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  1. #61

    Start with the Fundamentals

    Any argument about what should be done should first go back to the reason for athletics in colleges in the first place-- it was supposed to conform to the original Greek/Roman ideal of sound mind/sound body-- so any logic that uses the premise that it's OK for colleges to take in people who have no interest in training their minds for future careers (but only want to be professional athletes), should be tossed out immediately. If you don't want to learn anything of an academic nature while in college, then you don't belong in a traditional college-- go find a trade school somewhere, that focuses on training athletes for professional athletic careers (like circus clown school, or rodeo cowboy school, chef school, or some other physical profession-focused trade schools)-- Europe has plenty of these "gymnasiums" that are focused on training professional athletes... the US should never have let the academic environment be corrupted by people whose only interest was in pursuing big-time, professional athletics-- Europeans don't let those people pretend to be students at their universities, and neither should we.

    Having said this, it's clear that the NBA doesn't care about colleges or the NCAA (and nor should they-- that's not the NBA's concern)-- David Stern has made this abundantly clear. The NBA (in cahoots with its NBA Players Association), not the NCAA, is responsible for the age 19/one year beyond HS graduating class date eligibility requirement that has created the current "one-and-done" situation. The NCAA could do a number of things to make it harder for the NBA to do what it is currently doing:

    1) The NCAA should never tell a kid (even if he DOES hire an agent) that he can't come back to school, after staying in the draft, and even being drafted-- as long as he doesn't take any money from anyone, what difference does it make if a kid goes through the draft, and then comes back-- the NCAA is being stupid about this, and it is hurting their athletic product. A kid can be drafted out of HS by MLB, and it doesn't have the slightest effect on his college eligibility, if he doesn't sign-- why should it be any different for the NBA. If the NCAA really cares about agent contact (though I don't know why they care, as long as no money changes hands), then tell the kid that he must not communicate with the agent, once he comes back to school, and the whole thing should be fine.

    2) The NCAA should penalize schools that have kids leave early-- severely-- within the scope of the Academic Progress Report program (that is about to sanction UConn). This will disincentivize schools from taking kids who are likely to leave early-- let them go to trade schools, or the NBA D-League-- make the NBA pay for developing their own players, just as MLB does. And if this leads to the creation of some kind of minor league teams linked to AAU teams, and the best kids not playing in college (just as they do not in gymnastics, tennis, etc.), so be it-- that's not what college is for.

    3) Let colleges (maybe even push colleges to) sign scholarship contracts with kids out of HS that say, if you leave early before your 4 years are up, you cannot work in the professional athletic field related to the sport you came to college in, for a certain period-- just like professional people in things like broadcasting and investment banking have certain mandated periods in their contracts that prevent them from jumping from one competitor to another and working right away. This should be legal, if it's legal for other professions. The colleges should be able to sue, if a kid tries to break his contract, regarding competing employment as a professional athlete. The contract should even stipulate damages that would be high enough to consume whatever contract money the NBA pays to 1st Round lottery draft picks. (By the way, quid pro quo should apply-- athletic scholarships should be 4-years guaranteed-- none of this renewal year-by-year, that colleges get away with now.)

    The bottom line is that Bilas, smart as he is, is full of BS on this issue-- nobody holds a gun to any kid's head, and makes him sign a college scholarship offer-- if you want to sign the contract, then you agree to the terms of the contract of that organization (the college) and its governing body (the NCAA)-- if you don't like it, then don't sign up. The colleges, if they really believe that bringing kids in to college to play intercollegiate sports is good for these kids (because the kids get an education as a by-product of the process), need to start walking the talk on academic education, and ensuring that some academic educating actually gets done-- the colleges need to take responsibility for their own outcomes in this environment, and start imposing their will on this situation, in the places that the colleges can actually influence-- and stop pretending like they are helpless victims in this situation... the sooner that colleges get kids who are professional athletes ONLY out of their institutions, the better it will be for all who remain at the colleges.

