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Profiles in rent-seeking: College athletics edition

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The athletic directors and the commissioner of the Big 10 conference are very, very, very concerned about putting the education of their unpaid quasi-professional athletes students who participate in extra-curricular activities first. Very concerned. How concerned? This much:

“While we are comfortable generating multiple ideas about an ‘education first’ approach to intercollegiate athletics in the twenty-first century, we won’t go it alone on any of these matters,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in the statement. “We look forward to working with our colleagues in the NCAA Division I governance structure, and to exploring a broad exchange of ideas from both inside and outside of intercollegiate athletics.”

ESPN.com had previously reported that the Big Ten had begun internal discussions about making all or some freshman athletes ineligible, a measure that would have the greatest effect on the current one-and-done climate in college basketball.

Delany, who was getting paid just $1.8 million by the conference two years ago, and who is strongly opposed to college football and basketball players having their salaries raised from their current level of $0.00, was walking back those reports, since even the rumor that the conference was considering such a proposal was already being used against the conference’s football and men’s basketball teams (the two sports that make all the money) by coaches from other, less educationally-serious conferences.

But the conference is very serious about education. How serious? This serious:

Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke said he believes in the NCAA policy that prohibited freshmen participation before a 1972 reversal.

“I, for one ,as a Big Ten AD, am tired of being used as a minor league for professional sports,” Burke said. “What was right for the NCAA in the first 70 years of its history, maybe we ought to go back and say, ‘What’s changed?'”

Among Big Ten leaders, he said, a consensus exists to “get education back on the proper platform.”

What’s changed? Oh it is a deep and abiding mystery. Or is it?

Gaze upon my balance sheets, ye mighty, and despair:

Salary of Michigan athletic director Don Canham in 1980 (Canham at this point was the most successful AD in the country, having transformed Michigan’s athletic department into the most profitable revenue-enhancing in all of college sports): $54,000

Salary of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler in 1980 (Schembechler had the highest winning percentage of any college football coach during the 1970s): $105,000

You can multiply these numbers by 2.87 to account for inflation.

Salary of Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon in 2014-15: $900,000 base, $175,000 in deferred comp, up to $200,000 in performance bonuses.

Salary of new Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh: $7,000,000.

Brandon won’t be collecting any performance bonuses this year, as he pulled off the astonishing feat of doing such an atrocious job that he got several hundred students to march on the university president’s house demanding he be fired, which he subsequently was. He will collect several million dollars in severance pay, however, because The Market. (An amusing account of some of his follies can be found here). My favorite detail of Brandon’s contract is that he and his wife got the free use of dealer-provided cars, with the dealers paying not only for the cars, but for registration and license plates, while the university was left on the hook for insuring the vehicles, as well as for the cost of “routine oil changes.” (BTW Brandon is the ex-CEO of Domino’s Pizza, and had, conservatively speaking, a net worth well into the tens of millions of dollars, before he took a job with a seven-figure salary that also covers the cost of routine oil changes for his free cars).

And Brandon wasn’t even in the top quarter of Big 10 AD pay last year, as the athletic directors at Ohio State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin were all pulling down more than one million dollars in base pay alone.

Those salaries in turn pale in comparison to the $3.24 million being paid two years ago to what might — might — be the highest-paid law professor in the land, Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams (Williams also has an appointment on the Vanderbilt law faculty, which should provide a soft landing if the Commodores’ football team’s current streak of five four three two one zero good football seasons in a row should ever be broken. Williams’ salary is largely a product of the sweetheart deals administrative grifter extraordinaire Gordon Gee put in place before he high-tailed it out of Nashville).

Williams was in the news yesterday when he announced that Vanderbilt’s basketball coach Kevin Stallings wouldn’t be suspended, after he was caught advising one of his student-athletes that he would “fucking kill you” if his on-court deportment did not improve posthaste. (To be fair, Stallings explained to ESPN afterwards that his stated intention to kill his own player was merely a figure of speech, and should not have been taken literally.)

In the light of all this, Burke can perhaps be forgiven if he feels that the half million dollars he’s getting paid to be Purdue’s AD this year, not counting up to another $120,000 in “performance bonuses,” is practically a vow of poverty. On the third hand a cynic might point out that Burke has suckled unmolested at the increasingly engorged teat of big time college athletics for the 22 years he’s held his current position, and that he’s seen his own stupendous salary go up by 50% over the past six years alone.

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  • Scott Lemieux

    You’ve said it before, but the fact that the richer and more highly compensated you are the fewer basic expenses your employers believe you should have to cover is one of the most remarkable features of the New Gilded Age.

    • It is very bizarre…and what’s esp. bizarre is how much people value these perks.

      I guess if you work your way up, it makes sense. I mean, goodness knows I’d love for my employer to cover e.g., my mobile phone expenses which are 50-90% work related. I generally eat all my US calls because I want to do them from my mobile via Skype out (they might pick that up soon! yay!). Internet at home is a basic work necessity (as I’ve discovered this past month).

      Obviously, it’s not a *big* deal, but it’d be nice to have and would make a bit of a difference…

      …but I’d SUPER MUCH RATHER HAVE final salary valuation for my pension like we did before the union gave in.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      apparently the mindset is anyone can negotiate big paychecks, but chiseling perks into the deal is the *creative* side of compensation

    • DonN

      It is such a strange thing. When you work in an environment with contractors doing service jobs next to well remunerated professionals it is even stranger to see. Free breakfast and lunch for highly paid programmers and zippo for the ones cleaning up after. It always seems to me that the psychological value placed on those types of perks is astounding relative to their real value. (And, yes, I understand work rules regarding contractors, but it still seems weird in action.)
      DN

    • Pseudonym

      What’s bizarre about it? It’s perverse, sure, but not surprising that salary and benefits would be positively rather than negatively correlated. At some point time also becomes a more constraining resource for highly-paid people than money, too, so the employer making things more convenient makes economic sense. Plus, paying in the form of benefits makes the top-line salaries appear slightly less unequal or objectionable.

      • DonN

        Perks should show up in top line salary. Often they don’t. Also, many perks have nothing to do with saving time. Gym discounts for certain employees, certain types of medical checkups covered by the company, car tune-ups at work (where they are offered to other employees for more money,) flying business or first class when lower ranked employees cannot, the better hotels you can stay in as an exec and the daily expenses, allowed etc. You can come up with an excuse for everything but why do you want to?
        DN

        • Yeah. I don’t see where “free oil changes” save me time rather than money.

          • Pseudonym

            Free oil changes is genuinely bizarre, no argument here.

        • Derelict

          You can come up with an excuse for everything but why do you want to?

          I have (perhaps far too much) occasion to rub elbows with .01% people, and I can tell you that money distorts everything. This is particularly true of perceived entitlement. Getting the company to pay for ridiculous things is both part of that entitlement and a signifier of one’s true status. This results in things like free oil changes for the company car. Or having the company pick up the tab for your daughter’s wedding. Or having the company provide you with a fully furnished apartment with a decorating budget and a full-time decorator and a professional shopper.

          And this is how divorce settlements that include things like $25,000-a-month clothing budgets come about. Because after you’ve hovered up perks for a couple of years, they’re no longer perks–they’re a part of everyday existence that you have EARNED GODDAMNIT!!!! just by virtue of being your own titanic bad self.

  • Brien Jackson

    Since there’s exactly zero chance that even these ADs would actually support making freshman players ineligible, especially in basketball, and there’s no clear benefit to the programs, schools, or even ADs in this equation (the passage of such a rule would probably just force the NBA to drop the waiting period rule, or at the very least expand the scope of the D-League), it’s really fascinating to see what sort of fixations out of touch reactionaries come up with.

