If Anthony Davis and Marcus Teague and Michael-Kidd Gilchrist were to decide not to accept scholarships from the University of Kentucky but instead to rent out a basketball arena and charge the public money in exchange for displaying their basketball skills, they are free to do that.
The notion that there should be some sort of legal remedy on behalf of these basketball-playing individuals that should override the terms and conditions offered by the universities to persons considering accepting scholarships from them has no basis in any claim of "monopoly" power.
The market, properly defined, is the entire market for the display of basketball skills. There is a whole world of opportunities for someone to obtain compensation for their basketball-playing abilities beyond the NCAA and beyond the NBA. Nothing prevents any group of basketball players from forming their own league and charging admission, for example.
The reality is that what we would see if Davis and Teague and Gilchrist did that is little interest on the part of the public. In fact, they simply don't in fact bring to the table as much as what people who claim they are being unfairly oppressed by monopoly power argue they bring to the table, and that would be readily apparent if they went out into the market and offered their basketball services directly.
One could argue that the universities should not be allowed to collude on the terms and conditions of athletic scholarships through the mechanism of the NCAA (or otherwise), but that is a different argument entirely than the claim of abuse of monopoly power.
There is always the option to play overseas.
The issue is that there is a case on the basis of fairness and equity to be more generous to athletes. That is what Bilas is saying, and I responded to the declaration that his position was "absurd." I am uncertain of where I come down, in that I like the stability in the current model and wonder whether certain athletes getting larger benefits would disadvantage my favorite team or the quality of competition. But I think it is a legitimate question.
Now, I encourage you to get away from your other argument, that a few individual players can go out create a team, rent an arena and charge admission. And whom would they play against? And, by the way, there are things like long-term TV contracts. This argument is perilously close to saying that if you don't like the deal given by a monopolist like Microsoft used to be, go write your own code. The fact is, institutions matter, leagues matter, and the power vested in individual actors in the big-time athletics market is vanishingly small. Now, similar advice to a group like the Players Association is more reasonable, in that the players could form their own league and that had some bearing on the negotiations last year, I expect.
Hasn't the paying players thing been beaten to death already this season?
things to do this weekend:
1) watch duke
2) chip in to iron dukes for the average cost of one cleaning bill for "gatorade stain removal"
As far as I understand from reading these posts, the APR with respect to graduation rates does not count a player that goes professional, and also does not count for players in good academic standing to transfer and maintain good academic standing. As such, places like Kentucky can continue forever with their "model".
I suggest that ONLY if a player in good academic standing transfers AND maintains good academic standing AND graduates, then he does not count in the APR for ANY the school. But, then, if the player leaves the transferred school to go pro, he count against all of the schools APR.
So... a player in good academic standing transfers, goes to another school, maintains good academic standing and graduates... neither school gets dinged.
Another player, in good academic standing transfers to another school, maintains good academic standing, but goes pro before graduating... both schools get dinged. The first for recruiting a one-and-done, and the second one too.
Another player, in good academic standing, decides to go pro. The school gets dinged.
I think this will not perpetuate the Kentucky model.
So, schools like Duke will be very selective in recruiting... and in maintaining "relationships" to keep the player on the team, or at least, in good academic standing, where ever he goes. Thus, the "student" part of student-athlete.
If schools such as Kentucky ignores this, eventually, they lose all scholarships, and must rely on players "paying their own way" for the one or two years of pre-NBA development, rather than the "student-athlete". What does the player do if he has absolutely no interest in the "student" part? Well... NBDL, Europe, Asia, Australia...
Bpttom line... any player that doesn't maintain academic standing for the years (4) that he is eligible... that player counts against the APR for the school. I just don't like the "going pro is OK" part of the APR... although, I think the reason for that is the player is not just dropping out of school, but actually starting a career.
Last edited by gep; 04-03-2012 at 12:43 AM.
People who choose not to play under the terms of an NCAA basketball scholarship have other options available to them to sell their basketball skills. There are professional leagues all over the world where these athletes can play. They can wait a year and go to the NBA if they are good enough.
It is not properly the burden of university presidents to have to rearrange how they structure their scholarship athletic programs to satisfy absurd claims that they are oppressing talented high school athletes.
If the NCAA were to attempt to use its claimed "market power" to remove other avenues high school athletes might choose to pursue to exploit their basketball skills, such as trying to shut down European leagues or prevent others from forming new professional leagues (if there were any such efforts), then maybe there might be some strained parallel that would make mentioning Microsoft relevant.
