The NCAA *owns* its players

NCAA player Jim O’Fallon

Not only does the NCAA prevent college players from getting paid for their labor or from use of their sports images even after they leave college, and keep them from hiring agents to represent their interests, it even prevents them from borrowing against their own future earnings:

“Loans to a student-athlete based on his or her potential future earnings as a pro athlete are not allowed by the NCAA, except to pay for disability insurance on those future earnings.”

How can this be legal in a free country? Does anyone believe the NCAA and its Committee on Infractions could get away with this if the revenue sports players were from rich white families with political connections?

Ask UO law professor emeritus James O’Fallon, to the right. UO pays him $90,000 a year plus expenses to enforce the NCAA’s rules. The Infractions Committee he sits on will soon be judging the case involving the gentleman on the left. Dan Wetzel story here. 9/7/2012.

NCAA cartel economics

9/1/2012: Ed O’Bannon has expanded the class action lawsuit against the NCAA, seeking a cut of the profits for the players. SI story:

The rationale of O’Bannon to seek an expansion of his class derives from what he and his attorneys, Jon King and Michael Hausfeld, have learned from the pretrial discovery process and from their expert economists, Roger Noll and Larry Gerbrant. = In O’Bannon’s view, the NCAA and member schools and conferences have illegally profited off the labor of college athletes for decades. Current and former D-I football and men’s basketball players, according to O’Bannon, are common victims in this alleged exploitation and thus should be in the same class. O’Bannon also dismisses the series of documents student-athletes are required to sign as part of their participation in college sports. These forms require student-athletes to accept the NCAA’s use of their name, image and licensing. If a player refuses to sign these forms, he will be deemed ineligible to play, which could jeopardize his athletic scholarship and ability to afford college. O’Bannon repudiates these forms as “contracts of adhesion” or unenforceable no-choice contracts.

Roger Noll gives a lecture on the economics of the NCAA cartel:

But who will fine the NCAA?

7/22/2012: Word is NCAA Pres Mark Emmert and OSU’s Ed Ray – the head of the NCAA’s Exec Committte – are going to announce tomorrow that they will fine Penn State $30 to $60 million over the Paterno scandal.

But who will fine the NCAA, the enforcers of the system that puts athletics before everything else in higher ed? There’s some tough talk from Ed Ray here. And here’s some tough talk from another university president:

“What stands out, above everything else, is the unanimity of thinking among university presidents who were assembled,” a president said. “There is an unwavering determination to change a number of things about intercollegiate athletics today. Presidents are fed up with the rule breaking that is out there.”

Whoops, that’s a quote from Penn State’s soon to be indicted former President Graham Spanier in 2011 –  12 months before Freeh found the emails showing Spanier was making deals on the Sandusky coverup with Paterno.

And here’s a quote from UO’s soon to be former Interim President Bob Berdahl, on his efforts to weaken faculty oversight of UO athletics and keep us from getting documents and information. More posted on the UO Senate website here.

FROM INTERIM PRESIDENT BERDAHL TO [UO Senate Intercollegiate Athletics Committee] CHAIR

Sent: 23 Feb 2012
Dear Prof. Tublitz,

I write to make explicit my expectations and understanding regarding the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee.

1) I have told the Athletic Director that he should expect to meet with the IAC no more than once per academic quarter.

2) Any information that the IAC wishes to request from the Athletic Department preparatory to its meetings should be requested through my office, rather than directly with Director Mullens. My office will determine whether the materials requested to be germane to the charge of the committee. If you were to disagree with such an assessment, you may make your argument with my office rather than with the Athletic Department.

3) The appropriate role of the IAC is to advise the Athletic Department on matters related to the institution’s academic mission, but it has no oversight authority or responsibility. …

But it’s good to see the Register Guard editors are taking a tougher stance on this:

Whoops, that’s their editorial from 1934.

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 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: