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We Have A Problem, And the Solution Is That Everything Is Just Fine


A reader points us to this Gregg Easterbrook defense of the NCAA, which goes to absurd contortions to defend the status quo even for Easterbook. The column starts out promisingly, accurately describing the problem:

Johnny Manziel stands accused of breaking NCAA rules by selling his autograph; the accusation follows a series of temper tantrums by the Heisman winner, who is barely even pretending to be a college student. The NCAA once again seems the pinnacle of hypocrisy, its rules threatening him, though the Indianapolis organization profits in every possible way from the sweat of unpaid athletes. How can NCAA president Mark Emmert live with himself? Easy — Steve Berkowitz reports Emmert is paid $1.7 million a year to fast-talk his way through NCAA hypocrisy.

Texas A&M doesn’t look so hot, either. The school has not exactly offered to give back the $37 million that, by its own estimate, Johnny Football pulled in for the Aggies last season. The big conferences and powerhouse programs look bad, drowning in cash generated by unpaid players — $81 million in football revenue and $44 million in football profit last season at BCS champion Alabama, according to Department of Education figures.

Big time NCAA football generates a lot of money because a lot of people like watching it. The current system allows everyone involved to shove as much money as they can into their gaping maws except for the players who are the primary source of this revenue and many of whom are turning their brains into mush in the course of making a bunch of coaches and bureaucrats of varying accomplishment very wealthy. The players putting their health at risk aren’t even able to make deals with third parties to be compensated. To describe this state of affairs is to make the remedy clear to any clear-thinking person. How Easterbrook interprets this set of facts, conversely, is grimly remarkable:

Here’s the problem. In a free-market situation, Manziel would be raking in fees, as would Jadeveon Clowney, Teddy Bridgewater and a few others. The current rules clearly penalize them. But they are stars — the ones likely to become wealthy from sports in any case. If NCAA strictures on player income were dropped, the winner-take-all aspect of athletic economics, already a problem, would become extreme. A small number of collegiate stars would roll in money from age 19 on, while the overwhelming majority of collegiate players would receive pocket change or nothing at all.

I’ve seen similar arguments before from Jon Chait, who unlike Easterbrook is normally a very sharp thinker but is turned into a fuzzy one by his affection for the NCAA. The answer is “so what?” This is America; I’m not sure why NCAA athletes, and only NCAA athletes, are expected to be denied market compensation until the United States becomes a Marxist utopia. (Particularly since athletics are closer to being an actual meritocracy than pretty much any other American labor market.) The field of journalism, too, involves a few extremely well-compensated superstars and many, many more people who work as hard or harder but are barely scraping by. Somehow, I doubt that Easterbrook would agree that therefore his compensation from ESPN should be capped at $10/hour with no benefits and he should be prohibited from profiting from any other writing he does. (And nor, I should add, would such rules be any more defensible because some people would surely sign contracts under these terms.)

At least showing the good sense not to want his readers to think about this very long, Easterbrook starts waving his hands in another direction:

Perhaps the public would not care if college athletes were paid; maybe Division I is just another pro football league that leases college logos. But if paid football players ended the charm of collegiate sports, the scholarship system might falter.


It is ridiculous that the NCAA shafts athletes even after they leave college — let’s hope lead plaintiff Ed O’Bannon wins the lawsuit on that point. But it is fair for the NCAA to say to Manziel and others like him, “If you want to use our system to become famous, you must follow our rules.” Screwed up as the system is, it does confer most of its benefits on average athletes.

