Multimedia Package: “Pay-for-Play”

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?


Shots Fired

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.



Data Visualization

Click here for a link to the interactive version.


Live Blogging: Blueprint for Change

Click here for a link to the CoverItLive Event.

Coming Tomorrow..

On Thursday, I will be publishing a multi-dimension news story about the “pay-for-play” issue that has recently surfaced in the world of college athletics. On October 27th, NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement saying that the NCAA would allow schools to approve a $2,000 stipend for student athletes to help cover the cost of attendance. There has since been a whirlwind of chatter in the media about how this will effect college athletics.

On Sports Guy tomorrow, I will have a written news story about the recent happenings and an interactive data chart with relevant NCAA financial information.

Along with these components, tomorrow morning at around 10 a.m I will be liveblogging a podcast from ESPN called ‘Blueprint for Change’. This hourlong discussion features some elite college football coaches as well as conference officials and analysts. The material they covered is essential to this story, as they talk about recruiting, the BCS system, and student-athlete compensation.

The complete package will be up no later than noon so make sure you check it out.

Game of the Century

The LSU and Alabama ‘game of the century‘ showcased a multitude of pulse-pounding three-and-outs, ferocious field goals, and a flurry of flags. The 9-6 outcome hardly deserved the 11.9 television rating the game received. CBS aired the game and the ratings showed that Saturday night’s contest was the second most watched regular season college football game in history (1989’s Miami vs. Notre Dame had more viewers, and more entertainment, as Miami won 27-10)

With the lackluster win, LSU sews up the number 1 spot in the BCS rankings and a likely berth in the national championship game if they win when they should win. Some would say that Alabama still has a shot at the national championship game under the BCS system if the right things happen to finish the season. This should not happen.

The BCS has way too much control in college football, and it is ridiculous to think Alabama would deserve a title shot over an undefeated Boise State team, or Oklahoma State, just so the ratings would come in. I don’t want to see another game where each teams scores single digits.

There are teams in college football who deserve many more chances than they are given. A handful of teams each year own the spotlight and in turn, the top of the BCS rankings. You are known and rated by your reputation. Not only your reputation for winning, but your reputation for making money. This is really too bad, because there are good teams who could be competitive and entertaining if given the opportunity to shine.

Ramblings Disguised as a Game Preview

The long-awaited matchup between No. 1 Louisiana State and No 2. Alabama has come. They play this Saturday in Tuscaloosa, and some say that this is the national championship being played early.

It’s Ali-Frazier, Goliath-Goliath, and naturally, this matchup has accumulated an unattainable hype. Maybe these 20 year old gridiron warriors will battle to the bone, and take the game to three overtimes, with a hero prevailing on the last play of the game. But, probably not. LSU will win by 9, in a defensive battle that most viewers will be bored with (but if you ask them, they will tell you to shut up because they are trying to watch this HUGE game). And when it is over, people will move on. Whether LSU or Alabama wins, people will focus all attention to the future. If Alabama wins, then they will most likely play for the national championship game, and will be paraded and accoladed around the nation like princes. And vice versa.

The loser will be forgotten. Not totally dropped from the nation’s spectrum, but they will have a forgotten importance. They will still play for a big bowl game, but who can tell me who played for the Cotton Bowl in 2007? Or the Fiesta Bowl in 2008? You might be able to take an educated guess, but people don’t really care. The loser of the LSU/Alabama game will be forgotten, pushed to the side, to make room for a new national title game suitor, with a nation awaiting. They lose the spotlight, the prestige, and fade off into an abyss of bronze medal winners. Their only hope is to pray that their fans will still be loyal, and they will not be mercilessly exiled from the campus they so righteously owned a mere week ago. Will there ever be redemption for the loser, will there ever be solitude!!!!

