Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sports column

October 29, 2013

Is the NCAA a sinking ship?

(Continued)

Who thinks Alabama’s Nick Saban or Kentucky’s John Calipari would endorse a deal like that?

The pros, other than baseball, aren’t going to invest in an expanded minor league system. Therefore, the colleges must be hoping that the professional leagues and their player associations further limit when an athlete can trade in his student-athlete status for a pro contract. So far there’s been no inclination that will happen, and if it ever should, you can bet with total assurance an athlete would challenge that move in court in a nanosecond.

At the same time, university power brokers are drawing a hard line on compensating players. Those top athletes, who see college as a place to hone their skills, can forget about getting paid. When it comes to money, there’s little love for the ones scoring the touchdowns or grabbing the rebounds.

Once again it was the Big Ten’s Delany, whose conference counts $310 million a year in revenue, according to Forbes, leading the charge. “If they’re not comfortable and want to monetize, let the minor leagues flourish,” he said.

He wasn’t the only one squashing that pay-for-play notion. According to an article in ESPN written by Howard Bryant, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said paying athletes was “the most idiotic suggestion of all time.” Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, also an opponent of paying players, said it was time for colleges to “redefine amateurism.”

Perhaps it’s time that colleges also took a look at their mission statement and “redefine” the role college athletics should play in higher education and campus life in general.

The NCAA and college presidents are dancing close to the line where they appear to be painting athletes as the villains in this whole sordid mess.

Maybe the NCAA can find a way around the worrisome lawsuits it’s facing and maybe Emmert and his staff can make the NCAA a more workable and responsive organization. But maybe not.

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