We have descended, as Brother Pierce would put it, to the bottom of the great lake of FAIL:

  • The idea that Johnny Manziel being allowed to profit from signing autographs or from other memorabilia sales would destroy the popularity of NCAA is implausible in the extreme.  Why every other professional league in the world not to mention the Olympics can thrive with a small number of stars getting most of the money but the NCAA’s popularity would crater — I have no idea why this would possibly happen, and neither does Easterbrook, because it doesn’t make the slightest shred of sense.  People might care about the Noble Ideals of Amateurism even less than they care about federalism.
  • But even if the Astros win the 2013 World Series and the Democrats took Utah in the electoral college in 2016 and players making money from selling jerseys with their names on them caused the popularity of the NCAA to decline, again, so what?  I don’t particularly care about what’s on the interests of the NCAA; even if compensating players would mean that the NCAA wasn’t maximizing its revenues, that’s not actually a good justification for grossly exploiting the players.  It’s like saying that the crucial question of the 19th Amendment was whether men would benefit.  (A question that Easterbrook probably would have been asking had he been alive in 1920.)
  • The utter implausibility of the idea that allowing players to make deals with third parties or otherwise compensating them would destroy the scholarship system renders the punchline just Gilded Age logic.  “If Manziel wants to play, he has to play by the rules.”  I refer to my earlier example about sportswriters.   “If Easterbrook wants to write a football column to become famous, he shouldn’t be allowed to make any more than the junior local politics blogger at the typical small-town newspaper.”  I’m pretty sure if the rules he’s advocating were applied to him he’d see the problems pretty quickly.  And I note as well that it’s odd that “exposure” is two of three million smackers a year short of being adequate compensation for the people coaching the athletes for some reason.
  • And finally, to state the obvious protecting ordinary scholarship players has nothing to do with NCAA rules.  If that’s the concern, the solution is a floor, not a ceiling.  But no players are going to make more money because Johnny Manziel can’t sign autographs for money.
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  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    The fact that so many otherwise smart folks (Chait, not Easterbrook) defend the NCAA status quo is a great example of the human tendency to spin incredibly unlikely and complicated “arguments” in an attempt to prove that the way things happen to be is, in fact, good and just. Whether we admit it or not, most of us have an inner Pangloss, who periodically emerges to defend the indefensible just because it is.

    • Hogan

      If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and if it is broke, hope that it somehow fixes itself.

    • My Inner Pangloss. What a great phrase, and what a very needed concept.

      • mattH

        Was thinking the same thing, introspection with an impetus behind it.

    • GoDeep

      Big time football & b/ball programs subsidize other parts of the university. Smaller sports teams, women’s sports teams, libraries, general scholarship fund, etc all depend on a successful football & b/ball programs.

      Now some ppl point out that *most* NCAA f-ball teams lose $$$. That’s true. But ask yourself why colleges at all levels support these programs? Is it out of the goodness of their hearts? No. Its because even money losing franchises generate lots of free publicity and advertising. You think UNC is as well known if its not for Dean Smith? Or Alabama as well known without Bear Bryant and Nick Saban? How big would Notre Dame’s TV contract be without fond remembrances of the Gipper? How many students would spend their winters in the wheat fields of Kansas if not for a nationally recognized b/ball program at KU?

      So the indirect revenue tied to these programs is much larger at most schools than the direct revenue these programs generate. Ia typical direct mail fundraising campaign you’re happy to get a 3% give rate. A 5% rate is wildly exceptional. That means that the principal fixed cost–the thing you have to scale–is publicity & awareness. That’s where football & b/ball programs come in.

      • sharculese

        I can’t tell whether or not this is a parody.

        • L2P

          Let’s go with parody.

        • NonyNony

          I read the name as GoDerp at first and just assumed parody. I’ll stick with that because if it isn’t parody it’s self-parody, which is almost as good.

      • Hogan

        It’s all about the intangibles.

      • Brien Jackson

        You’d be better off saying that it doesn’t matter if teams lose money because of the value to the university community or something like.

      • witless chum

        That’s truer than the version this person posted in the last thread, but there’s still not an argument in there as to what would be damaged by letting Manziel sell his autograph.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Yeah, that all explains why Alabama and Kansas State attract better quality students than Harvard.

  • Orpho

    Easterbrook is fairly consistent in wanting college athletics to focus on graduating its players and giving them scholarships. Although why athletes should be given scholarships over academically-inclined students who are well-prepared for college he doesn’t say. He does definitely herald Division III schools where the players are true student-athletes and not given scholarships (and where athletics is a net loss).