    • Phil Perspective

      How out of touch do these clowns have to be to even throw it out there? Even the CPACers know this is stupid and the other conferences will use it against them.

  • MDrew

    I’d like to know what good, especially for college athletics and college athletes who are future NBA players, the NBA claims is done by the one-year restriction.

    • Brien Jackson

      Well, the NCAA gets a year of marketing really good players who would otherwise be in the NBA. And X number of marginal NBA veterans get an extra year’s worth of paychecks that would otherwise go to one of those players.

      • MDrew

        Is it really good for college athletics to have players in it who would choose not to spend a day in higher education if they were allowed to play professional basketball? Is it good for college basketball to have their best players be engaged in it in a way that’s completely different from the other 95% are?

        College basketball would be just as marketable if every high school grad could play basketball wherever he wanted to and was wanted. It was plenty marketable when they could. A number of people whose interests are most connected to whether or not that is true are clearly coming to that conclusion. I’d like to hear the NBA’s account of why the NCAA shouldn’t wish for them to change the policy and let people who aren;t interested in playing college basketball on their way to the NBA avoid it.

        • Jordan

          I dunno why you think it’d be just as marketable. It certainly helps to have the best possible players playing your sport, and if the NBA allowed some of them to play with the pros instead of the with the NCAA, it’d be a little less awesome on the NCAA side (not *much* less awesome, probably, but a little bit).

          • MDrew

            Not much is the answer. Possibly imperceptibly.

            • MDrew

              …Largely because competition within the top 15-20 programs would get more even while staying high, which would buttress if not boost interest. Level of play would drop a bit but be washed or swamped by more even competition.

              And college basketball marketability is much, much less player-name based than is NBA marketability, to the point of being primarily not player-name based. Also, even when NBA-ready talent went to the NBA, there would still be plenty of marketable players to market off of (hopefully eventually with compensation).

              • Brien Jackson

                “And college basketball marketability is much, much less player-name based than is NBA marketability:”

                I’m not buying that at all, outside of the NCAA tournament* and a very few marquee rivalry matchups like UNC-Duke.

                *And even then, once you get past the binge effect of the first round, I don’t think tournament viewership is all that inelastic, and by the time you get the Final Four I very much suspect that having great players makes a marked difference on the number of people willing to watch the games.

      • Jordan

        The NBA gets quite a bit too, of course. It gets an extra year of better info on the relevant players without having to pay them, and (if there is such a thing) an extra year of “yikes, that guy’s body just can’t cut it”.

        • Incontinentia Buttocks

          Exactly. It’s a small piece of insurance against the stupidity of NBA general managers plus a way of getting an extra year of free player development.

          • Brien Jackson

            Well…it’s really not. It certainly hasn’t stopped NBA GMs from making bad draft picks, the extra year of “development” doesn’t seem to be *that* helpful, and one-and-done’s don’t seem any less prone to busting out (whether due to talent or, like Greg Oden, injuries) at any higher rate than high school seniors were. GMs have a vested interest in telling their owners that it’s just so haaaaaaaaard to scout high school seniors compared to college freshmen, I guess, but I don’t see any validity to it.

            The real benefit to the NBA is probably the free publicity their lottery picks get for a year thanks to the NCAA’s television contracts and Sports Center.

    • calling all toasters

      I’m pretty sure the whole reason is so that NBA teams don’t have to scout thousands of high schools. Which is good for colleges because whatever.

  • Bitter Scribe

    I notice the value of tuition doesn’t figure into your indignation.

    • Brien Jackson

      There is no “value of tuition,” so why would it?

      • MDrew

        There’s plenty if they want it.

    • Brian Adamson

      In the two principal commercial sports on campus, football and men’s basketball, the work that the athlete must put in to game play, practice, training, etc. is substantial, and extends all year round.

      Nearly every program (and certainly all of the large and/or successful ones), guides the athlete to choose a major that is academically lightweight, and then to further choose classes for that major which do not demand any significant intellectual effort.

      This is all so that the athlete can spend the majority of his time in preparation for his sport, rather than taking in tuition for his chosen discipline.

      It’s for this reason that the value of tuition isn’t figured in to one’s indignation over the chicanery that is the commercial student-athletic complex at most colleges and universities.

      • I would add that while covering tuition is a perk of many white collar jobs…it’s a perk, an extra benefit, not a *replacement* for the ENTIRE salary PLUS forfeiture of moonlighting opportunities.

        It’s just bonkers to pretend that “scholarships” are any kind of real composition here.

        • Bitter Scribe

          Oh? Try telling a kid who graduated with a five-figure tuition debt that free tuition wasn’t real “composition.”

          • MattT

            Are there any other situations where you would defend the value of scrip from the company store in lieu of salary?

            • Brien Jackson

              ^This.

              And, of course, since a) the programs are returning value to the schools, presumably and b) the marginal cost of educating the players is $0, there’s absolutely no reason that free classes couldn’t or shouldn’t be provided to the players in addition to a fair salary for the labor they’re providing.

            • Bitter Scribe

              The kids with the tuition debt would love some of that “scrip.”

              I don’t know what “marginal cost” is supposed to mean, since every seat taken up by a free-ride athlete is one that could be occupied by someone paying actual money for his or her education.

              • Brien Jackson

                NCAA men’s basketball teams are limited to 13 scholarships at a time. There is no college that is arbitrarily cutting 13 other spots in their total undergraduate/graduateprograms to make room for basketball players.

                • Bitter Scribe

                  Oh, so it’s just 13, that makes it OK. Tell me, what’s your threshold? 15? 20?

                • Brien Jackson

                  Um…infinity. There isn’t some sort of cap on the number of students schools can have and, again, because the athletes are there to fill spots on the team, they’re not cutting into any spots at all. The schools allocate the number of spots they want to have from “paying” students, and then the full scholarship athletes are in another category altogether. The idea that 98 spots are being given to scholarship football/basketball players instead of tuition paying students is just laughably stupid.

                • Bitter Scribe

                  IOW, you’re conceding that the athletes aren’t there to learn at all. Fine, that’s their business, but I don’t see that Mr. NFL Wannabe is owed cash because of his indifference to education.

                • Brien Jackson

                  Well no, he’s owed cash in exchange for his labor like anyone else.

                • Bitter Scribe

                  He gets tuition, and often living expenses, which are worth lots of cash.

                • MDrew

                  Are chess club members owed compensation for their labor?

                  For that matter, in general are organizations allowed to accept labor on a volunteer basis?

                • Are chess club members owed compensation for their labor?

                  No.

                  For that matter, in general are organizations allowed to accept labor on a volunteer basis?

                  Yes but with lots of caveats, see internships.

                  I feel you must know the answers to these questions, thus are posing them as some sort of gotcha. I don’t see any, though.

                • efgoldman

                  He gets tuition, and often living expenses, which are worth lots of cash.

                  No, they’re not. Can he sell them? Rent them? Break them up into tranches and commoditize them? Nope.
                  They are therefore not worth ca$h.
                  If a booster gives him a car, he can then sell it or lease it out or provide limo services – for actual money.
                  I suppose, theoretically, he could rent his room out (against college rules for every student, everywhere) or sell his meal card, but then what does he eat and where does he sleep.

                • Pseudonym

                  Should McDonalds be able to pay its employees in free breakfast burritos in lieu of salary? In the case where they had a national monopoly on entry-level food service, and every prospective chef in the country had to spend several years flipping burgers?

