Tag Archives: NCAA

Abolish the NCAA: Carolina edition

By Christopher B. Daly 

As I read his latest column, the NYTimes’ Joe Nocera seems to be edging toward the realization that the NCAA is beyond reform and should be abolished. Today, he tells the story of whistle-blower Mary Willingham, who was hired as a tutor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill for intercollegiate athletes.

It did not end well for her.

 

 

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Abolish the NCAA: The Duke case

By Christopher B. Daly 

I’m just catching up with a fine review by Caitlin Flanagan in the NYTimes Sunday Book Review about what sounds like a fine book by William D. Cohan about the fiasco that was the Duke lacrosse “scandal” of 2006. Without re-hashing the accusations or the ensuing rush to judgment, the issue raises the question:

What educational role does intercollegiate lacrosse play at Duke University?

I think the answer is pretty obvious.

From Flanagan’s book review:

It has become possible, these past several decades, to think of Duke as consisting of a professional basketball team to which, bizarrely, a research university has attached itself. But it is the “non­revenue” sports at Duke — and the school’s relentless, aggressive and very expensive campaign to build them into powerhouse brands — that have most radically changed the tenor of that campus. The strange centrality of the athletic program in the life of an academically excellent institution, and the many unintended consequences this situation has wrought, is the subject of William D. Cohan’s “The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, the Power of the Elite, and the Corruption of Our Great Universities.” The book is at once a masterwork of reporting and a devastating critique of a university that has lost its way.

. . . The ill-advised party that would end in the rape charges took place at the beginning of spring break, when the team was required to stay in Durham to practice. This forgoing of their vacation week had resulted in a new tradition in which players spent their off-hours partying, hard, in a kind of alternative spring break. At the beginning of the week, the coach came to practice with some $10,000 in cash, which he passed out to the players in fat wads. The absurd amount was ostensibly for meals, although many of the players were sons of wealthy families and could afford to buy their own chow. By that night, the cash was being spent on all the ancient vices: booze, gambling and the hiring of desperately poor women for sexual entertainment. The players chose to do all of these things, of course, and it was their responsibility to deal with any disastrous outcome that might result from them. But the way in which that huge pile of cash played its role in the events hangs over “The Price of Silence.” It raises the most disturbing questions about how Duke envisions its student-athletes, what it expects from them, how it is willing to accommodate them — and how it will drop them, completely, when they are no longer of use to the university. . .

Bernard Thomas/Herald Sun via Polaris

Bernard Thomas/Herald Sun via Polaris

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Abolish the NCAA (cont.)

By Christopher B. Daly 

More evidence of the corrupting influence of the NCAA?

From today’s NYTimes, a front-page re-investigation. Highlights:

Tallahassee, Fla. — Early on the morning of Dec. 7, 2012, a freshman at Florida State University reported that she had been raped by a stranger somewhere off campus after a night of drinking at a popular Tallahassee bar called Potbelly’s.

As she gave her account to the police, several bruises began to appear, indicating recent trauma. Tests would later find semen on her underwear.

For nearly a year, the events of that evening remained a well-kept secret until the woman’s allegations burst into the open, roiling the university and threatening a prized asset: Jameis Winston, one of the marquee names of college football.

Three weeks after Mr. Winston was publicly identified as the suspect, the storm had passed. The local prosecutor announced that he lacked the evidence to charge Mr. Winston with rape. The quarterback would go on to win the Heisman Trophy and lead Florida State to the national championship.

After a Florida State student accused quarterback Jameis Winston of rape, the police did not interview him or obtain his DNA. Phil Sears/Associated Press

In his announcement, the prosecutor, William N. Meggs, acknowledged a number of shortcomings in the police investigation. In fact, an examination by The New York Times has found that there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university.

Again I ask: what is the educational purpose of intercollegiate sports?

 

 

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Abolish the NCAA: unionize!

By Christopher B. Daly 

As I have long maintained, the NCAA does not advance any educational purpose on college campuses (and, in fact, with its insane training regimens and travel requirements, intercollegiate athletic competition often works at cross-purposes to educational activities like attending class, reading, writing, thinking, etc.)

imagesNow comes word that the NLRB (an agency that rarely makes news in this atomized, freelance economy) has ruled that college football players at Northwestern should have the right to organize into a union like the NFL Players Union. And why not? Those players are on college campuses essentially to provide entertainment to the other students. They are provide a service, and most of them are students in name only. They should certainly have the right to bargain collectively. After all, they bring in big money by putting on a show that is worthy of televising.

