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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Athletes press NCAA for reform

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More than 300 major-college football and men’s basketball players are telling the NCAA and college presidents they want a cut of ever-increasing TV sports revenue to fatten scholarships and cover all the costs of getting a degree, with athletes picking up still more grant money when they graduate.

The players from Arizona, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Purdue and UCLA have signed a petition asking the NCAA to “realize its mission to educate and protect us with integrity.” The National College Players Association, an athletes’ advocacy group, provided The Associated Press with copies of the document for release Monday. Players started sending the petition to the NCAA last week.

The document urges the NCAA and college presidents to set aside an unspecified amount of money from what it estimates is $775 million in recently acquired TV revenues in an “educational lock box” for football and men’s basketball players. Players could tap those funds to help cover educational costs if they exhaust their athletic eligibility before they graduate. And they could receive what’s left of the money allocated to them with no strings attached upon graduating — a step that would undoubtedly be seen by some as professionalizing college sports.

The issue of whether to pay college athletes has been getting increased attention at a time when athletic programs from Miami to Ohio State have endured a series of scandals involving impermissible benefits to players. At the same time, athletic conferences have made lucrative, new television deals.

The NCAA opposes paying athletes, but players whose talents enable colleges and coaches to reap millions have been largely silent in the debate until now.

“I really want to voice my opinions,” said Georgia Tech defensive end Denzel McCoy, a red-shirt freshman. “The things we go through, the hours we put in, what our bodies go through, we deserve some sort of (results). College football is a billion dollar industry.”

McCoy was one of 55 Yellow Jackets who signed the NCPA petition for “education, integrity and basic protections.” He had little difficulty convincing the other players to take a public stance.

“They signed it with ease,” McCoy said.

At UCLA, Bruins kicker and NFL prospect Jeff Locke enlisted 70 football players and 17 men’s basketball players — the entire roster— to sign the petition.

Locke, who like McCoy is a member of an NCPA council of active players that advises the group, emphasized that he does not see the locked box idea as paying players — the money would only go to players after their collegiate athletic careers were over; there would be no salary. The players did not put a dollar figure on what they want for the locked-box grants.

The idea is opposed by NCAA President Mark Emmert and others who cite the amateurism ideal as the backbone of college sports. Locke, however, is adamant that players must also benefit from the skyrocketing profits schools now see from renegotiated television deals, noting the Pac-12’s joint 12-year agreement with ESPN and Fox is worth $3 billion, the richest in college sports.

The petition drive comes as the NCAA Division I Board of Directors meets later this week in Indianapolis. Among the discussion topics is a proposal to allow conferences to increase the value of athletic scholarships, reducing the gap between those awards and the actual cost of going to school.

A 2010 study by Ithaca College researchers and the players’ association found that the average Division I athlete on a “full scholarship” winds up having to pay $2,951 annually in school-related expenses not covered by grants-in-aid. The shortfall represents the difference between educational expenses such as tuition, student fees, room and board and other costs not covered by scholarships, from campus parking fees to calculators and computer disks required for classes.

On Monday, Emmert told the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics in Washington that he will recommend an increase of up to $2,000 to cover the scholarship shortfall. The NCPA petition urges a $3,200 increase and a mandatory effort, not optional as Emmert suggests.

In a written statement, NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said the NCAA “redirects nearly all of its revenue to support student-athletes.”

Comments

mojayhawk 6 years ago

The NCAA needs to be really careful how they handle this issue. I am all for beefing up the scholarships to reduce out of pocket actual costs, but if they start paying student athletes, the roof will cave in on amateurism. There would be unbridled competition between schools and the bidding wars would get out of hand very very quickly. Student athletes don't "deserve" to be paid for the game they love, outside their scholarship. They have the privilege of a free education, and the privilege of playing the sport they love for a few more years.

EverRisingHawk 6 years ago

"NCAA President Mike Emmert and others cite the amateurism ideal as the backbone of college sports." Big surprise. Was it the amateur ideal that propelled them into their positions as the gatekeepers of a multi million dollar industry, an industry they laughably claim is unadulterated by greed or profit? Bowl games have been renamed after corporations traded on the New York Stock Exchange. As sad as the above-mentioned bidding wars would make me, and as much as they would take from the romance of college sports, they are already happening behind closed doors; all too often, student players pay the price. College athletes are adults with marketable skills. Who prevents a journalism major from accepting a paid internship at a local newspaper, or a Spanish student from offering paid lessons? NCAA administrators, broadcasters and analysts have co-opted the talents and efforts of thousands of athletes for their personal enrichment. Nevertheless, they are debating whether or not to close the gap between an 18 year old's educational costs and his scholarship? Give me a break.

