A Column of Enchantment: On Mark Emmert, the Big East & Christian Slater…

Posted by Joseph Nardone on December 11th, 2014

Well, it looks like the idea of amateurism that the NCAA held so close to their hearts is about to die as horrible a death as all the victims in True Romance. This is according to — kind of — Mark Emmert, who is notorious for railing against the notion of paying players anything more than the always decreasing value of a college scholarship. Over the past few days Emmert has gone on a crusade concerning college basketball players, the NBDL, and letting student-athletes test the marketplace. Altruism at its finest? Probably not.

NCAA president Mark Emmert

NCAA president Mark Emmert is Open to the Idea of Something (USA Today Images)

First thing’s first. It is clear that fancy pants Emmert is entertaining the idea of letting kids test the market but remain eligible to play hoops for free because he can see the writing on the wall. Between civil suits, possible labor law infractions, as well as a combination of common sense and logic, the foundation of the NCAA is essentially crumbling. The days of universities making tons of loot off the back of free labor seems like it is to become extinct like the dinosaurs and Cuba Gooding Jr’s career. Emmert, who often has as much foresight as a lobster looking to move to the desert, is attempting to keep the NCAA as relevant as humanly possible.

Unfortunately, the reason why Emmert seems to be focusing so much on the amateur hoops is because the amateur football might already be a lost cause. Rumors have been around long enough involving the Power 5 splitting from the NCAA that Emmert knows that the governing body of college sports has probably taken enough body blows that it might want to throw in the towel on its fictional idea of amateurism. I mean, it is that broken concept which has put them in this spot anyway. Might as well take a stab at college basketball because it relies so heavily upon the NCAA Tournament for its large portions of money. So, Since the NCAA is known to make up rules as it goes, even as far as overstepping their jurisdiction, there are probably no bylaws which state that the NCAA has to stay married to whatever it actually is that they believe amateurism is supposed to be.

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Morning Five: 09.24.14 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 24th, 2014

morning5

  1. It wouldn’t be September (or August; or July; or any month, really) without basketball drama in the Bluegrass State, as the hoops hotbed that never rests continues to churn out storylines to keep the residents buzzing and the links clicked. The latest and greatest kerfuffle involved a Louisville Courier-Journal story by Tim Sullivan late last week that analyzed the hyper-competitive world of recruiting at the most elite programs — including, of course, Kentucky — and tying it back to some of the commentary among John Calipari, Jim Boeheim and others weighing in on Mike Krzyzewski’s perceived recruiting advantage as the head coach of Team USA. The firestorm that ensued among social media users and the rest didn’t stem from the article itself, though; rather, it was the accompanying photo of a “crybaby” hybrid Calipari/infant image that set the world ablaze. On Monday, the newspaper published an apology from Executive Editor Neil Budde, effectively stating that their internal editorial controls should have, but didn’t, catch the “mistake.” Was it a mistake, or was it calculated clickbait meant to drive readers to the website (even though the picture only made it into print editions)? Only a few will know the answer to that, but Calipari tweeted that he accepted the apology, putting a tidy bow on the entire proceeding until the next blow-up (probably early next week, if our timing is right).
  2. Since we’re on the topic of #BBN, there were a lot of Kentucky fans feeling a little punchy over the weekend when it was reported that former Wildcat star and current media personality, Rex Chapman, had been arrested in Arizona for allegedly shoplifting over $14,000 worth of Apple electronics and fencing them through pawn shops in the area. The day-by-day details of the scheme are troubling, especially for someone who made over $22 million during his playing days and seemed to be doing well working as a broadcaster for Turner Sports as recently as April. His notorious pre-title game tweet about John Calipari supposedly taking the Los Angeles Lakers job (#donedeal), however, had left a bad taste in the mouth of many Wildcats’ fans, and although his 14 felony counts of stealing headphones and the like do not rise to the level of bad behavior from athletes in the news lately, there was a vocal minority who felt some karmic retribution had been had.
  3. The NCAA will host the Final Four in Indianapolis next April and in Houston (ugh) again in 2016, but dates beyond the next two years have yet to be set. One of the candidates vying for position among the crowd is Glendale’s University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals and the Fiesta Bowl, as well as the future site of the 2015 Super Bowl and the 2016 college football national championship game. Glendale is part of the Phoenix metropolitan area — although the stadium is located 15 miles northwest of downtown — and NCAA officials are spending time there this week to scope out the quality of the city’s bid for one of the 2017, 2019 or 2020 Final Fours. Given that Phoenix has proven capable of handling other high-profile sporting events, this should be a no-brainer, and it would nice for the NCAA to have its marquee event on the West Coast once again (the last Final Four west of Texas was in 1995 in Seattle).
  4. Speaking of the NCAA, president Mark Emmert recently addressed the issue of domestic violence among student-athletes in light of the NFL’s Ray Rice fiasco, and although he took the easy way out by punting back to the schools, it was also the right call. With schools of all shapes and sizes scattered through all 50 states (and correspondingly, 50 different penal codes), it would be exceptionally difficult for the NCAA to try to police something like this. And the NCAA simply isn’t any good at equitable justice anyway. Emmert is correct — other than to say that the organization strongly opposes domestic violence of any kind and encourages schools to educate its players about the dangers, they should pretty much stay out of it.
  5. Well, this is just weird. Maryland’s Dez Wells Instagrammed and tweeted out a picture of himself playing basketball at Xavier that a friend of his found in an anatomy textbook called “Biomechanics of Sport and Exercise.” In a post-O’Bannon environment where the public tide has clearly shifted to support of revenue-sport players sharing a piece of the multi-billion dollar pie that their talents create, a stock photo of Wells skying for a dunk in an obscure textbook seems like relatively small potatoes. Still, it’s just one more example of athletes like Wells getting the short end of the stick when it comes to the fairness of use of their likenesses. As Wells said through social media, #ShowMeTheMoney.
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Morning Five: 07.09.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 9th, 2014

