This was a busy, interesting and sad week around the college sports world. Let’s take a spin through the headlines:
BCS controversy redux: CBSSports.com reported Thursday that Utah’s attorney general met with Justice Department officials earlier in the week to discuss a possible federal investigation into college football’s Bowl Championship Series. The report said the Justice Department declined to comment on the meeting.
BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said it was “hard to imagine a bigger waste of taxpayer money than to involve the government in college football.”
I don’t pretend to know the right answers about postseason football, but I can’t imagine how this seemingly endless controversy is helping the game.
Full cost of attendance: An item buried in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal didn’t attract much attention, but it seems notable: “Mark Emmert, the new president of the NCAA, said he’d be open to increasing the value of athletic grants-in-aid by perhaps $2,000 to $4,000, in order to cover the full cost of attending school. Doing so could help combat the problem of agents giving illegal benefits to players. ‘It’s not paying players; it’s covering the full cost of attendance,’ he said in an interview. But he’s adamant about not paying players. ‘They’re not employees; they’re students,’ he said.”
You make the call: The Chronicle of Higher Education this week noted that the the NCAA is considering creating a simulation of an NCAA investigation to help educate institutions and journalists on how the Association builds a case against an athletics program it believes may have run afoul of its rules. New Enforcement VP Julie Roe Lach said the “Enforcement Experience” would debut next year. Reporters and athletics officials would fill roles as NCAA investigators and members of the Division I Committee on Infractions in a mock case, Roe told the Chronicle.
This idea has its roots in the ultra-successful mock Division I basketball selections that the NCAA has sponsored now for several years. It’s a great approach, and everybody will benefit if influential media take part in this program, if it is launched. Exercises like this help achieve better understanding, which is good for the media, the NCAA and the public.
Testing the limits: It will be interesting to see how far websites can push their free-speech protections. Early in the week, Deadspin editor A.J. Daulerio told a sports media class in Indianapolis that he had no regrets about paying an informant for nude photos relating to the Brett Favre sexting scandal and then keeping the man’s identity secret. “That’s just how I operate,” he told the Indianapolis Star.
The Star noted that Deadspin’s work has been criticized by many major news outlets, but Daulerio told the class that “the payoff was much larger” since computer hits to the site quadrupled last month.
There’s some serious hubris there. It’s a bit reminiscent of the National Enquirer in the days preceding its Carol Burnett fiasco.
Spotlight on the faculty role: The role of the faculty athletics representative is one of those inside-baseball matters that isn’t likely to pique the interest of hard-core sports fans. But faculty reps do provide a vital role in the enterprise of college athletics, serving as the critical link between student-athletes’ educational and athletics experiences.
The Chronicle of Higher Education delivered a whopper of a package on faculty representatives, and I’m sure many faculty reps didn’t like what they read. Be that as it may, it’s a net gain for a prominent publication to actually pay attention to the function. Parts of the report are undeniably painful, and failures may be overstated (as in the main headline, “Faculty reps botch sports-oversight role”). But the package mainly illustrates the difficulties of the job while making a case that poor judgment or malfeasance in the function can be catastrophic.
Here’s the package (you’ll need to purchase if you’re not a Chronicle subscriber):
Forever young: Finally, last week was notable because of sad news. A little more than a month ago, Nick Bell was the starting defensive end for Mississippi State. He experienced headaches in late September, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, was operated on Oct. 1 and died Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame student videographer Declan Sullivan was buried Monday. Sullivan died last week after falling from a tower while taping a Notre Dame football practice in a windstorm.
I know everybody hopes their families can find peace in these worst of times.