(In fact, they should probably be bargaining with the NFL, since they work in what amounts to the NFL’s minor league or farm system.)

From today’s NYTimes:

The ruling comes at a time when the N.C.A.A. and its largest conferences are generating billions of dollars, primarily from football and men’s basketball. The television contract for the new college football playoff system is worth $7.3 billion over 10 years, and the current deal to broadcast the men’s basketball tournament is worth $10.8 billion over 14 years.

The decision could give momentum to those who believe the N.C.A.A. should modify its rules on how athletes are compensated. The ruling applies only to scholarship football players at Northwestern, but the precedent could extend to other Division I scholarship football players at similar private universities. (Collective bargaining at public universities is governed by state law, not the N.L.R.B.)

“It’s another brick being taken out of the castle the N.C.A.A. has constructed,” said the ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, a former college basketball player. “It’s not going to stand forever, and we’re getting closer and closer to it tumbling.”


 

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Abolish the NCAA, junior high edition

By Christopher B. Daly

Now it appears that the NCAA is not content to corrupt American colleges and universities. The imagesgargantuan semi-professional sports monopoly is now reaching not only into high schools but as far down the age ladder as junior high.

Today’s NYTimes has a page 1 enterprise story about the growing tentacles of NCAA coaches engaging in arms race to lock in young athletes at lower and lower ages. A key passage:

The heated race to recruit ever younger players has drastically accelerated over the last five years, according to the coaches involved. It is generally traced back to the professionalization of college and youth sports, a shift that has transformed soccer and other recreational sports from after-school activities into regimens requiring strength coaches and managers.

The practice has attracted little public notice, except when it has occasionally happened in football and in basketball. But a review of recruiting data and interviews with coaches indicate that it is actually occurring much more frequently in sports that never make a dime for their colleges.

Early scouting has also become more prevalent in women’s sports than men’s, in part because girls mature sooner than boys. But coaches say it is also an unintended consequence of Title IX, the federal law that requires equal spending on men’s and women’s sports. Colleges have sharply increased the number of women’s sports scholarships they offer, leading to a growing number of coaches chasing talent pools that have not expanded as quickly. In soccer, for instance, there are 322 women’s soccer teams in the highest division, up from 82 in 1990. There are now 204 men’s soccer teams.

I’m not sure this was what anyone had in mind when Title IX was passed in 1972 to put women’s and girls’ sports on an equal footing with male sports. Why can’t we just let kids run around and get some exercise? Sheesh. 

 

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Abolish the NCAA: Shame on UNC, too

By Christopher B. Daly 

Today’s NYTimes greets the new year with a dismaying (though hardly surprising) story about the ways in which the NCAA extends its corrupting reach into college classrooms. It’s an extreme version of a common imagespractice — providing fluff courses for intercollegiate athletes so that they can maintain their student status even while they are spending all their time in training for their schools’ teams (which are nothing more than farm teams for professional leagues).

This story is particularly dismaying because it involves charges of academic abuse that are so egregious that they caught the attention of a criminal prosecutor. Not only that, but the case involves UNC-Chapel Hill, where I went to graduate school in history, which is actually a images-1fine, serious, and improving university. Yes, it is also an NCAA powerhouse in football, basketball, lacrosse, and other sports that fill stadia and attract national TV distribution.

 

Again, I ask: What educational purpose does the NCAA serve?

In my experience, the practice of intercollegiate athletics not only contributes nothing to students who participate, it also detracts from educating young people. The only educational purpose I can imagine is to serve as an object lesson in what not to do in economics, law, and ethics.

 

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Abolish the NCAA (cont.)

By Christopher B. Daly

Mark me as skeptical on this one. Today’s NYTimes is declaring that the NCAA is on the verge of epochal change. I’ll believe it when I see it.

If more professional sports want to establish farm leagues and pay young athletes, so be it.

If more college students want to get out and exercise, so much the better.

The fact is, the NCAA has never come up with an answer to this question: what educational purpose does inter-collegiate athletics serve?

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Abolish the NCAA (cont.)

