Does the road end here for current collegiate model?
Posted April 5, 2014
The NCAA makes $1 billion off of its basketball tournament thanks to "corporate champions" and a fat television contract.
The coaches receive millions in compensation and are awarded bonuses for advancing deeper into the postseason. The cash seems to flow everywhere, except into the pockets of the student-athletes this entire enterprise is built upon.
None of this is new, yet so many think-pieces about the state of college sports treat this reality like a sudden revelation.
USA Today has published coaching salaries for years, but they never added context to those numbers or used them to push a larger narrative until now. Coaches like John Calipari having incentives in their contract for Final Four appearances is standard operating procedure, except now it's a headline-worthy reminder of how the players didn't get a dime for the same accomplishment.
Look, I get it. The combination of the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit, an antitrust lawsuit from attorney Jeffery Kessler and Northwestern players attempting to unionize have helped turned the NCAA into a pinata. It's also made plenty of us, fans and media, cynical about the spectacle taking place Saturday and Monday inside Jerry Jones' sports palace.
We're at a point where calling the NCAA a "scam" has lost its punch. If it isn't obvious to everyone by now that college sports needs to be rebooted, it's probably best to stop belaboring the idea and move on.
It's why I'm over being cynical and find myself more intrigued by what's going to happen next for the NCAA. With change inevitable, the only questions remaining are how much of the current collegiate model will be washed away and how long it will take for the effects of outside disruption to kick in.
I'm also curious as to why we're in the middle of this sea change. To paraphrase the Joker from "The Dark Knight," change, as you know, is a lot like gravity, all it takes is a little push. So what was the push?
The influx of money and a countless number of bad headlines for the NCAA are certainly factors, but I believe Johnny Manziel was the ultimate harbinger of this shift in thinking.
Yes, Johnny Football.
Players have run afoul of NCAA rules before, and too many of them were chastised for taking advantage of their status as "privileged athlete." However, Manziel's situation at Texas A&M was too absurd for the typical intellectual dishonesty that accompanies these scandals.
How was it an affront to the purity of college sports for its highest profile athlete to make money off his name while his school made millions in donations and sold T-shirts with a winking nod?
Everyone saw the hustle for what it was, and nothing has been the same since.