Welp, there’s only so much Midwest my family can handle. Wait… that’s not right. There’s only so much of my family that the Midwest can handle. That’s more accurate. Since I’m flying back to LaLa land as we speak, here’s some traveling music for your morning interlude.
Commentary- Things That Could Have Been Brought To Our Attention Yesterday
It’s been a minute or two since you’ve been blessed with my thoughts on the ins, outs, and other doin’s of the NCAA, particularly in regards to their attempts to maintain the “student-athlete” ideal.
You remember that the question for my daily pondering is “How do athletics as we know it further the educational mission of the University”. And, given all the fun that’s been happening in Oakland, it feels as if this question still isn’t on anyone’s radar- If we finally pay players the money that they deserve, how does that further the educational mission of the University? Or does that even matter anymore?
Well, enter our good friends at the B1G. Today, presidents and chancellors from all of the conference’s institutions released a statement that reiterated that at least some folks are nominally considering the issue. If you haven’t read the entire document, you should take a gander… we’ll wait for you.
Couple of highlights for me:
The amateur model is not broken, but it does require adjusting for the 21st century. Whether we pay student-athletes is not the true issue here. Rather, it is how we as universities provide a safe, rewarding and equitable environment for our student-athletes as they pursue their education.
We must guarantee the four-year scholarships that we offer. If a student-athlete is no longer able to compete, for whatever reason, there should be zero impact on our commitment as universities to deliver an undergraduate education. We want our students to graduate.
If a student-athlete leaves for a pro career before graduating, the guarantee of a scholarship remains firm. Whether a professional career materializes, and regardless of its length, we will honor a student’s scholarship when his or her playing days are over. Again, we want students to graduate
We must review our rules and provide improved, consistent medical insurance for student-athletes. We have an obligation to protect their health and well-being in return for the physical demands placed upon them
We must do whatever it takes to ensure that student-athlete scholarships cover the full cost of a college education, as defined by the federal government. That definition is intended to cover what it actually costs to attend college.
While there are some real holes in the logic here (the guys at Northwestern, as usual, have done a great job at carving up the arguments- again, worth the read), the fact that the conference continues to at least nominally use language about educational opportunity is significant as I keep my main question in mind.
It should be noted that our favorite program has instituted many of these already- four year scholarships are a part of the repertoire, and a number of former Buckeyes have returned to finish their degrees after their professional careers. Heck, I’ve said for years that if you play a revenue sport for four years you should be allowed to get a Master’s degree; fifth year seniors should be eligible for PhD work. Again, if that’s what they’re passionate about, why shouldn’t the University support them?
As much as I appreciate the statement, though, there’s still a part of it that hits me sideways. Again, Ohio State has been trying to be a Leader in this (or is it a Legend? I get confused…), but the timing of the Chancellors’ and Presidents’ statements is very frustrating. If these values are so crucial to these institutional leaders, then why haven’t policies been implemented already? These are, after all, the alleged smartest people in the country.
I realize too that these items have been on the agenda for the B1G Presidents and Chancellors for a few years now, but like the rest of America I firmly believe this is happening not out of a desire to “provide a safe, rewarding and equitable environment for our student-athletes as they pursue their education”… but as an attempt to cover their institutional asses before the lawsuits force their hand.
There’s no way that any of these leaders could have not seen these issues coming to a head… I’ve been talking about it for over 15 years, and I live my professional life much lower on the org chart than University President. To believe that suddenly they’ve been hit with compassion and inspiration at this moment is naive, and only further highlights the perception that outside forces are necessary to make this whole thing right.
A number of folks are excited for the “death of the NCAA”, and there are times that I join them. But we still haven’t heard what might be a viable option that reflects the economic realities of big-time college sports AND the academic endeavors that the institutions were established to pursue. And while the B1G’s leadership seems to have a good focus, it’s frustrating to think that they could have once again led the nation in creating solutions to the problem at hand… and for whatever reason, they chose not to.
As I was looking for songs for this week’s article, I ran across this and found it really interesting. Who knew?