…breathe. It is only a game. Truly, it is only a game. No matter how much money is at stake or how many fans act like they are pissed, life moves on. The cliched sun comes up tomorrow and ladies and gentlemen all around the world go to work the following Monday. And no matter who is left fighting from behind in the BCS rankings, each team will have another upcoming game and another unattainable hype to achieve.

So if nothing else, I would like to thank the LSU and Alabama players. I don’t follow either of their teams and the only reason I will watch the game on Saturday is because the talking heads on the T.V. tell me I can’t miss it. Nonetheless, I will enjoy it. Even if the game is boring, I will be around friends with whom I share a common love: football. And watching football makes me happy, so thanks. Who cares if the loser of this game is ‘forgotten’, or if they fade away. They are making people happy, and are probably enjoying themselves as well. Because isn’t that what sports are for, having fun?

Pay for Play

Paying college athletes. This issue cuts deep into the workings (and pockets) of the NCAA nation and has recently been brought into light. On Monday, a student group called the National College Players Association announced a cause and released a petition that called for compensation of college student athletes. The students asked for a share of the broadcasting and BCS conference revenue (which eclipses 700 million dollars per year). Along with that, they wished for insurance for any sports related medical costs, and trust funds.

This petition loomed heavy over the greed ridden school presidents and other college football financial beneficiaries. It caught the eye of Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, and by Thursday he signed a new bill giving college athletes an extra 2,000 dollars in addition to their scholarship money. While he stated that this extra stipend will come closer to providing the exact cost of tuition for student athletes, it also felt like a desperate defense mechanism.

The sleeping giant awoke on Monday, and it has already eaten a meal. The nation’s student athletes have long been proponents of compensation by the NCAA, but have failed in attempts at change. In 2000, another student group, the Student Basketball Council, was created for this same reason. And they gained no traction in the payment issue. Now, the NCPA takes up this cause and gets rewarded 3 days later.

The immediate reaction by the NCAA is interesting. The amount of money that some people (not athletes) within the NCAA make is ridiculous. Broadcasting deals and corporate endorsements make schools and conferences very wealthy, but the players see little of that. I think that one of the reasons that this issue is important and why the NCAA is honoring some of the players’ requests is that all of the information is so visible. People can see very clearly that presidents, coaches, corporations are all making incredible amounts of money, while the actual players are making none. I believe that the NCAA doesn’t want this truth to linger in people’s minds, so they signed a quick bill to fulfill part of the player’s requests and then put it in the rearview mirror for the time being.

Question is, when the the sleeping giant going to wake up next?

A little bit of data…

The BCS rankings were shaken up a bit this last weekend, with Texas Tech beating Oklahoma and Michigan State beating Wisconsin. This should lead to a very interesting November.

All that aside, I thought it would be fun to explore something different about these college teams.

I have compiled athletic budget data of the top 25 teams in college football. This data comes from all sports within the school, but football brings in, and spends most of the money. Some of these schools aren’t turning as huge of a profit as you might think.

Here is a still picture and then a link underneath for the interactive version:

Click on this link to get the hands-on version


Conference realignment. Teams are switching conferences left and right and the idea of schools finding new conference loyalties is becoming old news. But earlier today, yet another potential switch is in the works.

Missouri gave the school’s president full authority to begin the move of the school to the SEC conference as early as next season. Believe it or not, Missouri wants to make more money, and they believe the SEC would be a prime market for their school. They want to expand their audience, and make their school more visible in the spotlight of the nation’s most prestigious conference. Aside from football, they want to improve their men’s basketball situation, and they feel the SEC would be the right fit for them.

We knew the Big 12, Missouri’s current conference, was in trouble before this, but now it is panic time. This movement would drop the Big 12’s team total to 9 teams, and would devastate the conference’s stability and credibility. The Big 12 would need to do some heavy recruiting of surrounding schools to come into their conference, or they could be in real danger of disbanding. BYU and TCU are potential suitors for the Big 12. The conference is going to have to pull out all of the stops to get their school total up to 10, which is still far from their namesake of ‘12’.