          • Jordan

            So, that happened to me (the 5 figure tuition debt, not the sports hero stuff, unfortunately). Its definitely still there, about 10 years later.

            But, yet, this doesn’t make me want to crab the individuals who should have earned what they deserved, instead of seeing it just end up in the pockets of the coaches, the ADs and so on.

            To each their own, I guess.

          • ploeg

            If you’re a benchwarmer majoring in mechanical engineering, you play 3 minutes in your entire college career, and your entire function on the team seems to be raising the team GPA, then we can talk about tuition being compensation. The people that we’re talking about might be able to do better than that but aren’t allowed to because of the monopoly power of the NCAA cartel. For such people, the value of tuition is arguably zero because they derive no value from their education, such as it is. The main value that such people receive is from the exposure and vocational training that they get from the athletic department, which has nae to do with what they obtain with their tuition.

            • Brien Jackson

              The benchwarmer still has all of the time/travel commitments that can’t be spent studying.

              • ploeg

                Indeed, but the benchwarmer is compensated for that time with tuition. The compensation might not be as great as, say, working stacks in the library, but it is compensation doing something that the benchwarmer might find to be more pleasant than working stacks. (I note in passing that there are a few students who already have full-ride academic scholarships but still try out for the team, so playing sports is something that some might do purely for the fun of it.)

                That being said, we’re mainly talking about would-be professional athletes who are going for exposure and vocational training. To such people, tuition is of negative value because it maintains the fiction that the would-be pro is a student athlete, which in turn deprives the would-be pro from forms of compensation that the person in the stacks would be able to get (such as workers comp and outside jobs).

                • postmodulator

                  The compensation might not be as great as, say, working stacks in the library,

                  I don’t know, working stacks in the library has its perks. You can do that job on drugs.

                  I, uh, heard.

              • Bitter Scribe

                Gilded Age capitalists thought company housing and credit at the company store was a helluva deal for workers too, I’m sure.

                And they emerged with college educations?

                • Brien Jackson

                  Who gives a shit? I mean, I get it, you really love universities and have a strong affinity for higher education. That’s great! But there’s nothing so special about American universities that absolves them of their requirement to pay their workers with actual cash, and prohibits them from using company script or non-cash benefits in the place of at least the minimum wage, and you certainly haven’t presented anything approaching an argument that they should enjoy such an exemption.

                • Bitter Scribe

                  Who gives a shit? You don’t, obviously. But I do, and that’s where we disagree.

                • Brien Jackson

                  Well, no, where we disagree is in your apparent belief that your estimation of the value of a non-liquid company benefit is worth more than applicable law concerning the compensation of workers. We could agree that a single college degree was worth a billion dollars, and that wouldn’t change the fact that free classes in lieu of at least federal minimum wage for university employees is not an acceptable form of compensation.

                • Pseudonym

                  No, but at least they understood how analogies work.

                • Bitter Scribe

                  Well, no, where we disagree is in your apparent belief that your estimation of the value of a non-liquid company benefit is worth more than applicable law concerning the compensation of workers.

                  I don’t to whom or what this supposed law would be “applicable.” I also don’t get your consistent discounting of a college degree as something of no value.

                • Brien Jackson

                  You aren’t sure what laws require you to pay workers in liquid American currency and prohibits payment in the form of company scrip? So you don’t understand how it would be illegal for Wal-Mart to pay employees with Wal-Mart gift cards?

            • Bitter Scribe

              If they “derive no value from their education,” maybe they should rethink their attitudes toward education.

              • ploeg

                Perhaps they should. I don’t see that awarding scholarships on the basis of how well you play sports as being helpful in that regard.

                • Bitter Scribe

                  It probably isn’t. IMO, to the extent that college sports have any value, it’s about enthusiasm and bonding across the student body and alumni. The problem is that there will always be system-gaming, which is inevitable whenever large amounts of money are involved.

                  I just don’t think throwing up your hands and paying college athletes is the answer. That’s of a piece with allowing athletes to consume as many performance-enhancing drugs as they want, to name another attitude that’s unaccountably popular on this blog.

                • Gregor Sansa

                  This blog is not pro-PED. It’s anti- retroactive rule changes. I mostly avoid sports threads here and even I know that.

                  What’s the fallacy where you think that anybody who disagrees with you must believe the opposite of what you do?

                • Brien Jackson

                  Holy shit, this might be the greatest single piece of wankery in the history of history. Yes, paying workers for their labor in liquid cash instead of company room and board is the same as allowing the violation of collectively bargained rules. You, sir should send a resume and sample to the New York Daily News post haste.

              • Brien Jackson

                Oh fuck you with a spiky dick. Yes, if the value of these educations is worthless, obviously is the fault of the undeserving urban thugs athletes who don’t take their education seriously. Nevermind the plethora of articles that have been written detailing at length the way that the programs and universities make it clear to the athletes that they are their to play sports, that sports comes first, and that their coaches and school administrators don’t give a single fuck what quality education they get.

                • MDrew

                  Links?

                • Brien Jackson

                  Um…no. This has been an extensively documented phenomenon at least since Robert Smith went public with it in the early 1990’s. Start with Taylor Branch, I guess. But beyond that, I’m not going to spend my time on the Google machine because you think you’re entitled to hold forth on a topic you’re so deeply ignorant about.

                • Bitter Scribe

                  Then enforce existing rules against them.

                • I think you lost the threading.

                  But yes. My uncle worked for State Farm and they paid his tuition and made accommodations for him to compete undergraduate work at Temple.

                  Professors and other university personnel
                  are often given free tuition for family members (my brother in law benefited from that).

                  I’ve known doctors to get their board certifications picked up. That a postgraduate qualification.

                  In none of these cases did the tuition substitute for the regular compensation. For the middle one it doesn’t even improve the workforce.

                  (Now, I do think, as should be obvious, that a college education per se is worth quite a bit. However, I don’t think it’s a good or appropriate form of primary compensation. I feel the same way about health insurance.)

                • Brien Jackson

                  What rules?

                • Nope! It was me that lost the threading! Sorry.

                • Bitter Scribe

                  What rules?

                  Oh now you’re just being stupid. There are tons of rules against exploiting college athletes. They’re not enforced, which is the problem. Talking about paying college athletes is just obfuscating the issues.

                • Brien Jackson

                  What are you talking about? How is making billions of dollars off of unpaid workers either not exploiting them or against NCAA rules?

                • postmodulator

                  Professors and other university personnel
                  are often given free tuition for family members (my brother in law benefited from that).

                  About a fifth of the IT people at my own institution would leave tomorrow if they lost that. Possibly including myself. We’re massively undercompensated compared to the private sector in terms of cash. (I shouldn’t have said that, DonN will come tell me to shut up for being poor again.)

                • Right!

                  So I want to distinguish between “no value” and “a benefit”.

                  Free tuition *for someone* is typically a benefit. But it’s not primary compensation for the person receiving the education. Having to consume it yourself while working full time diminishes the effective value.

                • Bitter Scribe

                  What are you talking about? How is making billions of dollars off of unpaid workers either not exploiting them or against NCAA rules?

                  Billions? You keep throwing around that word. It means a thousand millions. What is your basis for that assertion?

                  The “workers” are paid because they get to attend college for free.

                • Brien Jackson

                  A) The college football playoff television rights alone are earning them over half a billion in annual revenue.

                  http://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/playoffs-are-revenue-bonanza-college-football-n277641

                  B) Well, at least we’ve got it out in the open that you’re straight-forwardly arguing that it’s just fine for workers to be paid in company script.

