Welcome to the calm before the storm… unless you’re an NIT junkie, then your Madness has already started. In honor of Coach Calipari’s fantastic coaching job on Tuesday night, today’s soundtrack channels the thoughts of Wildcat fans as they get to watch the rest of the tournament. Hey… you think they’ll have time to join our Bracket Challenge?
Hey! It’s basketball season!! And our friend Mekka Don worked with the Buckeye Nuthouse to revision his “Let’s Go!” just in time for the March To Atlanta… the song that inspired a shirt!
Buckeye News, Cont
Commentary- Jim Delany Translated
Three connected stories to look at this week. First, the Ed O’Bannon case continues, and the pressure (legal, and in the court of public opinion) to ensure that college athletes receive a portion of the funding that they generate for the University Athletic Departments. Again, the heart of this is the NCAA’s decision to license athlete’s likenesses for video games, but it goes well beyond that in terms of implications.
Second, Jim Delany responded by saying that the B1G Conference would explore other options, including a Division 3 (non-scholarship) option.
“…it has been my longstanding belief that The Big Ten’s schools would forgo the revenues in those circumstances and instead take steps to downsize the scope, breadth and activity of their athletic programs,” Delany wrote. “Several alternatives to a ‘pay for play’ model exist, such as the Division III model, which does not offer any athletics-based grants-in-aid, and, among others, a need-based financial model. These alternatives would, in my view, be more consistent with The Big Ten’s philosophy that the educational and lifetime economic benefits associated with a university education are the appropriate quid pro quo for its student athletes.”
In the worst vote of confidence ever, Ohio State’s Gene Smith said that he agreed with Delany’s position. And, of course, the response from the internet was predictable- Delaney is an idiot, There’s no way that OSU would go D3, How dare he sacrifice even more support for athletics in order to maintain status quo… etc., etc.
My take is mixed. First, I appreciate Delaney’s position that college sports, ALL college sports, should not be a semi-pro endeavor, but part of the academic mission of an institution. This may, in many ways, be a difference between the B1G and other conferences: for many reasons, it’s more than just athletics. It also resonates, in its purest form, with my personal philosophy of collegiate athletics- something that regular readers will know is a conflict I’ve been trying to rectify for a while now.
Second, I also think that there’s no way that Jim Delany has spent the last several years building a television network and expansion plans that reach well beyond the B1G’s traditional footprint in order to step away from the impact that those have by trivializing the available product. His commentary was more than likely grandstanding.
Third, I believe that Delany is a smart individual, and has certainly worked with others in major conferences to create a contingency should the O’Bannon case impact the future of their constituencies. That could be any number of things; creating a separate division for football and basketball that would allow this type of student reimbursement; moving to a model that would allow for student athletes to receive payment in the form of sponsorship (the “Olympic model” that many advocate), having all non-revenue sports also be non-scholarship (which might be problematic given federal Title IX requirements), or even officially moving basketball and football to a “semi-pro” model that’s only barely connected to their historic academic institutions.
I don’t know which, or even any, of these they might end up with… all I know is that Jim Delany started this with the move to the BTN and conference expansion, there’s no way that he or Scott or Slive will see their clients left high and dry by this situation, no matter how seismic it may seem to the future of college sports as fans know it.
What might catch them unaware, though, is our other news story of the week. As you remember, TV revenue is a huge driving factor for expansion, with the idea of bigger media markets being among the reasons that the SEC reached out to aTm and the B1G is in conversations with ACC schools. Heck, do you think that Rutgers and Maryland are joining the conference on athletic prowess or academic reputation alone?
The challenge, though, is that there are significant challenges to the current “bundling” model that cable television currently uses to provide content to their subscribers. Verizon is exploring a “pay per view” option for their channels- users would have tons of options, but would pay based on what they actually watched. Instead of the BTN being a required part of a cable package no matter what the viewer watches, it would only make revenue when the channel was on. From another take on the matter-
If providers tried to adopt a similar model on a larger scale, sports channels would likely be among the hardest hit, since their fees are so high relative to other kinds of programming when controlling for the number of viewers.
The ala-carte model makes sense for me personally (since I don’t watch more TV other than sports and whatever god-awful shows my kids have on), it certainly wouldn’t be advisable for the revenue generation numbers that the athletic departments are now looking forward to for their survival and expansion.
Which, if the O’Bannon case goes through, might make things very interesting- loss of revenue stream from cable bundling, expectations for outlay to student athletes. I’m not an economist, but that don’t sound good.
At any rate, it’ll continue to be an interesting off-season.
Elsewhere across the NCAA
And Finally The truth can be told… I still blame Jar Jar, though.