morning5

  1. Here’s hoping everyone out there is enjoying the summer and had a safe and happy Independence Day holiday weekend. Legitimate college basketball news remains somewhat incorporeal at this time of year (unless you enjoy silly contrivances over which coach is the “best” at his job), but over the last week-plus there have been a few stories that have made their way into the chattering class. The one that probably holds the most interest from a train wreck meets a dumpster fire convergence is the ongoing saga of former North Carolina guard Rashad McCants. At this point, UNC fans no doubt wish that the key cog of the 2005 national championship team would just go away, as his personal media circus in the aftermath of admissions that he was kept eligible from 2002-05 through a series of bogus classes and other academic shenanigans continues to get weirder. On a SiriusXM radio show earlier this week, McCants made reference to both UNC and the NCAA having a deal worth a total of $310 million “in the works” for him, $10 million from the school to repay him for his exploitation and “lack of education received,” and $300 million from the organization to help him “facilitate sports education programs across the country.” Nobody seems to have a clue as to what he is talking about, as UNC claims that it has yet to speak or hear from McCants since a June 6 letter asking him to do so, and the NCAA probably lost his request somewhere down in the mail room.
  2. On a more serious note, however, UNC fans have been quick to character assassinate McCants, who very well may be in some strange way attempting to shake down the school for what he perceives to have been a lack of ongoing support. At the same time, whistleblowers and other informants rarely come without motive or personality flaws, so the question needs to remain focused on whether McCants (and possibly other members of the basketball program) were recipients of the benefits of sham African-American Studies classes at UNC rather than whether he alone is a reliable source. His unofficial transcript — which shows that all of the As and Bs he earned in Chapel Hill were within the beleaguered department — are enough to call into question the integrity of those courses. And that is presumably what the NCAA is doing with the news last week that it has decided to reopen its previously-closed case into academic misconduct at North Carolina. Also keep in mind here that, in light of the undressing over the concept of “student-athletes” that the NCAA suffered last month at the Ed O’Bannon trial, the organization needs a public “win” that supports the notion that it takes academics seriously. Coming down hard on one of the true blue-bloods of one of its primary revenue sports to set an example wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility in this climate. We’ll all have to wait to see how it shakes out.
  3. To that very point, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation at 2:30 PM later today is expected to tackle the topic of Promoting the Well-Being and Academic Success of College Athletes.” Chaired by Sen. Jay Rockefeller IV (D-W. Va) and supported by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), the committee will explore the NCAA’s stated mission to integrate college sports and academics, and whether the commercial enterprise unfairly exploits athletes. Sound familiar? The NCAA is taking hits on all sides, with interested parties from the political to the business to the legal to the educational sectors all clamoring to understand the justifications for a lucrative business model that doesn’t share the wealth with its labor source. If the NCAA is lucky, Mark Emmert won’t be asked to testify if for no other reason than to avoid another jaw-dropping Freudian slip
  4. The reason that everyone is getting so chummy with the NCAA’s operations, of course, is that there’s a ton of money involved. The crazy realignment of a few summers ago has calmed down (for now), but as Boise State‘s recent financial settlement with the AAC illustrates, organizations tend to lose their damn minds when there’s a windfall to be grabbed (even if said windfall never actually materialized because it wasn’t thought through). That’s right, Boise State has agreed to pay a total of $2.3 million to the AAC (formerly the Big East) as a penalty for joining and then leaving a league that none of its teams ever actually played for. The Big West, another league that never suited up a single Broncos team, has already received $1.8 million in exit fees, meaning that the final tally in penalties for never actually leaving the Mountain West is $4.1 million. Congratulations to everyone involved, and let there be a lesson learned somewhere within this.
  5. This has been a fun M5, so let’s end it by continuing the theme of poor behavior with some coaching news. College of Charleston head coach Doug Wojcik hit the news late last week with the release of a 50-page report (on a late afternoon heading into a holiday weekend, no less) summarizing a pattern of verbally abusive behavior levied toward his players. Among the details released were that Wojcik had used a homophobic slur on one of his players and generally made a habit of degrading and humiliating them during practice sessions. CofC’s athletic director, Joe Hull, initially wanted to fire Wojcik for his transgressions, but he was overruled by school president George Benson, who instead decided to give Wojcik a one-month suspension without pay (meaning he will miss July’s key recruiting window) and instituting a zero-tolerance policy for any future abuse. Personalities are difficult to change overnight, especially in such stressful positions, so it’ll be interesting to watch how well Wojcik does under these new constraints.
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Morning Five: 06.19.14 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 19th, 2014

