The pay-for-play issue has been a hot topic in college athletics for a long time. Should student-athletes be compensated for their play more than they already are? Recently, the NCAA stirred things up when they approved a new wave of changes. I have compiled a written news story, an interactive data set, and a liveblog of an ESPN podcast about these changes.
The written article appears first, and deals with the NCAA’s recent reform. The data set deals with the distribution of revenue among NCAA conferences, and is directly underneath the written story. Lastly, a link to the replay of the liveblog is underneath the data picture. The podcast was called ‘Blueprint for Change’ and featured influential college football coaches and analysts talking about important issues. Enjoy.
NCAA’s Sweeping Reforms. For the Better?
On Thursday, October 27th, NCAA president Mark Emmert announced that the NCAA Division One Board of Directors had approved a monumental set of institutional changes. This newest NCAA reform would allow conferences and schools to vote to allow a $2,000 stipend to student-athletes to help cover the cost of attendance.
They also moved to implement stricter academic and recruiting policies, and approved schools to offer multi-year scholarships.
Amid scandal and corruption, conference realignment, and the overall wobbly state of college athletics as of late, Emmert and the head honchos fired back.
Money for the student-athletes. This is the big one. The students are the hub of the entire institution; they are the product on the field and the ones that the focus should be on. By approving this $2,000 stipend, Emmert wants people to see that the NCAA is giving back to the athletes by making life a little easier for them. He adamantly defends that it is not “pay-for-play”, but simply an exact issue to cover any remaining costs for student-athletes not ensured by the pre-existing scholarship.
Strict academic and recruiting regulations. With this new reform, the NCAA hopes a more stringent focus will be put back on academics. For the 2012-2013 year, if a team has hopes of competing in the postseason, they will have to meet a certain mark of academic progress. Also, new recruiting regulations have been set in place, in an attempt to curtail crooked agents and coaches.
Multi-year scholarships. This again is in the student-athlete’s favor, because a player with a multi-year scholarship cannot have it revoked due to shoddy athletic performance.
More focus on the student-athletes, and getting back to the basics for academics and recruiting.
But in an act that was supposed to create a sense of stability, did the NCAA actually create a platform for a tailspin?
Amateurism on Life Support
“Amateurism is dying before our eyes,” said University of Iowa adjunct professor Jim Foster.
Along with teaching Sports Management at Iowa, Foster has an extensive background in football. He has had jobs within the NFL, USFL, and is the founder and creator of the Arena Football League.
“The business of college sports is a multi-million dollar industry and I think the players deserve to see some of that back in the form of scholarships. Football is especially a serious moneymaker and some people think the players should be compensated. But when you extend scholarships like this, basically giving a free handout, where does it stop?”
The revenue in college football is tremendous. Players are revered and recognized across the country and people pack 100,000 seat stadiums to watch them play (no NFL stadium has over 80,000 capacity). Where is the line between protecting the rules and morals of the NCAA while at the same time, creating a business that is incredibly lucrative?
Sports journalism legend Charles Pierce recently feared for amateurism as well on the online publication Grantland.
“As soon as you pay someone $2,000, you cannot make the argument that it is unethical to pay them $5,000, $10,000 or a million bucks a year. Amateurism is one of those rigid things that cannot bend, only shatter.”
Foster and Pierce echo the sentiments of many.
When the NCAA approved this reform, it gave mostly all of the power to the schools. The academic institutions get to vote whether or not they approve the stipend. All of the schools will undoubtedly want to pay their kids.
The issue here is that some schools cannot afford it. This $2,000 applies to all athletes, not just football and basketball players, so you are looking at a large number if you decide to pay the student-athletes.
This could create an even larger rift between already elite schools, and schools currently struggling to survive. Schools like LSU or Texas will have no problem paying their kids the stipend (in fact, some coaches and school presidents from major conferences feel like $2,000 is too little a number). Smaller and less wealthy schools and conferences might not be able to afford it.
According to financial information from the NCAA website, 8 major conferences out of the 32 in the nation, receive nearly 60% of the revenue distributed by the NCAA annually. The disparity between the wealthy and the average in college athletics is apparent, and growing.
If the recruiting disadvantage wasn’t already there for these less wealthy schools, it’s there now. If a high school recruit is forced to choose between two schools and one offers the stipend and one doesn’t, the decision is obvious.
While the NCAA hoped to sharpen their currently shaky image with this new wave of reforms, it may have in fact done the opposite.
Click here for a link to the interactive version.
Live Blogging: Blueprint for Change
Click here for a link to the CoverItLive Event.