|Image via: SBNation|
The story broke a week or two ago, but went relatively unnoticed. However, Twitter began exploding last night with hashtags like “#SCANDAL”, #WVUtoSEC, and the ever-great #FireCraigJames” (not that Craig James has anything to do with the story…that we know of).
If you haven’t read the news, take a minute to review this article from www.boston.com.
The controversial comments made by Boston College’s Athletic Director, Gene Filippo, are quoted as:
“It had nothing to do with basketball, it was football money which drove expansion. It was football money and securing our future…We always keep our television partners close to us. You don’t get extra money for basketball. It’s 85 percent football money. TV – ESPN – is the one who told us what to do. This was football; it had nothing to do with basketball.”
According to the article, the ACC recently signed a deal with ESPN that will increase each member school’s revenue to about $13 million. Filippo speculates that the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse will bring about increased numbers to the schools, as well. These statements alone seemingly echo the mindset in college football today: $MONEY$. (Note: The NCAA holds a tax-exempt status, and is touted as strictly a non-profit organization)
Let’s take note that ESPN isn’t the only organization in it for the cash. It’s long been known that the BCS is revered as a joke by many sports fans due to it’s obvious greed. Do we really need 35 bowl games? Are there honestly 70 teams that truly DESERVE to be invited to post-season play? In all honesty, probably not. However, those are an additional 35 chances for the NCAA, BCS, and television networks like ESPN to make a profit. Out of 35 bowl games, there are 2 (possibly 3, as the Chick-Fil_A bowl hasn’t been announced) that are NOT shown on ESPN or ABC. The Hyundai Sun Bowl will be broadcast on CBS, and the AT&T Cotton Bowl can be seen on FOX.
While this blatant greed and possible monopolization can easily be spotted by flipping through a few channels on the tube, the seemingly lost factor in this mess is often overlooked. What about the student-athletes? NCAA regulations restrict the players from being compensated for their contributions to their respective schools. According to the NCAA’s “D1 Summary of NCAA Regulations“, “You are not eligible in any sport if, after you become a student-athlete, you accept any pay for promoting a commercial product or service or allow your name or picture to be used for promoting a commercial product or service. [Bylaws 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124]”
So the NCAA, official Conferences, and the respective schools “sell” their logos to Nike and Under Armour, who then use the appropriate colors (often licensed and “sold” as well) and “random” numbers to make jerseys that sell to the public for upwards of $70.00 each. Let me ask you something…would you buy a jersey no matter what number was on the back? Would you go to your local retailer and say, “I want an Old Gold Mountaineers jersey with the number Pi printed on it!”? While that would seem to be a pretty cool jersey, we have to be honest. We buy the jerseys with specific numbers in mind, and those numbers are based upon the players that wear them. If you go to a sporting goods store, you are not going to buy jersery number 3.14159265… because it’s cool. You may buy a WVU #12, or #11, or maybe #3 plainly because of the athlete that sports that number on the playing field.
When Geno Smith steps onto the field and sees tens of thousands of fans proudly wearing their #12 Mountaineer jerseys, he doesn’t see dollar signs. Smith should see support, love, and acceptance. He can be assured that each one of those fans more than likely spent at least $65.00 for a peice of fabric with his number printed/sewn onto it. Would you spend that much money on a shirt with your spouse’s face or name printed on the back? Most of us wouldn’t. Some of us may, just to throw darts into it.
Anyway, my point is that these athletes make BILLIONS for the NCAA, conferences, universities, and companies such as Nike and Under Armour. What do they get, other than satisfaction? NOTHING. These students are relying on financial aid, scholarships, and loans to make it through college, and money-hungry corporations are thriving off their success. (Needless to say, I am a STRONG proponent of providing royalties to the athletes for selling their jerseys) These kids face the same struggles as John, the out-of-state-student that wants a chemical engineering degree. Even though John doesn’t play sports, he is still a key player in the university’s success. John’s final GPA directly reflects the institution’s academic quality, just the same as the star quarterback’s.
So these corporations are making money. Big deal. Actually, yes, it is a big deal when the interest of the student-athletes is compromised by big-time television networks who put the wellness of their wallet over the wellness of the students. ESPN has been accused of telling the ACC who to raid from the Big East. If this is true, and the reason touted is a larger television market, then how can we be sure the NCAA is overseeing the “best” for the students? Surely the NCAA could step in and say, “Hey, even if you aren’t violating federal regulations, this isn’t really looking out for the kids.” Money should NEVER hold precedence over an education.
This topic makes my blood boil. I was raised to work for everything you have and be glad that you have it. Right now, there are numerous student-athletes and schools working hard to make a name for themselves. Players want to go pro, schools want to move up to D1, and the controllers of all their destinies seem to be a gluttonous sports entertainment monopoly with conference puppets on its fingers, conference talking heads that will turn on a university or conference at the flip of a switch, and a sanctioning body that is supposed to represent them and their best interests, yet consistently allows the cash flow to supercede the players it claims to protect.
When will all of this debauchery end? Will someone finally step up against (start angelic harmonies, trumpets, and harps playing) the great governing body that is the NCAA? Does anyone even have the available cash to bring a case against these avaricious fat-cats? It makes me sick, it makes me angry, and it makes me sad. College football has become nothing but a giant cash machine with ESPN executives first in line for the “Dash for Cash”, followed by the conference presidents and the NCAA executives. All of them laughing hysterically at the student athletes that are flipping the machine off and on and reloading all of the million-dollar bills before the next cronie enters.
I wonder what will be the entertainment for this week? Will ESPN finally decide to kill the Big East and create their own SuperConference? Heck, they may even decide to buy the NCAA and replace the president with Craig James.
Good Lord, somebody seriously make it stop.
I’d really like to hear your opinions on this, whether for or against. Let your voice be heard. Heck, maybe someone from ESPN will read it and offer you a job.