Tag: NCAA Basketball
A fierce rivalry between Duke and North Carolina made of this game quite an exciting matchup as the Blue Devils stunned the North Carolina Tar Heels 85-84 with a brilliant last minute pass from a freshman that is already working his way up to the pros. Duke was coming off an overtime home loss to Miami over the weekend, so they really needed to strap them on and get a win. At the end, it really seems that North Carolina won most of the rounds, but it would be the Duke Blue Devils making the most of the last round and the game.
The North Carolina Tar Heels were ranked No. 5 in the AP Polls and with a season record of 20-4 overall and 7-2 in Conference Play, and playing at home, chances were things were going to end in their favor. Sure enough, before them they had the Duke Blue Devils, their conference rivals that with the same record in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Considering that the Blue Devils had a school record 31 consecutive wins at home, Duke would had to go into overdrive to take such a key win on the road. And at the end, it would be up to a freshman player to make the game changing 3-pointer.
The Tar Heels took an early advantage and hold the Blue Devils back for the better part of the game. Harrison Barnes was at the helm of the Tar Heels with 25 points while Tyler Zeller finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds. But Zeller, despite his good numbers, had a terrible second half. He only scored four points in the second half and missed two free throws in the final and decisive minute, including one with 13.9 seconds left that set up Austin Rivers’ winning shot, which by the way, he was also in guarding when he made that last minute shot.
North Carolina blew up a 10-point lead with only 2 minutes to go. It certainly looked as if the Blue Devils would have to go home with a loss, but at the end it was Doc Rivers’ the Boston Celtics head coach kid, Austin Rivers who would make all the difference. Rivers scored a season-high 29 points and hit 6 three-pointers, so when the last played came out, the Tar Heels knew very well that he was the chosen player to seal the deal. Still, the 7-foot plus Zeller gave him way too much space and never raised his hands to use his length to defend the basket. By the time Zeller reacted the ball was already leaving his hands as the buzzer was just to go out.
“Obviously this is my favorite win I’ve ever had in my entire life,” Rivers said. “And it’s because we were down the whole game. The whole game, we were down. They just kept it on us — 10-point lead, 10-point lead. And then there was 3 minutes left and probably everybody thought we were going to lose, and we just kept fighting. To get a W, it’s amazing.”
As in most things in life, at the end, it all comes down to money. The NCAA has made a big effort to try to keep college sports at an amateur level. Players, or to be more precise, student-athletes should play for the love they have for their Alma Matter and the love for the game. At the end, amateur is French for the Latin word that signified lover. But just as they say money can’t really buy love, is there such thing as love without money? Particularly when most of the love is actually going to the grown ups, the adults in college sports who make the big paychecks?
There seem to be a couple arguments against paying student-athletes for playing in NCAA Division I teams. Particularly those involved in the major conferences in college football and college basketball. I’ll try to break them down a bit here.
Those who want to keep it amateur
On one side, those in favor of keeping college sports amateur insists that it would be impossible to pay athletes on a fair basis. That is, should the Alabama Crimson Tide’s quarterback make more money then his homologue in the Florida Gators? For that matter, how would you pay male and female basketball players who represent the same college? And if Football players get paid, should lacrosse and soccer players get paid too? Those who make this argument also (perhaps unknowingly) concede that it’s not a matter of paying or not paying, it’s just not viable to make it fair (whatever fair means in this cases) for all student-athletes to get paid.
Then there is the case of those who believe that players shouldn’t get paid not because it is fair or unfair how you divide the money, but those who believe that offering these students housing, board, books and free tuition should be more then enough. People who make this case often considered that there is no such thing as the exploitation of student athletes. For the last 20 years, athletes have been portrayed as the victims of college sports. Division I sports had and probably will keep on been portrayed as a sort of circus where everybody makes money except for those who are actually making the game be. And yet, what many argue here is that many college students come out of school with over $200,000 worth of debt, while these guys are well taken care of.
