Blog Entry

The "U", the death penalty and fixing the NCAA

Posted on: August 19, 2011 10:56 am

Ok, not going to lie, I actually considered changing the blog’s name to “Lil Luke” for the foreseeable future, but decided against soiling the title and instead offer up a poem:

There was a Uni-ver-sity,
They called themselves the “U”;
Fans lined the streets with puffed out chests;
Like frontrunners often do.
But the entire time, lurking in the dark
One man caused quite the scene
With disregard for NCAA rules,
Lil Luke was this man’s name

He handed out cash --- and prostitutes
On his private yacht,
Was Christmas time throughout the year
Or so the players thought.
They did not know that one day soon
Lil Luke would go to jail
Abandon him, the players did
As though they did not care

Sitting in his cell with plenty of time,
Lil Luke decided to sing
The tales, the stories he told them all
It sounded like a dream.
And so it began, the tragic end
Of the program known as the “U”;
But don’t worry “fans” not all is lost
There is always FIU!

I’m sorry Canes fans but as an FSU alumnus I couldn’t help myself.  You will be surprised however, to see my answer to the most asked about question this week, should the “U” receive the death penalty.  I’ve gone back and forth on the issue for several days now and have reached the conclusion that despite it being appropriate in this situation (assuming the Yahoo! story is accurate), it should not be levied as the system is broken. 

Let’s face the facts. NCAA football and basketball are not big business, they are HUGE business and everyone is getting paid except the players. The universities, coaches, television networks, clothing manufactures, board of governors, conference heads, video game manufacturers, sports drink makers, memorabilia sellers and anyone who can tie themselves to these kids is getting paid, except for those kids putting the money in everyone else’s pockets.

And I know what you’re going to tell me, these kids are getting a free college education! Spare me, if you were to poll NCAA football and basketball players, they’d gladly pay their own way into school in exchange for a much larger piece of the pie.  How are you going to expect an 18 year old kid to say no to someone offering them the opportunity to party like a rock star along with a putting cash in their pockets?  You’re lying to yourself if you’re sitting there saying, “I wouldn’t take the money.”  These players aren’t stupid and they see the hypocrisy around them. As long as the system remains the same ---broken--- players will continue to take every “illegal” benefit that is placed in front of them.

Eventually, players around the country (or even better those from a much larger sample size of schools that are already making millions in the NFL) will decide its time to let the cat out of the bag and publicly voice what anyone around college athletics already knows, the majority of star players in college are getting benefits which the NCAA would determine are illegal.  You think that steroid use in baseball during the 80s and 90s was the best kept secret in sports?  Wrong, its illegal benefits in college football and basketball.  I’d venture that more than half the players currently in the NFL received benefits the NCAA would deem to be illegal.

So what is the solution?  Continue giving players scholarships.  In addition, take 20% of all monies generated by the NCAA and the individual conferences and put it into a player pool which is then divided equally amongst all players in sports which are profitable.  The other non profitable sports don’t need to receive money as others have suggested as they already receive the benefit of the scholarship and aren’t generating additional income.  Allow star players to sign endorsement deals.  This would apply to such a small minority of student athletes, but if Nike is willing to pay a Cam Newton or Tim Teebow money to be in a commercial, let them make that money.  Finally, change the safeguards and punishments.  Have each college athlete sign an agreement which acknowledges that the NCAA, conference and school will be able to recover the monies paid to the athlete in the event they are caught cheating. If a coach is found to have knowledge of the violation, ban him from coaching for several years.  It will be amazing to see how time suddenly frees up to monitor 80 athletes if they have something at stake.

In the NFL and other major sports there are rules in place to ensure that owners don’t circumvent the salary cap by finding ways to pay players off the books.  These safeguards and extremely strict penalties work because owners don’t want to get fined and potentially lose draft picks, while players don’t want to risk losing their salaries.  Will paying players completely eliminate cheating? Of course not, but when you start giving these kids something that is equitable for what they bring to the table and then add the risk of them potentially losing those very things, the incentive to cheat is dramatically reduced.  Right now, there is no incentive for student athletes to say no.

 So while the “U” made “The Program” look like a children’s movie, I just don’t think giving them the death penalty will suddenly change the landscape of college football.  It didn’t after SMU was shut down and it hasn’t as win after win has been vacated throughout the country.  The only thing that should be given the death penalty is the NCAA’s current system.

As always you can follow me on Twitter at mmt0315 or email me at


Since: Aug 13, 2011
Posted on: September 7, 2011 6:39 pm

The "U", the death penalty and fixing the NCAA

One of my biggest gripes with the NCAA is their inability to punish the guilty. This experience come from the 1980s and my own alma mater, the Oklahoma State Cowboys who eventually received the comatose penalty. 