                • Joseph Slater

                  Reading the Regional Director’s decision in the Northwestern case was pretty eye-opening to me about the extent of the time and rule constraints on at least typical Division 1 football players. And I didn’t consider myself naive about big college sports. So that could be a good place to start.

                • Pseudonym
                • DonN

                  And I missed postmods comment confusing the story about my supporting immigration under existing rules as they are all we have as being a personal attack on him and his salary. It’s all good, I’m sure postmod knows what kinds of Muricans he wants to work with. Personally, if the only way to get people who want to permanently immigrate here is the H1B I will continue to use it even as postmod thinks it terrible they all become American. I wish there were better mechanism much like I wish we had a single payer system. This is the system we have. What a tool.
                  DN

                • postmodulator

                  It’s all good, I’m sure postmod knows what kinds of Muricans he wants to work with.

                  I can’t tell you how funny the image of me as a nativist putting a pinch between cheek and gum before declaiming that They Took Our Jerbs is. I wasn’t even born here, dude.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  You keep throwing around that word. It means a thousand millions.

                  Area commenter combines pompous condescension with absolutely no idea what the hell he’s talking about.

                • MDrew

                  I’m sure there are any number of articles that make any number of things clear, but that “the programs and universities make it clear to the athletes that they are their to play sports, that sports comes first, and that their coaches and school administrators don’t give a single fuck what quality education they get” is a general truth about all universities is something I’d like to see documented to accept, yes. And I’m sorry, but I don’t know where to look to learn that.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              if i went to the local community college and took courses to become an electrician i’d have to pay for them. i wouldn’t try to draw a straight line between the two things because of the various lottery aspects of parlaying college sports into a professional career compared to an electrician, but there does seem to be *some* connection

              • I think this is a reasonable point. But if you perform as an apprentice with a local contractor in a value producing way then I’d expect you to get paid.

                Alas, there is a direct connection between your coursework and your future profession. Not so much with the classes athletes take.

                • jim, some guy in iowa

                  oh, yeah, i should have been clearer: no question the players should be paid for playing. they *do* get some things out of the college that (i think) very minimally compensate for the fact they don’t

                • We agree.

            • Scott P.

              we’re talking about might be able to do better than that but aren’t allowed to because of the monopoly power of the NCAA cartel.

              The NCAA doesn’t prevent them from renting out the local gym for a few hundred dollars and playing there. Except that there would be no money in it.

              The fans root for the laundry. It doesn’t matter who wears it.

              • busker type

                I dunno, actually I bet that the NCAA would shut that down pretty quick.

                And if the fans come out to support the jersey regardless of who’s playing, then there won’t be a competitive market for talented players, and they won’t have to be paid. That seems unlikely to me.

          • Oh? Try telling a kid who graduated with a five-figure tuition debt that free tuition wasn’t real “composition.”

            Sure. No problem.

            You have a very strange and unsavory attitude not to mention the fact that you completely elided the key argument: there’s no other job for which tuition waving is a principle form of compensation rather than a benefit. (Except maybe graduate students.)

            Work study students generally get paid.

            When the labor is earning colleges many hundreds of times the tuition value and they have demonstrated a willingness to compensate at least some of the pertinent workers at extremely high rates and constrain the zero dollar labor from alternative means of earning, then it is extremely bad to pretend that the sticker price of a waved tuition represents any sort of substantive compensation.

            • MDrew

              there’s no other job for which tuition waving is a principle form of compensation rather than a benefit

              However, there are many other activities on campus, like athletics, for which neither tuition waving nor anything else is compensation, but where the benefits are the experience itself, i.e. it’s an activity people seek to trade off other activities and resources affirmatively in order to participate.

              • I agree there are many such activities.

                I don’t know why you think this isn’t a non sequitur.

                ETA: Either tuition waving is compensation and thus should be compared to other forms of compensation or it is. This whole discussion is predicated on it being compensation. I compare it to the closest form of compensation I know: Er…tuition waving. Which usually is an extra benefit on top of a salary.

                If you want to discuss a model wherein students atheists are uncompensated, we can, but I suspect that will come out worse for your argument.

                • MDrew

                  Because it isn’t at all. These are arguably jobs, but they are certainly activities.

                • What isn’t at all?

                  It’s pretty clear that big time college athletics are much more like a job than eg chess club.

                  If not, why are they being compensated at all? Why are they banned at making various forms of money (eg endorsements), etc.

                  Sheesh.

                • MDrew

                  It’s not a non sequitur if the entire substance of this entire debate involves figuring out exactly what kinds of kinds of campus activities are jobs and therefore should be compensated and which are voluntary extracurriculars and thus needn’t. It doesn’t turn pointing out that activities of both kinds exist and that the distinction isn’t entirely clear in principle nor in practice to simply assert that “It’s pretty clear: that your view of how to draw those distinctions is correct.

                  I’m not even really that clear why participation in chess club shouldn’t be seen as a job by whatever method of distinction you or anyone might be using. I have no idea what the criteria are. None. Beyond that, the job/not job dichotomy flies largely in the face of the argument for compensation that usually holds sway in these parts: that these activities are profitable for the universities, so the students who create the profits should share in them.

                • Im confused: Are you asking whether athletes are compensated by tuition? That simply presumes that they are in a labor relationship.

                  If you want to question that the scholarships are compensation then that’s a different story.

                  So could you just reclarify whether your in the part of the discussion that presumes compensation or whether you are unclear whether it is compensation at all?

                • efgoldman

                  I’m not even really that clear why participation in chess club shouldn’t be seen as a job by whatever method of distinction you or anyone might be using.

                  Last I heard, universities aren’t giving out chess club scholarships. Nor is chess an activity that is used to gain hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues for approximately 65 football schools and approximately 115 hoops schools.

                • efgoldman

                  If you want to discuss a model wherein students atheists are uncompensated

                  Interesting typo, or auto correct?

                • Brien Jackson

                  Chess club members generally aren’t required to put in 40+ hours of chess related work, in the chess club facility, under the supervision of chess club coaches either.

                • Autocorrect, I’m pretty sure. I’ve still no internet at home so phoning it in.

                • Hogan

                  I’m not even really that clear why participation in chess club shouldn’t be seen as a job by whatever method of distinction you or anyone might be using.

                  Because it doesn’t generate revenue for the university?

                • MDrew

                  I pretty much rest my case on these responses.

                • You’re conceding the case?

                • Brien Jackson

                  Well he’s already acknowledged ignorance of a fact that’s been extremely well known for a quarter of a century now, so I should certainly hope so!

                • MDrew

                  I’m not in any camp on that. I don’t consider them compensation that would satisfy minimum wage laws, which is not to foreclose the ability to assert that they have value. But I wouldn’t say that there is no sense in which they are compensation, either. But because it’s not the kind of compensation that riggers minimum wage laws, there is no reason that saying that it is compensation of a kinds triggers a requirement that those laws (or moral requirements) be observed. If the universities could accept as much athletic effort from these students in exchange for essentially nothing (as they do in many, many instances), then they can do so in exchange for scholarships, even as compensation of a kind. The point doesn’t have the significance you’re arguing for.

                  I’m also in no camp on whether compensation is morally or legally required for varsity intercollegiate athletes. My view is simply that it is far less clear than many suggest it is exactly what is the case wrt those questions, and exactly why.

                  All that being said, I think it would be for the best if schools started giving athletes cash stipends of some amount or other.

                • I guess so. It’s just a weird way to do it.

