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The NCAA: Upholding the Finest in American Hypocrisy

[ 80 ] February 21, 2013 |

The NCAA, an organization with such open-decision making practices and clear accountability as to provide lessons to the mafia, is forcing a University of Minnesota wrestler to give up his music career or be declared ineligible for profiting off his own image. Can we please just disband this organization?

Bauman embodies everything for which college athletics should stand. He should be the face of the NCAA. But the NCAA wants to make sure it is the only entity that can make money off Bauman’s face. Fearing an NCAA reprisal, Minnesota officials have asked Bauman to take his name off his songs and remove his image from the videos if he wants to remain eligible to wrestle at Minnesota.

He has two more years of eligibility remaining, but he is willing to sacrifice his scholarship rather than go by an alias in his music. “Now that I have a message,” Bauman said Wednesday, “I’m not going to go by an alias to deliver my message. … If I stop, what would that show people? If I just made an alias, what would that show people? That I’m going to quit what I started?”

This is the NCAA in a nutshell. When it isn’t busy hijacking a federal bankruptcy deposition to gather dirt in defense of its flawed model of amateurism in an infractions case involving Miami, its schools use that same flawed model as the rationale to attempt to crush a young person’s non-sports career. Never mind that if Bauman were a minor league baseball player instead of a singer, the NCAA would allow him to keep his baseball earnings and still wrestle. Apparently, those 99-cent iTunes downloads of Bauman’s Ones In The Sky represent a threat to the purity of college athletics, even though Bauman has yet to make a cent of profit. “I’ve not broken even on anything I’ve done,” he said.

At some point, the people at the NCAA and the leaders of the universities that comprise its membership need to stop and think about what exactly they’re fighting for here. Bauman’s case is yet another example of a group of people who have their heads stuck so deep in their massive rulebook that they can’t see the bigger picture.

Bauman, who is just returning to the mat in practice after missing three months because of concussion issues, is hoping he can make a last-ditch effort to keep his music and his scholarship without giving up his name. “I have a plan,” he said. “I’m going to run it by our compliance department.” If he wanted to go by DJ Takedown or MC Reversal, Bauman could promote his music on YouTube and sell his songs on iTunes. But why should he have to? If Bauman’s name is the price of a wrestling scholarship, the price is too high.

Comments (80)

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  1. Scott Lemieux says:

    The next person to offer a decent justification for the NCAA’s ban on athletes receiving payment from third parties like every other student can will be the first, and also logically cannot exist.

    • Cody says:

      Their method of controlling the students is pretty stupid.

      I understand not wanting them to get paid for their sports activities. I don’t think it’s a good idea, but okay. Since when does having a job forbid you from having any other job though?

      The NCAA literally claims your whole life once your enroll into a college.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        I understand not wanting them to get paid for their sports activities.

        It depends what this means. If it means “being unable to profit from people making money selling your likeness or merchandise associated with you,” then it makes no sense at all.

        • spencer says:

          That’s really the absolutely least defensible part of the NCAA’s grift – not that there are a lot of defensible bits, mind you. It’s not like a player being able to profit off his own image is going to force universities to adhere to workplace safety regulations, which is one of the explanations I’ve seen about why they don’t want to make players employees.

        • adolphus says:

          And what makes it triply hypocritical to me, is that everyone else involved profits handsomely. Outside my office at the University of Florida there was a Pepsi machine (Pepsi is the official soft drink of Gator Nation ka-ching!) that had the photos of the women’s volleyball team and the coaches. The coaches got paid five figures. The players got paid in the pride of being associated with caramel colored sugar water.

          • cpinva says:

            even worse, those players don’t even get full scholarships.

            “The players got paid in the pride of being associated with caramel colored sugar water.”

      • Ed K says:

        I believe the term you’re looking for is ‘indentured servitude.’

    • Especially for athletes who are receiving payments for independent ventures that have nothing to do whatsoever with the sport. For fucking real, what sort of rationale could the NCAA possibly think it has for telling students they can’t create and sell art if they want to?

