The Ncaa: Out Of Control Essay, Research Paper
The NCAA: Out of Control
Darnell Autry was a member of the Northwestern University Wildcats football team. He was a dedicated student and an All American running back. He was also a theatre major. So when he was offered a small part in a motion picture he quickly accepted. It was a non-paying role and he paid for his own plane ticket to Rome, where the movie was being filmed. However the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the governing body of college athletics, told Autry that he would be violating NCAA Article 5, section 3, subsection 2. That rule states ” Footage of an individual performance of a student athlete may not be used in a commercial motion picture unless his or her eligibility has been exhausted.” (NCAA Bylaws 324) So Autry had to decline what could have been the start of a film career because he would be suspended from NCAA competition. (Fitzpatrick 15) If the movie had been a TV movie he would not have been in violation of the rules. Autry could not appear in the motion picture because it is a product which is meant to be sold. Yet the NCAA has no qualms about making money off Autry and the thousands of other athletes in the form of TV revenues and licensing rights. This is part of what is wrong with the NCAA. It is an antiquated and corrupt organization that is unchecked by any higher power and it is one that needs to be reformed.
The Autry case is just one of many pointless rules that the NCAA tries to enforce. In 1994 they tried to ban all the sportwriters whose papers run betting lines from the Final Four ( the championship of college basketball). The only reason they did not was because almost every major newspaper in the country runs them. (Lacey 16) If they had no media coverage they would lose advertising revenues. It also seems to think that office pools don’t count as gambling. The NCAA sponsored a special office pool section in last years Sports Illustrated preview of the NCAA tournament.
Up until this year an athlete under scholarship at a NCAA school could not hold a job during the season. The penalty for having a job was suspension for as many games as the NCAA saw fit. If too many athletes had jobs the team was subject to probation. This rule was meant to discourage boosters from giving easy high paying jobs to athletes. In January of this year the NCAA amended the rule to allow the athletes to cover the difference between their scholarship and the cost of tuition. This still allows almost no room for any kind of spending money. How can you blame an athlete, who goes to school, practices after that, and has no time for work, for accepting some money or gifts from an agent or a booster? How can the NCAA justify depriving a college athlete from making some cash when so much money is made off of them. The Kansas City Star recently reported that over 25 college football taeams are worth more than $10 million and more than 20 basketball teams are worth more than $3 million. Three college football teams, the Michigan Wolverines, the North Dame Fighting Irish, and Florida Gators are worth more than the N.F.L.’s Detroit Lions. All sports generate almost $2 billion in revenue just for Division I member schools. (Dillon 45)
Speaking of the NCAA making a profit, many people don’t know that it is supposed to be a non-profit organization. Being a non-profit organization they are not taxed. CBS has a TV deal with the NCAA to televise the NCAA College Basketball Tournament. This deal pays the non-profit NCAA $1.7 BILLION dollars. None of this is taxed. They also have several college football TV deals worth an estimated $700 million. This does not include a clothing line which brings in another $200 million. The NCAA’s expenses which include administrative fees and the constant supervision of member schools add up to about $1.1 billion. This leaves a surplus profit of over $1.5 billion. Also, after having its home office in Kansas City for over forty five years, the NCAA will leave for Indianapolis in the year 2000 putting hundreds of employees out of work. Why? Indianapolis has promised them $50 million in cash. (Dillon 45)
The NCAA was established in 1905 by then president Teddy Roosevelt. Its goal was to keep sports at an amateur level and secondary to getting a good education. However the NCAA has failed to keep sports secondary to education. Many academically strict universities like Stanford, Berkeley, and North Carolina have different admission standards for athletes than they do for the rest of the student population. Incoming freshman only have to get a 2.0 GPA in certain core classes, like math science, etc., and a 700 on the SAT. All you need to do to get a 2.0 in high school is go to class and you get 400 points on the SAT just for writing your name. If you do not meet these requirements you must sit out your freshman year but you don’t lose any years of eligibility. (NCAA Bylaws 324)
The NCAA set up an autonomous organization, run by the ACT, to determine who is and who isn’t eligible to play in their first year. It is called the NCAA Clearinghouse. Prospective student athletes must submit a list of courses they took and a check for $28. Basically the NCAA is making you pay to find out if you can play. They already make hundreds of millions of dollars off of the athletes already in college. Yet they feel the need to make a little extra money off athletes before they get to college. You would think that if you pay for this service no mistakes would be made, you would be mistaken. Two brothers from New York took the same classes throughout high school. One was cleared by the Clearinghouse and one was not. Ken Taylor was offered a football scholarship from Kansas. He took all the courses that his counsellor told him too. He was rejected. It turns out that the NCAA changed its course list and didn’t notify Taylor’s school. He could not afford to pay for college on his own so he ended up a janitor at a local elementary school. The next year when he tried to reclaim his scholarship Kansas didn’t want him. It took the Clearinghouse 6 months to approve Kristen Hurst who was the valedictorian of her school. The delay caused her to miss the first half of the volleyball season at the University of Missouri. Jenny Bruun, a golfer at Minnesota, had a 3.8 GPA in high school and was actually denied eligibility until the NCAA stepped in and allowed her to play. These are just the most egregious of hundreds of errors the Clearinghouse has made. The Clearinghouse cites a lack of funds to explain these errors. The Clearinghouse handles over 118,000 phone calls a month and receives over 27,000 pieces of mail a week. Yet until 1994 only 27 people were employed. In 1994 the number increased to 45. Forty five people cannot handle the number of phone calls and mail that come in to Clearinghouse headquarters. This is proven by the 31,932 busy signals on the Clearinghouse hotline in July 1996. (Rock 19)