morning5

  1. Most college sports fans probably aren’t following the day-by-day action in the Ed O’Bannon vs. the NCAA case taking place in Oakland, California, this month, and why would they? First of all, there’s no nifty “doink doink” Law & Order plot mover to let us know we are moving on to a more important part of the proceedings, and secondly, many people probably don’t believe that the outcome will amount to much change in their annual sports viewing habits anyway. Fair points, both, but if you’re interested in summarily catching up through the better part of two weeks of proceedings and following along in the future, SI.com‘s Stewart Mandel and Andy Staples have you covered with their daily updates. The big fish scheduled on the line this week, of course, is NCAA president Mark Emmert, who will be called to testify today and possibly beyond (if necessary). Emmert has been a staunch public supporter of the NCAA’s amateurism model throughout his four-year tenure, and you have to wonder if he will fall victim to fits of hubris while on the stand defending what is widely becoming disparaged as an indefensible system. His testimony could be a key tipping point in the ultimate outcome of this case, so keep an eye on it.
  2. The underlying force driving the O’Bannon case, of course, is money. It’s always money, and specifically, who is getting their grubby little hands on it. To most Americans just getting by, the division of tens of millions of dollars between the NCAA, schools and the television networks doesn’t much move the needle — in their view, it’s just a case of rich people enriching other rich people. But even their fur gets a little raised when a clearly successful business model that can produce a third of a billion dollars (“B”) in a single year doesn’t give a taste of the steady stream of money to those whose backs on which all those dollars were made — the athletes. And yet, the Pac-12, as Dennis Dodd reported this week, produced $334 million in 2012-13 — the most of any conference in college sports history — disseminating around $18.5 million back to each school as a result. Once you start to add ticket sales, bowl games, NCAA Tournament shares and other revenue producers to each school’s athletic pie, you start to see some very large numbers generated at the bottom of the spreadsheet. Good luck with your arguments for amateurism, NCAA.
  3. Kansas basketball got some really interesting news earlier this week when it was announced that Bill Self’s team will represent Team USA in next summer’s 2015 World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea. Typically, the WUG teams have consisted of some of the top rising stars in college basketball, but the all-star model with limited practice time for players to get to know each other has resulted in only one gold and two bronze medals in the last seven events (Team USA won six straight golds from 1989-99, for some perspective). The Jayhawks have another loaded team coming into next year’s college basketball season, but a number of those players such as Cliff Alexander and Wayne Selden, are unlikely to still be in uniform for international competition a year from now. Still, perhaps the knowledge of Self’s system and the resultant familiarity among the remaining players will allow Team USA to improve on its ninth-place finish in 2013. We can only hope.
  4. It wouldn’t be summer without some transfer news, and there were a couple of name-brand players who found new destinations this week. First, LSU guard Anthony Hickey, a solid if not spectacular player whose senior-year scholarship was not “renewed” by head coach Johnny Jones in Baton Rouge, has resurfaced at Oklahoma State and was deemed eligible to play for the Cowboys immediately. This is a major boon for an upcoming year where head coach Travis Ford is in dire need of a reliable point guard after the losses of both Marcus Smart and Stevie Clark from his team. It may not save Ford’s job in Stillwater, but it gives him a fighting chance. In other news, Maryland guard Nick Faust has decided to finish his career across the country at Long Beach State. Unlike Hickey, who took advantage of the NCAA’s “run-off” rule to become eligible for next season, Faust will have to sit out 2014-15 before playing his senior year with The Beach. We wish both the best of luck in their new environments.
  5. You probably heard about the too-soon passing of the late great baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn earlier this week, and while every American sports fan recognizes the ridiculous batting prowess of the man who hit safely 3,141 times with a .338 average over two decades in the majors, they may not realize that Gwynn was a college hoops star before he ever became one of the friendliest and most beloved faces of Major League Baseball. As SI.com‘s Brian Hamilton explains in this piece, Gwynn to this day remains one of the best point guards to have ever played at San Diego State, a two-time all-WAC selection on the hardwood that featured the best single-season assist average in program history (8.2 APG in the 1979-80 season). We never saw him play hoops, but we have to imagine that he brought the same passion and respect for our game as he did to the baseball diamond. RIP, Tony Gwynn.
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Jay Bilas and Mark Emmert: How About a Meeting of the Minds?