    I don’t think he’s answered the whole question of why these gigantic sports leagues attached to colleges should exist rather than just having a reasonable minor leagues system…

    • Scott Lemieux

      That’s all nice, but it still fails to explain why Manziel can’t sell a fucking autograph while his coach can appear on every billboard in College Station.

      • Orpho

        I think it’s a little more likely, if they felt that argument, that the NCAA would pass (more) rules restricting coaches’ compensation and marketing deals. It’s more their style – and it doesn’t touch the core of the exploitation of college athletes (which is also more their style).

        • NonyNony

          You know, if the NCAA passed rules saying that coaches couldn’t accept any money outside of their university salaries and university salaries were capped at some reasonable amount of money, I’d feel better about the students getting bupkis. Not completely satisified, but better.

          And by “reasonable amount of money” I’d be willing to go with “whatever your lowest paid tenured faculty member makes” or “whatever you pay your adjuncts”. Either would work.

          • IM

            university salaries

            Salary? That is ruining the game. They should get a scholarship.

        • Monday Night Frotteur

          The NCAA tried that and a District Court held that it was an antitrust violation and awarded the class of coaches affected $22 million (the 10th Circuit affirmed).

      • Obviously Manziel is exploiting his college if he sells something.

  • cpinva

    is he seriously suggesting that, if the NCAA were to fold up its tent, and disappear from the face of the planet today, that all intercollegiate athletics would cease to exist? really? and that would be………………because why, exactly? somehow, I suspect Notre Dame would reach deep within itself, drag out its small intestine, and find the will to carry on. along with pretty much every other college/university in the country.

  • TT

    This is priceless:

    A small number of collegiate stars would roll in money from age 19 on, while the overwhelming majority of collegiate players would receive pocket change or nothing at all.

    Which would make it a system a bit more like, I don’t know, pro sports in general? And since the position of Easterbrook, et al is that ALL college football and basketball players, regardless of their status on the depth chart, get free tuition, room, board, travel, and TV exposure, and so therefore don’t need any kind of compensation, they’re playing an absolutely disgusting double-game by all of a sudden caring about whether or not that fourth-string tight end is getting just “pocket change or nothing at all”.

    • BigHank53

      Minimum wage, how does it work?

      • TT

        I don’t know exactly how you would structure it, but I think there could be a conference or D-1 minimum for everybody, so that all football and basketball players (or any other players for a revenue-generating sport at a given university) get at the very least several hundred dollars a month of discretionary income. That way a player doesn’t have to worry about going to the compliance department because some booster’s cousin’s grandniece offered him a bus ticket home or treated him to lunch at Subway. Some type of revenue-sharing system could come into play between conferences and the TV networks.

    • Isn’t this “injustice over there means I don’t have to worry about injustice over here?” Also known as “If western feminists only paid more attention to Ethiopia then maybe we’d get around to discussing their issues in the US eventually.

      • TT

        Yes, exactly. If all problems related to a given issue cannot be solved immediately, equitably, and to the complete satisfaction of those standing in the way of solving said problems, then we cannot address any of them.

    • Porternator

      Of course, as you are well aware the only people who earn money are Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Everyone else out on the field has a collection jar by the front gates so the fans can tip them if they perform well on the field.

      It’s this argument that really, really bothers me. League minimum in the NFL for a rookie is $400K/year, and this increases based on seniority. For any position. And most players are making more! It’s almost as if they’re being compensated according to their relative value with respect to other players at their position and how they fit in with their team! [Albeit, with a hard lower cutoff, and a softer upper cutoff – top-tier QBs are probably still somewhat underpaid.] But somehow, someway, in order to field a respectable team, those terrible awful NFL GMs dig deep in their black hearts and write out a check to that second string tight end who only plays 5 snaps a game on offense and another 5 on special teams.

