AlabamaBCS-300x199.jpg

Time for College Football to Issue a Declaration of Independence from the NCAA

The Washington Post’s John Feinstein — one of the great real sports journalists in America — used the latest, scandalous developments in the NCAA’s investigation of the University of Miami to argue for the dissolution of the NCAA. He is right, and it’s an idea t…

  1. EJHill

    Here’s the problem. No organization can really succeed sharing power and without a clear direction. The NCAA is a house divided among haves, have-nots and sports that have too much influence and those that have none. Add a dash of liberal political correctness and you have chaos.

    The NCAA only has marginal control over football. They lost complete control after NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma (468 U.S. 85) and their control over everything is else is slipping away because the power conferences are no longer just conferences, they are also television rights holders.

    There are 1,066 member institutions, but in reality just 249 of them pay all the bills. Since the NCAA makes no money from football rights, it’s the basketball tournament that supplies the dough. Of those 249 schools in Division I basketball, 120 of them make up the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) and just 73 of those were in Automatic Qualifying conferences.  You can see how this is set up for failure with constant power struggles. (The AQ status goes away after the 2013 season.)

  2. DocJay

    The NCAA is crooked.  The schools are also more about results than ethics these days which seems to fit the times.

  3. The Great Adventure!

    The Miami case is a travesty but far from the most egregious NCAA transgression.  I was as disgusted as everyone else over the whole Jerry Sandusky scenario and the pathetic reaction by the University. But when the NCAA stepped in – not having performed any investigation at all – and slammed them with huge sanctions, I actually felt a lot of sympathy for the folks in football’s most boring uniforms.

    Then there is the 2 year old investigation of my beloved Oregon.  The whole Willie Lyles case kind of stinks; the Ducks probably did something they shouldn’t have.  But you know what?  At the time it happened, there were no rules in the NCAA rule book prohibiting it.  So let’s say that the street in front of your house has gotten steadily busier over the past couple of years and the city decides to lower the speed limit from 45 to 30.  Can they then go back through all of their traffic cam photos for the past 5 years and issue tickets to people who were going over 30 but under 45?  I don’t think so.

    Throw the bums out!

  4. Joseph Paquette

    NCAA reminds me of congress.  Those with power and access manage to get their own rules,  while those who want power are shut out by the process. 

  5. Rachel Lu
    C

    Interesting ideas. I hate the idea of divorcing college athletics from student life, and I think everyone will lose if college football effectively turns into a minor league with no pretense of the athletes being students. It’ll definitely be worse for the athletes (except for the superstars, who will always get great opportunities, but most athletes aren’t superstars and won’t benefit from a stark choice between pursuing their dreams of an athletic career and getting a more practical degree.) Fans will find the game less exciting when it isn’t significantly connected to their beloved alma mater, and as fan interest wanes, less money will be made. Lose lose lose.

    But the present arrangement is clearly unstable and promotes deception and corruption on multiple levels. Something like what you suggest might preserve much of what we want in college sports, but without all the lying and cheating.

  6. Jim Lakely

    One of the many things I love at Ricochet are the outstanding commenters, thanks all … and keep ‘em coming.

    Rachel: College athletics — at least big-time football and basketball — is already divorced from student life. Basketball players are “in season” from October through April — nearly the entire school year. They go on long road trips, especially for conference tournaments. Players in the Big East, or instance, could be away from campus for more time than they are on campus for 45 days if they make the finals of the conference tournament and then hit the road for the NCAAs.

    Basketball players see their tutors more than their professors, and do most of their work remotely. The nature of their “jobs” makes them about as separate from ordinary student life as you can get, and is similar for football players. Why not stop pretending they are real students, and make them employees who also go to school … even if it’s just part-time?

  7. thelonious
    Rachel Lu: Interesting ideas. I hate the idea of divorcing college athletics from student life, and I think everyone will lose if college football effectively turns into a minor league with no pretense of the athletes being students.  · 1 minute ago

    College athletics are divorced in a large part from student life with sports specific only dorms.  College football and basketball have always been a minor league for the pro leagues.  Does anybody really think most of the athletes that are recruited to their schools would be attending there school if they were regular students?  Let’s stop the pretense of thinking football and basketball players at major programs are just students and not money makers for their  universities.