  2. #62
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    I'm of a similar mindset as Mudge, although I'm not totally sold on point #3. Colleges are in fact serving as a minor league for the NBA and so many of these kids just don't belong there. Only a small percentage of the general American population goes to college (maybe 20%? 30%?) yet we expect 100% of basketball players to go there. How is it fair to expect that 100% of the people who want to play basketball for a living are eligible, able, and willing to attend an institute of higher learning? And I know some people will say that the purpose of college is to prepare someone for a job, and colleges are preparing these guys for the NBA, but if that's the case then why even make them go to class at all? Why not have "professional basketball player" be a major where all you do is practice? If I'm going to become a doctor or lawyer, I go to school to gain the knowledge and skills required to do these things. Yet we're taking people who want to become basketball players and putting them in programs that have no relevance to them just so that they can stay eligible to play. (Note that I'm talking about typical one-and-done type players here, not ALL b-ball players).

    So IMO the solution to this problem from the NCAA's perspective is to institute stricter admissions and eligibility requirements. Have a rule that an incoming player has to meet academic standards that are within a certain percentile of the school's general student population. Require them to take a full courseload and to maintain more than just a passing GPA. If a player can't meet these requirements, then he doesn't belong in school in the first place and certainly doesn't deserve to be given a scholarship. This would bring some integrity to college sports and make it so that "student athlete" is no longer an oxymoron.

  3. #63
    Quote Originally Posted by MaxAMillion View Post
    I have no problem with athletes leaving school early for the pros. Baseball, Tennis, and Golf players all leave for the pros if they think they are ready. I see no reason to stay in school if you hae a chance to make millions playing sports. I know I would leave early.
    No doubt. Check your handle.

  4. #64
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    A Different View

    Quote Originally Posted by Mudge View Post
    Any argument about what should be done should first go back to the reason for athletics in colleges in the first place-- it was supposed to conform to the original Greek/Roman ideal of sound mind/sound body-- so any logic that uses the premise that it's OK for colleges to take in people who have no interest in training their minds for future careers (but only want to be professional athletes), should be tossed out immediately. If you don't want to learn anything of an academic nature while in college, then you don't belong in a traditional college-- go find a trade school somewhere, that focuses on training athletes for professional athletic careers (like circus clown school, or rodeo cowboy school, chef school, or some other physical profession-focused trade schools)-- Europe has plenty of these "gymnasiums" that are focused on training professional athletes... the US should never have let the academic environment be corrupted by people whose only interest was in pursuing big-time, professional athletics-- Europeans don't let those people pretend to be students at their universities, and neither should we.

    Having said this, it's clear that the NBA doesn't care about colleges or the NCAA (and nor should they-- that's not the NBA's concern)-- David Stern has made this abundantly clear. The NBA (in cahoots with its NBA Players Association), not the NCAA, is responsible for the age 19/one year beyond HS graduating class date eligibility requirement that has created the current "one-and-done" situation. The NCAA could do a number of things to make it harder for the NBA to do what it is currently doing:

    1) The NCAA should never tell a kid (even if he DOES hire an agent) that he can't come back to school, after staying in the draft, and even being drafted-- as long as he doesn't take any money from anyone, what difference does it make if a kid goes through the draft, and then comes back-- the NCAA is being stupid about this, and it is hurting their athletic product. A kid can be drafted out of HS by MLB, and it doesn't have the slightest effect on his college eligibility, if he doesn't sign-- why should it be any different for the NBA. If the NCAA really cares about agent contact (though I don't know why they care, as long as no money changes hands), then tell the kid that he must not communicate with the agent, once he comes back to school, and the whole thing should be fine.

    2) The NCAA should penalize schools that have kids leave early-- severely-- within the scope of the Academic Progress Report program (that is about to sanction UConn). This will disincentivize schools from taking kids who are likely to leave early-- let them go to trade schools, or the NBA D-League-- make the NBA pay for developing their own players, just as MLB does. And if this leads to the creation of some kind of minor league teams linked to AAU teams, and the best kids not playing in college (just as they do not in gymnastics, tennis, etc.), so be it-- that's not what college is for.