      Reason number 1,750,452,845 why the Justice Department needs to take the NCAA down already.

      • commie atheist says:

        Their rationale:

        The rule exists so a well-known athlete can’t cash in on his fame while still in college. It exists so Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel can’t write a cookbook and sell it to Aggies boosters willing to pay $10,000 a copy. It exists so South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney can’t produce a Harlem Shake video — don’t scoff; you know you want to see it — and encourage Gamecocks boosters to buy $100,000 worth of ads on his YouTube channel.

        Of course, in this case, it’s a superstar of that highly lucrative and crowd-pleasing sport, college wrestling.

        • Yeah, I know, but like I said there’s no reasonable standard by which that’s not laughable.

          And note that it doesn’t extend to “prohibit a star high school prospect from going to a school who will get 10+ games on national television each year instead of his local Sun Belt Conference member.”

    • Monday Night Frotteur says:

      Competitive balance! If Terelle Pryor could get free tattoos from, and sell swag to, Ed Rife, Ohio State would dominate the Big Ten. If Trent Richardson could get a sponsorship from T-Town Menswear, Alabama would dominate the SEC.

      Heck, if third parties could sponsor athletes, you might even see the same state win 4 straight football national championships!

    • David Nieporent says:

      This is not remotely a defense of the NCAA, which I’d disband if given the chance; this is just an explanation of their logic:

      The NCAA bans third parties from giving money to athletes because it bans schools from paying athletes to “attend”/play for the school, and if there were no third-party ban, it would be too easy for schools to work around that by arranging for third parties to deliver those same payments. Then they’d (gasp) no longer be “amateurs,” and, well, the NCAA’s pristine image would fall apart.

      • daveNYC says:

        I understand their reasoning, I guess. But the end of that logic chain runs off into crazy land where you wouldn’t even want an athlete to be working at the McDonalds for fear that they’d be given some cushy no-show manager gig.

        • To the extent the logic can really be said to hold any water (and we’ll grant the competitive balance nonsense just for the heck of it), it only extends so far as to cut against payments that represent a straight up end around of the ban on paying players to play. Prohibiting the player from marketing their own image, even if said marketing has nothing to do with the sport they’re playing, is simply far too draconian/expansive restriction of the player’s basic rights to pass muster by any reasonable standard.

      • cpinva says:

        the athletes are already getting paid to play for the school. it’s called a “scholarship” which, according to both the schools and the NCAA, has monetary value. so that “logic” fails on its face, or falls, i’m not sure which.

  2. RJB says:

    I’m guessing there are no comments because words fail.

  3. olexicon says:

    Ed O’Bannon to the white courtesy phone

    • John Protevi says:

      Along with co-plaintiffs Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson. (If I were the judge I don’t think I could resist asking those guys for autographs.)

  4. SP says:

    The awesomest course of action for him would be to officially change his name to something wresting related and compete under that name for the NCAA, then make his “alias” for his music “Joel Baumann.”

  5. Scott P. says:

    I can see why you object to this, but what exactly makes it hypocritical?

    • Erik Loomis says:

      Because the NCAA claims to work on behalf of the student-athlete when it clearly exploits them.

      • Scott P. says:

        Even if we stipulate that in general, I don’t see how the NCAA is exploiting Mr. Baumann in this specific instance.

        • Hanspeter says:

          As noted in the comsents to the SI article: If Johnny Manziel decided to sell cookbooks for $10,000 under the alias “Johnny Football”, would that be allowed? What would the difference be to what they’re doing to Baumann?

          And it is hypocritical because the NCAA claims to want students to know they can ‘go pro’ (ie make money) in something other than their sport, and here is one student figuring out how to make money (and maybe have a chance to make a career out of it) while a student.

          I was a DI athlete in college and came close to being a coauthor in a scientific paper while there. Since that paper could have meant my name on a possible commercial patent, would the NCAA have kicked me off the team?

