Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Athlete-Student v. The Coach, not caretaker, of young men v. The Institution of Higher Learning

Let's narrow the focus a bit.

It is easy to just rail on the NCAA over and over again. They are an easy target, but it isn't if the NCAA forced all of these Institutions of Higher Learning to do anything. They basically monitor the mess with a "hands on, hands off" attitude. They usually don't investigate a school unless there is a "reason" to. The higher the profile the school is the longer it takes for the NCAA to act, but when they act it is as harsh as they are allowed to act (unless it is a storied program; that is for another blog though).

They usually allow schools to do "self-imposed" investigations and sanctions. The NCAA wants to know, but they don't want to "know". If you lie though, the NCAA will cut you off at the knees. The NCAA knows only black and white. There is no gray area with the NCAA. Schools are given some rope and the understanding is, "hey we give you some rope and you give us all the truths that we are looking for." For the most part the school has no problem giving 100% truths to the NCAA. It is because for the most part, the student(s) are punished the harshest in the pantheon of punishment that is doled out. The only exception is when the student is already in the pros when the punishment is doled out (more on that later.).

The institution of higher learning hires coaches to monitor the athletes in their program. The coaches come into the living rooms of young men and promise the moon and the stars. The coaches promise the parents that they will watch over their sons and make sure that their sons become the men that the parents want them to grow up to be. The coaches promise the sons more than that. They promise wins, league title, BCS bowl games, national titles and playing time. Out of the 100 man roster, only 30 or so players actually get to see all the BS the coach gave them in their living rooms as a High School Senior.

Before I get to the athlete, let's talk about the relationship between the coach and the institution of higher learning. At ANY moment the coach is expendable. Either there is a better coach out there or the coach that is currently there cannot win games against the teams that the coach needs to beat (ranked teams, conference rivals, instate rivals). The only thing that the coach has over the Institution is the recruiting. If the coach cheats, then leads the school to a Dream/Record Breaking season, then leaves for another school, the school that he left will get all the probation and stripping of the scholarships and the coach will get to coach that other school (ahem John Calipari - UMass [Final 4/Sanctions], Memphis [National Championship Game/Sanctions], Kentucky [currently coaching, undefeated, about to be ranked #1 in the next AP poll{1/25}]. The NCAA did an unprecedented thing though with Kelvin Sampson though, they suspended him for 5 years after multiple rules violations (100s of texts to recruits) at multiple schools.

The good of coaching (Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden-retired 2009, Mack Brown, etc.) is outweighed and overshadowed by the likes of: Nick Saben (2 National Championships in the BCS era, but went from Michigan State to L.S.U. to the Dolphins to Alabama after denying it on national television), Brian Kelly (Has gone from Central Michigan to Cincinnati [led them to 2 BCS bowl games and a undefeated season before ND called and he left before the last bowl game] to Notre Dame in less than 5 years, is known as mostly a salesmen.), Lane Kiffen (left Tennessee after 1 year to go to U.S.C. after Pete Carroll left to go to the NFL), etc. The coaches have become "bigger" than the game they are coaching. The schools have become bigger than the game that they are playing due to television and Conference sports channels. The players, whose play is elevating the institutions that they are representing, are getting the fame of a SUPERSTAR, the acclaim, the accolades. What they are not getting is the money that is coming in. They aren't getting the piece of the pie that they helped bake.

The players have to wait for the payday at the end. They aren't allowed to get jobs so they can't have any spending cash either. I mean they can have spending cash, but where did that come from? Where did what come from?


The athlete is the only one of the 3 that gets hit the hardest in the event of wrong doing. They get hit the hardest when they want to move from one school to another school based on what that other school can do for them. Coaches don't have to wait a year before they can coach their new teams. The athletes can't get a job, can't get paid, have to maintain a good GPA, study, go to class, go to practice, play well and represent their school with: pride, sophistication and savvy. Coaches get a car, a house, a membership to the country club, a 1 to 3 million contract, their own cable show, etc.

You see how backwards it all is. The student athletes who bring in the money should be housed up in their own apartments. They should be leased a car of their choice (within a couple of models). Then they should be given a stipend off $XXX/week (It should be the same for EVERY athlete regardless of the sport they are in). They should be able to take a 1/2 load to no class during their respective seasons, but are required to take summer school.

Something needs to be done to even the playing field for the athletes. We know that the other 2 entities are not going to concede anything, so the only thing that can be done is to empower the athletes a little more. If you give the athletes the apt, the car, the stipend they will be inclined to stay in school a bit longer. Obviously you need rules on how to keep your stipend and apt and car. The GPA standard should be met. Nothing when it came to the standard we hold the athletes as students would change. The incentives to stay longer would be more enticing though.

-The Heckler

1 comment:

  1. A couple things- even though I agree Calipari is a shady bastard, he was cleared of any wrongdoing in those investigations.

    I really think it is amazing that the money rules what is supposed to be a 'pristine' sporting environment, leaving the supposed 'pure' athlete out in the cold.

    Nice post.