Posted by Chris Johnson on December 12th, 2013

The reputation Jay Bilas has developed over the years as one of the most vocal critics of the National Collegiate Athletic Association is well-earned. He frequently hammers away – via Twitter and otherwise – at president Mark Emmert and the controversial institution he presides over. Just last summer, Bilas highlighted the NCAA’s fundamental hypocrisy regarding its stance on player likenesses with his ShopNCAASports search bar revelation. Months before, in an extensive interview with Andy Glockner, Bilas opened fire on the NCAA in general, and Emmert in particular, calling the latter an “absentee president.” Those are just two examples. Scroll through Bilas’ tweets and you’ll find an endless supply of reasoned NCAA criticism (with plenty of rap lyrics sprinkled throughout; Young Jeezy even dropped Bilas’ name in a song). Most sports fans also know Bilas for his college basketball analysis, which – much like his frequent disparagement of the NCAA – is almost always, whether written or televised, very much on-point. If, in the preseason, you read Bilas’ “College Hoops Opus,” for instance, you’d feel so prepared for the upcoming campaign, you probably wouldn’t have spent any money on preview magazines.

Jay Bilas and Mark Emmert Traded Barbs Yesterday

Jay Bilas and Mark Emmert Traded Barbs Yesterday

As you no doubt already know, Bilas is a pretty smart guy, and he knows it, too. Which is why his latest squabble with Emmert was so predictable. Emmert was in New York Wednesday for the IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, where he fielded questions from reporters about various NCAA-related issues. Responding to a question about Bilas, Emmert said, “I appreciate how passionate he is about college sports. I don’t like the ad hominem [personal] attacks.” Emmert followed up. “I dare say I know more about running complex organizations than him and he knows more about basketball.” Naturally, Bilas retorted: Read the rest of this entry »

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NCAA Closes the Book on Miami Scandal as Frank Haith Skates

Posted by Matt Patton on October 23rd, 2013

Yesterday, over two years after Nevin Shapiro contacted the NCAA with allegations of wrongdoing throughout the athletic department, Miami finally got closure from the Committee on Infractions in a scathing 102-page report that confirmed nearly all of the substantive allegations from Charles Robinson’s initial report. More specifically, the NCAA found that Miami “lacked institutional control” in both overlooking Shapiro’s violations and actively covering them up after the fact.