But the real point, as I mentioned before, is that the high value that you seem to perceive these high schoolers as having in an economic sense, they don't really have. If they did, then market actors in our free economy would be creating other opportunities for them to realize these values in the market.
The vast majority of the economic value in these circumstances is that created by the institutions and their students, alumni and supporters.
For example, if the NBA were to decide to accept all high schoolers who would like to turn pro and have the necessary talent, the economics of college basketball would change very little, even though the level of basketball skill would be a bit lower, at least at the highest level. This is because what is driving the value is not where in the gradient of basketball skill the level of play happens to fall, but rather the rivalry and enjoyment of athletic competition among the schools. If Austin Rivers and Harrison Barnes had never gone to Duke and Carolina, respectively, but instead became professional players, the teams would field players slightly less able but the emotions and support and competition (and the economic value of the college basketball product) would not be significantly different.
Agreed.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.
Take it a step further: who cares whether they get drafted, or money changes hands, or a long-term contract is signed? Let the commercial entities bear that risk! It's of no concern to the NCAA, aside from a desire to micromanage their little nonprofit cartel. To the extent it brings additional $$ into the ecosystem, that's less money universities need to spend out of their own pocket (ultimately driving up student tuitions at institutions where athletics run a loss, which I understand is most of them).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.
For example, it's common for NBA teams to draft up-and-coming Euro players, who then elect to stay in their native country another year or two. The NBA gets the players' intraleague rights / upside, while they get the chance to hone their skills in a more familiar environment (with better quality of life than they'd get on a typical cycle of week-to-week contracts & waivers). Why can't this system apply equally to semi-pro athletes in the U.S.?
I agree we have a rather unwieldy arrangement between semi-pro athletics and college education in this country, but I don't see how the "amateur" provisions help matters in the slightest. At best, they let the NCAA consolidate its monopoly power and extract an unusually high % of its labor market value. Just can't see why you'd consider that laudable, or even acceptable. Meanwhile, the resources they waste making sure an agent didn't buy dinner for some kid are resources that could be spent enhancing & enforcing academic standards -- you know, the whole point of this unholy marriage.
I don't mind the speculation about independently-funded minor leagues, but the comments about paying for development make no sense. If universities aren't getting more value from elite athletes' presence than they give away in scholarships & perks, then they shouldn't be offering them in the first place. Put another way, if you're viewing the basketball program as a cost center that unfairly benefits the NBA, then a player like Battier or JJ is far worse for Duke than Maggette or Irving, sucking up 4X more of Coach K's (extremely expensive!) development staff time.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.
In reality, everything on campus short of the Bursar is a cost center. It's up to universities to allocate their resources in accordance with their educational mission. Either you believe athletics are intrinsicly educational, i.e. deserving of subsidy, or you must be willing to slash it until its marginal revenue (including goodwill, etc) == marginal cost. Proposal #2 is inconsistent with both models.
This would never fly. It's straight-up illegal in a few states, including California, and would be very hard to enforce elsewhere.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.)
You're wrong about monopoly status too. Courts have never considered "ok then, start your own railroad!" a legitimate defense, even a century ago, and they certainly don't today.
An alternative, if I may: shift athletic scholarships to a quasi-need-based formula, with clawback. If a student-athlete made $5000 playing in summer leagues and appearing in local commercials, her school should reduce the following year's scholarship value by some fraction of said earnings, similar to the expected payment formulas used by FAFSA et al. Money earned during the academic year should probably incur a higher "tax" in order to discourage excess profiteering at the expense of study time.
Furthermore, the initial scholarship should be structured as a loan. Schools would issue offsetting grants later, after certain academic milestones were met, perhaps on an exponential scale (like mortgage amortization) to put greater focus on underclassmen's decisionmaking. Most student-athletes would graduate effectively debt-free, like today, or petition for loan forgiveness in exceptional circumstances (family / health / academic dropouts)...but those who turned pro early would have to repay a large chunk of their expenses, with interest.
As a side benefit, this system would bring the true accounting of athletic costs vs benefits further into the sunlight. Part of today's problem is how universities obscure just how much they gain (or lose!) from having such tight ownership over these students' earning potential.