      It’s a fucking team sport. Pay everyone on the fucking team. There are 11 players on offense. Last I checked, the QB can’t hike it to himself, forward pass to himself, juke 11 defenders himself, and score the game winning touchdown himself. Might want to consider writing some checks to the other 10 guys.

      • TT

        I guess I should have worded things a little better, because I’m in favor of all college players getting paid, not just stars. (And I don’t think the whole “Well, they’re on scholarship so they’re already being compensated” argument holds an ounce of water.) But as with pro sports, the better players should command higher compensation in addition to money they can make through signing autographs and having their likeness used by the school, conference, NCAA, TV network, or whomever.

        • Porternator

          Oh, I wasn’t throwing that at you, just the argument put forward by Easterbrook. I knew where you were coming from.

  • Jerry Vinokurov

    maybe Division I is just another pro football league that leases college logos

    Maybe? MAYBE?!

  • medrawt

    Am I a terrible position if I continue to be skeptical that the median D1 college football or basketball player – at least the ones with ghost of a chance at a pro career – are mining all the value out of their free education that their noncompeting classmates are? The time commitments seem rather extraordinary to me. I was a very good student at a very challenging college, and I assume that had I gone to an academically more forgiving school but also played point guard for the basketball team, my GPA would’ve been lower than it actually was.

    • medrawt

      I meant to say “terrible person,” obviously, although I would have been in a terrible position if I tried to play college basketball, being the size of a point guard but having the skillset and athleticism of a backup center.

    • witless chum

      It’s probably very difficult to be both a top athlete and a top student, only a few top athletes have the academic talent, drive and desire to accomplish that. But to be a top athlete and a middling student seems possible. It’s possible to be a middling student and spend a huge portion of your time partying, after all.

      • medrawt

        Sure. But I feel like this is another indication of the rottenness at the core of the whole infrastructure, not just the intersection of academics with high-level athletic competition (an intersection to which I’m intrinsically opposed) but of the generic conception of the credentialing university experience to begin with. There’s something perverse about the idea of getting an education “paid for” by substantial dedication to a minor league sports franchise when it’s transparent that it’s harder to take advantage of that educational opportunity *because* of that dedication. Unless the point of the “education” is to receive a diploma, a fraternity affiliation, and hopefully a ring from a bowl game, which will gain the recipient entry into the world of backslapping middle management and special investment opportunities.

  • Duke

    Get real, pay the athletes while they fine tune their skills like any other member of the university is able to do. Those who have a vested interest in the present corrupt system and their enablers should stfu and let the sacred market they slavishly worship in all other areas work.

    • RepubAnon

      We can’t allow college sports to be polluted by free market principles – that would be Communism!

  • joe from Lowell

    Isn’t the problem of a few making all the money while the many get nothing (or too little) generally solved by redistribution, as opposed to forbidding everyone from making money?

    • The Dark Avenger

      “From each according to his/her ability, to each according to his/her need.”

      Needs polishing.

      • RepubAnon

        In football, I believe it is called a “salary cap.”

        Seriously, team sports need a supporting cast – so there’d be some money for the non-star-quality players. Why not have the NCAA set minimum salaries for players on the roster, and put overall salary caps in place for the schools? That would help maintain competitiveness, help the average players, and avoid the problems that Major League Baseball teams has with “the best team that money can buy” syndrome.

        • Scott P.

          The salaries would have to be capped pretty low — maybe $10,000 – $20,000 a year — in order to allow most Div I-A colleges to field a team.

          Plus, you’d need an act of Congress because right now such a plan would mean that every university loses its non-profit status.

          • Scott P.

            Need to add: also have to consider Title IX. If you pay Johnny Manziel $50,000 a year, that means you have to spend an additional $50,000 a year on women’s sports. Not that that would be a bad thing, but it does increase the cost.

            • socraticsilence

              Sure if you pay him, but if you let him sell his autograph or do an ad for the local Chevy dealer or what have you- that’s just the free market, that’s not a Title IX violation.

