Tag: Amateurism


Jim Delany, Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard spark more pay-for-play debate


In what has become a now-daily occurrence, a well-known member of the college athletics establishment said something for or against paying collegiate athletes, which subsequently turned into a war of words on my twitter feed between the folks that want to see the labor force get a bigger cut of the profits from college athletics and those that believe a full scholarship is more than enough.

This time, it was Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who had plenty to say in regards to college athletics and amateurism. Some of the highlights:

  • “Maybe in football and basketball, it would work better if more kids had a chance to go directly into the professional ranks. If they’re not comfortable and want to monetize, let the minor leagues flourish. Train at IMG, get agents to invest in your body, get agents to invest in your likeness, and establish it on your own. But don’t come here and say, ‘We want to be paid $25,000 or $50,000.’ Go to the D-League and get it, go to the NBA and get it, go to the NFL and get it.”
  • “I don’t view it as a labor force. I view them as athletes, as students. I view the universities and the brands that have been here for 118 years. It’s built by predecessors, from Isiah Thomas to Magic Johnson to John Havlicek to Archie Clark to Red Grange.”
  • “Being a full-time student is basic, providing opportunities for women is basic, providing Olympic sports opportunities for men is basic. The expectation they should graduate at or about the same rate is basic. I don’t want to give those things up. Why? Because we’re wildly successful in football and basketball? Now, if a judge says, ‘You must pay,’ I said, ‘OK. Tell us what to do now.'”

Then Iowa State’s Athletic Director Jamie Pollard decided to drop by, doing his best to drive a wedge between the non-revenue sports athletes — whose teams are funded by football and basketball — and the revenue sports athletes.

I’m not going to get to wordy about how ridiculous and shameful the concept of amateurism truly his (just read this), or why most of what Delany said is inaccurate (read this, too), or try and explain to you why college is the only real option for players in revenue sports, or list off the reasons why the “education” these athletes receive is not the same as the education a normal student gets. If you truly believe that college football and basketball players shouldn’t get a bigger cut of the money they generate, than I can’t help you. I just have to be glad you don’t actually have a say in the matter.

The one thing I’ll say is this: the heart of the problem isn’t the lack of pay for the players, it’s the lack of say. They have no power. They have no voice. They only thing really differentiating them from being employees of these universities is a label a court ruling from 50-some odd years ago, yet there is no college athlete union.

The NFL and the NBA have a collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners. College athletes are at the mercy of a group of athletic directors that don’t want to see their seven-figure salaries reduced.

If that doesn’t rub you the wrong way, I’m not sure what I can say to you.

Mark Emmert on paying athletes: ‘If you’re going to come to us, you’re going to be a student’

Mark Emmert

There may not be a more contentious debate in all of college athletics than whether or not the players that generate so many billions of dollars in revenue should receive a larger cut of those profits.

Conferences are signing billion-dollar deals for the rights to broadcast their games. The NCAA tournament is responsible for generating roughly three-quarters of the organization’s annual revenue. Every “scandal” involving college athletics that breaks further proves that these athletes have value; that there are people willing to spend their hard-earned money on these athletes.

Maybe it’s the $500 handshakes that football players were getting at Oklahoma State. Or maybe it’s the money that agents were willing to spend on players like Alabama lineman DJ Fluker or Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore to ensure that they would become a client when they graduated. Or maybe it’s the thousands of dollars that Johnny Manziel was able to pocket simply by signing his name on a bunch of helmets.

Whatever the case may be, it’s becoming more and more difficult to justify the idea that the best athletes in revenue sports are getting a fair deal being limited to a college scholarship.

But according to NCAA president Mark Emmert, it’s unlikely that will change any time soon.

”One thing that sets the fundamental tone is there’s very few members and, virtually no university president, that thinks it’s a good idea to convert student-athletes into paid employees. Literally into professionals,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said Monday at Marquette University as part of the school’s ‘On the Issues’ forum. ”Then you have something very different from collegiate athletics. One of the guiding principles (of the NCAA) has been that this is about students who play sports.”

Emmert also questioned why an athlete that wants to be a professional would bother going to college.

”It’s a dynamic tension that we really need to work on because it’s at heart of part of what talking about here,” he said. “Why would we want to force someone to go to school when they really don’t want to be there? But if you’re going to come to us, you’re going to be a student.”

Why would an athlete want to play in college?

Well, quite simply, because the best way for a prodigy to make their way to the NBA is through the NCAA. Going straight to the D-League doesn’t get these kids the kind of exposure that college basketball does. The same can be said for Europe.

The bottom-line is that this a pitch that Emmert is going to have to continue to sell, because there are so many administrators like him that cash six and seven figure checks thanks to amateurism keeping the money flowing. The NCAA doesn’t pay taxes and puts severe limits on the amount that the people generating the revenue can bring in (a scholarship isn’t enough, but it is reimbursement). If that changes, if there is less money to go around, the cuts have to come from somewhere.

And I’d be willing to bet that Emmert, and the people that made Emmert the (handsomely-paid) face of their organization don’t want to see their bottom-line affected.

Billy Donovan: for athletes, lack of compensation ‘difficult to swallow’

Billy Donovan head

While the focus of the latest scandals in college sports have all been football — Johnny Manziel’s autographs, Sports Illustrated’s Oklahoma State exposé, Yahoo’s story on a former Alabama player turned runner for an agent — the crux of the discussion that’s been generated is very much pertinent to college basketball as well.

Should collegiate athletes be paid?

If you read this site, than you know where I stand on the issue. Amateurism is a fraudulent concept rooted in preventing working class people from playing sports in England in the 1800’s. (I might as well just link Dan Wetzel’s column from yesterday, because he lays it all out for you.)

It’s a major talking point in college athletics, and last month, Billy Donovan addressed it while speaking at Capital City Area Gator Club in Tallahassee.

From Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun:

“There is a feel by a lot of families that here you have these huge athletic departments, you have arenas, stadiums filled up and these kids are told, you can’t go out and you can’t take a free meal, you can’t take anything,” Donovan said. “A lot of times for those kids, I think it’s very difficult to swallow that.”

Donovan later touches on the idea of limited earning potential and careers that rarely last into an athlete’s mid-30s and can be cut short any time they suit up. All it takes is one bad step to blow out a knee.

For the overwhelming majority of college athletes, a scholarship is a great deal. Free schooling (read: no student loans) and the chance to play a sport at the highest level? That’s awesome.

But a small number of stars having significant value while in college. For basketball players, it’s not a huge issue. Andrew Wiggins is going to spend seven months feigning being an amateur before he gets his millions. But Jadeveon Clowney has to watch three years worth of money end up in the pockets of the higher-ups at South Carolina and the suits at the NCAA.

If you think exchanging that money for a degree in a field that he will certainly not be going pro in is a fair deal for Clowney, than I don’t know what to say to you.