Regarding point #2 above, you will have to be more explanatory-- I am not sure what the "house of cards" nature is that you refer to-- but I do believe you are correct that it is unfair/inappropriate/should be illegal (choose your own words) to prevent someone from pursuing their profession, when someone else wants to pay them to do it (assuming it is a legal activity)-- but this is the fault of the NBA/NBAPA-- and I have always believed that the rules that are being allowed to be enforced by collective bargaining are unfair, and should not be legal-- I think if kids want to go straight to the NBA (and the NBA team wants to sign them), there should be no way the NBA is allowed to prevent those two economic actors from coming to an agreement (short of child-labor laws for someone under say 16 or 18 years old). All the lawyers on this board will tell me that this NBA/NBAPA agreement preventing HS players from entering the league is perfectly legal-- that doesn't make it ethical, "right", or "proper", in the spirit of free enterprise that this country was founded on-- it's just wrong, from a principled point of view, regardless of whether it is legal or not.
On point #3, I think here you are arguing pragmatically, rather than arguing based on principle-- you seem to be saying "Well, this is the situation that we currently have, and Americans like it that way, so it is going to continue-- radical departures from this are not going to happen". I readily acknowledge that the current situation is unlikely to ever change back to the principled approach that I advocate, but that doesn't mean I can't articulate what I think "should" be happening-- just because we have a messed up system that is counter to the original ideals of higher education and corrosive to our country's economic well-being (I believe that big-time intercollegiate sports being harbored in our institutions of higher academic learning is one of several big reasons for the decline of American economic competitiveness in the modern world) does not mean that I can't or shouldn't argue for a return to the ideal state that I think we ought to have.
You can call a horse a camel but it wouold still be a horse. Calling one-and-doners "students" does violence to the term and anyone having to deal with the facts on the ground would have to know that. Now, would a court be willing to call one-and-doners independent contractors, and, if so, would the NCAA and its members be subject to lawsuits based upon the Sherman and/or Clayton antitrust acts, it seems like we are about to find out. Apparently a lawsuit on behalf of players to be freed of the collusive restraint of trade and seeking damages, including punative ones, for schools with NCAA cover and sanction abbrogating the players names and numbers on all sorts of pariphenalia sold to da fans, as well, one would suppose, for pricefixing.
College sports are big bigness, and fortunate for them, the sport that drives the bus, has plenty of political clout and it is difficult to imagine anyone in politics on any level would dare to try to get in the way of that runaway train. That said, I think that events are about to catch up with that game, college football, in a way that might well make this entire revenue issue, dare I say it, academic. Someone is going to come along and run the numbers, the incidents and types of injuries, including the collectivity of noncussive violent hits. and cost out the health care costs to those individuals, and others in the insurance pools that make those costs OUR costs, over a player's lifetime, the number of those individuals who can not care for themselves and the cost of caring for them, the loss of earning power due to their slowed cognitive abilities, some body's going to come up with those numbers and say, sort of what Justice Scallia said this past week, making kids who are less a risk of incuring significant health care risks participate in buying insurance that covers people with greater risks and that is like forcing people to buy broccoholi because they need food (my hair hurt when he started talking about vegatables in a case about so grave an issue as health care but I am getting off point). Actually, what someone is going to say, loud and clear is that this nonsense about college football being a big earner for colleges is only a fairytail based upon the public's being stupid enough to subsidize college football programs by picking up the tab for what I shouold think will likely prove to be a ruinous number of colleges were required to self insure to care for kids who play for them the health care costs they are likely to incur over a lifetime as a consequence of that participation.
I know that the rable in Rome loved the carnage in the arena, but, hey, the guys who lost died, which is to say all the guys who were forced to go into the arena died, and since they were slaves anyone, let them bleed, who cares. But, we are a caring nation and also a broke one, and when the masses, many of whom don't like football for ay number of reasons, see what the ticket is to root for their favorite college team in each of 20 games on Cable , and that's only countint Sundays, they are not going to want to pick up the tab for that. As a matter of fact, even Joe the fan, who has to play russian Roulette and fly uninsured to make ends meet is going to be pretty ticked off when he learns that his tax dollars are going to subsidizing a game in which ticket prices are so costly that they can't even afford to go to them.
So, I think that it will not be too long until universities are going to have to include in these scholarships paid to "student athletes" a promise of life time health care coverage. When that happens, one and done will be the least of the issues that both the NFL and the NBA need to be concerned about.
In the meantime, I think that the lid will be blown completely off any restriction other than what the market will bear on the amount of money a college played is entitled to demand, bargain for, when his name and fame are used to sell jerseys and other junk that has his name and/or number on it. Than, when the number crunchers come in and determine just how many KU shirts and hats are purchased because of the pros Cal has playing for Uof K's basketball team that would not otherwise be sold, don't these stars have a right to their fair share of those revenues too.