                  Chess club was also kinda a weird one to pick. There’s lots of grad student labor that is undercompesated and largely with similar arguments (cf Velleman and the NYU strike).

                  I’d guess that most chess clubs are student driven and run. To the degree that there’s funding, it’ll be from the student government which gets a block grant out of student fees.

                  If it’s competitive, then there might be more but as was pointed out the revenue (and even the soft benefits) are typically nonexistent. Now, not every job has to be directly revenue generating of course, but it’s at least, in this case, a prima facie case that members of chess club aren’t working jobs.

                • MDrew

                  No, I’m resting my case (for the purposes of this thread) that there is no one obvious, overriding reason why some students activities should be compensated, and not others, on the three attempted answers to that question above that provided three divergent reasons.

                • Hogan

                  So having more than one reason is the same as having no reasons?

                • How are they divergent?

                  The answers were all based on “the two things have different structures including compensation and work requires of particular structures”.

                • Brien Jackson

                  Yeah, this is just being dense. Exactly what form of “activity” that requires 40+ hours a week of supervised “activity” in exchange for your “compensation” under penalty of losing said compensation doesn’t qualify as labor?

                • MDrew

                  There can be multiple reasons but one of them needs to be sufficient. Kind of like with the Iraq War debate. It sometimes seemed like the case for invasion rested on the fact that the insufficient reasons to justify invasion were multiple. If there isn’t agreement on which one or ones are sufficient and which are merely supportive (and among the sufficient, which one is the most compelling), that’s revealing of a general lack of clarity about what the persuasive argument for the position (here, that some students must, morally and possibly legally, be paid for their campus activities) is.

                • They just need to be jointly sufficient.

                • MDrew

                  Exactly what form of “activity” that requires 40+ hours a week of supervised “activity” in exchange for your “compensation” under penalty of losing said compensation doesn’t qualify as labor?

                  The kind for which there is no such “compensation” (i.e. scholarship). Walk-ons.

                • MDrew

                  There needs to be a sufficient reason to establish the truth of the claim. You want to combine elements of various things people have said before to form a single coherent statement that forms a sufficient reason, be my guest.

                • Brien Jackson

                  “The kind for which there is no such “compensation” (i.e. scholarship). Walk-ons.”

                  I don’t see what that changes (if nothing else, I suspect most walk-ons hope to earn scholarship status), unless you’re trying to argue that the scholarships aren’t even compensation.

                • Brien Jackson

                  “There needs to be a sufficient reason to establish the truth of the claim. ”

                  Perhaps you could explain in what way NCAA football players devoting 50 hours a week to an enterprise making billions of dollars in revenue annually under the direct supervision of a clear management structure are not “workers” in the broadly understood term.

                • I already did. Several were individually sufficient.

                  Also, we’re talking about classifying things that exist in overlapping family resemblances with fuzzy boundaries. There will be tough cases.

                  But the existence of tough cases doesn’t preclude there being easy cases. Big time athletics is an easy case. Student run chess club is another easy case. Work study cafeteria shift is another. Etc.

                • MDrew

                  Well, you’re the one who included the “in exchange for your ‘compensation’ under penalty of losing said compensation” condition in your definition. Mayb you can explain what function it does or doesn;t ply in determining whether the other part of the definition creates a situation where “labor” (your word with your implications) is taking place.

                  I think there are significant numbers of college athletes in a variety of sports who put forth the amount of supervised effort you describe who, while they may hope for a scholarship, realistically do not expect to get one, and would choose to put forth that amount of effort even if it were made an explicit guarantee that they would not receive the scholarship. That’s varsity student athleticism, and it’s not clear to me that it’s a thing it should be regarded as immoral or illegal not to compensate with cash, or why.

                  But more generally, I do appreciate your offering a clear set of criteria. Are you willing to drop the other part and simply say that any campus “activity that requires 40+ hours a week of supervised activity” is labor and must be compensated accordingly? I don’t know that I necessarily agree, but maybe I can. Maybe we can all agree to that. What are the whys and advantages and disadvantages? There’s the obvious advantage of clarity.

                • MDrew

                  I’m not aware of what your reason was.

                • MDrew

                  the existence of tough cases doesn’t preclude there being easy cases. Big time athletics is an easy case. Student run chess club is another easy case. Work study cafeteria shift is another. Etc.

                  Since the cases I’m talking about are those first two in the list, I’m not clear where tougher cases come into this.

                  But I’m genuinely still not clear what the reason that the cases you mention are easy is for you, other than that’s just how it strikes you. What is the set of rules and definitions that make it so for you?

                • Here’s a tougher case: An MSc student does a project that advances my research. Do they get compensated as an RA?

                  How about PhD students?

                  What if the MSc student works on a industrial project? Should they get paid for the work they do? (Maybe that’s an easy case!)

                  I already articulated a whole set of considerations that distinguishes the chess club from high profile sports. I’m sorry you didn’t read those comments, but I think I’m just going to direct you there.

                  Oh, and I don’t see your mere puzzlement is any evidence that they aren’t clear.

                • MDrew

                  I think I’m just going to direct you there.

                  Please do.

                • See this thread, comments by Bijan Parsia supra mostly.

                  Sorry do you need more?

                • MDrew

                  …I don’t see any set of reasons and definitions, which I have been clear is what I’m seeking. I see observations that apparently influence your assessment. But I’m not clear what the definitions and imperatives are that lead you to go from those observations to your conclusion.

                  You’re right that each example is just going to be an example, and they might get harder than chess club. So why not move up a level to rules and definitions rather than refusing to and insisting on remaining at the unilluminating level of individual example? Lots of kinds of things go on on campuses. Rules help. And for rules to mean anything you’ll need definitions.

                • MDrew

                  I need rules and definitions.

                  Also, on the internet it’s common when you’re claiming to direct someone to something you’ve said to provide a link or some other identifier. It’s one thing the internet is particularly useful for.

                  It’s not particularly useful that you made a few speculative observations about chess clubs, declining to say by what rules those observations are determinative.

                • This is weird but ok.

                  (Note that I don’t think definitions are the way to go as I explained above. That doesn’t mean they aren’t generatable.)

                  So, a university run student activity is not compensatable roughly if it’s like an unpaid internship or if it is a leisure activity.

                  Thus, if

                  1) the purpose of the activity is not primarily educational and the preponderance of benefit does not accrue to the student

                  Or

                  2) the activity is functionally required and significantly displaces normal educational activity

                  Or

                  3) the activity (or near cognates or related roles) is ordinarily compensatable such that the student displaces paid for labor

                  Then the activity should be compensated in traditional ways (I.e. Not primarily by in kind remuneration).

                  I believe this solidly includes big time athletics and excludes student run chess club. If chess club blows up, then I’m happy for it to be treated the same as big time football.

                  (Btw, your last comment about links was hilariously schmucky. Seriously, what I put in definition form here is not hard to glean from the rest.)

                • MDrew

                  So many weasel terms. I know defining things just raises need for more definitions, and I understand your reluctance, but it can be done and there is just so much avoidance here. And do you honestly hold that “chess club no, basketball yes” advances anything other than you just getting to have the position of “basketball yes” without argument? So I think you know my request is reasonable.

                  I’m not going to address all the evasive newly crafted terminology there. There is just too much.

                  But I’ll ask about one. Or rather, I’ll raise an example and see how it travels down the list.

                  What is the benefit and to whom does it accrue of NCAA Division I swimming and diving competition? Is being a collegiate diver “functionally required”? (What does that even mean?) Is diving normally paid-for? Are there university-paid divers that unpaid divers are displacing? For that matter, is playing basketball normally paid-for on university campuses?