bradh 6 years ago

I agree with Moj, an athlete's full cost of education needs to be covered. I've never thought the athlete's should be paid over and above that, but this conference realignment mess has made me reconsider. If we're breaking up conferences for an extra $ here or there, with no regard to the student athletes, why shouldn't the athlete get a piece of the $ they are earning. Naturally the non-money making sports will need to be canceled as they aren't making us any money and the money used to fund those programs are taken from the money earned by the money producers. You can't use the same money to fund a pot for the money producers and the leeches. If you don't make us any money you're canceled. I'd also expect that under this system that no tax dollars would go into the sports budget. Most schools will now only have a football team, maybe keep the basketball team so you have a shot to make some $ in the NCAA tournament? Or maybe you'll just have 20 or so schools with a basketball team and you can create a basketball conference. Shoot, even basketball can make pretty good money if Duke, NC, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Kentucky, KU, and UCLA are the only teams left.

It looks like it is time to reconsider college athletics and base all decisions on $. No women's sports and only football and occasionally basketball as college sponsored sports. It should really improve the intramural sports programs and end amateur athletics. Most of this post was tongue in cheek, but it does seem to be the direction college sports are heading.

vd 6 years ago

If after 4 years of playing college FB or BB, you do not have a degree, the ncaa should allow the schools to give you a scholly to continue your education. Parameters should be established to prevent "professional" students. They should open it up to former student athletes, and include the pursuit of graduate degrees.

63Jayhawk 6 years ago

I believe the best thing for college athletics would be the dropping of all sports "scholarships". Let those who wish to play for pay find a professional league to pay them. Put colleges back where they are supposed to be, educational institutions. I, for one, am thoroughly discouraged with the drive for more money in "amateur" athletics such as we've been seeing with conference realignment (more, more, more, MONEY).
If the athletic departments of "schools" continue to seek more revenue, it is not surprising that the athletes begin to think, "why shouldn't I do the same?"

Drop collegiate sports or put a fixed, uniform cap on the amount that can be spent by every NCAA member school!

Sam Constance 6 years ago

The only thing that makes me more irritated about college sports than conference realignment is the idea of paying student athletes.

This idea that athletes deserved to be paid because money is made from people's interest in their sports is flawed on it's face. There is no rule that says you have a right to be paid a given percentage/proportion of revenue that your actions may or may not contribute to generating.

Ever heard of interns? They work in "billion-dollar industries" (like tech) and get paid in peanuts, all because of the OPPORTUNITY working for a given company presents them. And it's not like college athletes aren't compensated--I guess I could be persuaded to make sure student athletes are receiving enough to fully cover their education, but I feel like that's nothing more than a clever loophole. College educations are worth thousands of dollars, and a lot of these athletes wouldn't be able to attend school without the athletic scholarship programs.

Furthermore, an issue that doesn't really get talked about: if athletes want to be fairly compensated for their role in this enormous revenue generator, then it seems only fair to perform an in-depth analysis of what proportion of the revenue they actually directly contribute. Because it seems to me that an industry where the athletes shuffle out on a 3-4 year basis (or less in basketball), the primary driver of revenue generation is the SCHOOL brands, not the athletes. People love college sports, and the players by association with their favorite school. It's much, much rarer to have fans of individual athletes in college athletics than in professional sports.

Sam Constance 6 years ago

(continued)

It would be like developers at Apple writing a letter demanding more money due to Apple's success. Yes, the developers are integral to Apple's success, and Apple could not succeed without them, but ultimately, it's Apple's leadership and strategic objectives and goals that make them Apple with a capital "A". Every tech company has developers. Not every tech company is Apple.

These athletes are jumping into an established system into which many parties have already poured in billions and billions of investment, get the benefit of a free education, then stand up an demand compensation? If they can find a better deal, I encourage them to skip college and go take that deal.

One final thing that should also be mentioned--I think these athletes often forget (because of the frenzy and adoration that fans shower them with--that they are essentially still in training. Aside from the tangible college degree that they receive, every moment they spend perfecting their craft (sport) is spent with tons of highly trained teachers, instructors, coaches (KU football notwithstanding). Not to mention the fact that any athlete at a school that could be said to generate billions, is also providing them with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.

Athletes are compensated more than fairly, and in so many different ways. I'm quite incapable of feeling one iota of sympathy for these "poor" athletes.

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