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NCAA Again Sets the Gold Standard for Hypocrisy

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This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but the NCAA again reminded the world that they are the gold standard for hypocrisy.

Today, the NCAA suspended six Ohio State football players for upcoming games, with five of the six receiving five-game suspensions beginning in 2011. Of the five receiving major suspensions, four are starters or key contributors for the #6 ranked Buckeyes. The headliner is QB Terrelle Pryor, but 3 other offensive starters including WR DeVier Posey were also found in violation of the rules. The infractions for which the suspensions arose relate to the sale of goods to a third party. Aside from Boom Herron, who sold his jersey, pants, and shoes, the others sold their personal property. Pryor, Posey, OT Mike Adams, and backup DL Solomon Thomas sold various items including Big Ten Championship rings other awards. All told each player received between $1000 – $2500 for the items.

The fact that the suspensions came so swiftly and do not include the upcoming Sugar Bowl is an obvious case of the NCAA making rules around their own best interest. Had these players been suspended for the Sugar Bowl, sponsors, advertisers, and networks would’ve been angry. The last thing the NCAA wants is to anger those who line their pockets. Instead, they hid behind the guise that the NCAA “recognizes the unique opportunities (bowl games) provide… and they are evaluated differently from a withholding perspective.” In other words, we make the rules, so we can break them whenever we want. If the rule that they broke is important enough to warrant half of a season suspension, why shouldn’t it take effect for their next game? Follow the money trail.

The NCAA is nothing more than a legal extortion organization. They have free reign to make as much money as humanly possible on a player, but the second they don’t get their cut, they take them down. They rely on the fallacy that an education to these players is worth more than a few thousand dollars. The fact is that at schools like Ohio State, Alabama, Michigan, and other powerhouse football schools, while the schools should take pride in their excellent academic programs, the recruits don’t go there with the intent of earning degrees. Their goal isn’t to come out making $35,000 like the rest of us. They go there because of the football programs and the millions of dollars waiting for them in the NFL. I am not trying to undermine the value of an education, but the NCAA preaching the value of an education to someone not interested in it, is like giving me a foal from Zenyatta and telling me I can’t sell it. The baby horse may be worth a lot of money, but I didn’t ask for it, don’t know what to do with it, or even want it.

Not to single out Ohio State, because this is true for most powerhouse football schools, but the Buckeyes pull in over 20 million dollars in ticket sales per season. The players don’t see a penny of it. They are indentured servants to the institution that they choose to play for.

Look at it this way: let’s say you make $50,000 annually, and someone says: “I’ll give you the option of coming to work for me for free for 4 years, while I make 50 million dollars in that span.” After you got done laughing in their face, what if that same person said: “Ok, at the end, there is a 2% chance that you will make a million dollars after you work for me, but either way I’m going to still make millions” then would you do it?

In that scenario you have a choice, and given that choice the overwhelming majority of logical-thinking people would say no. In reality these players don’t have a choice; their paths are paved for them. Some of them come from upbringings that I still can’t fathom still exist in civilized America. What are they supposed to do for four years while they watch their family struggling to get by? If I were in their shoes, I would do anything I could to keep my family afloat. If that means selling my personal property, so be it. Whether or not I sell my things should be of no interest to the NCAA. It doesn’t take money out of their pockets; it also doesn’t take money from the BCS or athletic departments for that matter. If I have things of value that I acquired legally and by my own merit, and I choose to sell them, that’s my personal right. In this specific case to a Buckeye, selling the gold pants that are awarded for beating Michigan is equivalent to treason. For the players sake, I hope they had a legitimate need for the money and it wasn’t just a quick cash grab, but regardless it’s still their right in a capitalistic society.

Since NCAA football is entrenched as the minor league for the NFL, they have to bet on themselves for 3-4 years with no return on investment other than draft stock. I understand that the NCAA can’t pay athletes because of the legal ramifications, but the fact that they aren’t given reasonable allowances or royalties from the sale of their jerseys or other merchandise is criminal. Granted, all athletes are not gifted in the same ways, and jersey sales would be higher for the star player than say the 3rd string linebacker, but that’s the point. Elite players would get a few thousand dollars, and they wouldn’t have to take it from boosters or other third parties. With the revenue they are generating, they deserve at least a token cut. Jersey sales are a fair way to show market demand and offer equal earning opportunity.

The NCAA isn’t acting alone in the landscape; the athletic departments are to blame as well. The schools work hard to show their financial statements as breaking even and in some cases taking a loss. These same athletic departments make an active choice to spend exactly what they take in; it’s not due to circumstance.  Companies do it all the time at this time of year, they look at their revenues and their expenditures, then make sure they end up equal up so their budgets aren’t cut for the next year. This is the primary argument for why they just can’t seem to come up with any dollars for player allowances, and it’s utter nonsense.

The one thing that has been proven by this year is that if you are a player in need of money; make sure your parents do the actual dealings. That way you can pretend you didn’t know anything about it the way Auburn QB Cam Newton did. Newton’s dad Cecil took bids behind the scenes to determine which school his son would play for. It wasn’t a paltry thousand dollars either; his dealings were in the hundreds of thousands. In the end the NCAA ruled Cam eligible because according to their statement, they couldn’t prove that Cam knew about it.

In the meantime, these six Buckeyes and Georgia WR AJ Green got docked games for selling their belongings to someone interested in buying them. In the case of Green and Herron, they sold their jerseys; the same game-worn jerseys sold by the universities for overwhelming profit. They players should know better, and the excuse that they didn’t is not only tired, but it’s ridiculous. That being said, the NCAA who proclaims from the mountaintop that they DO know better continues to prove that they are nothing more than a group of hypocritical racketeers.

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