Mark Emmert and the NCAA seemed bigger than life before handing down Miami's judgement. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Mark Emmert and the NCAA seemed bigger than life before handing down Miami’s judgement. (AP/LM Otero)

The most serious punishments were reserved for some of the coaches implicated — Frank Haith (“former head men’s basketball coach”), Jorge Fernandez (“former assistant men’s basketball coach B”), and two former assistant football coaches — each of whom received punishments ranging from  a five-game suspension for Haith (now at Missouri) to a two-year show-cause for Fernandez. The football team will lose three scholarships per year over the next three years, and the basketball team will lose one scholarship per year over the same time. All of this comes on top of the university’s self-imposed punishments, which were significant. But the penalties are a far cry from two years ago when Mark Emmert threw around the phrase “death penalty” with various major media outlets.

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Billy Donovan and Tom Izzo bring pay-for-play discussion to the forefront

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 18th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

Never before has the topic of amateurism in college sports coursed so pervasively throughout the sports-watching community. It’s not just writers and intellectuals weighing in, but also fans and players, all of whom seem to believe the system is somehow unfair, or headed for change, or at the very least won’t survive the impending Ed O’Bannon lawsuit without some type of meaningful update. Coaches are sharing their thoughts too, and in the past week, two of college basketball’s most prominent head men have spoken up about the changing athletic climate revenue-producing Division I athletes inhabit today. Florida coach Billy Donovan understands the apparent paradox baked into amateurism’s core philosophy. When athletic departments are guzzling at the fire hose of football and television-related revenue, and student-athletes receive nothing more than the thousands covering their room, board and tuition, a disconnect is not only obvious for outsiders. It’s difficult to reconcile even for the student-athletes, who for years accepted college sports’ wage-fixing mechanism as an ironclad part of the collegiate athletic experience.

When coaches like Izzo and Donovan speak about macro issues like player compensation, everyone involved with college sports is more likely to take notice (AP Photo).

When coaches like Izzo and Donovan speak about macro issues like player compensation, everyone involved with college sports is more likely to take notice (AP Photo).

“There is a feel by a lot of families that here you have these huge athletic departments, you have arenas, stadiums filled up and these kids are told, you can’t go out and you can’t take a free meal, you can’t take anything,” Donovan said. “A lot of times for those kids, I think it’s very difficult to swallow that.”

That quote comes from The Gainesville Sun, who recorded Donovan’s words while he spoke at the Capital City Area Gator Club last week.

At a different public speaking event in Birmingham on Monday – note to high-profile college basketball coaches who have agreed to speak in a public forum, it’s best to assume every word coming our of your mouth will not only be recorded and transcribed, but disseminated across the Internet and published in tomorrow’s paper – Michigan State’s Tom Izzo gave his opinion on a more specific issue related to player compensation in college sports: the $2,000 stipend NCAA president Mark Emmert proposed, but failed to garner the amount of votes required for passage. “I think something should be done, but I think it should be done for the right reasons,” Izzo said. “I like the theory of some type of stipend and if they graduate it, they get it. I don’t want it to be where some of the local stores, like Best Buy, gives a kid more money.”

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Morning Five: 07.24.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 24th, 2013