The coach at the time apparently purchased a pretty good team and, as was always the chance, the NCAA found out about it. He left for another college, won the NCAA National Championship, coached in the NFL, and is continuing his career in professional sports in a related field. The University sued the NCAA to delay punishment and by the time the piper was paid, all the guilty parties were elsewhere, including many of the guilty players, many of whom were already in the NFL. Among the punishment handed down was the loss of football scholarships over a period of a few years and this is my big gripe. Because who is really being punished by this? The real blow is landing in several innocent and marginal high school students around the country who had nothing to do with the scandle but who will not not be receiving a football scholarship because the scholarship was eliminated! Here is my solution and I am requesting your comments.

First, the NCAA randomly create a list of all Division 1 all teams. If a team, like Miami, commits an offence deserving of a loss of football scholarships, let us say 5 scholarships, those 5 scholarships would be given, one each to the first five colleges on this list, AT THE EXPENSE OF THE OFFENDING UNIVERSITY. The receiving universities would then be moved to the bottom of the list while the guilty university would be moved below them. That way no scholarships would be actually lost, no innocent high school student would suffer, and an offending university would have to pay a football scholarship for a kid to play football somewhere else! How's that for justice. Yes, the receiving university would have one additional football scholarship - free - to offer.

Since: Dec 29, 2009
Posted on: August 22, 2011 8:12 am

The "U", the death penalty and fixing the NCAA

One other thing. I taught school with a guy who played in the NFL three years. Never started a game. Was a back-up. We went to lunch one day and he said, "I've got the check." I said, "No, that's O.K. I've got it." He said, "Matt, I was in the NFL for three years; I was smart with my money. I have over 1 million dollars in the bank. Let me buy you lunch." I said, "Okay."

The guy was 26 years old. No wonder he was happy all the time. I don't feel like he needed to be payed in college on top of getting to go to school for free at a college he would have never got into based on his grades in high school.  

Since: Dec 29, 2009
Posted on: August 22, 2011 8:04 am

The "U", the death penalty and fixing the NCAA

You miss the fact that we are under Title IX. If you pay x-number of football players you have to pay the same number of female athletes (as a percentage of student body). It would be nice since my daughter is benefitting from title IX by getting a lot of her college paid for as a cross country runner, but it wouldn't be fair. 

Also, if these kids are really worth money (I don't see how paying them a little bit will stop them from taking other stuff that's offered to them under the table), then somebody should start a league and make money off of them and pay them. Not many kids opt to play arena football after high school instead of taking the quarter million dollar scholarship. 

The fact is the football players who are worth money are pro and are getting paid.

No one would watch these kids play if they weren't attached to a particular college. Take the Ohio State team and the USC team and make them two "minor league" teams and no one would come to the game.

The kids are getting a full ride and a shot at the pros and even if they don't make the pros, just saying they were on the team State U gives them a million benefits for getting jobs after college that little missy straight A's doesn't get.  

The fact is that kids take these scholarships because it is the best deal they can get for their athletic abilities. If they were good enough to get paid more than a scholarship then somebody should start up a minor league and prove it (fact is, no one would watch).

No one forces these kids to take scholarships. Kids will do anything to get one. If it's so horrible for these kids why are they so desperate to get a scholarship?  

Since: Jun 8, 2011
Posted on: August 21, 2011 5:41 pm

The "U", the death penalty and fixing the NCAA

Only 1 percent of eligible seniors and Juniors (that declare early for the draft) actually get drafted.  Of those, there is a high percentage that don't make it out of the pre-season, meaning, they don't get paid.  Before we go lauding "pay the players" you have to consider that this effort would actually be rewarding the 99.9 percent of those student athletes who will be going pro in something other than sports.  This does not preclude the others from accepting the money and still finding ways to get more.  Give me $100 and I will still want $200. 

Marionc is dead-center-correct.  These are STUDENT athletes, not athlete students.  They represent an institution of higher learning, which is often forgotten with all of the money surrounding college football and basketball.  That said, I see no reason why a STUDENT athlete should not be able to reap the benefits of their likeness.  If we all had written a book while in college, the university would not prevent us from accepting royalties.  Why do it to the football or basketball players?

There needs to be fundamental change within the NCAA.  New rules...sensible rules.  No more penalties for sleeping on someones couch, or accepting a Happy Meal from a former player now in the professional ranks.  Stronger penalties against those who leave their university in hot water with the NCAA (players and coaches).  Harsher penalties to the university for Lack of Institutional Control.   I do not propose a "death penalty" either, but I am in favor for severly limiting the number of scholarships a school can offer. 

For instance, set up more than just two degress of non-compliance, perhaps as many as four or five.  The first degree, being the most egregious, could result in the loss of up to 50 scholarships depending on the severity of the situation (like UM, if this is a factual story from Shapiro).  The fourth or fifith degree could be nothing more than a couple years of probation.  No loss of scholarships, TV bans or post-season play, but serve as a warning to the program that "We are watching you".

I cringe when the paying players topic comes up.  I also cringe when I hear about a student athlete being punished for things that regular students would not be punished for.  Let's focus on the root reason for NCAA prevent an unfair competitive advantage in games and/or recruiting.  

Last point: have you ever asked youself why a student who commits a felony is still eligible to play college sports, but someone accepting $1,000 for their jersey is not?

