Wednesday, October 24, 2012

9 comments Paying Players Will Not Clean Up College Athletics

LZ Granderson seems to believe paying college players will help to clean up the college game by reducing the amount of cheating and lessen the effect outside influences have on the student-athletes. It's a complicated issue because many people don't want to pay players. I am not sure if I believe players should get paid, but I also believe a college athlete should be able to make money off their name in college. For me, I'm not sure a student-athlete should be paid for playing a sport, but I don't mind a student-athlete making money off of his fame from playing that sport. How athletes would go about being paid is a completely different topic as well. Do you pay women's volleyball players as much as you pay men's basketball players? If not, doesn't this violate Title IX? I think it does, LZ Granderson says this reasoning is a cop out and then never explains why this is a cop out. Modern sports journalism at its best.

There are a lot of issues present in this discussion. I simply don't think paying players will drastically lessen a player's incentive to cheat or take money from a booster. Professionals in high paying jobs in "the real world" will take bribes and cheat, despite the fact they earn a good salary. The need for more money is part of human nature and I don't believe a stipend paid to college athletes will change this. I think if a college athlete gets paid, he still wouldn't mind taking $100,000 to go to one college over another. LZ Granderson seems to also believe runners and boosters are a product of the system and would decrease in influence if players got paid. I can't help but disagree.

My feelings are simple: There is so much money involved with big-time college sports, it's unethical that they're not better compensated.

I don't know if "unethical" is the right word. Maybe it is. College athletes should probably be compensated in some way for the revenue they bring into the school, but I read many articles on why players should get paid, but don't read much about how exactly this would work logistically. It seems like there are many who want student-athletes to get paid, but provide no hint on how this would work exactly. A good idea with no ideas on how to implement the idea successfully is simply useless.

That's why I'm not too disgusted with third-party runners -- such as relatives or AAU coaches -- who shake down schools for cash in exchange for highly sought after recruits.

So it is perfectly fine for third-party runners and relatives to shake down schools $100,000 as long as the players are getting paid, but if a player got paid a $1000/month stipend it all of a sudden becomes morally wrong to shake down a school for $100,000? I don't understand this point of view. What's the difference? The runner or AAU coach isn't looking out for the player's well-being in either situation. In both situations, he is selling the player's services to a university and LZ can't be naive enough to think this money is going to pay for food and books.

Not to mention, if every Division-I college team pays their football players $1000/month, these runners and coaches will still sell the services of players to schools. An even playing field is an even playing field. Runners and outside influences aren't going to magically disappear once student-athletes get paid. They are still going to want money and the stipend isn't going to be enough for some highly recruited athletes.

There is a quote from a Nas song (that of course I can't find) where he says if it were up to him everyone would be a millionaire. Because I'm a loser, I analyze rap songs. If everyone in the world is a millionaire then the price of goods would increase and being a millionaire would no longer mean anything. It's a severe form of inflation.

In the 1980's wealthy people had a cell phone, but now in 2012 nearly everyone has a cell phone. In 2012 it is a matter of who has the better cell phone with more features, while in the 1980's only those who could afford a cell hone had one. If Nas had wished in the 1980's that everyone could have a cell phone, well it came true, but it doesn't mean everyone is wealthy because having a cell phone is no longer a sign of wealth. The same thing would happen in college football. If every Division-I football player got paid, it wouldn't stop cheating or the buying of highly recruited players by colleges, because every Division-I player gets paid. What would matter is how much one school is willing to offer an AAU coach to sell a player to that school. The price each school was willing to pay for a highly recruited player would still very much matter. Paying players wouldn't get rid of dirty tactics at all because the playing field is still level when every Division-I player gets a stipend.

I understand how moving cash underneath the table is cheating, but it's hard for me to characterize the schools or their coaches as cheated.