          • cpinva says:

            yes, it would have clearly violated the spirit of being a “student/athlete.

            “Since that paper could have meant my name on a possible commercial patent, would the NCAA have kicked me off the team?”

        • adolphus says:

          Because they have prohibited him from making any money or gain notoriety with his own name and likeness. They do this because allowing student athletes to do this would water down the money the school and NCAA make on his name and face, plastering it on soda machines and other crap. They basically have trademarked him and given him none of the money. They don’t do that for the coaches, who also have their names and likenesses used for commercial purposes but get paid bonuses for it.

          How is this not exploitation?

          • Right, the reason the NCAA upholds this so stringently is because they’ve declared that they control the rights to your likeness, won’t pay you for it, and don’t want any cracks in their claim to ownership. It couldn’t possibly get any more exploitative short of outright slavery.

    • Monday Night Frotteur says:

      The NCAA’s recent PR campaign is all about how the NCAA’s goal is to help athletes “go pro in something other than sports.”

      Here, the NCAA (or an NCAA school interpreting NCAA rules) is actively hindering this athlete’s ability to “go pro in something other than sports.”

      • And what’s more, if he were a student in the music department who didn’t participate in athletics, there’d be no problem with it. I don’t know if hypocritical is really the word (I think I’d go with revealing or something similar), but it’s quite clearly stupid, exploitative, and evil.

        • Kurzleg says:

          Also a great point.

        • efgoldman says:

          Right. The point i make every time this comes up. An oboe player on a full boat (tuition+residence) is encouraged to seek whatever outside gigs s/he can get, as a way of professional advancement. Such a person was my next door neighbor for years.

          • And the obvious difference, of course, is that the university’s administrators, head of the department, and the officials who put together music competitions (or whatever they have these days) aren’t running a business that makes them all multi-millionaires on the back of said oboe player. (not that you don’t know that, it just needs to be said explicitly as much as possible).

          • gmack says:

            Not just encouraged. At the music school where I teach, the school provides a “professional gig service” that matches its students with people who want to hire them for various functions (weddings, for instance). Also, the university actively encourages and advertises collaborative recordings, many times with both students and faculty participating, which are then sold through Itunes.

          • cpinva says:

            funny you mention this. my niece was a full scholarship music major. she was actively encouraged to seek outside opportunities, to both expand her music horizons, and make money. oddly enough, no college governing body had a problem with this.

  6. Kurzleg says:

    “Ones in the Sky” seems like a novelty song – I heard it on the way to work yesterday – but goodness knows the message is one that the NCAA could easily endorse. Heck, it could even be background music for their numerous advertisements.

    I don’t understand the exception for minor league baseball (and other pro sports). If the issue is that university sports backers will give players cushy jobs and money so they’ll play for their team, then what’s to stop a minor or major league team from doing the same for an athlete who agrees to play for the local school? Heck, that would actually be more fun than a cushy job. Maybe that sort of thing doesn’t scale very well, but the issue is the same.

  7. Erik says:

    You need to put the pieces of the article you lifted directly from SI in quotes.

  8. adolphus says:

    One point I think is worth making: The article makes a big deal about the fact that Bauman’s music is inspirational and having a message the NCAA should get behind. That really shouldn’t matter. Even if his music was satanic heavy metal or misogynistic rap music, he still has the same rights to his name and likeness.

    I understand how test cases and the poster child phenomenon work. You want a nice middle-class Rosa Parks, not a poor, unwed teen mother as your image. Still, it’s a dangerous road to go down to claim this guy has more rights to his name because someone thinks his music is more wholesome. It has the potential to help the NCAA become more thought police than they already are.

    • commie atheist says:

      I think it just serves to highlight how ludicrous the rule is, not to mention how ridiculous it is to imagine that a college wrestler would have the kind of notoriety that would lead millions of people to buy his music.

