I’m consistently stunned by the ignorance shown by those who should have a much better idea as to how the NCAA operates.
Last week, ESPN’s Jalen Rose ranted and raved about how the NCAA screws kids, and scoffed at how it’s classed as a non-profit organization.
It happens all the time. “My God, the NCAA is taking in hundreds of millions and the student-athletes can’t afford a sandwich on a Sunday night!” is the call to revolt by those who are outraged by the silly notion of amateurism in college athletics.
But the wrath of the downtrodden is misplaced. It’s not the NCAA’s fault. In fact, you might be better off dismissing the notion that the NCAA is an organization before commencing your rant.
What the NCAA does is organize and run championship events like the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, serve as a centralized clearinghouse for eligibility, and gather information used by infraction committees to determine punishment for wrongdoers.
It also collects money and then disperses it to member institutions.
Now, stay with me for a minute here. Don’t read the short paragraph above, and see “collects” without also seeing “disperses.”
It was reported yesterday that the NCAA collected $1.06 billion during the 2016-2017 school year. That got the headlines, and people predictably went haywire. Deeper in the story is the breakdown of what happened to that $1.06 billion:
- $560.3 million was distributed to 1,100-ish universities.
- $200 million went to schools to fund additional programs.
- $160.5 million was earmarked to a D-1 performance fund that will be funneled to conferences based upon NCAA Tournament games are played by member programs.
That adds up to $920.8 million, or 92% of the revenue that came into the supposedly overflowing NCAA coffers.
The NCAA serves one more function for its members. It’s the punching bag for all that is wrong with college athletics. If you’re pissed off at the financial schematics of college sports, you are likely to yelp about the malfeasance and trickeration of the NCAA – not specifically at a school that truly benefits by exploiting athletes as unpaid labor.
Forget your anger for a moment – whether you’re fixated on the system which refuses to compensate athletes or red-assed over those who don’t understand the value of an education, room and board, and around the clock availability of state of the art training facilities.
The NCAA is a collective of its members, and Mark Emmert is an employee of those members. Emmert’s vision for college sports must be approved by the members, or he’s like the rest of us – venting frustration without the power to affect change.
It’s the members you should be pissed at, dummy. Save your anger for Texas, Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, and Texas A&M. They pay coaches and staff preposterous amounts of cash while student-athletes are disemboweled for trading autographs and jerseys for tattoos.
You need to get specific here. If Jalen Rose want to rave about boycotts, it shouldn’t be shrieked toward the NCAA. The University of Michigan is a much better target for his righteous indignation. A boycott would do no harm to the NCAA, but one by Michigan’s team would immediately get the attention of everyone in that stats – particularly those in the athletic department.
If Rose wants to be heard loudly and clearly, he should call on his school to boycott. ESPN colleague Jay Williams should encourage the same at Duke, the program for which he played. That would mean something.
Being vague provides the critics cover, and it renders their argument meaningless.
The NCAA has roughly 1,100 members, most of which are poorly funded with coaches and administrators who earn a very small sliver of what Nick Saban, Jim Harbaugh, or Mike Krzyzewski pocket.
Angry people get sloppy, and are thus ignored. If Rose, Williams, and those like them want to be taken seriously as they argue for athletes’ right, they need to shrink the target.
Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at kentsterling.com.