    3) Let colleges (maybe even push colleges to) sign scholarship contracts with kids out of HS that say, if you leave early before your 4 years are up, you cannot work in the professional athletic field related to the sport you came to college in, for a certain period-- just like professional people in things like broadcasting and investment banking have certain mandated periods in their contracts that prevent them from jumping from one competitor to another and working right away. This should be legal, if it's legal for other professions. The colleges should be able to sue, if a kid tries to break his contract, regarding competing employment as a professional athlete. The contract should even stipulate damages that would be high enough to consume whatever contract money the NBA pays to 1st Round lottery draft picks. (By the way, quid pro quo should apply-- athletic scholarships should be 4-years guaranteed-- none of this renewal year-by-year, that colleges get away with now.)

    The bottom line is that Bilas, smart as he is, is full of BS on this issue-- nobody holds a gun to any kid's head, and makes him sign a college scholarship offer-- if you want to sign the contract, then you agree to the terms of the contract of that organization (the college) and its governing body (the NCAA)-- if you don't like it, then don't sign up. The colleges, if they really believe that bringing kids in to college to play intercollegiate sports is good for these kids (because the kids get an education as a by-product of the process), need to start walking the talk on academic education, and ensuring that some academic educating actually gets done-- the colleges need to take responsibility for their own outcomes in this environment, and start imposing their will on this situation, in the places that the colleges can actually influence-- and stop pretending like they are helpless victims in this situation... the sooner that colleges get kids who are professional athletes ONLY out of their institutions, the better it will be for all who remain at the colleges.
    I appreciate the effort that went into this well-reasoned post. I have a few comments that go in a different direction.

    The NCAA is the governing body for a multi-billion dollar enterprise. There are two labor inputs, coaches and athletes. The NCAA sets the terms under which athletes are eligible to compete. In an economics sense, it is a monopolist of the highest order (OK, monopsonist (single buyer)). Athletes receive something of value in terms of an enriched academic, social and athletic experience. Even athletes that learned very little in the classroom cherish their college experience.

    When Bilas rages against the terms of the contract that athletes sign, he is right in doing so because the athletes have no alternative choices under the NCAA monopoly. Unfair exercise of monopoly power is prevented in other industries, and Jay is arguing that certain provisions of the "contract" are unfair and should be changed.

    With respect to the NCAA tightening the rules even further, such as the introduction of "non-compete agreements" that prevent scholarship recipients from working in the competing professional leagues for four years -- well -- there are a host of problems. First the "collegiate model" is a house of cards that may come tumbling down any time soon. This would add yet another story or layer to a shaky structure. Second, it is blatantly unfair to prevent a young man (or woman) who can earn millions as an athlete from doing so. The explosions from doing so would likely destroy the house of cards, with Congress leading the way.

    With respect to the reasons for athletics in college in the first place: you have expressed an ideal, but that is not where athletics stand in the US in the public eye. Americans love big-time college athletics. College sports are a multi-billion dollar enterprise, as I said, and it is certain to remain one. It would arguably be better to have a different model, and you are free to argue for it, but I don't see anything in the winds that suggest that college sports will radically change, except maybe to become more professional, in the direction that Jay Bilas argues.

    sagegrouse

  5. #65
    Quote Originally Posted by Wander View Post
    College athletes get a free education, lots of free clothing, free food, free housing, free networking for jobs if they don't make it in the NBA or NFL or whatever, lots of free travel, and perhaps most relevantly free exposure to the professional leagues. To say nothing of the intangible social benefits.
    None of those things are free to the athletes. They are received in exchange for work. And the athletes have essentially zero ability to negotiate this compensation package.

  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by FellowTraveler View Post
    None of those things are free to the athletes. They are received in exchange for work. And the athletes have essentially zero ability to negotiate this compensation package.
    Scholarships aren't jobs.

  7. #67
    Quote Originally Posted by Wander View Post
    Scholarships aren't jobs.
    If Rasheed Sulaimon were to decide to never show up for a practice, a team meeting, a game, an autograph-signing session, team photos, or anything else having to do with Duke Basketball, will he continue to receive your list of "free" benefits? If not, you can call it -- or refuse to call it -- what you like, but they aren't "free."