  9. [...] * The NCAA, an organization with such open-decision making practices and clear accountability as to provide lessons to the mafia, is forcing a University of Minnesota wrestler to give up his music career or be declared ineligible for… [...]

  10. Breadbaker says:

    So if I have this straight, say you were a non-scholarship athlete in a non-revenue sport, an Ivy League woman rower, and you got a summer job in Alaska waiting tables. Aren’t you exploiting your image, i.e., standing out there not wearing a burqa, so that any random supporter of Yale women’s crew could come in and overtip you? I expect the NCAA to get on this immediately.

  11. rc says:

    I’m not opposed to players being paid for other non-athletic activities. I am against paying players for the sport they play in college. Most of the players are already being paid. It’s called a scholarship. The only reason there is a push to pay players is because agents realize that ultimately they will be able to make commissions at the collegiate level. It’s pure greed.

    • ” Most of the players are already being paid. It’s called a scholarship.”

      It’s funny how no one else who is employed by the college athletic industrial complex (including, for the record, students who are employed in athletic department offices, stadium operations, etc.) think that trading monetary compensation for free classes and room and board is a great exchange, idn’t it?

      “The only reason there is a push to pay players is because agents realize that ultimately they will be able to make commissions at the collegiate level. It’s pure greed.”

      Agents? AGENTS?!?!?! Professionals who will be compensated as an employee of the player in exchange for his advice and looking out for the players legal rights and best interests? Well sweet balls, that changes everything! I mean, I used to think that as long as a bunch of privileged white assholes were making millions of dollars selling college football and basketball that the players putting in hours upon hours of work and risking their personal safety to make that all possible ought to be fairly compensated for their role in generating billions of dollars, but now that there’s the possibility that those players may devote some of that money to exercising their right to representation and advice of counsel, well fuck them I say. Fuck them with a spiked rusty dick!

    • John Protevi says:

      THE GREEDY PLAYERS AND AGENTS MUST, MUST I TELLS YA, BE KEPT FROM THE MONEY RIVER WHICH GOD HAS ORDAINED MUST GO TO COACHES, ADMINS, AND SPORTS MEDIA GUYS.

      PS, I AM NOT A CRANK

    • Monday Night Frotteur says:

      It’s pure greed.

      Thankfully the NCAA member schools pay Mark Emmert roughly $1.6 million/year to fight against greed. That’s probably why LSU is paying its offensive coordinator $3.4 million over three years too. Greed prevention, or something like that.

  12. Kyle Huckins says:

    The NCAA, uniting libertarians and socialists since…

  13. rc says:

    Oh, and they get a college degree. And if the current system is SOOO oppressive, then why are these guys lined up to get scholarships. There’s no exploitation here. Find another cause guys.

    • “Oh, and they get a college degree…”

      1. Actually, no, no one is guaranteed of a degree.

      2. If they were though, wouldn’t that just be like the ultimate degree mill, making that degree completely worthless?

      “And if the current system is SOOO oppressive, then why are these guys lined up to get scholarships.”

      1. Because it’s better than nothing? Why do people work for minimum wage if it’s not enough to get by as an adult in most places?

      2. Because for the subset of the athletes who are likely to become professionals in that sport (especially football), they don’t have any alternatives during the period in which the professional leagues say they aren’t eligible to play in them after high school.

      “There’s no exploitation here. Find another cause guys.”

      Well you’ve certainly proven your case, what with agents and the fact that everyone hasn’t given up basketball and football because college players at big money programs are required to work for free.

  14. rc says:

    “Required to work for free.”. No, they are not “working” for free. They are playing a kids’ game. And they are getting a free ride. Most kids who aren’t lucky enough to be blessed with exceptional athletic ability have to pay tuition. Yet you continue to feel so sorry for these jocks. And don’t even try to compare this case with minimum wage workers. It’s really insulting.

