed their disposition, reflects a call by NCAA President Mark Emmert for swifter, tougher action and greater deterrence. Amid a spate of cases involving high-profile programs from South California to Tennessee to Connecticut to Ohio State to Miami (Fla.), he has talked of instilling “some sort of constructive fear.”

… It threatens serious payback for programs and individuals involved in what the NCAA terms the “worst of the worst” cases, involving such things as academic fraud, significant payments or other illicit benefits for athletes and a finding of a lack of institution control.  

The people charged with delivering this “constructive fear” to those evil programs that want to compensate athletes for their work are the members of the NCAA Infractions Committee – including UO’s own “Faculty Athletics Representative” Jim O’Fallon.

O’Fallon has had the FAR job for 23 years – since back when he actually was faculty – without going through a review by UO. The 2004 UO Task Force Report on Athletics – signed by Dave Frohnmayer and Bill Moos – specifically called for a review of O’Fallon. Bullet point #2:

This never happened. Weird. O’Fallon’s contract is here.

The NCAA has even set it up so we have to pay their enforcers. O’Fallon’s salary and expenses come straight out of UO’s academic budget. Clever:

O’Fallon even gets called out by NYT financial columnist Joe Nocera, for this inane, officious decision penalizing a school for giving athletes books.

Bit late, eh?

11/18/2011: “NCAA says it will examine how Penn State has handled scandal.” From the enablers on the NCAA Infractions Committee:

*Eligible for reappointment
Division Committee Positions Title Name & Institution Conference Term
  0   Member   Attorney   John Black
  Independent SEP 2014*
  0   Member   Partner   Roscoe Howard
  Andrews Kurth LLP
  Independent SEP 2012*
  FBS   Member   Associate Commissioner   Gregory Sankey
  Southeastern Conference
  Southeastern Conference SEP 2013*
  FBS   Chair   Commissioner   Britton Banowsky
  Conference USA
  Conference USA SEP 2014*
  FBS   Member   Deputy Director of Athletics   Melissa L. Conboy
  University of Notre Dame
  Big East Conference SEP 2014*
  FBS   Member   FAR   James O’Fallon
  University of Oregon
  Pac-12 Conference SEP 2012*
  FBS   Member   Professor   Rodney J. Uphoff
  University of Missouri, Columbia
  Big 12 Conference SEP 2012*
  FCS   Member   Commissioner   Dennis E. Thomas
  Mid-Eastern Athletic Conf.
  Mid-Eastern Athletic Conf. SEP 2012*
  DI   Member   FAR, Associate Professor   Eleanor W. Myers
  Temple University
  Atlantic 10 Conference SEP 2012*
      Member   Attorney   Christopher Griffin
  Foley & Lardner
    SEP 2014*

The mafia won’t be happy about this

defamatory USA Today story on yesterday’s congressional hearing comparing them to the NCAA:

“(The NCAA) is one of the most vicious, most ruthless organizations ever created by mankind,” (US Congressman from Illinois) Rush said. “I think you would compare the NCAA to Al Capone and to the mafia. “It’s a systemic, ongoing, prolonged abuse of thousands and thousands of innocent young men and women who are only trying to make a life for themselves and live the American dream.”

Maybe just a bit over the top, but interesting that the congressman thinks it will help his campaign, particularly given their lobbying budget. The athletic lobbying budget, I mean. NYT story on the illegal Feista Bowl contributions (and strippers) story here. Did UO money get spent on this?

Illegal Sugar Bowl contribution story here. Where was BCS President Frohnmayer when this was going on? 11/1/2011.

NCAA gives players $2000 a year

10/28/2011:Former UO reporter Allie Grasgreen has the story in Insidehighered.com. It’s way too little for the big revenue football players, and arguably too much for the non-revenue players. Should cost the UO AD about $1,000,000. The real cost will be if the courts then decide this makes the player’s employees – think lawsuits for on-the-job traumatic brain injury damage that shows up years later. Meanwhile, the AD will fight like hell to make sure the money comes out of further subsidies from the academic budget – not out of their own salaries. Will they consider dropping some non-revenue sports?

What would Prefontaine do

about the NCAA? Here’s what Coach Chip Kelly says about the proposals to give athletes $2,000 out of the NCAA’s $788 million in new TV revenue:

“Obviously there kids that come to college who are underprivileged and deserve the full cost of attendance but there are also kids who are on scholarships who don’t need it. I don’t really have an answer for it. I think when you do it, it has to be done across every sport. If you’re going to do it for football and men’s basketball, you have to do it for women’s soccer, softball, etc. … I do think the kids deserve something.”

Something – but only if the kids are truly needy. But Kelly thinks he’s worth $3.5 million – so much money the UO students are now paying $ 2 million a year for the athletes-only Jaqua Jock Box, and ASUO student budget overhead is now subsidizing the UO athletics department.

According to Coach Bill Bowerman’s biographer and former UO track star Kenny Moore, Coach Bill Bowerman would have replied a little differently. Moore quotes Bowerman, speaking about Steve Prefontaine at his funeral: “But he also burned with another fire: Emancipation, freedom for the U.S. athlete ….”

A more recent take is below. Is it just me, or is it obvious that the black guys are all for the athletes, while the white guy says it’s OK to give them food, but keep the rest of the money for the NCAA:

Trouble down on the NCAA plantation:

10/26/2011: Reports are trickling out of LA that athletes have begun to rebel against the NCAA cartel. AP story here, Yahoo sports report here, WaPo story here says NCAA will ignore the players. National College Players Association report here:

UCLA football player Jeff Locke, who circulated the petition among his teammates and the basketball team, is concerned that the NCAA might delay important reforms.  He stated, “As almost $800 million in new TV revenue streams into college football next year alone, it is important that we address these issues surrounding college athletics immediately.  If the NCAA pushes back these issues, the schools will find other ways to spend this money, whether it is put into new facilities or to increase coaches salaries, and the players will not be able to receive the basic protections they need from the billions they help generate.”