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by FellowTraveler View Post
    If Rasheed Sulaimon were to decide to never show up for a practice, a team meeting, a game, an autograph-signing session, team photos, or anything else having to do with Duke Basketball, will he continue to receive your list of "free" benefits? If not, you can call it -- or refuse to call it -- what you like, but they aren't "free."
    You're right, they do work hard, and probably harder than the average student. I didn't mean to imply otherwise. My exception to calling it a job had to do with your other statement - that athletes are owed more negotiating power in their agreement.

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by FellowTraveler View Post
    If Rasheed Sulaimon were to decide to never show up for a practice, a team meeting, a game, an autograph-signing session, team photos, or anything else having to do with Duke Basketball, will he continue to receive your list of "free" benefits? If not, you can call it -- or refuse to call it -- what you like, but they aren't "free."
    He would for that year. However, he probably wouldn't be given another one year scholarship the following year. I know of a couple people who got sports-related academic scholarships, which are guaranteed for four years and quit playing their sports freshman year, but continued to receive the scholarship for all four years.

    I know this is a thread about one-and-dones so I don't want to stray too far off topic, but now that we've sort of diverged to what benefits student-athletes should be able to get, I think that if you're going to restrict what they can do to earn more money during school (explicitly through amateurism rules, or implicitly through time commitment), then schools should be allowed to offer something closer to the true cost of attendance. Yes, they get free food, athletic apparel, room, board, etc., which is better than nothing, but it doesn't cover a lot of things that many non-athletes would consider necessary expenses. This might be what the schools were looking to do by allowing stipends to be included in part of the scholarship. I'm not saying that the NCAA should let schools pay the athletes anything close to what they bring in for their respective schools, but they should at least get something to buy some clothes that don't have the team sponsor's logo or to have a few nights out with their friends, or god forbid a meal paid for with something other than food points.

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by dcdevil2009 View Post
    I'm not saying that the NCAA should let schools pay the athletes anything close to what they bring in for their respective schools, but they should at least get something to buy some clothes that don't have the team sponsor's logo or to have a few nights out with their friends, or god forbid a meal paid for with something other than food points.
    This sounds fine in theory, but I think you may be trying to address a problem that doesn't actually exist.

  11. #71
    Quote Originally Posted by Wander View Post
    You're right, they do work hard, and probably harder than the average student. I didn't mean to imply otherwise. My exception to calling it a job had to do with your other statement - that athletes are owed more negotiating power in their agreement.
    Really? My first job, I had all the negotiating power of "take it or leave it". I would imagine most people who are trying to break into their profession of choice have to jump through all sorts of hoops without getting a whole lot in return. A year out of high school (in which you have full control over where you go, get your cost of living covered, and essentially intern at your chosen profession) is a pretty light barrier to entry for a multimillion dollar job.

  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wander View Post
    This sounds fine in theory, but I think you may be trying to address a problem that doesn't actually exist.
    I'm not trying to say that college athletes aren't able to afford stuff like this across the board, and correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't a lot of the problems surrounding agents and boosters giving impermissible benefits tied to small ticket items like free meals or a couple hundred dollars here and there? Sure, there are scandals like the Reggie Bush and Chris Webber cases, but those are the outliers involving hundreds of thousands of dollars going to a few players. Those were huge stories, but stories like this one come out where Frank Martin admits to paying his former high school players to cover their expenses in college and no one thinks twice. It might night be a problem for a lot of players, but for the ones who are coming from tough situations, a couple thousand dollars of expenses beyond what is covered by scholarship can be a huge burden.

  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by turnandburn55 View Post
    Really? My first job, I had all the negotiating power of "take it or leave it". I would imagine most people who are trying to break into their profession of choice have to jump through all sorts of hoops without getting a whole lot in return. A year out of high school (in which you have full control over where you go, get your cost of living covered, and essentially intern at your chosen profession) is a pretty light barrier to entry for a multimillion dollar job.
    No, I agree with you - the other poster seemed to implying that athletes don't have enough negotiating power, a proposition I find absurd.