    • So basically what we’ve got here is just straight up resentment that they have the talent you never had, so therefore it’s cool to revel in exploiting them. I mean, not that that’s not typical, but let’s just call it what it is.

    • Monday Night Frotteur says:

      I bet you wouldn’t last 20 minutes in an ordinary D-1 basketball offseason training session. The average D-1 basketball and football player works harder than you 365 days a year.

  15. rc says:

    Exploiting? If a kid gets an academic scholarship he is not being exploited. But when a kid gets an athletic scholarship, he’s exploited. Please advise.

    • Western Dave says:

      But why do only athletic scholarship athletes have to face these restrictions on use of likeness. If this guy was a music student, not a problem. If he’s on an academic free ride, more power to him. But because he’s on an athletic scholarship, he can’t try to promote his music career? It’s ludicrous.

      • Right, show me the pre-med student on a full ride whom the university is licensing the likeness of without compensating them in any way while requiring them to put in hours of work outside of their academic work, and who can lose that scholarship at any point between seasons if a better student comes along to claim his seat in the classroom, and you’ll have a working analogy.

        • Breadbaker says:

          And don’t forget, that in many cases they are required to act as billboards for athletic wear companies who pay their coach, not either them or even the university, to require them to wear their logoed items.

    • Monday Night Frotteur says:

      I advise you to think a little more about this topic before you proffer more horrible arguments.

  16. rc says:

    I agree with you Western Dave.

  17. rc says:

    Yeah, those poor players. Sociology, criminal justice, etc, are quite challenging majors. I went to D-1 school, then law school. Don’t even try to say these athletes are working harder than the other students. If life as a “student-athlete” was so horrible, they wouldn’t be lining up for scholarships. And by the way, have you seen the training facilities, locker rooms, and housing for these guys? They are nicer than the Ritz-literally. These guys LOVE playing sports. It’s not a job. It’s a kids game for which they are already being paid with free tuition, room, and board. The reason the NCAA can use their likeness is because they are AMATEUR athletes. Get it? They are not professionals. They know this when they sign letters of intent. Like I said, there are many real cases of exploitation in this world. This just isn’t one of them.

    • “And by the way, have you seen the training facilities, locker rooms, and housing for these guys? They are nicer than the Ritz-literally. These guys LOVE playing sports. It’s not a job.”

      I am interested in your theory that working in a nice/high quality office space means that whatever work you are doing is not actually a job (since this obviously also qualifies PROFESSIONAL athletes as not doing a job as well), and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

      Look, I’ll stop snarking at you and offer some advice: you obviously have no idea how the actual nuts-and-bolts of life as an NCAA athlete, especially a football or men’s basketball player, and the extent to which the level of compliance with NCAA rules forces you into absurdity. Go out for lunch with your girlfriend, forget your wallet, and have her pick up the check? That’s a violation. Get a Christmas gift that’s a little bit “too nice” from your godfather? Might be considered a rules violation. Long-time family friend and AAU coach loans your mom money for a plane ticket so she can go on a recruiting trip with you (because schools aren’t allowed to pay for the cost of parents coming with their 17 year old kids as they get subjected to a sales pitch by the entire athletic department and such pillars of morality as Bobby Knight, Bobby Petrino, Nick Saban, etc.?) Oh man, that’s a fucking huge violation and might end with you never getting to play college ball. Get a minimum wage job to scratch up some cash to pay for the basics of college social life and put in 15 hours one week? That’s a rules violation. Oh, but so is getting a job and not working enough, because that could be seen as “improper benefits” from a third-party.

      Meanwhile, as other commentors noted, the school is plastering yur image on any number of things they’re trying to sell, putting the logos of their corporate sponsors/partners all over you, and your ole’ ball coaches agent always has one ear out to the larger programs to see if said coach has an opportunity to bolt for an extra million in salary from an SEC, B1G, or Pac-12 program on a dime. And if you’re a really hot commodity you can pull a Bill O’Brien or Brian Kelly (who, remember, got a student assistant killed in a scaffold accident at practice and didn’t get so much as a sternly worded letter in response) and leverage professional interest into a few million extra from your current employer.