The entire UCLA basketball team and 70 of the football players have now signed the petition. Rumors are spreading of panicked assistant coaches and athletic department administrators packing up their SUVs and hitting the coast road toward sanctuary in Oregon, and a few more years of fat contracts, and of course free cars.

Meanwhile the NYT has an excellent review of Tyler Branch’s article, “The Shame of College Sports”, which is becoming the Declaration of Independence of the anti-NCAA movement. Branch will be on the Colbert Report 10/26. You can buy his book, The Cartel: Inside the Rise and Imminent Fall of the NCAA from Amazon:

“College athletes are not slaves,” writes Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Taylor Branch in “The Cartel: Inside the Rise and Imminent Fall of the NCAA.” “Yet to survey the scene—corporations and universities enriching themselves on the backs of uncompensated young men, whose status as ‘student-athletes’ deprives them of the right to due process guaranteed by the Constitution—is to catch the unmistakable whiff of the plantation.”

… But the true scandal, argues Branch in this gripping, deeply reported narrative, is the parasitic structure of college sports, a business that generates billions of dollars in revenue every year yet fails to provide even workers’ compensation for its young performers. The outrage, he writes, is “not that students are getting illegally paid or recruited, it’s that two of the noble principles by which the NCAA justifies its existence—’amateurism’ and the ‘student-athlete’—are cynical hoaxes, legalistic confections propagated by the universities so they can exploit the skills and fame of young athletes. The tragedy at the heart of college sports is not that some college athletes are getting paid, but that more of them are not.”

New lows in paternalism:

10/24/2011: A bit more on the $2000 raise proposed for NCAA athletes, in the NYT story here: Personally, I can’t decide which quote is more offensive – Mark Emmert, who is probably pulling down $1.5 million as NCAA President, saying

“I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘Well, you want to do this $2,000 cost-of-attendance thing to reduce the probability of students breaking rules,’ and that’s nonsense,” Emmert told the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics during a three-hour meeting at the Ritz-Carlton. “People break rules because they break rules.”

or Thomas Ross, President of UNC:

“Ross said he was concerned about how students might spend the $2,000. He suggested providing it on a debit card that allowed universities to see the receipts.”

Think of how many millions a star football player brings in for his university – and he doesn’t want to give them $2000 of it? He thinks he owns the players. And so long as the NCAA and Emmert can maintain the hiring cartel, he does. Here’s some old IRS data on what the NCAA owners get:

And here’s some on Oregon:

NCAA to give still more money to the coaches

10/21/2011: From Brad Wolverton in the Chronicle. The proposed reforms give players $2,000 each in “travel money” but they then cut the number of scholarships – leaving the total take for “student-athletes” unchanged. So where will all the money from the new conference TV deals go? To the coaches, ADs, NCAA insiders – and of course free cars for all the hangers on. And the NCAA is spinning this as reform?

One part of it is progress: multi-year scholarships contracts for the athletes. Nathan Tublitz’s group, COIA, has been pushing the NCAA to do this for the past 10 years. Currently the coaches can cut a player when they want, and then give the scholarship to a better or uninjured player. UO is known for *not* doing this, though athletes who are not working out are of course encouraged to transfer to a different school.

concussions and obesity

10/5/2011: From Frank Deford at NPR:

All the worse, the current national model has it that some impoverished kid from the inner city risks concussions and obesity to play football in order to pay for the scholarship of a javelin thrower and the salary of an assistant swimming coach and the plane fare for the volleyball team. That’s a disgrace. Where is it written that that’s the way an athletic department should be operated, on the shoulder pads of poor kids …

College athletes get bobblehead money

10/4/2011: From Rachel Bachman’s Twitter. Story here:

Guerrero, 27, is thankful he was among four former players chosen in 2009. But over the years he’s wondered about the process — he says he wasn’t asked for approval or invited to give any input on the bobblehead that bears his likeness. He’s also wondered how much money is made on sales of BSU-licensed products — and who got a cut.

He raised the question: Do ex-players deserve a cut of the bobblehead profits, given that the product is, essentially, a tiny reproduction of them? Guerrero said he received a box of free bobbleheads to give away — his mom got two — but he never got any financial compensation. That has changed for the latest athletes inducted into BSU bobblehead history.

Rachael Bickerton, director of trademark licensing and enforcement at BSU, confirmed Friday that the former collegiate athletes featured in this year’s bobblehead set, including Austin Pettis (now with St. Louis Rams), Titus Young (Detroit Lions) and Ryan Winterswyk (free agent) are all receiving $500 this year.

This $500 may well be the first time that college players have ever succeeded in getting money from a licensed product. All the money from selling duck paraphernalia celebrating the Duck players goes to the athletic department for their own salaries, cars, etc. Even after the players graduate UO and the NCAA still own the rights to their name and likeness as players. Fixing this is one of the goals of the National College Players Association. The NY Times had a story on this in 2009, after several players sued over the NCAA’s use of their likeness’s in video games. All the money goes to the NCAA – the players get nothing:

The N.C.A.A. would not disclose its earnings from video game royalties. But they are a significant source of income for the association and the universities, said Martin Brochstein, senior vice president of the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association, a trade group. A 2008 survey conducted by his group found that video-game royalties represented the second-largest category in earnings from collegiate licensing deals, behind apparel. “Video games have been one of the biggest categories for some time now,” he said.

The NCAA is a tax exempt IRS 990 not for profit – that pays their president well over $1 million a year. Players get nothing. And they don’t have to disclose their business dealings to the IRS. Wow.