By Christopher B. Daly 

Recently, the Times invited readers to send in letters for a “Sunday Dialogue” concerning the NCAA. The prompt for the letters involved a rather arcane point, internal to the NCAA, about whether the top 1% of teams by revenue should break off from the NCAA. 

I didn’t think that was a great question, but I wrote anyway. The Times did not print my letter (probably because it was a bit off-subject). But I have a blog, so here it is:

To the Editor:
As an associate professor at Boston University (a school with 23 NCAA Division 1 teams, including a top-10 men’s hockey team), I have had many student athletes in my classes over the years. The question I have is this: what educational purpose does the NCAA advance? What is the educational benefit of intercollegiate sports?
At the start of nearly every semester, I have one or more students approach me after the first lecture. They hand me letters from the Athletics Dept. telling me in advance which classes these students will be missing and requesting my “cooperation” with their athletic schedules. I often wonder why my students need to travel as far as the West Coast, during the regular season, to run around in shorts and chase balls. They miss classroom experiences that, I  believe, they can never truly make up.
I also wonder why NCAA athletes train year-round. A few years ago, I had a student in a class who was on BU’s swimming and diving team. She missed a number of classes for swim meets, then missed a few more because the team had earned its way into a tournament. Finally, her season was over. When she returned to class, I welcomed her back and observed that now she would have a lot more free time. Not so fast. She explained that although the season was over, the team would go right on holding practices, which she was obliged to attend. In fact, she said, they could step up their training now, because they would not be traveling to meets.
I believe young people should get exercise, but I think that’s true for all college students. They should all have sound bodies. But I don’t see the educational value in having a small fraction of the student population training intensively, year round, in ways that undermine the real reason they should be on campus.
–Chris Daly, Boston

 

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Abolish the NCAA (cont.)

By Christopher B. Daly

The NYTimes adds to the pile of reasons to abolish the NCAA. The athletes who play for big-time imgres-1college teams sign a letter when they are in high school declaring the name of the school where they intend to play. This was originally meant to signal to recruiters from other schools to cease and desist. But, under the iron law of unintended consequences, today’s story indicates that these letters have morphed into what amounts to a “reserve clause,” like the one that used to tie professional baseball players to their team owners. Increasingly, college players are thwarted in their attempts to transfer.

I have a certain amount of sympathy for the “student athletes” who want to switch schools, but then I realize: they are not transferring to find a better English department or more-advanced physics labs. They are acting like professional athletes in any sport who want to do what’s best for their athletic careers (not their educations).

Proponents of transfer limits say that they are put in place to prevent coaches from continually attempting to lure athletes from other universities, which could create a never-ending recruiting cycle. Critics counter that the rules make it much too easy for coaches to act punitively, penalizing athletes for changing their minds about decisions made when they were teenagers.

Coaches cannot fully prevent athletes like Lunt from transferring to any university they want. But if a coach does not grant an athlete a release, the player must forfeit any scholarship opportunity, pay his own way to the new university and sit out the next season. Meanwhile, Gundy, whose contract pays him $30.3 million over eight years, and other coaches can routinely move from one college to another with minimal consequence, often for bigger contracts after arranging a buyout with the first college.

Not only that, but the article includes the startling figure that nearly 500 mens basketball players transferred from one college to another last year.

500 basketball players switching schools!

(That’s one sport, one gender, from a sport with a fairly small roster. How many total athletic transfers take place in a year?)

Now, let’s acknowledge that, on average, these are not the strongest students on our campuses, and let’s acknowledge that transferring is disruptive and probably sets most students back somewhat.

How much sense does this make?

Again, I ask: what educational purpose does the NCAA serve?

 

 

 

 

 

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Abolish the NCAA (cont.)

A hat-tip today to the NYTimes‘ Joe Nocera, for hanging tough in his campaign to reform big-imgres-1time college sports. (For the record, he is a reformer; I have given up and support a total ban on intercollegiate athletics. College students should all get exercise, and they should get it on their home campus. Pro sports leagues can set up their farm teams right across the street from colleges if they want, but college students should be ineligible.)

 

Here’s Nocera’s lead:

So, are you convinced yet? Do you need any more proof that college presidents are not qualified to run a major entertainment industry like college football and men’s basketball? That whatever their academic and fund-raising skills, they are in over their heads whenever they involve themselves in the $6 billion-and-counting business that big-time college sports has become? Besides, don’t they have other things to do?

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