          • John Protevi

            Plus, you’d need an act of Congress because right now such a plan would mean that every university loses its non-profit status.

            Are you under the impression that “non-profit” means “doesn’t pay salaries to its employees”?

          • drkrick

            Even in a system where the stars are able to collect whatever money boosters or ADs are willing to give them, there will be plenty of players willing to play for the kind of scholarship currently on offer. It really is a good deal for the run-of-the-mill player, just not for top players.

            • Porternator

              I think that’s debatable. The problem here is that the revenue at the different schools is so skewed – Texas making $100M from football, Oregon making $40M – that the notion of “average” probably won’t work. Average player at Georgia is getting screwed, if tuition+benefits compensation is nominally ~$40k, by at least a factor of 2 or 3. Average player at UMass (who just joined D1 – FBS) is probably coming up on the winning end.

          • Brien Jackson

            “Plus, you’d need an act of Congress because right now such a plan would mean that every university loses its non-profit status.”

            This is, as always, completely ludicrous. In reality, not only do non-profits pay their employees, they’re required to do so, just like any other employer!

        • joe from Lowell

          There are so many people out there who want to throw money at college athletes, why should the schools spend their own?

      • joe from Lowell

        How about just “Let’s spread a few bucks around?”

        I’m not trying to recreate college athletics as the Paris Commune here.

        • I’m not trying to recreate college athletics as the Paris Commune here.

          Fewer dead bodies, one hopes.

          • Lee Rudolph

            I hear that Andrew Lloyd Weber is wangling for movie rights to Springtime for Sandusky!

  • efgoldman

    Amid all the bad decisions the NCAA (read: The major football and basketball schools) has made, is changing the scholarship grants from four-year to year-by-year. This allows coaches to run off players who are injured, or can’t cut it, or who really are plating the sport for the degree. For every Manziel, there are dozens who known damned well they’re never going to play in the pros, and really want the degree.
    It’ll never happen – the pro conferences will never allow it – but there ought to be a penalty (scholarship loss) to a school when an athlete doesn’t leave voluntarily but doesn’t graduate in a fixed time, say six or seven years.
    I’d like a unicorn to rise to work, too.

    • drkrick

      Was that a recent change. I know John Wayne’s college career ended when his football scholarship at USC was pulled after he blew out his knee, and I’d assumed the year-by-year nature of the scholarship had remained the same from those days up to the present.

  • RIckG

    There is little doubt that the NCAA is corrupt beyond any form of redemption. As ridiculous as the player pay scandals are (these are merely the folks who get caught), the answer isn’t necessarily to start splitting up the take on a star power basis. Maybe a good place to start is by making the NCAA or other body reserve the funding for more noble purposes such as:

    1) Making sure that scholarships actually belong to the player without the contingency of ongoing performance. If i player is hurt, or loses the magic, they are screwed.

    2) Assuring that lifelong medical care for injuries incurred is provided to the athletes.
    3) Allow players to have five or more full years to actually attend college and get a degree, independent of the sports program.
    4) Funding a pension of sorts for players to allow them not to be completely destitute.
    5) Provide lifelong drug rehab to get the players off the drugs to which they became addicted.
    I am sure others can come up with more.

  • ichninosan

    The NCAA is worst of all words:

    (1) An outmoded article of faith called the “amateur student athlete,”
    (2) A system that exploits athletes for their revenue potential,
    (3) The appearance of benevolence by offering “scholarships” to the athletes
    (4) The NCAA: an organization with the arrogance to enforce the exploitation while claiming a moral superiority over the “cheating” athletes


  • Scott P.

    I’ve seen similar arguments before from Jon Chait, who unlike Easterbrook is normally a very sharp thinker but is turned into a fuzzy one by his affection for the NCAA. The answer is “so what?

    Because the typical argument being made is that the average college athlete, often coming from a poor background, is being shafted. That argument loses a lot of its force if the alternative being proposed is mainly going to benefit a handful of top-flight players who will make millions in the professional ranks anyways and the average player will continue to be shafted.

