The Quest for Fairness in the NCAA

As everybody already knows and I have written in the past, the current NCAA system is dramatically unfair to the players. For all the talk last week about David Stern’s being a plantation owner, what would this make university presidents, athletic directors, bowl administrators, and even coaches?

In circulating a petition that asks for a larger cut of the next television contract and having already drawn 300 signatures in less than two weeks, college football and basketball players have started to take action into their own hands. The AP’s Alan Scher Zaiger writes:

The players from Arizona, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Purdue and UCLA have signed a petition asking the NCAA to “realize its mission to educate and protect us with integrity.” The National College Players Association, an athletes’ advocacy group, provided The Associated Press with copies of the document for release Monday. Players started sending the petition to the NCAA last week.

The document urges the NCAA and college presidents to set aside an unspecified amount of money from what it estimates is $775 million in recently acquired TV revenues in an “educational lock box” for football and men’s basketball players. Players could tap those funds to help cover educational costs if they exhaust their athletic eligibility before they graduate. And they could receive what’s left of the money allocated to them with no strings attached upon graduating — a step that would undoubtedly be seen by some as professionalizing college sports.

Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel, who co-authored Death to the BCS, a book that exposes and excoriates the NCAA on every level, thinks that the petition is a great step in the right direction, but urges more drastic action:

Get together and boycott a minor bowl game.

 Nothing will rock college athletics like players refusing to play. And nothing will get the attention of people more powerful than university presidents than a canceled nationally televised game. It will be a bomb blast to the system – grabbing the attention of non-sports media, local and national politicians, and reformers of all kinds. A bowl boycott will get everyone talking, immediately.

The column is very compelling and I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

If a team of players actually gets together and DOES this, it will be on the short list of the most polarizing events in American sports history. They will be lauded by anti-establishment writers and fans but torn to shreds by traditionalists. Rational–and I would like to hope more–people would be on the players’ side but their dissenters would be loud and vicious. The inevitable negativity is probably enough of a deterrent to prevent this from happening–for now–but support for the NCAA is snowballing on a downward spiral. We may be less than a few years of scandals and utter refusal to reform away from the time where a boycott of this nature would be the event that turns the snowball into the avalanche that completely breaks the system.




One Response to The Quest for Fairness in the NCAA

  1. Ace Ventura says:

    Missing obligatory South Park “Crack Baby Athletic Association” reference.

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