We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Friday, June 7. 2013
Everybody understands that big-time college sports are a big business which has little to do with a university's mission. Indeed, they can corrupt the university's mission.
Like so many things in life, it's about money and status. Big Division 1 athletics brings in big bucks from contracts and from alumni which is why the coaches are paid so well. Everybody working at a sports university gratefully feeds from that trough and are rightly grateful to the coaches and teams.
Status, too. It's called "marketing." How often do you hear kids say that they only want to go to a Big Ten School, or a Southern Conference school? I hear that often. Sports powerhouses attract students. UConn is a perfect example with its booming athletic program (aka sports franchise) in recent years. TV college sports put humble UConn on the national map.
Education is an industry, and Higher Ed is a big industry with crony relationships with TV and government.
Joe Nocera suggests disconnecting the NCAA Division 1 sports from the universities, and paying the players.
I wonder what our readers think.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
The think I would really like to see is for college admissions based on academic merit only. Most students at U of MI or Duke are of the same caliber as Harvard/Yale, except for the major sports athletes. This makes for a fun March Madness party, but is a huge disservice to the majority of athletes who don't go pro. Also, it takes an academic spot from someone who actually deserves it.
Not at all supportive of paying the players as students. But then I'm a fan of a "mid major" team.
Disconnecting the teams from the universities, establishing minor leagues? Fine by me. Except I wonder what would happen to college wrestling.
Oh let me add, if Nocera thinks this is his idea, he's way wrong.
Fifteen years ago I wrote that this is what the big-time sports universities are planning.
I can't help but think that much of what's been going on is just part of the plan.
It won't do much to college wrestling. Title IX has pretty much trashed it already.
Big time college sports are subsidies to two classes: The coaches and the alumni.
I'm not an alum, but the daughter goes to an SEC school. So it is also a subsidy of the middle class. I will gladly do without that subsidy if I can also get others cut.
We do have to permit our own ox being gored at some point.
Certain players should be paid. Some of the football players at some schools. Some of the BBall players at others. Even the hockey players at some. I bet there is at least one baseball program making money that should be paying its players too.
Just take a look at Johnny Football. There is no way that guy is being paid what he brings to A&M. They are putting $650MM into their stadium. Would that have happened if he hadn't shown up?
UConn is a perfect example with its booming athletic program (aka sports franchise) in recent years. TV college sports put humble UConn on the national map.
a)The UConn sports successes which gave UConn national recognition resulted in more applications. As a result, the average SAT of incoming freshman increased about 100 points in the last decade or so. [math and verbal only - ignoring the writing component]
b) The first NCAA crown from women's basketball in 1995 was of prime importance in getting the legislature to approve a $1 billion construction program. Given how many of the buildings funded by a dollar-conscious legislature in previous years were in the verge of collapse [Arjona, Monteith] less than a half century later, this was poetic justice on the part of the legislature. [UConn was by no means the only public university that suffered from shoddy construction standards during the postwar enrollment boom. In many campuses across the country you can see that the buildings built before WW2 were of much better quality than those built in response to the postwar enrollment boom. You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.]
In a recent year, about a quarter of donations to the school were to the athletic program.
Recall the line from an OU president about wanting to have a university the football team could be proud of.
I tend to support the idea of separating big-time sports from academia. That does not mean that gyms and athletic fields should be banned from academia. My experience has been that a certain amount of physical exertion can help one's academic performance- clear out the cobwebs. I was not on a team, but I did get exercise.
Moreover, I know of student athletes who have been BOTH students and athletes who have rather successful careers. Time management, prioritizing, team work, and making quick decisions- skills which are forced upon student athletes- prove to be useful in the outside world. I would say that as long as athletics are confined to two hours per day for students, athletics do not hurt student academics.
I am amazed that any student in big time athletics completes a degrees in something more demanding than PE or basketweaving, given the time demands of big time athletics.