    • Scott Lemieux

      So you think Chait would agree that he shouldn’t be paid any more than the median Gawker freelancer?

      This is just a transparently dumb argument. “The solution to exploitation is to ensure that everyone is exploited.” What?

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  • I’m just curious. Other than the sale value and historical contingency are there any other college events and/or arts where student “amateurs” are hedged around by so much bureaucracy? What about college dancers? What about artists? What about students working in labs on research projects?

    • I`m not sure how it works exactly but there seems to be some debate over who owns the output of students and faculty in the labs. Perhaps someone better informed can explain this but it maybe that an “amateur” computer programmer finds her work not be her own in terms of IP protection.

      • Well, I shouldn’t have included labs because all kinds of rules and regulations have been imposed on laboratory work and scholarship work (work study) ever since the production of lab work has been commodetized and monetized–ever since, in other words, there has been the possibility of patents.

        But my question about Art and Dance and Theater remains–is there any other field of student amateur endeavor where the student must refuse remuneration for their activities (or their brand) because they are also at college and also performing in college events?

        • My Name Here

          It really isn’t necessary to dismiss labs as an area of inquiry. I know of several graduate students whose names are included on patents granted for work done while they were students (although it is true that the legal issues around who owns IP generated at universities is murky).

          I also personally know graduate students who are employed, and earning a salary, by companies started by professors at the university. And this relationship existed while they are still students getting paid to be RA’s and pursuing their degree. I know of no school that has official guidelines banning this sort of arrangement.

          Some science departments also advertise graduate students as paid tutors for undergraduates taking intro level science classes.

        • BigHank53

          Typically one can’t use school resources to earn money with: the theater, recording equipment, or any instruments that belong to the school. Stuff that you do on your own time is just like any other job a student might happen to have.

          • Right, to both of those, but in addition the Student–say a student “star” in the arts or the sciences, is not forbidden from making money from his or her own image–as in the selling of signatures.

            • L2P

              I’d point out that Michele Kwan attended UCLA while making a ton of money as an Olympic skater.

              It’s truly bizarre. If Kwan had been a member of the UCLA figure skating team (and there was such a thing), she’d be prohibited from receiving all the sponsorship money she got. But as an “amateur” Olympian she was doing just fine.

              • Brien Jackson

                I don’t know if it’s bizarre, so much as it really shows you 1) that the NCAA’s definition of “amateur” athletics is not in any way the universal one, 2) in fact the NCAA’s definition is quite extreme and fundamentally brutal for the athletes covered.

        • g-rant

          I dabbled in pottery in college and we were certainly allowed to sell our art wherever we could. The art majors usually put their senior projects in private galleries in town (and other work if they could). All this despite using university studios and having materials partially or wholly subsidized.

  • hylen

    “. . . absurd contortions to defend the status quo even for Easterbook.”


  • Ed K

    Beautifully done, this.

    Other than that, I have more or less nothing to add to what’s been said above, except perhaps: “We don’t need no water—Let the motherfucker burn!” and so forth.

  • brad

    Do none of these schools employ students in the school bookstores or libraries or as research assistants or in countless other positions?

    I honestly don’t even understand what Easterbrook and worse are even trying to hold on to anymore. Top athletes like Lebron deserve ridiculous salaries because the value to a team of concentrating wins in a single roster slot like that is immense. They’re entertainers being paid a fair share of the value they produce. Giving players a small yearly stipend and personal marketing/appearance rights would hurt who, how? (Aside from a few profit margins, slightly.)

    • drkrick

      It’s a cartel – the schools and their shadowy athletic department/booster complexes don’t want to have to bid against each other in an open market (the illicit bidding war involves smaller numbers and fewer players). Wasn’t a similar arrangement “coordinating” academic scholarship offers to the recruitees of elite schools in place for many years?