morning5

  1. Tuesday was the day for the Louisville Cardinals to visit the White House to celebrate their 2013 national championship, and perhaps the very best part of the entire proceeding was the extremely lukewarm applause at the top that Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) received when introduced by the POTUS. Obama gave his standard spiel of light-hearted remarks during the 10-minute event, referencing how Rick Pitino’s motivational technique of promising to get a tattoo “busted” his bracket and avoiding mention of the “other” school where the head coach won his first of two national titles. Pitino, to his credit, exalted the president while hitting on the themes of loyalty and perseverance that have come to define his teams at Louisville — giving Obama a Louisville Slugger engraved with his name to handle any future disruptive press conferences. For a much more detailed description of the Cards’ visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, check out Eric Crawford’s report from WDRB.com; and The Dagger has some great pictures that the players and entourage took while there. The entire press conference is at the bottom of this post.
  2. While Barack Obama has certainly taken his share of sniping in accordance with his lofty geopolitical position, the NCAA’s Mark Emmert may have taken even more concentrated vitriol from a unilateral perspective  (at least the Democrats support Obama; few seem to like Emmert). “One misstep after another,” as one administrator in this ESPN.com piece from Mike Fish and Dana O’Neil describes his three-year tenure as president of the organization. The accusations against the NCAA boss are lengthy, including not only mishandling of both the Penn State and Miami (FL) investigations, but also a general misunderstanding of the desires of his membership and a combative, at best, relationship with the media. It’s a really interesting read about the travails of the organization under his direction, and points again to a burgeoning restlessness among everyone that the NCAA’s days as a serious player on the American sports scene are effectively numbered.
  3. One school that certainly has no love lost for Emmert is Connecticut, given that the NCAA banned the Huskies from last year’s postseason as a result of its low APR scores. But, as Adam Zagoria at Zagsblog writes, Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier are back in Storrs and ready to make up for a lost season with a major postseason run in 2013-14. Louisville has to be considered the favorite in the spanking-new AAC, but the Huskies are a very interesting second banana. Kevin Ollie returns most of his key pieces from a 20-10 (10-8 Big East) squad that will no doubt enter next season with a major chip on its shoulder. If the chips fall into place for Boatright and Napier next season, there may not be a better backcourt in America. Only time will tell.
  4. What’s good for Duke is good for Team USA? That seems to be the correlation, as SI.com‘s Ben Golliver relates that Mike Krzyzewski‘s original decision to retire as USA Basketball’s head coach was more about reaching another four-year milestone at Duke than it was about international hoops. Basically, Coach K asked himself at the end of the 2012 Olympics whether he felt that he’d still be coaching at Duke in 2016, and at the time, he wasn’t sure of the answer. Since he believes that Team USA’s head coach should be actively involved in the sport — as he put it, “on the firing line” — he thought it would be best to give up the gig. USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo may have sensed Krzyzewski’s eventual 180, as he kept the job in waiting until Coach K decided last spring to return (stating that he is “sure he’s going to coach for a while.”). Given K’s 62-1 record and uncanny ability to get multi-millionaires to play team basketball for the USA jersey, this is a great, great thing.
  5. In our sport, summer is the time for testing out new things and the statistical wizardry over at KenPom is no exception. Yesterday the vaunted statistician announced a new metric to his suite of team data points yesterday: average possession length (APL).  As always with KenPom, the beauty of this new metric lies in the detail. Tempo is a measure that tracks efficiency, but APL simply tracks how long you are either holding the basketball each possession, or defending the basketball each possession. The 2013 listing is here (subscription required), but as Pomeroy notes, the correlation is already clear in viewing the last four years of data. Great defenses tend to correlate well with high defensive APLs — it’s harder for an offense to find a good shot — which begs the question whether faster-paced offensive coaches may be incentivized to slow things down to make their teams better overall. An interesting intellectual exercise, no doubt.

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If You’re Into Cheating, the NCAA Will Have Trouble Stopping You

Posted by Chris Johnson on June 17th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

Most present-day criticisms of the NCAA nitpick its ethical and moral standards. They excoriate a system where athletes hand over the rights to their likenesses and athletic talents, yet are deprived of a slice of revenue those talents generate. They berate a byzantine rulebook filled with inane bylaws and regulations. They attack “amateurism” from every rhetorical angle. The verbal takedowns have hit a fever pitch in recent years as the NCAA’s handling of various high-profile impermissible benefits has provided convenient ammunition for fire-breathing columnists and national commentators. As long as amateurism is upheld as the foundational pillar of NCAA enforcement, and athletes remain removed from any monetary benefits on top of what’s offered in one-year renewable grant-in aid scholarships, the organization will be forced to tolerate a bombardment of scrutiny with no recourse to shift the public discourse away from its doggedly indignant mindset.

Losing a high-ranking enforcement official like Newman Baker is a continuation of a scary trend within the NCAA's enforcement wing (Getty).

Losing a high-ranking enforcement official like Newman Baker is a continuation of a scary trend within the NCAA’s enforcement wing (Getty).

Lamenting the NCAA, the institution, has and will continue to be a prominent feature of American sports media. Now there’s a new dimension to attack, and it goes deeper than flawed ideals or morally corrupt philosophies or anything about the NCAA’s actual legislative structure. These days, the NCAA has far bigger concerns than angry middle-aged sportswriters railing on amateurism, because before long, it may not have enough staff members to maintain amateurism’s grip on college athletics in the first place. Yahoo!’s Pat Forde delved into the deteriorating culture inside the organization a couple weeks ago – how over the past 18 months, the NCAA has seen some of its top investigators pack up and leave for compliance positions at various universities. The end result, as Forde writes, is an environment where athletes, coaches, boosters, agents and whoever else might be inclined to step outside amateurism’s restrictive boundaries are encouraged to go right ahead and do their worst. They can, in other words, break rules without bearing a passing concern for the consequences on the other end. The coast is clear. The people that prop up amateurism, and wield the power to cripple athletic programs with scholarship reductions and postseason bans, are quickly leaving the premises. Moving on. Fleeing the scene before the bottom drops out.