There is one other argument for those in favor of keeping things amateur. And that lies on a thin argument. Many consider that what attracts fans to watch from home or crowd the stadiums and arenas is not the respect or love these fans have for individual players, but rather the passionate love they feel for the school. These fans are cheering for the jersey not for the player. Some will go on a say this is what separate the popularity of college football and basketball and the lesser attention received by little league sports. It’s a thin line, isn’t it? It’s hard to say if this adds up. Does it matter if fans cheer for the jersey or the player? I mean, at the end, it’s the players, anonymous as they might be, who give life to those jerseys, who make them be the center of attention.
Those who want to pay for the profitable play
Those in favor of paying the athletes usually argue that there shouldn’t be a problem with the fact that players, certain players –student-athletes that is-, make money while other don’t. It’s all good under a system we are all too familiarized with: capitalism. The best college athletes in the two revenue-producing sports have always been worth much more than tuition, room, board and books. The best football and basketball players in the Big Ten have produced to the degree that a television network has become the model for every conference in America, a network worth at least tens of millions of dollars to the member institutions. Yet, no player can benefit from that work. What many are arguing is that the schools, the NCAA and the conferences already follow this “unfair” model of business. Consider for a moment that the most distinguished professor at the University of Alabama won’t make $5.9 million in his entire tenure in Tuscaloosa; football head coach Nick Saban will make that this year.
And then there is the money. It’s all about the money baby! It won’t change whether these athletes follow up a professional career in sports or they end up working from an office. At the end it’s all going to be about money and dealing with the market. The Collective Bargaining Agreement of the NFL and the NBA are making the headlines, but little has been said about the following facts involving collegiate sports. Take for example the $10.8 billion agreement between the NCAA and CBS/Turner Sports for March Madness between 2011 and 2024. That is $11 billion for three weekends of television per year. But that’s not all. Consider that there’s a new four-year deal with ESPN that pays the BCS $500 million for the rights to show the football bowls. So what then? Where those all of this money go to?
Please bear with me on this one. The business model by which the BCS’ new deal with ESPN was based is very illuminating for these purposes. Consider that the bottom line of the deal is that it offers to pay more money to schools/conferences with according to “population centers”. Of the $174 million distributed from five bowl games, 83.4 percent went to six conferences in 2011. Some have gone to the extent of wondering whether the BCS itself conducts its business deal in a manner consistent with principles expressed in federal anti-trust laws. And yet it’s really a thin argument to say that the schools don’t pay their athletes based on their performance because it wouldn’t be fair or equal to all student-athletes. One can’t help but to notice a certain level of hypocrisy here that ought to make the opponents of paying athletes uncomfortable.
On a previous article we posted at our sports betting blog, we had mentioned that the NCAA was working on some sort of contingency plan to try to keep Division I sports at an amateur level. NCAA President Mark Emmert doesn’t believe colleges should pay athletes, and he wants university leaders to help him. Emmert announced he would hold a two-day retreat with about 50 school presidents or chancellors to discuss the future of Division I sports. The meeting is scheduled for Aug. 9-10.
Perhaps the main issue here is that every day it becomes more evident that college sports are not really as amateur as the organization that rules them all would like them (or at least make us believe) to be. Perhaps the only reason why we understand college sports as amateur is because of the fact that there are two bigger and professional leagues, the NFL and the NBA, that use this 4 year program as a filter to bring out the best of the best in a yearly multimillion dollar draft. That exclusion is in appearance the mayor distinction between both. Until you consider the money factor.
Truth is, that the educational component to College Football, and by extension we could add, College Basketball, is almost a non-factor. If we semantically consider amateur back in its original classical Latin, the word meant lover. Now its understood as something that is done for the love of it, and not for money. I can‘t help but to feel that the only thing that is left at an amateur level in college sports is that despite all the profit that it is been made by the schools, the coaches, the conferences and even the association in terms of ticket sale, advertising, sponsorship packages and television rights… it is the players, the guys who actually risk their health in the court or the field to make this such an entertaining commodity are the only ones who are not making a dime.