    Quote Originally Posted by dcdevil2009 View Post
    Those were huge stories, but stories like this one come out where Frank Martin admits to paying his former high school players to cover their expenses in college and no one thinks twice. It might night be a problem for a lot of players, but for the ones who are coming from tough situations, a couple thousand dollars of expenses beyond what is covered by scholarship can be a huge burden.
    I don't mean to sound unreasonable. I don't have a problem with a small need-based stipend to students, athlete or not. My understanding was just that the whole "athlete doesn't have any money to go see a movie with his friends once a month" thing is incredibly overblown - not because the kids don't often come from impoverished backgrounds, but because colleges already effectively provide for this kind of thing a lot of the time. In those cases where it really is an issue, that sounds fine.

  14. #74
    Not to further derail this thread, but Duke is insanely generous with the perks it provides its student-athletes. Basketball players have enough food points that they could basically order pizza from Papa John's for 20 people and get it delivered every day if they wanted (although other sports aren't as generous as basketball/football in the food category; I recall non-scholarship fencers get like $12 max for dinner, for example). Obviously, there's only so much food you can eat...They also stayed in a $2000/night hotel on a trip that cost something like $30,000/player this summer (privately funded, I believe). I'm not saying they don't deserve it, though, and perhaps other schools aren't as generous as Duke. But I certainly don't feel bad for Duke athletes when it comes to compensation. Duke basketball players have no necessary expenses whatsoever. Obviously, reasonable minds can differ on this contentious topic, though.

  15. #75
    I have always said that the NBA should cap Rookie and second year players and make them earn their big salaries in their third years. It would help the NBA teams save money and save face and might make some kids stay in school a little longer knowing they aren't getting that big payday any time soon. Plus this way a bust stays a bust.

  16. #76
    Quote Originally Posted by wsb3 View Post
    Three years should get someone pretty close to a degree and even if they left hopefully many would want to obtain their degree. Also and I don't know that it has anything to do with this but I wonder if baseball went with the 3 years because it in most cases it would coincide with being age 21. I don't know that we will ever see it but I would love it if we followed the baseball rule. I think it is the most we could ever hope for but what may happen next is they have to stay two years. That seems to be the one rule change that is mentioned most. Regardless if they have no interest in going to school and are good enough go straight to the NBA.

    One and done also creates a hired gun where some kids have zero interest in school and just try to stay eligible. Not at Duke which add that to the list of things I love about Duke.
    The three year thing with baseball is in place partly because of the timing of the college and pro seasons vs. each other. NBA draft occurs during the offseason for both college and NBA teams. Baseball's draft happens during the MLB season, but out of season for HS and college baseball.

  17. #77
    Quote Originally Posted by Wander View Post
    No, I agree with you - the other poster seemed to implying that athletes don't have enough negotiating power, a proposition I find absurd.
    Mostly I was implying that it's absurd to describe as "free" things that are clearly and explicitly given in exchange for labor rather than, you know ... for free. As a secondary point, I was adding that in this case, labor has essentially no negotiating rights or power. You may think that doesn't matter because the NCAA chooses to compensate athletes in a way you find adequate, but that doesn't mean athletes really have any "negotiating power."

  18. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wander View Post
    I don't mean to sound unreasonable. I don't have a problem with a small need-based stipend to students, athlete or not. My understanding was just that the whole "athlete doesn't have any money to go see a movie with his friends once a month" thing is incredibly overblown - not because the kids don't often come from impoverished backgrounds, but because colleges already effectively provide for this kind of thing a lot of the time. In those cases where it really is an issue, that sounds fine.
    Obviously, me saying that "the athlete doesn't have any money to go see a movie with his friends once a month" is an oversimplification, but I disagree with your proposition that colleges effectively provide for this kind of thing a lot of the time. True, Duke basketball players get close to unlimited food points and they screen movies in the Bryan Center fairly often, but I wouldn't call that an effective replacement for the seeing a movie in an actual theater or the cost of dinner at a nice restaurant once in a while, something most college kids would consider a reasonable expense every now and then. I'm not necessarily advocating for paying players, just for increasing the scholarship limits to the true cost of attendance. Sometimes a school can provide that in ways other than a stipend, and in those situations, I would have no problem with the school doing so.