Oh -- where to begin? It has been my observation that the increasing value of college football and now basketball were the impetus for lower standards in the classroom. Can't pass a failing quarterback and then not pass a failing cheerleader! The diminished quality of academic rigor in universities is a direct result of an ever increasing focus on sports/tv, etc. To answer your question yes--please do it like so man other countries. The teams should be community affiliations--not university. AMEN!
Nocera: 'That is what Thorp now thinks. He is not ready to go as far as I do, namely, end the hypocrisy and start calling “student-athletes” what they really are: employees who deserve to earn a paycheck for their labors.'
Yes, college athletes do deserve a paycheck for their labors, which is why the only logical reform is to ABOLISH big-time college sports completely and let the faux student-athletes go to work for professional sports franchises that are independent of our institutions of higher education. Of course, there may be a disparate impact on the many AA/AA (affirmative action/african-american) students who are aggressively recruited for their athletic prowess not their intellectual wherewithal, but you do have to break a few eggs to make an omelette. If the NBA and NFL professional sports leagues want to have extensive minor league farm systems, then they should build them and run them on their own, just like baseball.
No one wants to go to a "Southern Conference" school because of their sports brand, however, many want to go to a "South Eastern Conference" school.
The current system is a scam to student athletes and is corrupting to the education institutions. The NCAA is not in place to look out for the athletes but to make sure that the member universities get every dime and the athletes get the bare minimum.
It's a really tought question. I am opposed to paying the college athletes. I wouldn't want to see all the colleges drop football or any sports. Football does generate a lot of money for some schools I'm not usre that is any worse then any money the schools get from other sources. But the thing that bugs me about this is why would sports be an issue before things like "women's studies, black studies, hispanic studies" or any of the other "hate" based studies? Does anyone see any redeeming vaalue from these courses? Does academic excellence in any of these classes mean any more then the poor performance by basketball or football players? In my opinion these programs only exist so that people who could never pass college level classes can still get a degree in something. It should be an embarrassment to any school that has these programs.
Paying players is assuming they aren't paid already.
1. Free education (don't take advantage? not my problem) which goes for about $20-57,000 a year just for tuition)
2. Free books (another $1k)
3. Free food and room (another $8-22K)
4. Stipends (every major sport athlete receives a stipend at major colleges, anywhere from $40-100 a day, depending on the school....for 'food')
I know this because my neighbor's son plays football at a major northeast college. His total package is close to $100k annually, all in.
The next problem is that of clarity of hierarchy. The current problems with college coaching is based on the fact almost every major college coach makes more than his superior - the college president. The highest paid public employee in 42 states is a college coach! As a result, college coaches consider themselves apart from the functioning body of the school - and justifiably.
When players get paid - will the lack of accountability get better or worse? As bad as things are with college athletes now, it won't get better.
I say keep it the way it is, and tighten up the loose ends. If you want to 'pay' student athletes, put money in a trust fund, which they can access if they can get a degree within 8 years of entering the school. If they never go back, the money can be turned over to the general scholarship fund.
I have two suggestions:
1) Get rid of athletic tuition waivers (there's no scholarship involved, so don't call them "athletic scholarships"). By all means, feel free to admit students who qualify academically on the basis that their athletic ability will add "diversity" to the campus community, just as you would musicians or dancers. But no one gets their tuition waived on that basis - all tuition adjustments should be needs-based only. In other words, get rid of Division I (and II, maybe) and have all sports be Division III.
2) If that's too strong for you, then fix tuition waivers at a 6-year life while keeping the 4-year eligibility rule. If a student graduates in 6 years or less then the school can re-award the waiver when the student graduates. If the student does not graduate then the waiver cannot be re-awarded until 6 years have passed (even if the student cannot compete because he is academically ineliglble). Also, students getting athletic tuition waivers must take a series of tests (administered by the same company that does the SAT's and AP's) each year. If they flunk they are academically ineligible to compete. The idea being that this way an athlete can't remain academically eligible by taking bullshit courses.
Somehow hockey and baseball manage to find and develop talent to a professional level without using the colleges as free minor leagues. Force football and basketball to do the same.