Problems in Collegiate Athletics

ncaa-players-pay1-1024x640Yes, we can all admit that college athletics are not perfect. Despite the time you might spend glued to the TV on Saturdays, there are a multitude of challenges that athletic programs face. Our Intro to Sports Administrations students looked at some of these issues in their most recent blog postings. Check out a few of their thoughts below.

By: Alex Lininsenmeyer

Collegiate student-athletes have busy weeks, athletically and academically. They are expected to attain certain performance levels in terms of achieving passing grades in the classroom, but today, many student-athletes are at a sub-par academic level. Those who aspire to turn professional after their college careers will have a difficult time doing so, the percentages are slim to none that they will continue to participate athletically on a competitive level. In an article from TIME Magazine, they highlight former Ohio State Buckeye quarterback, Cardale Jones, who did not meet academic standards to be eligible for the NFL Draft (Why Student Athletes Continue To Fail, 2015). The NCAA has always seemed to be very persistent on its approach with ‘academic growth’, but not it often feels as though “student” plays second fiddle to “athlete”. The problem today in collegiate sports, with many of its division one student athletes, is the lack of focus and motivation it takes to compete in the classroom, to achieve high grades. With sports being taking up a significant portion of their daily lives, and big-time contests to take part in, classes have clearly taken a back seat to the primary goal that every student-athlete must need when entering a university, gaining an education and graduating. But how hard is it to balance academics and athletics simultaneously? Athletes not only have academic responsibilities, but they also spend countless hours outside the classroom doing various activities in their respective sports (Douthit, 2009). Most often, athletes are conditioning, or training in and out of season, going non-stop the entire day, with spending little amounts of energy towards school work. While the expectations from the NCAA to the universities and to student-athletes are important, and must be met so that programs and teams can remain eligible to participate in post season contests, it is vital for collegiate officials and advisors to stay persistent, and help student-athletes maintain a high standard that must be pursued. The mentors that these individuals look up to, coaches, administrators, teammates, friends, remain as a profound resource that the NCAA must continue to focus and build upon for student-athletes to succeed not only on the field, but in their academic studies as well.

References

Why Student Athletes Continue To Fail. (2015, April 20). Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://time.com/3827196/why-student-athletes-fail/

Douthit, B. S. (2009, February 9). Student Athletes Face More Than Academic Challenges. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://www.thenewsargus.com/news/view.php/404073/Student-Athletes-Face-More-Than-Academic

By: Emily DeWaters

Recruiting for college athletics has become and has to be a monitored process. There are a number of rules that are put in places to protect student athletes as well as institutions against backlash and scrutiny. Recruiting rules are different across every division of college sports, usually for obvious reasons. Each year NCAA schools assess and reflect on how the rules worked every year and amendments are made if necessary. The strict and formal process of how recruiting works is put in place for a reason, breaking that system is a direct violation that can affect the institution. One of the biggest reasons for rules is to make contacting students fair. Division I, II, and II schools have very different rules mainly on the basis of money that is given.

Within Division III institutions, athletic departments can have no hand in the money giving process, academically, or financially through the government. Kalamazoo College got to experiences the repercussions of doing just that first hand last year. Kalamazoo went against NCAA practices and disobeyed rules regarding the awarding of financial aid, recruitment practices and a failure to monitor NCAA financial aid regulations. Breaking rules such as these gives and unfair advantage to the school over the others who have followed protocol. Once the institutions have broken the rules it sends a very poor message about the ethics of the school. One bad situation can change how they are viewed and looked at.

Look at Louisville, a school that now is known for taking their recruits to parties where inappropriate strippers and prostitutes were hired for them. This is an example of not following rules in hopes of persuading young kids to come to their school. Bribing is a huge issue, especially in competitive sports. By taking out the aspect of bribing it gives all institutions an equal chance at “selling” their college without literally using money and materials to sell it.

The funny thing about recruiting scandals is they always seem to happen to teams who are not having success on the playing field. So is that their way of trying to make up for championship? In my opinion it usually ends up having the opposite effect. Bad recruiting turns into drama and publicized scandals. Which in my head would have the opposite effect than the original intention of “cheating.” So when weighing the pros and cons I think it is safe to say it is not worth the risk, more harm will be done than good, oh and its illegal.