And yet, when if by one reason or another, a player manages to make a little extra cash for himself, he usually ends up having to deal with a big lot of trouble. And here is where it all get’s interesting. According to a researched made by the Associated Press, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany was the highest paid, receiving total compensation valued at $1.6 million, followed by Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford ($1.1 million), Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive ($1 million) and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe ($997,000). The other two commissioners each started in July 2009, so their compensation figures are only for the last six months of the year: PAC-10′s Larry Scott ($735,000), and Big East’s John Marinatto ($366,000).
That’s certainly much more than what the average college president makes. I’m not interested in arguing whether the conference commissioners deserve such a salary, or if that money could better be used in funding other academic proyects, since at the end, Colleges are supposed to be a place to develop the most brilliant minds of generations to come, not the best athletes. But then, we would have to consider how much easier it is to find funding for the Oklahoma University football team then for the linguistics department that explores the native tongue of the natives that once lived where the institution now stands. But that’s a whole different story.
What we know as a fact is that the average annual pay of presidents of the United State’s largest research universities was $760,774 in 2008. I guess they could have been better off working for the Conferences. It is got to be a really hard task to enforce amateurism among college athletes when this is the kind of salaries that those in charge of keeping things amateur make.
Don’t even get me started on how much coaches make. Texas coach Mack Brown, for instance, makes around $5 million, while Alabama coach Nick Saban earns $4.7 million. That is a lot of scholarships if you ask me. But hey, on the other hand, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel and star QB Terrelle Pryor both left the school this spring in the wake of revelations that Pryor and other players sold memorabilia for cash and tattoos. Tressel was only trying to cover up for his players. He got fired anyway. Perhaps he felt a little guilty that he was picking up a 7 figure salary while his players weren’t making anything but a free education which is a big deal considering what it costs, but a meaningless fraction of what the schools and the football organization make out of their talents and efforts.
It’s been a hot topic for a while now but still, it is uncertain what the position on this debate should be. Let’s be clear on this: it is evident that the NCAA has made a big effort to keep the amateur status of college Division I sports, but it is also quite evident that some programs have mastered different way to find loopholes and give benefits to talented players in an attempt to secure their enrollment in their school.
There have been plenty of scandals involving recruiters and athletic directors who have managed to slip in some great offers to young athletes, securing their participation in the bigger programs in both college basketball and college football. But perhaps the debate has reached a new dimension in the wake of high-profile infractions cases including that of reigning Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and former Heisman winner Reggie Bush.
Athletic scholarships currently cover tuition, fees, room, board and books. Not covered are transportation, clothing, laundry, entertainment and incidentals. It’s not a bad deal, the problem is that all though the athletic program has created a yearly oasis of new talent for the professional leagues both domestic and abroad, there has been too much focus on the athletic performance of the student-athletes and not so much focus on their academic accomplishments.
Of course the debate is about money, but some are trying to change its course. I would like to see university leaders discussing how the NCAA can continue its push to hold athletes to better academic standards. Also, what can be done to help improve the behavior of athletes, protecting the integrity of college sports and the fiscal sustainability of athletic departments that routinely spend tens of millions of dollars to fund sports. But perhaps its not only that college programs spend tens of millions to found sports; truth is that the some elite programs actually make a big load of money out of their sports, probably more then what it takes them to sustain them. But nobody really wants to get into that.
The thing is that if athletes want to get pay for playing sports, they might just work their way into the NFL and the NBA. That’s what those two business models have been made for. It’s just hard to find a way to make this paying for play viable when it comes to college sports. Basically its all about equality. Will the kicker get pay as much as the quarterback? Will female and male athletes make the same?
NCAA President Mark Emmert doesn’t believe colleges should pay athletes, and he wants university leaders to help him. Emmert announced he would hold a two-day retreat with about 50 school presidents or chancellors to discuss the future of Division I sports. The meeting is scheduled for Aug. 9-10. This is the right place to discuss these issues, try to find possible solutions to what is going on with college sports.
The NCAA needs stronger investigative tools, there is got to be a more comprehensive and clearer penalty structure, and it also needs to find a way to convey a very simple message even before student athletes enroll in their first class: they are expected to perform in the academic aspect of the sport. One shouldn’t only learn how to run faster or shoot better while on a 4-year college program. One should actually walk out of the institution be it to continue his or her professional career on or off the court a little bit smarter.