The NCAA's Latest Legal Drama will end the College Sports as We Know Them
If you were aghast at Friday's Yahoo Sports revelations College Basketball players were paid for and treated like commodities by agents and coaches--you are in the minority.
Anyone who has followed the sports for a long period of time knew College Basketball was corrupt and has been for a long, long time. It's only now that secret is going public.
That the FBI is investigating this is interesting, though ultimately useless as well. How do you expose this as a "Crime"? Is anything happening "Illegal" or just against NCAA rules? You might be able to make racketeering stick. Possibly bribery, but what else about paying for players is against the law?
If you look closely at the way the system is now set up---you'd realize Sneaker companies, middlemen and agents have controlled the game for years. 35-years ago, it was simple and most of this didn't exist.
You played in High School for a coach. If you were a standout, your stats and stories were told in a newspaper and would likely catch the attention of a College Coach who would then come see you play. If they liked you and your performance--you'd get a letter in the mail expressing interest and go visit the campus. And then you'd either get a full on offer for a scholarship or you wouldn't.
That system no longer exists.
Elite players are often identified much earlier--not by High School Coaches but often by agents or representatives. They likely will play in High School, but their future will be determined by their Summer Camp Choice, their AAU Coach and which sneaker company sponsors either of those.
That is what created the system we currently live in.
And DO NOT for a minute think this is strictly a "Basketball" thing. It isn't....
Football has their own system working around the powerless NCAA and it too will soon be discovered.
7 on 7 camps, equipment/shoe sponsorship and agents are all a part of the football cycle too. And that doesn't even take into consideration boosters and others looking to "Help" the kids who in many cases actually do need it.
Go to a schools gargantuan "Athletic Facility" and watch the players come and go in cars. Instead of the junkers or lower priced cars, you'll see fancy SUV's, Dodge Chargers and other fancy vehicles many of us can't afford to drive.
Where do you think the money for those came from?
If you've stayed with my lengthy set-up---here is where I'm going with this:
"How do you stop it?" or "Should you stop it?"
This weekend, Sports experts from all over speculated and presented hypotheticalized on what would be the best solution.
Many said just pay the kids playing NCAA Sports. Some said let the Sneaker Companies and Agents pay the players. And some said the NCAA needs to drop the hammer on all of this.
1st of all---The NCAA is powerless to stop this. There is ZERO they can do at this point. The cat is and has long been out of the bag and ain't going back in. The days of keeping athletes who often are bringing in millions in merchandise sales to the schools and NCAA as pure amateurs is soon going to end.
It has to.
College Basketball and College Football are far to big a business for the NCAA to regulate now. Both sports are Billion dollar enterprises who don't need the NCAA to regulate them. And in many cases they don't want the NCAA to dictate discipline.
Which is really the dilemma in all of this.
If the NCAA can't control sneaker companies sponsoring kids and teams nor agents willing to pay kids in advance knowing they may not get paid back in the future, who will?
And that's why we're at this crossroads. The Power 5 in Football and ACC and others in basketball have to make a decision. And soon.
Do they want to be a "Minor League" system for the pros? Or do they want to be the noble pursuit of an athletic outlet for students? They are going to have to choose. And soon....
With the various academic scandals involving high profile programs and the Title IX abuses many others are failing to do this, how do you regulate college sports?
The NCAA is clearly not capable of it. Even when they do "Discipline" someone, the punishment often either doesn't fit the crime or isn't doled out equally on various offenders. (See North Carolina and Notre Dame)...
One last note....Just paying the athletes a "Stipend" to participate isn't going to cut it. Giving them spending money to use while in class isn't enough to stop what is happening. Not even close.
Just make the game professional. Let the Power 5 Football Conferences become a minor league feeder system and let the others compete as is. Division 1 Hoops, same thing. Let the athletes get residuals from merchandise sales. Let them sign with an agent if they want. If a Sneaker Company wants to sponsor them, let 'em do it.
But drop the Student pretense out of the equation. At that point, they are learning to be professional athletes. The Olympics were once purely amateur until the rules of being one changed. And they allowed professionals to compete.
There are way too many layers to all this to get into because to be perfectly honest, the money and push to find the "Diamond in the Rough" has led to Middle School kids being recruited, paid and directed a certain way as a pre-teen.
But it happens in the world of Entertainment all the time. There are tons of young singers and actors out there getting paid. So why not? Anyone have a better solution??