The question when it comes to boosters isn't who is getting cheated, but whether the act itself is cheating or illegal in some fashion. The cheating isn't classified by who gets hurt when coaches cheat, but is classified by the fact cheating by coaches is against NCAA rules. Me buying a pound of marijuana from someone isn't cheating or hurting anyone, but it still is against the law.

the University of Central Florida received the first major NCAA sanctions since Penn State. The school is banned from postseason play in football and men's basketball for one year; is hit with a reduction in scholarships; and is on probation after the NCAA committee on infractions ruled that runners and cash were involved in attracting a high level of talent to UCF. The runners in question were a pair of men with ties to a sports agency.

Can LZ Granderson honestly say he thinks this type of thing will go away if these UCF players were getting paid? I really doubt it would stop. Why or how would runners or boosters stop trying to attract top talent to UCF if the players were getting paid? The runner or booster still needs to sell the talent to a school. Why would the athlete getting paid $1000/month affect this in any way?

Now I'm not saying what they did was right, but it's not hard to see why UCF felt it needed to cheat.

To make money and win.

Since joining Conference USA in 2005, the school's athletic program has exploded in terms of infrastructure -- an athletic village was built, an indoor football practice facility was constructed and in 2007-08 it the school opened a stadium and arena.
If you're gonna do all of that, you gotta win big. And in order to do that, you need big talent.
So explain to me how the hell UCF will no longer need to pay for this talent if the football players are now getting a stipend? How would a stipend help UCF attract better talent than they attracted when the football players didn't get a stipend? Every Division-I football student-athlete would be getting paid, so UCF would still have to attract top talent in some way. Even if the stipend is handed out based on football revenue, UCF would still have trouble attracting talent. I completely fail to see how a stipend fixes any issues the NCAA has with runners.

Not only are there no guarantees an athlete is going to see much of the money being exchanged but they can also become indebted to the runner in a way that isn't healthy or equitable.

Well, right. The players aren't seeing a lot of that money. I think that much we can all agree on. What kind of booster or runner won't pay a player or sell a player to a school under the line of thinking, "Well I don't need to sell Player X for $100,000 to the University of Nebraska because he gets paid $2000/mo anyway."

It's naive to think there is a link between players getting paid and AAU coaches selling players to schools. Players aren't going to be paid any amount of stipend amount (at least without schools going bankrupt) that will prevent AAU coaches from selling players to certain schools. How in the hell can a stipend of even $5000/month prevent an AAU coach from selling a player to UCF for $200,000?

But what about the moral erosion caused by the system perpetuated by the NCAA and its members that gave birth to these runners in the first place?

The NCAA is dirty. We all know that. The system that perpetuated these runners in the first place isn't going to go away once college athletes start getting paid. Human nature gave birth to these runners in the first place. Human nature to make as much money as possible and use a valuable asset you have (in this case, the talent of a college athlete) to make this money.

Think about it: Millions of construction dollars flew out of the door in a handful of years at UCF, but the young men expected to create the cash flow of tickets, memorabilia, TV appearances and postseason games couldn't take an equitable sip from the stream.

Fine, say we pay the players. They are paid. Explain to me how this will stop vultures from preying on these athletes and directing players to certain colleges in return for cash rewards? How will this prevent highly recruited players from wanting cash payments to choose between schools? Either way, he gets paid for playing football, so what would stop him from wanting a little extra to sign with one college over another? The answer? It won't.

LZ Granderson is mixing up his messages here. He is getting paying players as a fairness issue mixed up with paying players as a way to rid college athletes of the dirty underbelly.

You wanna know how these runners gain so much influence in the lives of highly recruited athletes? They show them how much a jersey costs in a bookstore.

You wanna know how these runners will continue to gain so much influence in the lives of highly recruited athletes? These runners will tell highly recruited players the backup quarterback for a 6-6 team earns $1500/month in a stipend, shouldn't he as a highly recruited player earn more than that for leading his team to a 10-2 record? Of course he deserves more money, that's why the runner is working hard to get $100,000 from LSU to secure the player's commitment.

