The NCAA announced on December 23rd that five Ohio State players, including QB Terrelle Pryor, sold championship rings, game jerseys, and other memorabilia in addition to getting free or discounted tattoos. The punishment handed down was suspension for the first five games of next year, however, all five will be able to play in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas. For the pure mind-boggling hypocrisy of this action, Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated has nailed it far more eloquently and effectively than I could.
I’m officially calling for all conferences associated with Division I-A football and basketball to put the NCAA out of business. The NCAA, as Mandel points out, seems to be making up rules as it goes. Pryor and his teammates get a five game suspension, while Auburn QB Cam Newton gets nothing for shopping himself to potential schools. Make no mistake, I have zero problem with what the OSU players did. They earned those rings, those jerseys would have zero value if not for their performances while wearing them. They should be able to sell those since they, you know. FREAKING OWN THEM. Cam Newton did nothing more than what each of us does in a job hunt; he tried to get as much as he could for his services.
The level of corruption (for lack of a better term) exists in the NCAA for one reason. It is attached to the idea that student-athletes should not receive compensation for the work they do. Think about it. We’ll use the University of Iowa as an example, since that’s my favorite team. If Ricky Stanzi, Adrian Clayborn, Marvin McNutt, Matt Gatens, Cully Payne, Eric May, and other athletes didn’t perform, or there was no athletics teams associated with the University of Iowa, I’d probably not own as much Iowa paraphernalia as I do. The point is this. Without the athletes, the schools, and by proxy, NCAA, wouldn’t be making the money they do.
Here’s my proposal.
The six BCS conferences, plus the mid-major conferences eligible for bowl games in football, and all additional conferences eligible for the NCAA Tournament each March should tell the NCAA to shove it, and leave. That sounds a bit drastic, but this solves a lot of problems. The new organization formed by the schools no longer has to pretend that athletes shouldn’t be paid for the work they do for the school, simply because they’re in college. Secondly, it can set firm and clear rules as to what constitutes a violation, worthy of a suspension. Thirdly, all the money that goes to the NCAA currently from bowl games (bowl games and a CFB playoff system are a completely different post.) and the TV rights to the Tournament are now split between all the schools. Revenue goes up, the rules are now clear and simple to understand, and there is no middle man. Every college above the Division II level will automatically bring in more cash, Each school can now clearly tell its athletes what is permissible and what is not.
The NCAA is no longer an organization with any amount of appreciable credibility in my mind. It’s eerily similar to King Henry VIII in his later years; a shadow of its youthful, idealistic self, only concerned with building its power and legacy. Doing away with the NCAA hurts no one except a few high level executives who don’t really care about the student-athletes they collect their billions of dollars from. Pretty sure I can live with that going away.