Before they are done cutting up the pie of revenues in this manner a school is lucky if any of its major sports programs are even marginally in the black. Then, maybe college sports will get back to what they used to be, games to be played by talented guys whom like they say in the commercials, we are NCAA athletes and will be turning pro but it won't be in sports.
A jumble I know, but I'm on a role and the hour is way to late.
You absolutely can go found your own team, league, barnstorming exhibition, or whatever-- and would-be owners and players have done this many times in American sporting history-- the fact that you are unlikely to be as successful financially with this activity is both A) Too bad for you; and B) An emphatic underlining of the fact that these players are not economically successful because of their own identity, but rather because of the brand equity that has been built by the school or league/team that they join. Jennings has already proven that 18-year old HS players do have other professional options-- if you don't like the deal, don't join their organization. You are not entitled to live on Manhattan in a rent-controlled apartment, and you are not entitled to play basketball for money at an NCAA-member college.
But I agree with you that anything they can do to return the universities back to their original raison d'etre, and sports to their proper place in the university community, would be a good thing. If only the schools' priorities were in order it seems that steps like those you propose would be so obvious.
One other idea, if one goal is to reduce one-and-dones: what about treating each of the 13 scholarships as a four-year "entity" regardless of whether the player to whom it is granted uses it for all for years. So let's say Kentucky signs DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins leaves after one year. That scholarship that Cousins was "on" is not available to be granted to another player until three more years elapse. It's "dead" for those three years, after which time it can be granted to another player. Kind of like dead money coming off an NBA team's books when a contract expires.
This would cause schools to think long and hard about signing kids who obviously have no intention of staying very long at the school. Might they sometimes calculate that it's worth it, that it's worth signing a transcendent talent like Kevin Durant or Derrick Rose or Kyrie Irving, knowing you're only going to get him for a year, if you think you can go the distance that year and sacrifice that scholarship for the next three years? Perhaps. But that would be pretty rare. Schools might do it when they have a pretty good team of veteran guys and need a superstar to put in the middle of it to make their run and hopefully put them over the top. And one school, like Kentucky, could never sign multiple one-and-dones like they do now, because they wouldn't have the scholarships to give out because they'd have so much dead time with their schollys all the time.
I agree universities have the right to protect their own brand. Does Bilas really argue that student-athletes have equity in school jerseys? He's a smart guy, with a law degree to boot; I doubt he misunderstands trademark so profoundly.
Perhaps, but what difference does that make? If Kyrie's independently-branded jerseys fail to sell, it's once again risk borne by a commercial entity like Nike. Doesn't hurt Duke.Practically nobody wants a Chris Weber or Kyrie Irving AAU jersey.
If they do sell well, contrary to your expectations, it might cannabilize the market for Duke jerseys with #1 on it...but hey, that's life in a competitive market. NCAA regulations preventing this scenario are precisely what I mean by "consolidating monopoly power". It's not illegal; may or may not be sleazy, depending how you feel about amateurism; but it's definitely inefficient from an economics POV.
Eh, I should've known...I think most of the laws that we have written to take away property rights from so-called monopolists are misguided and ill-founded (this is where our resident phalanx of lawyers chime in to tell me why I am wrong, based on case law-- which misses the point entirely-- that I disagree with those court decisions, because I think they run counter to the protection of private property rights that were an essential element of the founding principles of our country.)
I prefer to argue about the state of the real world, under real constraints, informed by real events. If you want to discuss some alternate history where abstract libertarian idealism reigns, step 1 should be returning all Duke jerseys (and every other bit of property in "our" country) to the Native Americans
You're right, they don't have to. Nobody has argued that strawman. I merely claim that they should reconsider their anticompetitive restrictions, lest they lose the moral high ground.It is not properly the burden of university presidents to have to rearrange how they structure their scholarship athletic programs to satisfy absurd claims that they are oppressing talented high school athletes.
Remember, university presidents represent nonprofit, academic institutions. They are supposed to be guided by higher principles, striving to educate young men & women while enriching the broader world of ideas. In other words, there is a vast grey area between their stated ideals and robber-baron-like behavior. As alumni and donors, we have every right to demand that Duke and its peers keep to the former as closely as possible, above & beyond what the law might require.