  19. #79
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    The Legal and the Economic

    Quote Originally Posted by Wander View Post
    No, I agree with you - the other poster seemed to implying that athletes don't have enough negotiating power, a proposition I find absurd.
    Athletes offered a full scholarship have the terms dictated by NCAA rules. The Bilas position is that athlete's should have the right to earnings based on their own likenesses and images (jersey sales, for example). So, the most famous college athletes get nothing for jersey sales while the institutions get millions. That's the "collegiate model" propounded by the NCAA. I don't think it's "absurd" to say that athletes deserve better.

    Quote Originally Posted by FellowTraveler View Post
    Mostly I was implying that it's absurd to describe as "free" things that are clearly and explicitly given in exchange for labor rather than, you know ... for free. As a secondary point, I was adding that in this case, labor has essentially no negotiating rights or power. You may think that doesn't matter because the NCAA chooses to compensate athletes in a way you find adequate, but that doesn't mean athletes really have any "negotiating power."
    There are two kinds of definitions -- economic and legal.

    In economic terms the athletes are given scholarships in return for their services to the university athletic program. The scholarships are clearly a form of compensation for these services, even if the athletes in other circumstances would be willing to play for nothing.

    In legal terms, scholarships are not taxable income or earnings, and the relationship between the athlete and the university is not considered an employment relationship. Thus, the universities are spared many things, including the full application of federal and state labor laws, like OSHA.

    Nevertheless, we have a market where hundreds of universities are competing for thousands of athletes in different sports under economic and other terms dictated by the NCAA. Thus, the universities compete on non-compensation matters -- quality of academics (value of scholarship), coaching, likelihood of winning championships, facilities, publicity (TV appearances) affecting future earnings, degree of preparation for pro careers, social life on campus, etc., etc.

    sagegrouse

  20. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by dcdevil2009 View Post
    Obviously, me saying that "the athlete doesn't have any money to go see a movie with his friends once a month" is an oversimplification, but I disagree with your proposition that colleges effectively provide for this kind of thing a lot of the time. True, Duke basketball players get close to unlimited food points and they screen movies in the Bryan Center fairly often, but I wouldn't call that an effective replacement for the seeing a movie in an actual theater or the cost of dinner at a nice restaurant once in a while, something most college kids would consider a reasonable expense every now and then. I'm not necessarily advocating for paying players, just for increasing the scholarship limits to the true cost of attendance. Sometimes a school can provide that in ways other than a stipend, and in those situations, I would have no problem with the school doing so.
    I completely agree. What I was referring to in my "effectively provide" comment was not food points or Bryan Center movies but players literally and legally receiving actual money.

    Quote Originally Posted by FellowTraveler View Post
    Mostly I was implying that it's absurd to describe as "free" things that are clearly and explicitly given in exchange for labor rather than, you know ... for free. As a secondary point, I was adding that in this case, labor has essentially no negotiating rights or power. You may think that doesn't matter because the NCAA chooses to compensate athletes in a way you find adequate, but that doesn't mean athletes really have any "negotiating power."
    I sometimes mention to friends that I get "free travel" to go to conferences or meetings in grad school. Everyone I've ever said that to understands that such "free" travel is of course conditional on me actually continuing to work toward my degree without me explicitly having to spell it out. It's just semantics and maybe I shouldn't use that word in this discussion, but it doesn't change the overall point. Athletes work really hard and they get a lot in return.

    And I agree that college athletes don't have much negotiating power. And that's no moral outrage. I didn't when I applied to grad school (or Duke for undergrad, for that matter), turnandburn55 didn't in his first job, and any number of other people didn't when they were starting out their careers or education.

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