  8. EJHill
    Jim Lakely:  Players in the Big East, or instance, could be away from campus for more time than they are on campus

    Then add to the mix the the game of conference musical chairs. The University of West Virginia basketball squad will put in 31,000 miles in the air this season after leaving the Big East for the Big 12.

    By the time the Big Ten expands to 14 schools there will be 1,283.8 miles between the school farthest east and that farthest west.

  9. Jim Lakely

    EJ, RE: Conference travel.

    I was going to mention that in my first comment, but it was already getting pretty long. Think about how absurd the Big East was going to become. Until the Big East started to completely fall apart, Boise State and San Diego State were going to be in the Big East for football.

    Distance between San Diego and Connecticut: 2,500 miles.

    Distance between Boise and Orlando (USF): 2,190 miles. 

    They since wised up — since the Big East is now essentially the old Conference USA and will certainly lose its automatic BCS status — and will join the Mountain West. As it is, SMU and TCU are going to join for all sports this fall, and Tulane will join for all sports in 2014. How absurd (and expensive) is it to fly whole teams of non-revenue sports from Texas and Louisiana to Philadelphia and Storrs, Connecticut?

    Separate out football. Create four regional mega-conferences. Let a school’s minor sports join leagues in their geographical area. Then split the huge windfall from a football playoff.

  10. Devereaux

    Your model is car racing.

    Amateur racing was and is controlled and sanctioned by the SCCA. No one seems to mind, and those competitors run fun racing against each other.

    Professional racing is separate, and run by separate sanctioning bodies. NASCAR has long held sway over stock car racing by keeping the owners and endorsers happy, as well as giving the fans the kind of racing they love. So – restrictor plates, limited air devices, engine limits, etc.

    Indy cars had problems with the sanctioning body being too arrogant, so they split – and formed their own. It has worked fine for a long time. USAC was unhappy, and has made some inroads toward reconciliation, but Indy cars are still on their own – and the owners are happy. Midget and other sprinters are still USAC or World of Outlaws.

    So I would suggest that when the money in the system gets tired of NCAA silliness, they will simply separate. It isn’t that hard to do, and doesn’t take that much work.  Most likely all will be better off.

  11. iDad

    “One of the great real sports journalists in America?” A great sports journalist wouldn’t act as shamefully and shamelessly as Feinstein has in connection with the false allegations against and persecution of the Duke lacrosse players. 

  12. Jim Lakely

    Interesting take, Devereaux. I’m not that familiar with the business of auto racing, or much of a fan. I respect the sport, but only really watch Daytona and the Indy 500 every year.

    You say that the CART-Indy car “split” has worked. I guess, from a close-watching fan’s perspective. But it sure looks like a bad idea from most other perspectives.

    When I was a kid, I was a bit higher than a casual open-wheel racing fan. And even casual observers knew that there were legends like Mears and Foyt and Rutherford and Johncock and Sneva and Rahal and Fittipaldi and the Unsers … man, the sport was filled with stars who were household names. I’m sorry to say, but I really stopped caring after the split. Buddy Lazier and Buddy Rice and Scott Dixon and Sam Hornish … it’s just not the same. Maybe I’m just an old fuddy duddy who thinks the Good Ol’ Days are always better.

    Wait a minute! I’m not a fuddy duddy. I want to dismantle the college football system. Onward and upward. :)

  13. das_motorhead

    And now with Rick Reilly saying Johnny Football should be allow to make a few bucks off his (nick)name:

    People, be fair. What would be wrong with Manziel getting a piece of the pie he baked himself? Let’s say he got a third of the profits of every product with his number on it — coffee mugs, hats, key chains, everything — with the money going into a trust account, to be given to him when he leaves school. And — get this, Aggie Fan — maybe he’d stay in school longer if he thinks that school isn’t ripping him off.

    The NCAA’s hypocrisy and manipulation only serves to teach its athletes the same.

  14. Joe M

    This is ridiculous.

    Anyone who would write a post like yours has never played collegiate athletics or spent any time around college athletes. There are over 100 NCAA division 1 college football teams. There are 80- 100 players on each team. The kids you speak of, who are only enrolled in school to enhance their NFL prospects, are a tiny minority. On a great team, one that is perpetually a top 25 ranked program, there are maybe 10 players who fit your criteria. The other 90 players are there to play when they can, get a free education, and move on with their lives.

