Monday, April 1, 2013
Pay The Players? Fine. Answer These Questions First...
The usual cries of "pay the players" begins, but never gets much farther than a one-sheet model of how that might actually work.
So for those who think the players should get "something" in the way of actual CASH... then I challenge you to answer the following questions.
1. How much?
And don't dismiss this with a casual "I don't know, they'll figure that out" statement. You can't be taken seriously until you start to run the numbers. Tell me JUST how much you would start with, and ripple that number through a university's athletic department spreadsheets to see if it has any adverse effects.
2. Who gets paid?
Are we talking every "scholarship player"? What about walk ons? Do schools have flexibility in paying guys? Could a school like Duke say: "We pay guys who stay for their junior and senior year, but not freshmen and sophmores?" How soon do you think resentment would brew on teams, when star player X is making the same $3,000 a quarter "stipend" as the GPA boosting scrub at the end of the bench?
3. How do they get paid?
Cash up front? Vouchers for clothes, food, and expenses? Plane tickets home? Deferred payment until they graduate or just leave?
4. Is there any behavior that would prevent a player from getting paid?
You know, drunk driving, assault charges, flunking out, cheating?
5. What About Putting Players "Under Contract"
Currently, a scholarship is a one-year renewable deal. While unfair to the player in that a coach can arbitrarily yank it, it does provide the ability for players to transfer if that happens (albeit after sitting out a year). Coaches can technically "block" a scholarship player from transferring (see most recently the Danny O'Brien case) but that almost never happens, and also never withstands the usual media scrutiny. So let's talk contract. If a school is now PAYING a player cash, he's a pro. And if that's the case, why shouldn't a school be able to bind that player with a contract to play more than just 1 year? What if a 1-year player would be required to "buy out" his remaining 3 years of a hypothetical "contract" if he decides to turn pro?
6. You know this won't end the need for NCAA enforcement, right?
Because if every player gets a $3,000 "stipend" then he'll have some rollin' around cash. And what would prevent a deep pocketed booster (ahem, I'm looking at you, Alabama!) from giving that kid even MORE cash to roll around with? Then the kid could claim he bought his Escalade with his saved up "stipend" money and how can you separate the two? If anything, an official "stipend" would only increase the amount of dirty money in the system because there is now a viable cover story as to how Johnny got that fur coat.
7. How long before somebody says "hey, $3,000 is not enough!"
Answer: immediately. Because to some people, they want the NCAA to barely break even on basketball and football, and so the ink won't be dry on a "stipend" plan before there's a push to raise it. (see "Minimum Wage"). And you are aware, aren't you, that other "quasi-revenue" sports (like perhaps baseball) will ALSO start to ask for some money. And so will every tennis player, swimmer, and gymnast.
8. What do you do with schools who now choose to drop out of "paid NCAA sports?"
Schools like perhaps Vanderbilt and Stanford. They might well just say: "Hey, we don't really feel like paying athletes. It's not what we're all about as Universities. So we're going to form a new non-scholarship league, sorta like the Super-Ivy." How do conferences deal with the loss of these important cogs who may not compete for national championships, but are valued and needed members of the conference?
9. What happens when programs lose money?
Because many of them do already. Are they allowed to "suspend" stipends until the program moves back into the black?
And perhaps the biggest question I have for otherwise smart people like Jay Bilas who say this is akin to "indentured servitude"....
10. What The Hell Are You Talking About?
Big time D1 college sports (especially the revenue sports) are maybe the GREATEST DEAL GOING for young athletes. You get media exposure at every level that helps your quest to become a highly paid professional. Your school, spends THOUSANDS of dollars to MARKET YOU! You get elite level coaching and training. You get academic advisers to help keep your grades up. You get to make personal contacts with prominent boosters who may end up enriching you as a business partner in the years to come, for no other reason than "Boy, you threw that hail mary pass to beat 'State'! Would you like to be a rainmaker for my trucking company?" You get to travel first class. Stay first class. Eat first class. Have the thrill of playing before sold out arenas on national TV. Your family has priority access to tickets to the games (not sure if they are free, but still). Oh... and that other little thing you get....
A FREE F'ING EDUCATION!
I still am flabbergasted that this is treated by some in the media as nothing. As a door prize. It's like they don't know anybody who worked TWO JOBS to PAY for their own college education! At most schools, this is easily a $100,000 gift from the heavens.
To play a sport!
Yeah, I know. It's "long hours" and "look how much the TV contract is bringing in..."
But shut the hell up. Seriously you people. This is a deal only an idiot would refuse. How do I know this? SIMPLE! The NCAA member schools are having NO PROBLEM finding young athletes to accept scholarship offers.
The line extends to fucking INFINITY!
Now granted, if they went down that line far enough, the talent pool would suffer, and the games would not be quite as athletically exciting as they are now.
But you know what? They wouldn't suck. And we'd still watch.
If a young athlete feels "exploited" by the "system" he can also just OPT OUT. Go to a small school, DII or DIII or non-scholarship Ivy league and do his thing there. Many kids do already, because they value a first rate education in ADDITION to the chance to turn pro.
So go ahead. Put your righteousness where your mouth is.
Oh, what's that? You WANT the TV appearances, marketing campaigns, big stadiums, media exposure, pro coaching, pro training, best workout facilities, tutors, adoring fans, fawning boosters, world class travel...... AND... and....you want MONEY too?
Screw you. Seriously.
Here's the number for Grinnell College. Knock yourself out, kid.