Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bad time to be the NCAA

Two stories of increasing interest have surfaced that need their due attention. First off Florida president Bernie Machen said Wednesday that he will push for playoff system at the SEC spring meetings in April. Also, lawyers representing all division I football and basketball players filed a class action lawsuit against the NCAA claiming athletes are shortchanged an average of $2,500 a year with their grant-in-aid.

Playoff push begins

Machen has already pitched his ideas for a playoff at a presidents meeting in March in Atlanta and has received more support than he had ever thought.

“Right now, I have more SEC presidents on board than I thought I would. And the majority are willing to listen, which is more than ever before."

The timing couldn’t be more crucial because Fox is in the process of extending the existing BCS deal which could doom us to this mess for another six or eight years. It’s a small victory for Machen just to get his proposal on the agenda and get his voice heard. "This is a big step. I didn't think they'd allow me to be a part of the agenda. But I will have my day in court." If this had been anyone but the president of Florida it may not hold as much weight, but it speaks volumes when the president whose team most benefitted from the BCS is the very person criticizing it.

So Machen will have his say and I’m sure he’ll generate some buzz but let’s face it; standing in his way is none other than Jim Delany and the money-hungry Big Ten. As Penn State fans know all too well, the Big Ten has landed on the wrong side of most arguments and the BCS is no exception. Even replay which was started in the Big Ten occurred because the Big Ten has one of the worst officiating crews in all of college football yet refuse to admit to it, so instead they instituted a band-aid, but I digress. The BCS was created to allow the power conferences to reap the vast rewards of the cash cow bowl tie-ins and keep the mid-majors out, plain and simple. Anything that might allow that windfall to end up in the hands of smaller conferences will be met with stern opposition. The sad thing is, the Big Ten doesn’t speak for it’s members, if you were to poll the coaches of the Big Ten you would have a large majority in favor of some sort of playoff and very few, if any, in support of the current system – just ask Lloyd Carr.

Send in our most deadly weapon: the lawyers

That brings us to the lawsuit of miilllliiooons of dollars.

Most fans would agree that a free education is a pretty big paycheck no matter how you slice it (especially those of us paying for one right now) but this lawsuit has significant merit and it could be big problems for the NCAA. The real teeth of the lawsuit is in the complaint that the GIA (grant-in-aid) does not include school supplies, recommended text books, laundry expenses, health and disability insurance, travel expenses and incidental expenses. The NCAA’s only defense is that the GIA cap is in place to keep the student-athletes from becoming paid “professionals.” Excuse me while laugh uncontrollably but paying for text books and health insurance is by no means making athletes “professionals.” Even the United States Government agrees - if you are going back to school because of NAFTA and TRA (which I did for two years) you get a text book allowance. So if you lose your job to cheap foreign labor the US government is smart enough to realize what it takes to make it through college but the NCAA doesn’t – when was the last time you used the words “smart enough” and “US Government” in the same sentence without the word “not?”

I will be surprised if this lawsuit doesn’t end in a bad way for the NCAA even though the hefty sum of $344 million that the lawsuit could cost probably won’t come to fruition. The NCAA doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on when you take into account the 1, 2 or 3 million dollars a year coaches get and the gross annual budget that schools make from both Basketball and Football. Penn State is funding all of the other sports in the entire athletic department from the windfall from football, that’s a lotta dough. It’s tough to argue that the players don’t deserve a couple more bucks to make an already difficult job of balancing a full student schedule with an almost year-round athletic training schedule.


BSD said...

I've always felt the players should get a little spending money. The schools and NCAA and Bowls and corporate sponsers make millions off the sweat and hard work of these kids. And the student athlete gets next to nothing. Free tuition and board is all. They aren't even allowed to go out and get jobs on the side to put a little money in their pocket. It doesn't seem right.

Galen said...

I'm kinda in the same camp althought I know that as soon as the NCAA losens the noose we will have problems. That being said it's not fair that the NCAA punishes those that follow the rules just to make sure the cheaters can't cheat - and yet we still have the Rhett Bohmars of the world. These kids should be allowed to have a job plain and simple as long as they are compensated equally.

Mike said...

Don't be shocked by their resistance to a playoff system. These are the same people that could live with tied games for decades. Everyone had to raise hell for an overtime period.