                  Etc.

                • MDrew

                  It’s a long thread. Pointing out where you said what you said would have been reasonable.

                  Also, as I said, I am seeking a sense of the rules by which you want to say what should be compensated and what not. I was thinking you had claimed to have done that, and I had no idea where that would have been since it hadn’t happened.

                • Pseudonym

                  No, I’m resting my case (for the purposes of this thread) that there is no one obvious, overriding reason why some students activities should be compensated, and not others, on the three attempted answers to that question above that provided three divergent reasons.

                  The real question at issue isn’t whether they should be compensated but whether they should be barred from being compensated, and by a national cartel with a monopoly on the path to professional status.

                • Well giving you a definition had the effect I hoped for (outing your disingenuousness) rather than the one I hoped for (getting a reasonable discussion).

                  So many weasel terms. I know defining things just raises need for more definitions, and I understand your reluctance, but it can be done and there is just so much avoidance here. And do you honestly hold that “chess club no, basketball yes” advances anything other than you just getting to have the position of “basketball yes” without argument? So I think you know my request is reasonable.

                  No, it really isn’t. As your comment shows. If you wanted to talk definitions you would have made a cursory attempt to craft one or at less articulate how your purported hard case was a problem. Instead your evade.

                  I’m not going to address all the evasive newly crafted terminology there. There is just too much.

                  Hahahahhaa. Ok dude. Whatevs. I strongly recommend you look up regs on unpaid internships. Using the inter webs you love!

                  What is the benefit and to whom does it accrue of NCAA Division I swimming and diving competition?

                  I don’t know. I’m not familiar with swimming and diving.

                  If there are significant revenue, then that is a benefit and it accrues to whomever gets it. (Really? You find this hard?)

                  Is being a collegiate diver “functionally required”? (What does that even mean?)

                  Sigh. Diver is a role. If your participation in the university is predicated on certain activities outside the educational mission the those activities are functionally required. They may also be formally required.

                  Is diving normally paid-for?

                  I don’t think so.

                  Are there university-paid divers that unpaid divers are displacing?

                  I don’t think so. I have no idea why you think these are pertinent. I was thinking more of things like tutoring.

                  For that matter, is playing basketball normally paid-for on university campuses?

                  I don’t think so.

                  Dude, it’s an “or” clause.

                • Wha wha, it’s a long thread. Brien wants me to google. I can’t spend two seconds thinking about how “or” works.

                  Bit high maintenance, aren’t you? I’m posting on a phone. Suck it up.

                  This lesson’s tuition was waved as your non professional blog commenting compensation!

                  Oh and bed time for me, sorry! You can work your way though easy questions posed as stumpers without me. But you’ll have to answer them as well.

                • MDrew

                  That I can’t offer a definition of who should get paid for what campus activities that satisfies me, that doesn’t produce problematic results, and that provides that big-time college athletes should be paid by their universities is the reason that I find that not advancing committed positions on particular cases in this area at this time to be the right position for me to hold.

                • MDrew

                  it’s an “or” clause.

                  Yeah, and if all the prongs are problematic or vague because they use further undefined or evasive language…

                • Scott Lemieux

                  I’m not even really that clear why participation in chess club shouldn’t be seen as a job

                  Jesus Christ. When networks start paying hundreds of millions of dollars to televise the school chess club, lemme know.

                • Ok even funnier response!

                  If the prongs were unacceptably vague or “problematic” (in whatever unspecified way you sorta believe but can’t articulate), that doesn’t mean you mash them up.

                  I’m a bit surprised you’d ride your transparent ploy into this level of sad.

                  Moaning that no one will be clear in the sense of offering a definition and then turning around and not engaging when someone meets your silly demand is bad.

                  Doing so by continuing the passive aggressive strategy of offer pseudo rhetoricial supposedly gotcha questions that are easily answered is extra embarrassing.

                  I seriously have no idea what point you even hope to make other than you haz a problem.

                  My definitions are obviously workable enough to make a whole series of judgments about various activities on campus. There are some where they will require a judgement call, but dude, I said that. The category isn’t super crisp like many many many concepts.

                  But ok! You still can’t see any principled difference between the chess club and big time football! Good for you!

                • That I can’t offer a definition of who should get paid for what campus activities that satisfies me, that doesn’t produce problematic results, and that provides that big-time college athletes should be paid by their universities is the

                  The only part you’ve demonstrated is that no definition “satisfies you” which is even worse than relying on judgement on individual cases.

                  My definition meets the other objective criteria afaict at least to a first approximation.

              • DonN

                How is your example remotely similar given the rules around playing NCAA sports?

                If an engineer is on a full ride scholarship she is allowed to take engineering internships or part time jobs. Likewise, If a student joins the student engineering society they are allowed to take web site programming gigs with no impact on the classes they can take or any scholarship they have received. Neither of these things is true of somebody playing NCAA sports on scholarship. Your joining a student group activity does not make the university any money. An athlete putting their body in danger on a regular basis may return the university big dollars. If a university wants an engineer on a scholarship to do some programming they pay them work study money at close to market dollars. Why do you pretend joining the student debating society has anything in common with a huge business like college football that closely controls how the participants make money?
                DN

              • MDrew

                Well, you’re the one who included the “in exchange for your ‘compensation’ under penalty of losing said compensation” condition in your definition. Mayb you can explain what function it does or doesn;t ply in determining whether the other part of the definition creates a situation where “labor” (your word with your implications) is taking place.

                I think there are significant numbers of college athletes in a variety of sports who put forth the amount of supervised effort you describe who, while they may hope for a scholarship, realistically do not expect to get one, and would choose to put forth that amount of effort even if it were made an explicit guarantee that they would not receive the scholarship. That’s varsity student athleticism, and it’s not clear to me that it’s a thing it should be regarded as immoral or illegal not to compensate with cash, or why.

                But more generally, I do appreciate your offering a clear set of criteria. Are you willing to drop the other part and simply say that any campus “activity that requires 40+ hours a week of supervised activity” is labor and must be compensated accordingly? I don’t know that I necessarily agree, but maybe I can. Maybe we can all agree to that. What are the whys and advantages and disadvantages? There’s the obvious advantage of clarity.

                • Brien Jackson

                  “I think there are significant numbers of college athletes in a variety of sports who put forth the amount of supervised effort you describe who, while they may hope for a scholarship, realistically do not expect to get one, and would choose to put forth that amount of effort even if it were made an explicit guarantee that they would not receive the scholarship. That’s varsity student athleticism, and it’s not clear to me that it’s a thing it should be regarded as immoral or illegal not to compensate with cash, or why.”

                  I mean…really? You aren’t even providing an argument that football and basketball players aren’t workers here. Rather you’re arguing that since colleges are exploiting a bunch of other students who are similarly workers in your view, that it’s just dandy if they exploit football and baseball players too!

                • MDrew

                  You’re right, I’m not providing arguments for or against propositions. I’m trying to figure out exactly what our argument that X class of people are Ys and therefore deserve Z is that doesn’t produce results I can’t get on board with is. The particulars, especially the definitions and moral arguments that depend on said definitions.

                • Brien Jackson

                  I’m not at all concerned with what you can get on board with. That you think that a) football players and chess club members fit in the same class of student-laborers, but b) chess club members shouldn’t have university salaries is of absolutely no concern to me, because if you think some class of workers shouldn’t be paid by their employer you’re self-evidently an asshole without any legitimacy to their argument.