There will always be a message and a way to sell kids. Always. This won't change even when money starts changing hands from the university to the players. That jersey in the window becomes a different example used once the stipends to college athletes start flowing. That jersey becomes a nicer car, money for choosing Oklahoma State over Oklahoma, or some other form of receiving an illegal benefit. The example used for why that highly recruited athlete deserves more will change, but the need for wanting more won't change.

Student-athletes are not slaves, but given the amount of money associated with big time college sports, it's not a stretch to view them as the NCAA's version of indentured servants.

Except for the fact they don't have to play football and could choose to pursue a college education without playing sports. Other than their ability to freely choose whether they play sports or not in college, these players are indentured servants. Once you pretend a person doesn't have free-will, any person can be seen as an indentured servant. I realize not all high school athletes could qualify academically to their college of choice, but not all high school students can qualify academically to their college of choice either. I find it hard to view people who make a choice to play sports as indentured servants.

Ohio State got in trouble last season because eight players exchanged their rings and jerseys for tats and cash totaling $14,000, roughly $1,750 a player. The football program made a net profit of $35 million.

I have no problem with college athletes selling their jersey or rings for cash. I think this is something college athletes should possibly be able to do, as opposed to being paid a stipend. Let the free market rule. If someone wants to pay $2000 for a signed Terrelle Pryor jersey, that's his business and Pryor's play on the field made the jersey worth that amount.

And while it is true much of that money is used to fund other departments, the notion that a school like OSU can't afford to pay players seems disingenuous. The argument that Title IX complicates the discussion is a cop out.

I don't believe the argument that Title IX complicates the discussion is a cop out. LZ won't tell us here exactly how or why using Title IX as an argument is a cop out, so I'm guessing we will probably never hear exactly why it is a cop out. He just writes "it's a cop out" and leaves it at that. I don't see how you can pay male athletes and not female athletes. I think Title IX makes it clear under the 10 guidelines the Department of Education uses. The fourth guideline specifically states:

Travel and per diem allowance;

This must be equal for men and women's sports.

The three prong test used in determining the ways Title IX can be achieved says the following,

"male and female athletes should receive equivalent treatment, benefits, and opportunities" regarding well as,

"the athletic interests and abilities of male and female students must be equally effectively accommodated."

I think this makes is fairly clear it would be hard to pay male athletes in any disproportionate amount compared to female athletes. So I think saying using Title IX as a reason not to pay college athletes is a cop out is a cop out in itself. Just don't say "it's a cop out" and not explain. I think Title IX makes it very difficult for men and women athletes to receive different amounts of compensation based on the different amount of revenue each gender's sport would bring in. Frankly, it isn't fair for the swimming team to be compensated with a stipend when revenues from the football are helping to support the swimming team.

Runners may be sleazy, but they are only the byproduct of a system that feels worse.

I'm not sure of a way to change the system to get rid of runners. Paying college athletes won't achieve this goal. This much I feel pretty sure.

So the NCAA has every right to turn its focus on the UCFs of the world, but until its members start paying student-athletes, it's not going to generate much sympathy from me.

I'm not sure the NCAA wants sympathy, they want to keep up the appearance of no impropriety in college athletics.

For as long as the student-athletes responsible for generating millions are living in poverty, runners have a better chance of being viewed as Robin Hoods than the NCAA as victims.

Every college students lives in some form of poverty. Of course some college athletes generate enormous amounts of revenue for their school, so perhaps these athletes should be compensated for this. Runners and AAU coaches aren't selling players to schools in order to benefit the player, but to benefit and line their own pockets. They aren't Robin Hoods and no one is viewing the NCAA as a victim. Either way, AAU coaches, boosters, and runners who give players money to play for certain programs are in the wrong whether student-athletes get paid or not. I don't see how this point of view changes depending on whether student-athletes are getting paid or not.