Once you are in college the NCAA stops caring whether you succeed in school or not. The 1993-94 national champion University of Arkansas basketball team had 17 players. Only three graduated. Only 13 percent of Division I-A men’s basketball players and 35 percent of football players graduate at the same rate as their peers. Only 42 percent of Division I-A basketball players graduate at all. Byron Hanspard, a running back for Texas Tech University, along with several of his teammates, was allowed to play even though he had a 0.0 GPA ( Carney 14). This prompted the NCAA to investigate Texas Tech. They found that over the last six years 76 athletes in eight sports played while they were academically ineligible. Tech was not punished. Incredibly their is no NCAA law that says an athlete cannot play while on academic probation. Of the schools who finished in the top ten in the AP college football poll only two, the University of Michigan and Penn State University, suspend players who do not have a 2.0 GPA. (Carney 14)
One of the basic rules in the NCAA Bylaws is ” Colleges are not to give special treatment to athletes to keep them eligible. Yet the NCAA did nothing when special treatment was given to Miles Simon, a junior starting guard for the national champion University of Arizona men’s basketball team. Simon was suspended by the University at the beginning of last year for having a 1.79 GPA. He sat out eleven games before his eligibility was restored. He brought his GPA up to a 2.0 by taking a class where everyone including, himself, received an A. He also took a class that was restricted to freshman, according to the class catalog. He was allowed to enter one of the University’s schools with a GPA far below what is usually required. Also he was suspended in his sophomore year for academic reasons but the suspension was rescinded at the request of the director of a university college, who later flew with the team to Australia. If this isn’t special treatment I don’t know what is. (McGraw 18)
This corruption and ineptitude goes all the way to the very top of the NCAA. High level NCAA executives abuse their power to give themselves extra perks and expenses. Cedric Dempsey, executive director, makes $440,000 a year not including a $50,000 expense account. Similar positions at non profit organization of the same size have average salaries of $188,000. The NCAA also bought Dempsey a $450,000 home near Kansas City as a Christmas bonus. Dempsey’s predecessor Dick Schultz acknowledged he used the NCAA’s $1.7 million Lear Jet for personal trips. The NCAA told the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals that the tax-exempt plane was only used for NCAA business. The NCAA also gave Schultz a golden parachute worth at least $700,000. The handbook for cities hosting the Final Four require gifts and money to be sent to the hotel rooms of NCAA officials. These gifts cost the city of Indianapolis, which hosted the 1997 Final Four, $25,000 per day. The NCAA continues to accept these “bribes” and give their high end executives too much money. (McGraw 18)
The bottom line is the NCAA needs to be reformed. It should start at the top. Control of the NCAA should be given to the universities themselves. Make a board of directors composed of the presidents of universities. Have all member schools vote on who should be on the board. Secondly give all profits that the NCAA makes back to the athletes. A $200 hundred stipend should be given to each athlete every week. Athletes under full scholarships would not be allowed to get jobs. The stipend would take the place of a job. Any athlete who is on academic probation gets their stipend cut in half until they get their grades up. Next make the eligibility requirements more strict. A 2.25 GPA and a 850 on the SAT should be easily attainable. This would also get rid of some of the people who are going to college just to showcase their skills for the pros. Any one who does not meet these standards loses a year of eligibility and has to maintain a 3.0 GPA during the year in which they sit out. Some of the profits that the NCAA makes should be diverted to the Clearinghouse. This money would be used to hire more employees and to waive the service fee that athletes have to pay. Make the minimum GPA needed to compete in athletics 2.0. Anyone who does not meet this will sit out until they bring their grades up to acceptable standards. They will also be required to take mandatory tutoring sessions. Also encourage coaches to recruit players that excel in both the classroom and on the field. In the fd , National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, schools are given an extra scholarship for every athlete with a GPA of 3.6 or higher. A similar plan might be a good idea for the NCAA.
The NCAA is not evil. It is just plagued by the greed that dominates society today. With a little guidance and reform it can be an institution that works. Maybe then we can have college athletics that are about competition and hard work instead of money and TV ratings. I would also like say that many people don’t know what it is like to be a college athlete. I do because I am one. People don’t realize how much hard work it takes. Here is an example of a typical day for me. I wake up at seven for a nine o’clock class. I go to school from nine to twelve. At twelve thirty I start practice. Practice runs from twelve thirty to five. Then I go straight from practice to work. I work from six to midnight. I usually get home a twelve thirty and I sometimes study until two. The point I’m trying to make is that being a student and a athlete is hard and the individuals who succeed at both should be applauded and rewarded.