The public got perhaps its closest look yet at new NCAA President Mark Emmert when he met this week with college basketball writers in Indianapolis.
Emmert meets the press: The question of compensation for student-athletes was on the minds of basketball writers when they met early in the week with NCAA President Mark Emmert, who was quite clear in his opposition to pay-for-play.
The sessions with the basketball writers generated a cluster of stories that better revealed Emmert’s views of college sports and what might be expected during his tenure:
Emmert won’t duck Newton backlash (Jeff Goodman, FOXSports.com)
NCAA chief: Newton ruling is complex (Andy Katz, ESPN)
NCAA boss: Closing Cam Newton loophole is ‘complex’ (Steve Wieberg, USA Today)
New NCAA prez wants equal penalties for coaches, players (Gary Parrish, CBSSports.com)
NCAA chief: Hold coaches to higher standards (Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News)
Want my advice? NCAA, put the hammer down (Gary Parrish, CBSSports.com)
NCAA president: Stiff penalties needed for coaches who commit violations (Marlen Garcia and Steve Wieberg, USA Today)
NCAA president: ‘We can never’ get to place where athletes are paid (Marlen Garcia, USA Today)
The moral of the story. One curious aspect of coverage on the Cam Newton matter and other related topics is the extent to which writers cite morality. Whenever the M word appears, the NCAA most often is framed as being morally deficient or morally exploitive.
Newton situation exposes NCAA – again (Jason Whitlock, FOXSports.com)
A new look at Newton, dad (Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports)
Heisman hypocrisy (Buzz Bissinger, Bleacher Report)
Cam Newton’s Heisman saga intensifies question: Can amateurs exist within modern college sports? (Rachel Bachman, The Oregonian)
Whitlock has little use for the NCAA and can scarcely type those four letters without putting “morally corrupt” or “morally bankrupt” in front. His rhetoric pushes the red line so often that it’s hard to take him seriously. The other commentaries, however, are more thoughtful.
The Oregonian article quotes Ramogi Huma, head of the National College Players Association.
“Amateurism has been used as a tool by the NCAA to monopolize all the revenue,” Huma said. “It’s done a great job framing it as a moral issue.”
Maybe it feels that way to Huma, but is it true? In my mind, NCAA leadership has been consistent in stating that amateur and professional sports are both honorable enterprises. There’s nothing inherently moral about amateur competition or immoral about competing as a pro. However, those who oversee amateur competition do have an obligation to ensure that the participants are competing under the same standards. Maybe there’s a moral element to that, but it seems more like common sense.
The genuine moral question is whether institutions are truly committed to fulfilling their end of the bargain by educating their participants. Prominent writers often claim that they are not. Something to that effect showed up this week in The Huffington Post.
“End the pretense that all college athletes are also students,” wrote Robert E. Murphy. “If the system demands that universities be feeding-grounds for professional sports leagues, let them continue to be, but end the silly requirement that athletes must earn college credits in order to become professional, as if they were preparing for law school or an engineering job.”
As it happens, the cover of the Fall 2010 issue of NCAA Champion magazine featured Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin, who is planning on a career in law. The Winter 2011 issue will highlight Cal Tech’s Theresa Juarez, who is pursuing an engineering career.
The moral: Be careful about stereotypes.
Conference realignment, the aftermath: After several weeks of activity, the 2010 Division I conference shuffle finally quieted. Still, there was continued analysis about the effect of the changes and about what might happen down the line.
UH accepts pricey move (Honolulu Star-Advertiser)
Mountain West still may grow beyond Hawaii (San Diego Tribune)
And in one piece of unfinished business from the shake-up from earlier this year, the Big Ten unveiled a new logo and renamed its two divisions.
Patriot League delays financial aid for football. The Patriot League, a member of Division I’s Football Championship Subdivision, traditionally has offered only need-based financial aid in football. The league gave serious consideration to changing the model at meetings this week but eventually delayed a decision for two years.
Patriot League set to vote on football scholarships (New York Times)
Patriot League puts off question on football scholarships (New York Times)
Education first. Richard Whitmire of Education Week wrote an excellent column for Education Week about the effects of over-emphasized sports in District of Columbia schools.
A controversy flashed when the school district banned a school from participating in the Turkey Bowl championship game after it was determined to have used an academically ineligible athlete.
Emphasizing sports over academics sets up black boys to lose (Education Week)
Whitmire’s article is a strong challenge to the empty notion that sports alone necessarily engender character or education.
Whitmire wrote: “First, (sports) encourage boys to shun academics in hopes of making it in the pros − an extreme long shot. According to the NCAA, only one in every 1,250 high school football players is drafted by the NFL, and fewer than one in every 3,300 boys who play high school basketball makes it to the NBA.
“Second, even the goal of playing college ball might be out of reach. Many talented athletes recruited by colleges arrive on campus to find they can’t play because they fall short on academic qualifications.
“Everybody loves a winning team. But if we don’t make sure our black boys are succeeding not just on the playing fields but in the classroom, we are setting them up to lose.”
Conference networking. The Pac-10 Conference announced this week that it will launch its own cable channel in 2012.
Pac-10 targets 2012 for launch of cable channel [Sports Business Journal (registration required)]
The announcement raises the question about where this all might end, although media experts said the real question instead may be how much can get started. Although conferences and high-profile institutions are attracted to the success of the Big Ten Network, executives said that many challenges await the network hopefuls.
“People forget the severe discomfort the Big Ten went through to get up and running,” ESPN’s Burke Magnus said. “I’m not suggesting that (conference channels) can’t succeed, but there are a lot of factors involved. The Big Ten Channel’s timing was immaculate.”
Said Fox Sports Net President Randy Freer: “The two easiest things to do in media are to announce that you’re launching a channel and to put together a spreadsheet showing why it makes sense. The hard part is to execute it.”