The idea paying college athletes could lessen the incentive to sell players to a school is very naive. This just isn't realistic. Even if college athletes get paid, there will still be plenty of incentive to sell a player to a certain program. Runners and AAU coaches aren't using the money they receive from schools as a sort of pledge drive to buy food for a highly recruited player, they are using this money to line their own pockets. If college athletes got paid, there would still be an even playing field and there would still be plenty of incentive to shake down a college for a recruit. Does LZ Granderson really think a stipend is going to stop the flow of cash under the table for players? That's pretty naive.


rich said...

equitable sip from the stream.


One of the big things now is that outstanding student loan debt just hit a trillion dollars and the cost of schools are going through the fucking roof.

So they are getting something, they're getting a free motherfuckingdegree.

Even if they don't need a college education to do what they want to do (play pro ball), it doesn't change the fact that they're still getting a college education + room and board + meal money.

If you don't want to take that deal, go fucking play in a professional league - play in the CFL, play in the European basketball leagues.

And you know what else they get? THEY GET TO USE THE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF EQUIPMENT... for free.

So stop this bullshit about them not getting an "equitable sip." They get physical fitness trainers, medical trainers, coaching, a college education and a chance to show off their skills for the professional leagues.

They show them how much a jersey costs in a bookstore.

It's cheaper than a fucking textbook.

Look at what colleges do to every student: charge them up the ass for tuition, housing and potentially even force them to have a mean plan.

So then what do they do? After raking in upwards of $60,000 already, they charge $180 for a book.

I don't feel sorry for them.

Student-athletes are not slaves, but given the amount of money associated with big time college sports, it's not a stretch to view them as the NCAA's version of indentured servants.

Alright, lets go with this:

The cost of attending the University of Alabama as an out of state student is $18,905 per semester. That's $37,810 a year that these kids aren't paying.

Add in the top notch coaches and facilities they have access to, they're not that fucking poor off.

If you want to pay the players, make their asses pay for school. Call football a job and make them pony up the $40,000 a year and make them take classes and have a full time job like a good number of people have to do to afford going to college.

When the average college graduate leaves with over $20,000 in loans (at 4% rates or higher), I don't give a crap about the players feeling slighted.

The football program made a net profit of $35 million.

And we all know that if a company makes a profit, the workers get raises! Oh wait, no, no they don't.

the notion that a school like OSU can't afford to pay players seems disingenuous.

You focused on the Title IX issue, so I'll focus on this - no one is arguing that OSU can't pay their players. It's a matter of other schools being able to.

You think a school like TCU could pull in the same level of talent they do now if OU, OSU, TAMU and UT all were allowed to open their coffers?

The other thing is that if you pay the players, there's significantly more incentive to cut the underperforming players. Lets say you've got 12K on the line every year for each player. Say you have a team of 60 kids, that's $720,000. If you have a kid who struggles after a year or two and you find someone better? You sure as shit are going to cut the kid.

but they are only the byproduct of a system that feels worse.

The other side is that if you pay the players, they'll argue "I'm already getting paid, so why can't I get paid more?" Runners and boosters will always find ways to funnel money to kids, the only difference is that they'll now make it on top of their stipend.

Isaac said...

You know the other thing these writers do is talk only about the biggest revenue schools when making their argument. Ohio State I believe has the largest revenue so of course they can pay their athletes. But how are smaller schools like say Western Kentucky supposed to drum up the cash? Even Granderson mentions that most of OSUs football money is used up funding other programs.

If these reporters were actually interested in facts instead of whatever they think sounds good, they could try researching whether payments are viable for every college program (hint: they aren't) instead of just the biggest, richest, schools.

And of course Granderson doesn't want to hear about Title IX because that interferes with his argument, so therefore it shouldn't be brought up.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I struggle because I can see how the NCAA makes money off these student-athletes and that makes me think they deserve to be paid, but then I also see the value the athletes get for their education. They get a free education, which I know doesn't make up for the NCAA exploiting them at times, but I don't think they should be paid. I still don't have an issue with these student-athletes making money on their own off their name while in college.

