The Hypocrisy of the NCAA

“It’s not “show friends.”  It’s show business.

Bob Sugar from the movie, Jerry Maguire.

A week does not go by without a news story breaking about another sports agent illegally paying a college athlete in hopes that he will be able to represent the athlete, and cash in, when he turns pro.  Most recently the scandal spotlight shined on Auburn University and its star quarterback Cam Newton.  Prior to beginning his college career, Newton and an agent are alleged to have asked for money in exchange for a promise that he would sign with Mississippi State University.  In its October 18 issue, Sports Illustrated ran a story entitled, “Confessions of an agent,” where sports agent Josh Luchs talked about giving money or some other extra benefit, in violation of NCAA rules, to 30 former college football players during his 20 years as an NFL agent.

Accompanying every one of these stories is the comfort of knowing that the sanctimonious NCAA will hunt down and punish these student-athlete offenders for trying to cash in on their talent.  I’m not saying that what these athletes are doing is right, but what I am saying is that what the NCAA is doing is disingenuous.  Why would an 18-year old student-athlete look to take money from a sports agent or university booster?  For the same reason that the NCAA won’t change its flawed BCS system, is going through conference realignment, and signs incredibly lucrative TV deals.  To get a financial advantage.

With one hand the NCAA slaps the face of the college student looking to make a quick buck, while taking money from another business deal with the other.  On April 22, 2010, it was announced that the NCAA had reached a new 14-year, $11 billion deal with CBS Sports and Turner Sports for the rights to broadcast the NCAA Basketball Tournament from 2011-2024.  In November 2008 the NCAA signed a deal with ESPN for $125 million that includes exclusive television, radio, digital, international and marketing rights for the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar bowls from 2011-14 and the Bowl Championship Series title game from 2011-13.

How much of this money from these two deals will the student-athletes see?  None.  I’m not advocating the paying of student-athletes, but I am advocating that the NCAA be held to the same moral standard that the kids are when it comes to money and greed.  America is a commodity based society.  A commodity is defined as “something of use, advantage, or value.”  The students’ commodity is their athletic talent and the NCAA’s commodity is the students.  The problem is that the NCAA sees cashing in on its commodity as morally righteous, while at the same time it sees that students cashing in on their commodity as morally reprehensible.

Keith Detjen
Pierce Arrow Blogger

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