This is a problem.

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Could the NCAA Be On the Verge of Creating a Fourth Subdivision?

Posted by Chris Johnson on June 3rd, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Imagine trying to lump wildly financially disparate athletic programs with different issues and different monetary imperatives under one legislative agenda. Imagine trying to hold that infrastructure together with vague terminology and philosophical principles and vexingly byzantine legalese. Imagine that organization asking an enforcement staff that can’t even police itself to make sure everything runs smoothly – no questions asked, no willingness to adjust. Imagine a near-universally loathed ruling figurehead, whose tenure has been besieged by near-constant turmoil on college campuses, wielding unseen legislative power, refusing to cooperate with influential school athletic directors, eroding public trust every step of the way, and doing it all while publicly casting himself as some enduringly unimpeachable monarch – untouchable, unimpressionable and, most recently, resentfully bitter to any and all external questioning or proposals for change.

A fourth subdivision could help eliminate some of the NCAA's more intractable financial inefficiencies (US Presswire).

Promoting discussion for a move towards a fourth subdivision allows schools with bigger budgets the possibility to change the NCAA’s separation of powers (US Presswire).

The public approval rating of NCAA president Mark Emmert, were there such a measure for the organization’s embattled leader, would not inspire confidence for election day. The rightful scorn and growingly pervasive critiques can’t be (or shouldn’t be) shoved on Emmert’s doorstep; his actions are merely a particularly irksome embodiment of the entire NCAA’s morally and ethically dubious ruling construct. Either way, his spot isn’t up for contestation, so Emmert doesn’t have to worry – even as swaths of media call for his resignation and athletic directors lose confidence in his ability to navigate the NCAA’s hazardous future. Emmert isn’t completely blind to the boiling discontent within his membership, and at the Big 12 meetings in Irving, Texas, last week, he made an important concession that shows he’s open to the concept of realigning the power structure to accommodate more-monied (and thus more powerful) programs.

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Inconsistent Implementation of Multiyear Scholarships Provides More Ammunition for NCAA Hardliners

Posted by Chris Johnson on April 22nd, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

The chorus of vitriol aimed at the NCAA will grow louder and louder over the next few months as college sports prepares for the landmark court case that could completely uproot its economic model. Well-reasoned critiques of the organization’s various hot debate points — the amateurism model, NCAA executives’ inflated salaries, the growing broad-scale realization that student-athletes aren’t entitled to the smallest slice of the massive TV revenue pie generated by broadcasts of their athletic competitions across as many television sets as humanly possible, president Mark Emmert – have become synonymous with any discussion of the NCAA, period. Enunciate the four-letter acronym, and be prepared for a deluge of denunciatory comments and generalized screeds about “exploitation” or “uncompensated labor” or, in its most extreme form, “slavery.” I have heard them all, and at this point, I’m ready to table the amateurism discussion for a while. If you’re looking for the next big date on the NCAA calendar, that’s June 20 – when the Ed O’Bannon group will file for class certification and potentially place the NCAA in extremely hot waters, with the very real possibility of inducing a settlement that could lead to direct concessions on the amateurism model everyone loves to hate.

Multi-year scholarships have been applied languidly  across Division I athletics (AP Photo).

Multi-year scholarships have been applied languidly across Division I athletics (AP Photo).

In the interim, there’s another NCAA-related topic that deserves your attention. When the NCAA passed a motion last year to allow Division I institutions the option of offering multiyear scholarships, one of the most frequently cited items on Emmert’s personally touted reform agenda, approval came and went without anyone paying much mind to one important fact: more than half of the 300 + Division I institutions voting on the matter flatly turned it down. According to the NCAA, who received ballots from 90 percent of Division I schools, the 62.12 percent voting against the measure fell just short of the required 65 percent disapproval rate. If the message wasn’t clear then, it certainly is now: most programs were never in favor of offering multiyear grants-in-aid, and the latest accounting on the matter reaffirms that premise in excellent detail. Thanks to some excellent reporting from Brad Wolverton and Joshua Newman of the Chronicle, the statistical realities of multiyear scholarship offerings have been laid bare for all NCAA-critics to supplement their typical dose of amateurism-related harangues with a new topic entirely. To the surprise of almost no one, the results plainly confirm the mixed opinions at the voting table last year.