                  On the other hand, if you simply don’t think that NCAA football players are workers, I’d say it’s just about time for you to provide some sort of rationale for that that doesn’t involve trying to link them to students participating in non-revenue extracurriculars.

                • MDrew

                  What I can get on board with is what animates my interest, and you seem interested enough in my interest. So… to an extent you are revealing yourself to be.

                  Regardless, I think yo will find that you will be interested in results that rules you endorse may produce that you cannot get on board with. So it makes sense to think about it regardless.

                • Brien Jackson

                  Actually, I think what you can’t endorse says rather a lot about the person. I, for example, would think it a bit odd for a university to pay people for being on the chess club, but I could certainly abide that. What I can’t abide is football and basketball players who are clearly full time employees in a billion dollar industry not being paid in wages whatsoever. That the inverse even could be true for you more or less sums up the issue, I’d say.

                  (But, of course, the fact that the chess club is almost certainly a non-revenue club pretty clearly sets it apart from the football team)

              • MDrew

                the existence of tough cases doesn’t preclude there being easy cases. Big time athletics is an easy case. Student run chess club is another easy case. Work study cafeteria shift is another. Etc.

                Since the cases I’m talking about are those first two in the list, I’m not clear where tougher cases come into this.

                But I’m genuinely still not clear what the reason that the cases you mention are easy is for you, other than that’s just how it strikes you. What is the set of rules and definitions that make it so for you?

            • Bitter Scribe

              “Many hundreds of times”? I’d like to see that math on that.

              I invite you to tell a recent college graduate with a crushing tuition debt that waived tuition wouldn’t have been “substantive.”

              • Some math.

                The article suggests strongly that I overestimated (esp if we talk profit). So I retract the claim, with apologies.

                Please, at your convenience, arrange for such an encounter.

                Note that I won’t say what you want me to say, ie that tuition forgiveness wouldn’t be a welcome boon to that person. Because that’s silly. I have no idea why you think one can’t hold that tuition waving isn’t a principle form of compensation (esp when the person benefiting doesn’t get a education due to job pressure) and that tuition debt forgiveness wouldn’t be a tremendous good.

                • Bitter Scribe

                  Oh “job pressure” my ass. If someone who stays in college for four years doesn’t get an education, maybe the fault lies with him.

                  If college athletic programs are abusive to the point where they prevent athletes from getting an education–and yes, I’m perfectly well aware that this happens–then crack down on them. Throwing a few dollars at the athletes is a superficial tactic that will remedy nothing.

                • Oh “job pressure” my ass. If someone who stays in college for four years doesn’t get an education, maybe the fault lies with him.

                  Given the incoherence of your view and animosity to the athletes, I guess there’s no surprise that we won’t agree or even that you’ll consider the point of the analogies. Oh well.

                  If college athletic programs are abusive to the point where they prevent athletes from getting an education–and yes, I’m perfectly well aware that this happens–then crack down on them. Throwing a few dollars at the athletes is a superficial tactic that will remedy nothing.

                  Even if they were getting a useful college education, it’d still be wrong to exploit their labor without appropriate levels and forms of compensation.

                  If we applied the rules governing internships to athletes, then many programs would obviously be violating federal law.

                • Bitter Scribe

                  What you call “animosity,” I call a lack of tolerance for nonsense.

                  Even if they were getting a useful college education, it’d still be wrong to exploit their labor without appropriate levels and forms of compensation.

                  A university education is worth tens of thousands of dollars. You feel that’s not “appropriate.” I disagree.

                • What you call “animosity,” I call a lack of tolerance for nonsense.

                  Nope. The animosity I’m identify is what you direct toward the athletes. Your belligerence toward your interlocutors is just bad arguing.

                  Even if they were getting a useful college education, it’d still be wrong to exploit their labor without appropriate levels and forms of compensation.

                  A university education is worth tens of thousands of dollars. You feel that’s not “appropriate.” I disagree.

                  It would seem less disingenuous on your part if you would at least acknowledge the point that tuition waving is not, for nearly all jobs even when tuition waving is offered as part of compensation, offered as total compensation.

                • Brien Jackson

                  Yeah, let’s just call it what it is: Bitter Scribe clearly is one of those people who doesn’t like sports, doesn’t like that people involved with sports can make a lot of money because a whole lot of people who aren’t Bitter Scribe actually do like sports, and therefore he very much enjoys being able to strike some measure of vengeance against the system by viciously exploiting college athletes.

                • Fwiw, I don’t particularly care for sports. I don’t know if I have any distinctive animous against athletes making tons of money: seems better than rentiers like owners, CEOs, and hedge fund ripoff artists.

                • Brien Jackson

                  Well sure; there are plenty of people who don’t really care for sports who nevertheless don’t think that’s a reason to exploit a bunch of 19 year old football players for the benefit of their coach, athletic director, conference commissioner, etc.

                • That was my point. You can have solidarity/be a decent person without having to like the work some class of exploited people do.

                  I’m a vegetarian but that doesn’t make me hostile to the rights of meat packers.

                • Bitter Scribe

                  I like sports as much as the next guy (Stanford grad, and I thrill to their football team, although “The Cardinal” is the dumbest team name in major college sports). To the best of my knowledge, I have never exploited anyone.

                  I simply don’t understand, or have much patience with, the idea that free tuition is so much chopped liver.

                • Brien Jackson

                  Gilded Age capitalists thought company housing and credit at the company store was a helluva deal for workers too, I’m sure.

              • DonN

                Normally, when tuition is waived it is to spend time on your studies, do well in school and get a great job when done. And if you want to earn money related to your studies on the way that is all good. For scholarship student athletes it is to spend your time on activities that will not help in any way in terms of grades or taking challenging courses that help later in life. Also, you can’t earn money related to what you are doing. For that matter, any job that remotely trades on your being on the team is disallowed including singing, etc. For the most part friends can’t give you money, etc. Why do you keep treating a football scholarship like an academic scholarship? They are not remotely the same.
                DN

                • efgoldman

                  Why do you keep treating a football scholarship like an academic scholarship? They are not remotely the same.

                  Let’s remove it from athletics. Our neighbor kid who was a virtuoso oboe player got a full ride at a major university music school. She was not only permitted, but encouraged, to take jobs in her field, and she did.
                  A cellist with whom I went to music school was a full, paid member of the Boston Symphony while on full scholarship.
                  That’s the equivalent of the BOMC quarterback playing for the Patriots at the same time.
                  And musicians at that level put in a time commitment equal to what elite athletes do. At least.
                  So for these kids, the non-cash value of the scholarship should preclude them from making any money, is that the story?

                • That’s part of it for me.

                  Also, they all get instruction in the thing they’re earning on.

                • DonN

                  Efgoldman, exactly the point I was trying to make. We both hire and sponsor interns that have full scholarships. The best case is they join us upon graduation. But that is certainly not an expectation as less than half do so. The idea you are prohibited from making money related to your scholarship seems unique to sports.
                  DN

            • Pseudonym

              You have a very strange and unsavory attitude not to mention the fact that you completely elided the key argument: there’s no other job for which tuition waving is a principle form of compensation rather than a benefit. (Except maybe graduate students.)

              And, importantly, that is a rule enforced by a national cartel, while the workers have no ability to bargain collectively.

              • efgoldman

                And, importantly, that is a rule enforced by a national cartel, while the workers have no ability to bargain collectively.

                Yet.
                I hope.

    • CrunchyFrog

      Regarding the value of tuition and scholarships.