      • brad

        Probably, I don’t recall such a scandal but it’d be easy to keep relatively quiet.
        I suspect the actual effect of any new system of NCAA player payments would be slightly more talent parity because of those shadowy types you mention having reduced clout, but who knows.

  • sc

    is it wholly nonsensical to see D-1 men’s football/basketball as an unpaid internship for the NFL/NBA?

    • Porternator

      Yes, because only about 10% of all D1 – FBS level football players will play professionally. There’s a whole other group in the D1- FCS side, with much, much smaller %. And it’s practically 0% for D1 basketball.

      They are generating an enormous amount of revenue, while the “exposure”/internship only helps those select few.

  • Porternator

    Serious question for the non-profit lawyers in the house:
    Is it possible for a non-profit such as a university to have a profit-making venture like a sports team, whose net proceeds go back into the non-profit coffers? Could be the endowment/scholarship fund/general fund/whatever. So basically the athletic directors should be doing everything they can to maximize revenue, which is returned to the university. Are there such things?

    • L2P

      Yes, it’s unrelated business income and they pay taxes on it. The use of any unrelated business income is limited only by the non-profit’s charter.

      But no, the University President has not duty to maximize those revenues (generally). They have various common law and statutory duties related to the function of the non-profit, but maximizing unrelated business income is almost never going to be required for the non-profit.

      For example, with sports one purpose of unrelated income could be to “increase scholarships with revenues,” but another purpose could be something like “to provide subsidized entertainment for alumni and students,” and yet another could be something like “to promote the school through athletics.” It’s a business decision which purpose the school should favor, so the Board would have discretion to choose which to follow. They can freely decide to charge nothing and operate at a massive loss.

  • Bitter Scribe

    So you think college players should be paid? Fine. Should there be a ceiling? Should teams have a salary cap? Would they be able to pay a luxury tax to exceed it? Would players be free to transfer between schools, or would they be under contract? Or eligible for free agency after, say, their sophomore year?

    Or do you just say, The hell with it, no rules, anybody can get paid anything and the devil take the hindmost, let it be the Wild West, and the schools whose alumni have the most money to burn will win everything?

    In other words, do we want the NCAA to be a mini-NFL? Or anarchy?

    Maybe things evolved the way they did for a reason. I’m sick of people pretending that a full college scholarship is so much chopped liver. So Johnny Mandel has to wait 24 months for his big payday. Boo fucking hoo. Kids who want nothing more than to play the sport they love and get a college education should not be squeezed out.

    • Monday Night Frotteur

      Lol. Good parody (I think? Almost too good).

      let it be the Wild West, and the schools whose alumni have the most money to burn will win everything

      Oh noes, that would in no way resemble what we have now where Wake Forest played against Washington State in last year’s national title game. Purdue is the favorite this year, and has way more than 2 conference co-championships in the last 60 years.

      In other words, do we want the NCAA to be a mini-NFL? Or anarchy?

      Both would be better for the players than the status quo. “Anarchy” would actually be the least disruptive, too; CFB (and to a lesser extent CBB) is most like the EPL, which has been a mostly free market without too much difficulty.

      Maybe things evolved the way they did for a reason.

      They did; the reason was to make the administrators running the sport as rich and powerful as possible. Read Walter Byers’ autobiography, or any half-decent history of faux-amateurism.

    • Scott Lemieux

      the schools whose alumni have the most money to burn will win everything?

      As opposed to the high levels of competitive balance the NCAA has now?

      Kids who want nothing more than to play the sport they love and get a college education should not be squeezed out.

      There will always be a place for you at non-sequitur university!

      • Bitter Scribe

        If you think the NCAA is out of whack competitively now, go ahead and make players into junior pros, and see what happens.

        What you’re advocating is libertarianism, which IMO will work as well in college football as it does everywhere else.

  • Robbert

    “Screwed up as the system is, it does confer most of its benefits on average athletes.”

    Conferring that line of reasoning to the welfare system would have people explode with fury, but when applied to college athletics it’s a valid argument all of a sudden?

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