Barring student-athletes from participating in the NBA draft, hiring an agent, playing in semi-pro summer leagues, renting their likeness, etc does nothing to promote teaching, research, or public awareness. Full stop. At best, these measures are a crude mechanism for schools to retain talented quasi-employees at reduced cost. At worst, they shun otherwise-qualified students from NCAA classrooms & gyms, in total opposition with their educational mission.
Should we look at the NBA as sort of a sports equivalent of, say, the Dr Pepper Snapple group? They are well-integrated economic unit that offers the market different brands -- are 7-up and Dr Pepper and A&W Root Beer and Canada Dry Ginger Ale like the Lakers and the Celtics and the Heat and the Thunder? It would be absurd for syrup suppliers to complain that 7-Up and Dr Pepper are colluding to treat them unfairly. If the syrup suppliers don't like the terms on which 7-Up and Dr Pepper offer them for their syrup, they can take their talents to an entity other than the Dr Pepper Snapple group, or make their own soft drinks and offer them directly to the public.
Or should we look at the NBA more as the situation that would exist if McDonald's, Hardees, Burger King and Wendy's all agreed on a set of ground rules by which to compete in offering hamburgers to the public with a negotiated split of certain revenues that were considered to be commonly generated? In that case, we would examine closely the rules by which they deal with, for example, beef suppliers to ensure that they are not acting in the manner of a cartel.
It's a thorny problem.
2) I am one who believes that many so-called monopolists (whether they truly are monopolies or not), have worked hard to develop their franchise, brand equity, market position, or whatever, and most laws, rules, actions which are intended to limit their economic profits are just sour grapes from others who want to use the power of the state to unfairly (IMO) take private property rights away from these alleged monopolists... the NCAA has built up a pretty darn good gig-- if you don't like their rules, then don't play along with them-- take your ball, and go home (or somewhere else)-- but don't sit there and whine and cry about it (like Bilas), all the while you are profiting plenty off of what they have built (and here Bilas really looks bad, as he makes far more as a broadcaster, leeching off the economic ecosystem created by the NCAA, than he ever did or would working as a lawyer), and then try to use the power of the state/courts to unjustly take some more or all of those profits for yourself-- if you don't like the system, don't join it.
3) Whether you think the arguments about paying for NBA player development make sense or not, is somewhat irrelevant-- the NCAA-member schools have the right to make rules on their voluntary members which tend to limit the use of their member institutions as free training grounds for NBA teams and players, if the NCAA chooses to do so. Yes, if acting rationally, one would expect no college to operate a team that does not create an economic benefit for the school-- yet, as it turns out, most schools lose money on almost all sports they operate-- and even the alleged big dog of revenue and profits (football) is a money-loser at most schools (at least until difficult-to-measure reputational and goodwill benefits are counted)... so if NCAA members want to do things which limit the use of their schools as free (to the players and professional leagues) training grounds for professional athletes, it is well within their rights to do so.
4) I don't know the laws in California, but it is quite common for local TV or radio broadcasters to sign contracts which prohibit them from working in a particular market in particular capacities, for a certain period of time after leaving that employer. Similarly, investment executives regularly take "gardening leave" for a period of time after leaving one institution, before they are permitted (contractually) to work for another investment firm-- I don't see why the NCAA couldn't incorporate similar clauses in their scholarship agreements. If you don't like the terms, then don't sign the scholarship agreement... and yes, I think you should be told-- "Start your own railroad." The courts were wrong to do that then, and they are wrong today.
When Sen. Rockefeller tries to use the Surface Transportation Board and the power/threat of Senate legislation to compel railroads to offer lower shipping rates to West Virginia chemical companies, because his constituent companies don't like the "monopoly" prices that railroads want to charge them (when what they really mean is that they aren't willing to pay the even higher prices that would be entailed in shipping by truck, building their own pipelines, building their own railroads, or ensuring that they are on navigable rivers, so that they can ship by boat), I am totally unsympathetic-- the railroads built and/or acquired their rail networks expressly so that they could take advantage of the property rights that are incumbent in having a monopoly or near-monopoly on the most cost efficient means of transporting large bulk volumes of products from those areas-- the railroad owners wouldn't have built or acquired those properties, if they knew that their property rights were going to be improperly, unfairly, and unethically infringed by a taking through the power of the state-- to the benefit of the chemical company owners... so instead of alleged monopoly profits going to railroad owners, we have the much more untenable situation of chemical company owners being rewarded with excess profits by the state, because they didn't want to pay for other higher cost means of transporting their products... Heck yeah, I think you should start your own railroad, if you don't like it.