      The two big revenue sports are generally an exception in every way. For participants in other sports the scholarships are generally “half scholarships”, except for the very top players (those strong enough to also command product endorsement contracts for their sports after college). In many cases the university is able to land a few non-sports scholarships to supplement, but the ride is far from free.

      In exchange, the student-athlete is expected to give up any control of their own schedule. In Division I schools it is common for the sports department to alter the class schedule of participants – even walk-ons! – if they conflict with the extensive practice regime. And please understand that “practice” is not just the sort of scrimmages we think of in football and basketball. It is common in other sports to require the student athlete to report to, say, the swimming pool for 7 am laps every day – even if the sport has nothing do do with swimming because it is considered an important part of conditioning. Then 9 am 4 days a week for supervised weight training. Mandatory weekly physician visits at a certain time. Etc. If classes conflict, well tough. If that class is necessary to a major – say a requirement offered only at 9 am – well, find another major.

      But, lastly, outside those major revenue sports it’s very difficult to get a scholarship without a substantial investment in the child from youth to recruitment age. This is why in so many sports the scholarships are filled mostly by parents who could pay $10-50k/year for their child’s training (and while this favors the wealthy there are a lot of parents who basically sacrifice their retirement for their child’s dream – or the dream they have for their child) or by foreign students from countries where the government pays for such intensive childhood training.

      If you haven’t experienced this first-hand it will be a shock to you. There are, for example, two-to-three times as many kids in this country in Tennis Academies costing $10k-$50k/year than their are scholarship slots for tennis. And when they get that scholarship they find they are as restricted as I describe above. Yes, those parents would have done better to save that money and just pay for the college education – but the dream is addictive. Tennis is far from an exception – volleyball, hockey – any sport that requires lots and lots of training. I’m told this is a big reason why professional baseball has gone from having lots (over 50%) black athletes to a much smaller number – the funding requirement for training has become excessive.

      On that last point, this is also why the US is no longer competing at the top levels internationally in tennis. The obvious exception is Serena Williams, but she came up in the 1990s during a completely different era. The USTA funds a select few of the best players identified at age 7 or 8, and anyone not selected or who started after, say, age 6 requires huge parental funding to compete. The latest hot young prospect is Cici Bellis, who won a match at the US Open last year as a 15 year old. Only child of wealthy Atherton, CA parents, they’ve invested in all the best training, etc., that money can buy. She wouldn’t be there if she wasn’t talented, focused, and hard-working. However, that’s not enough – she also needed the money. The pool of potential pro tennis players in the US is now much smaller than it was just 20 years ago because of the monetary barriers.

      • Paul Campos

        On that last point, this is also why the US is no longer competing at the top levels internationally in tennis. The obvious exception is Serena Williams, but she came up in the 1990s during a completely different era. The USTA funds a select few of the best players identified at age 7 or 8, and anyone not selected or who started after, say, age 6 requires huge parental funding to compete. The latest hot young prospect is Cici Bellis, who won a match at the US Open last year as a 15 year old. Only child of wealthy Atherton, CA parents, they’ve invested in all the best training, etc., that money can buy. She wouldn’t be there if she wasn’t talented, focused, and hard-working. However, that’s not enough – she also needed the money. The pool of potential pro tennis players in the US is now much smaller than it was just 20 years ago because of the monetary barriers.

        This seems like an implausible explanation for the current dearth of top US tennis players. Why does a country like Spain, which obviously has vastly fewer families that can pay for expensive childhood training, produce far more world class players than the US? This isn’t a rhetorical question — I have no idea, but it certainly doesn’t seem to have anything to do with something like our college sports system, which doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world AFAIK.

        • CrunchyFrog

          It’s because, at least before the austerity programs, there was extensive government-funded sports training available for youngsters.

        • Pseudonym

          Well, aside from tennis there aren’t any other Real opportunities for professional athletes in Spain, are there?

          • Paul Campos

            I see what you did there.

            Ese Portugues, hijo puta es.

  • ploeg

    (To be fair, Stallings explained to ESPN afterwards that his stated intention to kill his own player was merely a figure of speech, and should not have been taken literally.)

    Obviously Stallings’s head needs to be put on a pike.

    • notflinch

      yes.

      i don’t want to live in this literal, absurd world we are creating. we can be good people without being inane and unsupple people.

  • Jake the antisoshul soshulist

    The NCAA is a corrupt cartel, which only has the control that the corrupt clowns at leadership positions in the Big 5 conferences want to allow it.
    I find it interesting that, so far as sports go (particularly professional sports), everyone is a neo-liberal. Except for the owners, who are, at best, state-capitalists, if not outright state-socialists.

    • Brien Jackson

      I’m not sure in what sense “everyone is a neo-liberal” when it comes to sports. I mean, I guess there’s an element of that, but only because (especially at the professional level) it’s generally pretty easy, relative to other professions, to judge how productive an individual player is to the goal of winning games, but there are still organized labor issues, player discipline, etc. that break down along typical lines.

    • endaround

      That is not true at all. Most fans tend to be feudalists. They believe that athletes deserve whatever scraps they get and nothing more. Just look at all the complaining over the large contract given to Moncada. The vast majority are upset that he got that money and not that it shows how much money is being stolen from US baseball players because of the draft. So instead we’ll see an international draft and more stealing of money from a different group of players.

      The same thing holds true for college where tuition is supposed to be enough even though it comes nowhere close to the athletes true value.

      • Brien Jackson

        Eh, I don’t know about that: It’s MLBPA members who care far more about how much amateur players are given in signing bonuses than anyone else. Given that baseball is uncapped, I’ve never met a single baseball fan who actually cares about that issue. Maybe you get a few “wow that’s crazy” reactions, but it’s not something anyone actually cares about in any real way.

        • efgoldman

          I’ve never met a single baseball fan who actually cares about that issue. Maybe you get a few “wow that’s crazy” reactions, but it’s not something anyone actually cares about in any real way.

          You’re kidding, right? Sports talk, especially in the slow seasons, is full of bitching and moaning about contracts, as if it was the host’s/caller’s own money.
          Since you’re a Yankee fan, I’d think you’d be exposed to a ton of those conversations, even if you, personally, don’t care.

          • Brien Jackson

            Well, I don’t ever really encounter sports talk radio discussing amateur baseball players’ signing bonuses much at all.

            But sure, there’s some general kvetching about the amount of money involved, but not on a level that anyone cares about beyond the dog and pony show. No meaningful number of people are going to stop being baseball fans because Max Scherzer got a $200 million contract.

            • efgoldman

              No meaningful number of people are going to stop being baseball fans because Max Scherzer got a $200 million contract.

              That part’s certainly true. OTOH, a big and/or lengthy contract causes a fan base and commentariat, or at least a part of it, to turn on a player who’s perceived to be underperforming much more quickly than in the old days. They also turn on ownership and front offices in ways they didn’t used to.

  • hylen

    An amusing account of some of his follies can be found here.

    That was indeed amusing.

  • CSI

    Has anyone pointed out the obvious? That if strict amateurism must be preserved for players, then why not for coaches?

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  • CSI

    I’m late to this article, but I actually got around to reading the link above. I don’t know much at all about college football in America, but the sheer effrontery of what was said is astounding:

    “I, for one ,as a Big Ten AD, am tired of being used as a minor league for professional sports,”
    “Why is it our job to be minor leagues for professional sports?”

    Hahaha what is he playing at? Why else should these athletes be expected to subject themselves to a training and playing schedule similar to actual professional athletes, while having to endure coaches and administrators and other parasites making out like bandits off their completely unpaid labour – why else if not for the chance of a professional sports career?

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