Nearly two-thirds of the 56 most powerful Division I public universities now offer multiyear awards, according to a Chronicle review of public records. Yet few of those institutions do so for more than a handful of athletes.

It’s important to recognize one hugely important stipulation right off the bat: Emmert and his board of directors pushed this legislation through without any sort of sanction-backed enforcement clause. Schools are merely encouraged, not legislatively mandated, to offer multiyear grants-in-aid. As Wolverton and Newman note, there are select schools beginning to adopt the idea across select sports, and a few – such as Fresno State, which “handed out 425 multiyear awards this year”, one for every scholarship athlete – that have embraced the concept across all categories of Division I student athlete involvement: female, male, revenue-producing, and non-revenue producing. What you might be surprised to learn is the motivation behind using these recently-approved packages is far more nefarious than originally intended.

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Morning Five: 04.05.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 5th, 2013

morning5

  1. If you need a timeline for how the whole Mike Rice fiasco went down Don Van Natta Jr. has a excellent story on it and honestly every side of it seems dirty. In addition to the allegation that Eric Murdoch demanded nearly $1 million–nearly 14 times his annual salary–for his termination after missing a camp hosted by Rice the article also points out that Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti was likely working out the details on Rutgers move to the Big Ten when the video evidence came across his desk, which probably played a role in his light punishment of Rice at the time. We are sure that more heads will roll as this story unfolds with the most recent one being assistant coach Jimmy Martelli–son of St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli, who had his own off-court issues with a former player (see the Todd O’Brien saga)–who resigned for what has been described as similar behavior. Finally, as if you needed any more reason to shake your head at how Rutgers handled this situation Rice will receive a $100,000 parting gift/bonus for having completed the 2012-13 season, which he would not have received if he had been fired when the Pernetti first saw the now infamous tape.
  2. We are not quite sure what to make of Mark Emmert‘s bizarre press conference yesterday [“full” edited transcript here] other that perhaps he was trying to show everybody that incompetence and egoism is not just limited to the administrations of the member institutions, but is also present within their governing body. At this point we do not understand the motivation for the NCAA to keep someone who has presided over repeated failures to even finish what should have been easy cases and managed to act so rashly that many people feel that they were too hard on a school that covered up years of ongoing pedophilia. Replacing Emmert will not fix all of the NCAA’s problems, but it would be a nice place to start.
  3. It took the Pac-12 a little longer than Rutgers to come to its senses after being publicly outed, but Pac-12 Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officiating Ed Rush resigned yesterday in response to reports that he offered gifts to officials if they would give Arizona coach Sean Miller a technical foul in a game that they did call a questionable technical foul (Miller’s only one of the season) that may have changed the outcome of the game. As we pointed out earlier in the week there was no way that Rush could keep his job and his resignation is nothing more than the conference offering him a way to save face. The problem for the conference is that this will remain an issue as fans, coaches, and players will continue to believe that some officials have a personal vendetta against them and now they have some evidence that it does happen.
  4. This weekend when the announcers try to sell you on some heartwarming story about a family having to pay their way to watch their son play in the Final Four you can soak it up, but remember that it might not be true. Since 1999 the NCAA has had a Division I Student Assistance Fund that allows schools to “assist student-athletes with special financial needs” that are supposed to be academic, but can also be used for clothing and last year Ohio State and Kentucky used it to help bring the families of players to the Final Four. During the 2010-11 academic/athletic year, the NCAA reports that it paid out $66.1 million. As the article points out these funds have been used for a variety of sometimes strange things, but perhaps the more surprising thing is that many families do not know about it and many schools do not use it to help out the families and players (ok, maybe the last part is not that surprising).
  5. Even if you are not a fan of advanced metrics you should be able to appreciate Shane Ryan’s in-depth piece analyzing how many key stats were created and the story behind the individuals who helped create them. Before we read this piece we had no idea how the fragmented recording statistics had been as recently as the Wooden era and should raise questions about any stats that you hear about that predate “The World’s Greatest Stats Crew”. We also wonder if there was nearly as much opposition to the way that they recorded statistics as we see from today’s old guard towards new advanced metrics.
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