Since: Sep 8, 2009
Posted on: August 21, 2011 12:01 am

The "U", the death penalty and fixing the NCAA


Since: Dec 3, 2006
Posted on: August 20, 2011 12:21 pm

The "U", the death penalty and fixing the NCAA


Stop and think for a minute.

  1.  First, 97% of these kids will NEVER play in the NFL, so that's not a career path.  
  2. Second, a person will a college degree will easily earn $25K/year more than a person without a degree.  Multiply that by 40 years and your talking additional $1 million in earnings.  They get this opportunity for FREE.  If you think it doesn't have a value, tell that to those out there with $50-$100K or more in student loan debt they acquired just to get that opportunity.  
  3. Then, the athletes ALSO get $1000/month for housing.  Many of these guys will room three or four in a house.  Thats $4000 a month in household income, MORE than enough to live off of.  
  4. In addition, they ALSO get access to state of the art fitness equipment, nutrition plans, and personal trainers, AS WELL AS personal tutors if needed.  ALL FREE.  

Add it all up and its a pretty hefty total value.  So don't tell me they need more.  They want more?  Seize the opportunity and GET YOUR DEGREE, and stop asking others to give you something for FREE. 

Since: Oct 8, 2006
Posted on: August 19, 2011 2:10 pm

The "U", the death penalty and fixing the NCAA

Here's a thought that is totally out of the blue, and I don't really expect it to be done, but how about splitting off all college sports from the traditional academic schools and creating sports colleges? These schools would not have to hide the fact that they are there to gain money and train athletes for the big leagues & the professional sports business. The colleges would not only train the students to be athletes, but also train them in business, sports communications/br
oadcasting, becoming an agent or the like, and how to handle the money that they earn performing these jobs. Sure there would be stipends, bonuses & awards for good play/performance, but that would be a drop in the bucket to what they're going to earn if they make the big leagues. Everything could be above table and out in the open, so no one would need to sneak around and hide what everyone knows is going on anyway. Obviously, not every athlete will make it to the big leagues playing a sport, but at least they'd end up with some type of sports related business degree, or sports broadcasting degree. They could totally shape the curriculum around the professional sports environment so that no one would be left out. This way, the moral highground that academia claims can be left to them. Just a thought.

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: August 19, 2011 1:18 pm

The "U", the death penalty and fixing the NCAA

Great points guys.  If you read closely however, my plan says take 20% of the revenues generated from the NCAA, each conference and every one of the DI schools and divide that among all the players equally.  Using 2007-2008 revenues generated by the 118 DI schools that year the numbers would work as follows: $5,336,285,021 total revenue taken in. (Keep in mind those numbers dont take into account bowl money or television deals so in reality the figure is much higher). 20% of that number is $1,067,257,004.  Divide that by the approximately 10,620 DI football players and you get a whopping total of $100,495.00 per player per season for every player in division I.  Not to mention their college scholarship.  This revenue split concept is no different than revenue sharing in baseball.

Also, to your point of equality among men and women's programs.  Title IX which covers the subject already recognizes the "equality" isnt exactly equal.  It requires that schools have the same amount of womens and mens teams, but does not force the same number of shcolarships, expenditures etc., many of these womens programs (not to mention other mens programs which arent as popular) are being funded on the backs of the school's bigger programs.  So long as a plan is passed through the legal channels and all participating members of that specific sport are treated equally there wouldnt be an issue.

As for your final point re: putting the student above the athlete and the squandered opportunity that happens all to often I have two points. 1) It is naive to think that in this day and age with the money that these sports generate that anyone is placing the student over the athlete which means we need a solution given the current circumstance.  2) Paying these players will give them more incentive to focus on school as a large amount of the stress is removed knowing they have a generous amount of money coming in; AND might keep higher rated players along longer with a greater chance of graduation knowing they dont need to rush to the pros as they'll receive something for that 1 final year.

Since: Oct 19, 2007
Posted on: August 19, 2011 12:44 pm

The "U", the death penalty and fixing the NCAA

Excellent points Marionc!!  5 Stars!

Also let's blame the media!  I mean hello ESPN (i think) singed Texas to what a 13 million dollar tv contract or something?

Since: Jul 27, 2010
Posted on: August 19, 2011 12:23 pm

The "U", the death penalty and fixing the NCAA

Its a crap shoot either way. If colleges enforce academic restrictions, while I think it's the right thing to do, we will see a big decline in talent and play across the board in college while feeling "good " about ourselves and how we care about these kids' futures. However, if college do the opposite and separate athletics completely, I can't even imagine the outcry from community leaders and groups that have been working since before civil rights to push the value of education. I think the only way to go is to enforce education over athletics and to stop being greedy fans, living off the two or three years that these kids give us. I LOVE football as much as anyone, but I also realize that many of these kids don't even register the opportunity they are given here, waste it, and end up down and out in ten years. I feel a bit of an obligation for the college to let them know and if that takes a bit of a forcible hand, so be it. Either we admit that we value an 11-win season over the future of thousands of young men, or we actually prove that we care about the education of our youth...

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