      But hey, you’ve got free tuition, and can rest assured that you’ll at least get a degree out of the deal. Well, unless you blow your ACL out in your freshman year and can’t play anymore. Or if your school fires your head coach, replaces him with someone who runs a different system that you don’t fit and decides you don’t have a place on his team. And in football, especially, thanks to the 85 scholarship limit the NCAA is somehow allowed to impose on public universities, if you reach your senior year (one year from the almighty degree!) and you’re not at the top of the depth chart, well you might as well not even bother, because you can rest assured that your scholarship is going to wind up in the hands of one of the new freshman recruits with more upside. You know, because it’s about education and scholarship.

    • Monday Night Frotteur says:

      Revenue athletes have not been “amateurs” since the demise of the Sanity Code in the early 1950s. They receive Grants In Aid in return for their athletic services, unlike true amateurs who receive nothing of compensation in return for their athletic endeavors (today that’s basically club sport athletes only). The value of what they receive has been artificially constrained (and channeled into a massive black market) by an agreement between the purchasers of their labor, but make no mistake; they aren’t amateurs.

  18. rc says:

    If a chemical engineering student invents something that is worth millions, the University gets the patent and all the money because it provided the lab, facilities, etc which enabled the student to develop his idea. The student doesn’t get a dime, nor should he. In athletics, the school provides the facilities which allow the athlete to succeed. The athlete doesn’t see a dime from any profits made by the university, nor should he. The athlete, like the engineer, represents the university-not himself.

    • Hanspeter says:

      Wrong. When I started working as a paid undergrad researcher (not for class credit), part of my contract included a section on what would happen to discoveries I was part of. The patent would belong to the university, but I (and my PI, postdoc, etc) would be listed in the patent as an inventor. And the inventors would received a graded percentage of any income generated (something like 50% of anything up to $100k, then lower percentages for higher amounts). So yes, I would have made earned money for a discovery I made at college.

    • If you’re a janitor whose job is to clean a business’ facility, your job is totally dependent on said facilities. Without them, there’d be nothing to clean and no job for you! Therefore, the company is entitled to all the profits of your labor and you have no claim to an expectation of being paid for your labor.

      Oh wait, you aren’t jealous of janitors, so I suppose that’s different, right?

    • Monday Night Frotteur says:

      I can’t tell whether you’re a “bizarre NCAA justification bot” or just a facsist human being. Help me out; distinguish your scenario from every other workplace relationship in the economy. Do you think management everywhere (including Law Firms, movie studios, etc.) or just here where people you’re jealous of get screwed?

  19. rc says:

    You signed a contract and agreed to the terms. This is what athletes do as well. Your situation was different too because you were a paid researcher, which is different from a student reasearcher getting class credit. Either way, both you and the athlete agreed to the terms on the front end.

  20. rc says:

    Brien, there’s no helping you. You’re the only person I’ve ever heard classify playing college sports “work.” You can’t argue with stupid. You still haven’t told us just who it is who is forcing these poor athletes to sign letters of intent and commit. Please tell us, who is holding guns to their heads?…..crickets.

    • ” You’re the only person I’ve ever heard classify playing college sports “work.” ”

      Dude, try harder. I’m not the only person in this thread who’s done that.

      Meanwhile, you actually are the only person I’ve ever heard argue that having a nice office means that workers aren’t entitled to pay.

      “Please tell us, who is holding guns to their heads?…..crickets.”

      Um…the NFL and NBA. The fuck have you been?

    • Monday Night Frotteur says:

      Is acting in a movie “work?” How about coaching a football team; is that “work?” What if the coach really enjoys it?

  21. [...] or the cops. And in El Salvador, hundreds of children have been taken over the years. •The NCAA says that if a college wrestler has a successful music career as well, he’s violating the rules of [...]

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