    Conservatives hate to be stereotyped, so please stop perpetuating the one about the dumb jock.

  15. Mendel

    The simplest and intellectually most honest solution would be for schools with profit-generating football teams to spin them off into private, for-profit entities, charge fees for using the university’s name and facilities, and let the teams hire whomever they choose and pay them a market salary.

    But I doubt this would ever happen, because college sports are selling an illusion: that all-but-professional athletes are somehow still scholars in good standing.  Fans want to be sold a fantasy, and thus any solution to the scholar-athlete dilemma is going to be messy and unsatisfying.

  16. Jim Lakely
    das_motorhead: And now with Rick Reilly saying Johnny Football should be allow to make a few bucks off his (nick)name:

    People, be fair. What would be wrong with Manziel getting a piece of the pie he baked himself? Let’s say he got a third of the profits of every product with his number on it — coffee mugs, hats, key chains, everything — with the money going into a trust account, to be given to him when he leaves school. And — get this, Aggie Fan — maybe he’d stay in school longer if he thinks that school isn’t ripping him off.

    The NCAA’s hypocrisy and manipulation only serves to teach its athletes the same. · 35 minutes ago

    That’s a great idea by Reilly, too. More market incentives for kids to stay in school. Hell, if you gave all varsity players a small cut of US sales on gear — half now, half when you get your degree — that would pretty much cure a lot of graduation-rate issues. 

  17. Big Green
    Eric Jablow

    AAA baseball is meaningless because its competitions lack integrity. Teams are owned and operated for the sole purpose of feeding players to their major league affiliates. A team must relinquish players mid-season at another team’s need. Look at the history of theold AAA Baltimore Orioles and how it was forced to affiliate.

    Eric – I never said AAA baseball is meaningless…those are your words.  You make a good point here about AAA teams not controlling their destiny and the negative impact that has on fan interest.  However, plenty of people love the AAA game because of the very fact that they believe the players play harder and there is more integrity in the individual performances. 

    That said, if you don’t like my analogy with AAA baseball, insert the Continental Basketball Association instead.  None of those teams were affiliated with, or owned or operated by NBA teams.  Maybe that is a better analogy for you.  Point being, the fact that NCAA athletics are associated with specific schools and the student body (irrespective of matter of degree) plays a huge role in the value of it.

  18. Jim Lakely
    Mendel: The simplest and intellectually most honest solution would be for schools with profit-generating football teams to spin them off into private, for-profit entities, charge fees for using the university’s name and facilities, and let the teams hire whomever they choose and pay them a market salary. …

    That’s certainly creative. But I think you can find a happy medium between a full professional minor league and college tradition. It is important that these athletes are incentivized to take advantage of their scholarships. The athletes should be more than (literally) glorified part-time and short-term employees — especially since a very tiny percentage of these players will ever make the pros. 

    In the last 10 years, my Pitt Panthers have produced some of the best, most highly-ranked college basketball teams in the country. The resurgence of the program led to the construction of one of the best arenas in the nation. Yet of the scores of players who wore PITT on their shirts in that time, there are exactly three guys in the NBA — all of them part-time bench players. The rest are glad they have their degrees.

  19. Big Green
    EJHill

    Big Green Why is there so much more integrity in Division II sports when most of them provide some form of athletic scholarships of one form or another?  How do the provide scholarships yet maintain integrity?

    I hate to say this, primarily because that’s how I make my living, but bad things happen when the television trucks show up. · 8 hours ago

    EJ – Fair point, which I think has a lot of truth to it.

    We might have a “controlled” experiment on this TV truck idea though.  NBC Sports just renewed a contract with the Ivy League (officially no athletic scholarships) to televise one football and one basketball game each week.  Now all we need is some objective criteria to measure the amount of “bad things” that are happening.

  20. EJHill

    Make of this what you will, but of the Top 25 BCS schools (10/21/12 rankings) only three had graduation rates above 90% for their football programs: Notre Dame, Rutgers & Stanford.

    The average grad rate among the Top 25 programs was 69.2%.

    Source: USAToday

Want to comment on stories like these? Become a member today!

You'll have access to:

  • All Ricochet articles, posts and podcasts.
  • The conversation amongst our members.
  • The opportunity share your Ricochet experiences.

Join Today!

Already a Member? Sign In