Reform the NCAA? Group’s New President Has His Hands Full

In an article published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, columnist Rachel Blount points out that while the NCAA may need to reign in athletic eligbility rules that recently allowed several high profile student-athletes to compete in football bowl games, it should consider tackling’ issues “farther up the ladder, on the influences that are really corrupting major-college athletics.”

Blount stated that most in the public found the NCAA’s decision-making erroneous as to the cases of quarterback Cam Newton at Auburn University and five Ohio State University football players. It was determined that Newton didn’t know what his father was doing and should remain eligible. The Ohio State players who sold gifts and received free tattoos were suspended for the first five games next season, but they were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl.

She pointed out that “No one, save for perhaps the tooth fairy, believes the NCAA would have done anything that would have taken those players off the field. We have become so accustomed to the modern state of college sports — now a multi-billion-dollar business, run by the wealthiest members of the cartel for their enrichment — that we expect the interests of the TV networks and the power conferences will always rule.”

Last summer, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics issued recommendations on how to shift the emphasis back to education and away from the sports-industrial complex. Among them: Limit postseason play to schools that achieve a 50 percent graduation rate. Reallocate some revenues to reward teams for meeting academic standards. Reduce the length of seasons and the number of games.

The Knight Commission has been urging such action for years. But as TV revenues and bowl payouts keep soaring — Auburn and Oregon each made $21 million for their respective conferences for appearing in the national championship game — many college presidents will keep ignoring them.

Said NCAA president Mark Emmert: “Behaviors that undermine the collegiate model wherever they occur are a threat to those basic values, and we can’t tolerate them,” he said. “If we believe in those values, we need to be ready to defend them. And if we don’t, we have to be ready to suffer the criticism that comes from not doing so.”