Recruiting scandals are likely the number one most avoidable infraction a school can experience. It really comes down to not doing it. Know the rules and follow them it ends up being the best thing for your potential athletes and your school.

By: Zach Cohen

College sports involve a ton a money, but the thing that separates it from the pros is that it involves amateur players. This is where the Ed O’Bannon case comes in. To wrap up the context of the case: Ed O’Bannon was a star forward for UCLA basketball. He was even fortunate enough to make it to the NBA, however his peak of stardom and talent occurred in college. In the transition to a normal life outside of sports, one of Ed’s friends asked him if he’s ever played an NCAA Basketball video game. It ends up Ed O’Bannon was featured in one of the games. Ed had no idea he was in the game, he thought it was pretty sweet. But after some thought, he realized that he never received any funds for the use of his character. This impacted his NIL rights, a.k.a. the rights to his name, image, and likeness. These NIL rights are relevant to Ed’s case because his character in the game not only had the same jersey number and physical features, but also shared the same abilities and attributes.

When a college player signs on for a scholarship with a team, they waive their rights to receive funds for playing the sport. This protects the amateur feature specific to NCAA sports. However, when the question arises: Should college athletes get paid? The Sherman Anti-Trust Act often gets brought up. The act basically limits different companies from getting together and agreeing on how to go about things (price, limiting mobility) that will take advantage of and hurt the consumer. However, in a precedent setting case involving the MLB, the Supreme Court said “Some agreements that would possibly be antitrust violations in other industries are fine in sports” (2014). The court agreed that some agreements between teams are necessary to have a sports league. In any case, Ed O’Bannon still thought he was wronged by the NCAA and he was one of the first to sue the NCAA in regards to payment in the 2009 case O’Bannon v. NCAA.

Ed O’Bannon’s lawyer argued that colleges should be able to pay athletes for NIL rights, and/or should be able to pay athletes for playing sports. Nevertheless, the judge ruled that the Anti-Trust Act also protects the consumers’ right to choose to view amateur sports in contrast to professional sports; Therefore, students may not receive money for partaking in college athletics. The real issue in that college athletes may not receive payment is a flaw within the product itself, the athletes are amateurs, and must remain amateur for the product’s integrity. Even in 2015 when the case was appealed, the three-paneled circuit court affirmed the lower court’s decision (Solomon, 2015). Judge Jay Bybee was quoted as saying “(paying athletes) would transform the NCAA into a minor league” (Michael, 2015). The official ruling stated providing compensation to student-athletes beyond the full cost of attendance is not required under anti-trust law.

This precedent setting case will continue to remain a centerpiece to the very controversial issue of paying college athletes. As NCAA teams sign more and more big money deals with corporate sponsors and media partners, college athletes who view themselves as the core component to the NCAA’s product feel that they’re getting shafted. This case is highly significant, and will forever suppress college athletes’ desire for payment. These athletes are putting their lives on the line to play sports for their schools. Their lives change as they are required to put in copious amounts of work into school, training, traveling, and maintaining character. Athletes are running the risk of getting injured, and contributing all they’ve got to the game. All this work is used to give their school an opportunity to make money they’ll never see. I think that this topic will continue to remain a large issue in the world of sports controversy. I think athletes, media, politicians, lawyers, and bloggers, will continue to bring up this issue until scholarship payment is legally allowed to be expanded beyond tuition. Planet Money, a show on NPR conducted a mini survey which proved spectators of college athletics, regardless of their support for paying college athletes, would still purchase tickets and watch their team’s events (2014). I think that eventually, previous legal precedent regarding collegiate athletes will be overturned. I believe we will live in a world where these athletes will start to reap the benefits of their abilities and production.

References

(2014, October 31). Episode 579: Is The NCAA an Illegal Cartel? NPR. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2014/10/31/360176715/episode-579-is-the-ncaa-an-illegal-cartel

Michael, M. (2015). What The Appeals Court Ruling Means for O’Bannon’s Ongoing NCAA Lawsuit. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved from http://www.si.com/college-basketball/2015/09/30/ed-obannon-ncaa-lawsuit-appeals-court-ruling

Solomon, J. (2015). O’Bannon vs. NCAA: A Cheat Sheet for NCAA’s Appeal of Paying Players. CBS Sports. Retrieved from http://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/obannon-vs-ncaa-a-cheat-sheet-for-ncaas-appeal-of-paying-players/

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