I’ve written extensively over the years about college athletics and there is not really much to add to the narrative, which, given all the mistakes in strategy to control the greed and perverse incentives in college sports over the past couple of decades, has played out pretty much as I expected–the slow death of amateurism and the resulting demise of its governance by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The new rulings, court decisions, and legislation on name, image, and likeness (NIL) compensation is simply a final straw. As I look back, my essay of August 2001, almost 20 years ago, “The Student-Athlete Myth”, covers most of the salient points. An excerpt:
“If you care at all about college athletics or its relationship to the mission of higher education, I urge you to read the Report of the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics released in June. In its recent report (a follow up to a 1991 report), the Commission finds that, despite considerable progress with its previously recommended reforms, ‘…the problems of big-time college sports have grown rather than diminished. The most glaring elements of the problems outlined–academic transgressions, a financial arms race, and commercialization–are all evidence of the widening chasm between higher educations’ ideals and big-time college sports.’ It recommends a new ‘one plus three’ model–a Council of Presidents directed toward an agenda of academic reform, de-escalation of the athletic arms race, and de-emphasis of the commercialization of intercollegiate athletics. In short, the goal should be ‘the reintegration of college sports into the moral and institutional culture of the university’.
At the major college level, we are, in effect, complicit in a lie–the myth of the student athlete–and we have become totally beholden to, and corrupted by, the professional sports leagues, particularly the NFL and NBA, in the management of our major men’s athletic programs……the trustees and alumni of our major universities are the only sources of leadership that can reverse the trends, which I believe we must do before the integrity of the mission of higher education is permanently undermined.”
So much for that. The rest is history.
Steven Tredennick says
Jim, you may find it interesting that one of our colleagues during our Lyceum days, Paul Coggins, co-authored a book with Tom McMillan entitled Out of Bounds: How the American Sports Establishment is being driven by Greeed Hypocrisy — and what Need to be done about it. Tom, a former all-America and pro basketball player, and Paul were Rhodes Scholar colleagues back when and put their heads together to write the book — still available I think on Amazon. It was written in 1992 and Paul sent me a copy of the book, which I read and passed on to this year’s SOTV honoree, who at the time was struggling with an upside-down athletic budget — as was and remains the case today
Danny Billingsley says
I’m in complete agreement. About 1970 I became friends with a Texas A&M football player. He rommed with t A&M’s quarterback, Lex James. He said every Sunday morning there was an envelope under the room door with James’ mame on it. Inside were $100 bills. In 1971 I was living just off IH-45 in Huntsville. One Sunday afternoon I was mowing my yard when a trooper turmed down the street followed by a car with Oklahoma plate driven by a young black male. I was use to the drill as the JP lived just down from me. It was normal for the troppers to have out of state traffic violators follow them to the JP. I knew the trooper and waved. About 10 minutes later the car came out and headed back towards the freeway. Shortly the trooper came back and stopped at my house. The driver was Greg Pruitt, a Houston raised football player playing for OU. The trooper said the car was registered to OU University.
Texas Patriot says
We can’t put the genie back in the bottle now loosed by SCOTUS. The solution is very simple. The NFL and NBA and WNBA need to be required to pay a 50% commission of the total initial contract salary and signing bonus of players drafted to the college/university where they played. The NCAA schools for too long have served as free development programs for the pros. Unlike MLB and NHL which has developed an extensive minor league farm club. Doing so would also incent the recruiting of international athletes at both the collegiate and pro levels, again much like baseball and hockey.
Here’s what will be very interesting to watch unfold is how universities and NCAA will deal with this from a Title IX perspective as I don’t imagine Nike or Coca-Cola (Gatoraide) are going to pay many big endorsement contracts for women’s equestrian, swimming/diving, soccer, gymnastics, basketball or field hockey celebrity champions. How will the equal sharing and benefit of these new fond funds be proportionally appropriated as the player would not receive if they weren’t on the university or college team.
Greatest fear is this could be pushed into the high school ranks in Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio and California, as seniors in high schools will be 18 and legally adults – can see moms and dads, and booster clubs salivating at this possibility.
Dr. Tom says
When I was on the Duke faculty back in 1974, I went to the Duke ticket office to see about 2 season tickets for basketball. I was told that with a contribution of $50,000, I would become eligible to buy two season tickets.