Another week, another round of college sports, and another round of wondering how much worse can the NCAA get?
For those of you who haven’t been keeping track of recent events within the realm of college sports, there are a couple of big news pieces that have been relevant. The first bit of news involves Ohio State Buckeye defensive lineman, Chase Young. Young has faced a suspension from playing for what the NCAA deems as an “extra benefit”; Young received a loan from a close family friend. A loan that Young paid back in full. Now, this wasn’t a loan to attend school or give him some sort of advantage on the field. No, according to multiple sources show that the loan was used to allow his girlfriend to attend the 2018 Rose Bowl game. Again, it is important to repeat that he paid this loan back in full, and that loan was used for his girlfriend to attend a game. A game that he did not even play in. Imagine having a friend cover a ticket to a game or concert for you, you promise to pay them back for it and you do, but then your job finds out about the loan and puts you on leave without pay. Whatever the NCAA is using as a metric to measure “extra benefits” for a player isn’t working. Plain and simple.
It’s another item in a long list of the NCAA appearing to either not know what’s it’s doing, or just not care. Just recently, in 2017, the FBI launched a probe into NCAA basketball, investigating schools paying players to play for them. Now, players are not allowed to receive any kind of gifts or bribes from a school; their recruitment must come from the school simply selling them on the program and culture. Several different names have been tied into this probe, many of them big names in the college basketball world. But what has puzzled so many is that the NCAA has dealt out punishment in a very haphazard way. While there have been several players that are tied to schools like Duke, it really seems to have just been the smaller schools that are being punished as of now, with the exception being Kansas in September. Duke, arguably the biggest program in college basketball, and a school implicated in everything, has yet to be hit with any sort of punishment. Why? Well, because the school makes the NCAA a lot of money. This is the driving force behind everything.
According to investopedia, the NCAA makes 75% of its annual revenue off of the March Madness tournament. That means that 75% of the league’s billions of dollars earned yearly are made during a month. Now, it is important to note that the NCAA only takes in about 4% of this money, with the rest going to Division ! membership. But, even with that, there is the fact that the schools themselves see very little of this profit, and the players, who are the ones generating the profits and putting their bodies on the line for the league, are seeing absolutely nothing. These are 18-22-year old kids who are putting their heart and soul, playing hard on the court, risking injury, and they’re not benefitting from it. You can say that they are receiving a scholarship and housing for free, which should replace any sort of payment for playing. There is some validity to that claim, but what happens if a serious injury happens? What if that player’s entire career is ended because they’re hurt in a game? What if they lose that scholarship and are now unable to attend school because of it. It is a complex issue with a lot of moving parts, and there are a lot of problems that need to be addressed within it, but the NCAA doesn’t seem to really have any sort of urgency to fix it, since they’re the ones sitting pretty with the money coming in.
What’s even more, is that with the punishments that are coming from the college basketball prove, there is a chance that schools will lose scholarships to give out to players. Most, if not all, of the players implicated in this probe have moved onto the NBA or other professional leagues. So what the NCAA is doing is punishing new students and players, who were not involved in any of the events being investigated, and the players who were paid are going to be fine. Yes, the schools should be punished for any violations or cheating they committed, but there are genuinely innocent players who are at risk of losing their tuition now because of something they didn’t have any part in.
There are rules and those rules serve a purpose. Payment can’t be made to a player so that smaller schools and programs have a fairer chance of being able to recruit. We won’t argue against that or advocate for those programs to suffer. The issue is that the NCAA picks and chooses when it wants to enforce these rules and how. It’s a seemingly random pattern that is predicated only simply how they feel about a certain school on a given day. These rules are broken and the system that surrounds them is flawed. It is causing punishment to be dealt to those who don’t deserve it and those who do to get away with it. There is zero consistency and the NCAA just doesn’t seem to care. Meanwhile, these players are putting it all out there for their school and living in fear of suspensions and punishments. The public is growing weary of the NCAA and it keeps getting worse. What the solution for all of this is, we don’t know. But we believe it’s time for the millionaires who have the tools and money to fix this to get to it.