Another side benefit of playing at a school like Alabama is you get exposure and name recognition. I know ex-Bama football players will get hired out of college because they have the name recognition from playing for the Crimson Tide. Not to mention, they get exposure to play football at the next level.

That's part of the issue also. How do these players get paid. Does the Bama third string QB get less than the first string QB? What if the Bama third string QB is a 5-star recruit who will start in two years? Obviously he needs more money to entice him to stay at Bama, but why should he get paid as much as the starter for Bama?

Then throw in what you said about TCU having to pay their players less. Some schools have less of an ability to pay players. The idea that paying players will clean up college football is ridiculous. If anything, it will drag it further into a money-game where the best teams get the best players because they can afford to do so.

Isaac, they never discuss how this would affect schools like my alma mater, Appalachian State. They can't afford to pay their players, so they would lose guys to other schools that have a larger endowment because they are a private school or lose players to a D-I school. Not that App State is competing against big name schools, but once you throw money in the equation a state-supported school like that would have to rely even more on donors for facilities on campus.

Do I have it correct we wouldn't hear bitching when Bob Johnson gives NC State $2 million to pay for college football players, but the science building on NC State's campus has computers from 10 years ago and their is mold on the walls? Really? We wouldn't hear righteous bitching about this is unfair? That's assuming athletes in different sports could get paid at different levels, which will never happen. A stipend would go to every athlete and that's how it will work, but then that still isn't fair to athletes in the programs that actually bring money into the schools.

I love how Title IX is just thrown out of the discussion even though it would probably be one of the biggest impediments to student-athletes getting paid. You can't just ignore that issue.

jacktotherack said...

rich, great breakdown of the flaws of these arguments. When dumbasses in the media want to throw around terms like "slaves" and "indentured servants" I find it personally offensive. These athletes receive over $100k a year in tuition, housing, equipment, travel expenses, access to facilities, etc. To compare that to slavery or indentured servitude is pathetic, it's just a journalist using buzzwords to get a rise out of people yet it makes it 100% certain that they are completely fucking clueless.

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, it seems like no argument in favor of paying college athletes is complete without a bad comparison to being a servant or a slave. It ruins the argument and moves the conversation towards hyperbole than actually doing anything to further a discussion. It's lazy writing.

waffleboy said...

I'm really glad you took a look at this article, and I agree with you that paying players isn't going to end the cheating and under the table payments in college sports. Unless the schools are going to pay the kids the same sort of salaries as the NBA or the NFL, and the schools are never going to do this, players will always be willing to take money from boosters in addition to whatever the school is paying them. And as for money being paid to "steer" kids to certain colleges, I really don't think the players or their families see much of that money, so that won't be fixed by paying college athletes.
I think if you really wanted to clean up college athletics, the best way to do it would be to tie athletic scholarships to the student graduating. If you have a student in your program who doesn't graduate from college in five to six year, the school loses that scholarship for however long the student was playing sports for your school. If your kids graduate, great, you're program will be completely unaffected. Recruit kids who aren't interested or who don't have the academic skills to get a degree, and you lose that scholarship. Have enough non-student student athletes in your program, and you won't have enough for a minimum roster, and your program will be shut down until your scholarships become eligible again.
I know this isn't a perfect system, and I know a halfway decent assistant AD could find a loophole to get around it in 10 minutes, but I do like that schools would have to really commit to educating their athletes, or at least more then they are right now.

waffleboy said...
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waffleboy said...
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Bengoodfella said...

I don't think there is a perfect system really. The system LZ Granderson isn't perfect either and will result in more money flowing and just as little of this money going to the student-athletes. The kids won't see some of this money and the influx of cash won't clean up the sport.

I don't mind your idea. The issue I would see with the idea comes in college basketball when a school might lose a scholarship for a player leaving school early. I don't know if you were even discussing college basketball in this aspect, but if your rule was implemented then the one and done rule would have to be removed completely.