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.”

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