Undrafted College Football Players Should Be Allowed to Return to CFB

College football players undrafted Hunter Bryant Washington Hawaii

The 2020 NFL Draft was definitely one to remember. It was completely virtual due to the Coronavirus. Potential draft picks watched at home. They awaited a phone call informing them that they were selected by an NFL team. Elite players, like Joe Burrow and Chase Young, accomplished their goal of being a first-round NFL Draft pick. However, many NFL Draft hopefuls did not realize their dream of being selected in the NFL Draft. Unfortunately, for many of those players, their football career as players may be over. It is true that many of them will attempt to earn a spot on a team as an undrafted free agent. Entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent is not easy and will not happen for all of them. This realization is especially unfortunate for draftees who left college early to enter the NFL Draft.

Every year, some college football players decide to forego their remaining college eligibility to enter the NFL Draft. NFL rules require draft entrants to be out of high school for three years and to have used all of their college eligibility before the start of the next college football season. However, college players with remaining eligibility request league approval to enter the NFL Draft early. 99 players were granted special eligibility for the 2020 draft. This means that 99 players who had remaining college eligibility gave up their remaining eligibility for a shot at the NFL. Despite the fact that only 1.5 percent of college football players go pro, 99 players still thought it was best to enter the draft. Why do college football players make the decision to forego their remaining eligibility given the odds of making it to the NFL?

Reasons College Football Players Leave College Early to Enter the NFL Draft

There are many reasons college football players forego their remaining college eligibility to enter the NFL Draft. There are two reasons that stick out the most. One reason is due to the unrealistic sense that many college football players have about their prospects of being drafted. Many college football players prematurely forego their remaining college eligibility to enter the NFL Draft, even though they are not ready. Another reason college football players forego the remaining college eligibility because some from disadvantaged backgrounds and need to make money. College sports is a billion-dollar business but the players’ only compensation is a cost-of-attendance scholarship. While a scholarship is valuable that does not mean that players should be limited to only that.

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College Football Players who Come From Disadvangeted Backgrounds Would Greatly Benefit from Getting into the NFL as Quickly as Possible

Roughly 86 percent of African-American college athletes come from families that live below the poverty line. Since the Coronavirus pandemic, the inequities that many college athletes face have become even more visible. For example, Sam Williams, a University of Mississippi linebacker, tweeted about the hardships he is facing since being unexpectedly home from school. Specifically, Williams tweeted:

We worked so hard to get out of the hood but forced to go back to the hood…Still gotta pay rent so all of our money gone and I can’t swipe my ID nowhere in Alabama. Then if we get help it’s a ‘violation’. I just don’t understand.”

Williams highlighted a problem that may college athletes are facing. A study conducted by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice prior to the pandemic highlights many of the issues that college athletes face. 452 Division I athletes were surveyed. 24 percent of them suffered from food insecurity in the 30 days prior. Food insecurity is defined by the United States Department of Agriculture as the lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. The survey sheds light on the issue of food scarcity amongst college athletes across all the divisions. Williams’ tweet and the survey’s findings further demonstrate the needs of many college athletes, particularly those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Everybody Gets Rich Except the Players

Furthermore, Williams’s tweet and the survey certainly make it clear why a college football player would leave college football eligibility on the table for a shot at the NFL. Due to the NCAA’s asinine amateurism rules, college football players are precluded from sharing in the billions they generate outside of a cost-of-attendance scholarship. While coaches, athletic directors, and other sports administration personnel make millions, the players are capped to a scholarship.

As Williams tweeted, college athletes cannot receive any assistance that is not first approved by the NCAA. If an athlete does, he will be subject to an NCAA violation, just ask Chase Young. Why would an athlete remain apart of a system that stops them from earning their true worth and risk injury, while everyone else makes millions?

The Good News is that the NCAA Can Fix Both of These Problems and Retain College Football Players

The NCAA can fix these problems and retain college football players if they would simply amend their rules. One way the NCAA can fix this problem is by allowing college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). After mounting pressure, the NCAA is finally on the track to allow that to happen. If the NCAA does this, it could take the pressure off of players to go pro to make money. Last month, the NCAA announced that they are moving toward allowing college athletes to profit from their NIL. However, only time will tell how much the NCAA will amend their current rules to actually help the athletes.

Currently, college football players cannot return to college football after they enter and go through the NFL Draft even if they have remaining eligibility. Why is this the case? How does this benefit the football players? How does it benefit college football? The truth is that these rules do not benefit the players nor college football. This is another way the NCAA can fix their problems. The NCAA should change its rules to allow players who are not drafted to return to college football. It is time for things in college football to change. Change is more than possible, just look at recent changes in college basketball.

Recent Changes in College Basketball

Sweeping changes have come to college basketball during the last four years. In 2017, a scandal was exposed in college basketball. Soon after, the NCAA amended college basketball rules. The NCAA began to allow NBA Draft entrants with remaining eligibility to return to college. Prior to entering the NBA draft, the player must seek an evaluation from the National Basketball Association’s Undergraduate Advisory Committee. If the player intends to return to college, he must remove his name from the draft list and declare his intent to return to college within 10 days of the conclusion of the NBA Draft combine. These types of rule changes are exactly what the NCAA should adopt in college football.

The NCAA Should Allow College Football NFL Draft Entrants to Return If Undrafted

Two former NFL Players who entered the league as undrafted free agents agree that college football players could benefit if the NCAA made changes to their rules. Patrick Cobbs entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent. He believes that college football players could benefit from being able to return to college after entering the NFL Draft. Cobbs, a running back, led the nation in rushing in 2003. As a junior, Cobbs was projected to be a second or third-round draft pick. He stated that if he had the option to try his chances at the NFL Draft and return to college if undrafted he would have taken advantage of it.

Greg Camarillo also entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent. He also believes that college football players could benefit from being allowed to return to college football after the NFL Draft. Both Cobbs and Camarillo believe that an advisory committee should be created for potential draft entrants. Camarillo stated that the committee should create a program to give the players a realistic sense of their chances in the draft. Potential draft entrants should be required to consult the committee before entering the draft.

Both Cobbs and Camarillo do not think that agents should be a part of the committee due to potential bias. They suggest that the committee be made up of former NFL scouts, former coaches, and former NFL and college players. Camarillo suggests that the advisory committee’s evaluations take place immediately after the college football post-season.

The NCAA Should Be Proactive in Making These Changes in College Football

If the NCAA adopted these changes it could greatly change the landscape of college football for the betterment of the players. A player should not be forced to forego his remaining college eligibility just because he entered the draft. The idea of college football players being able to return to college if undrafted is gaining traction amongst prominent college coaches. Recently, the University of Michigan coach, Jim Harbaugh, released a proposal in support of this issue. He suggested that undrafted players be allowed to return to college. The NCAA needs to take note and make changes before they are forced to like they were with basketball.

Why Top HS Basketball Recruits Will Skip College for NBA G-League

Jalen green nba g league ncaa name image likeness

The NCAA is at a crossroads in regards to the future of big-time college sports. This is true whether the NCAA chooses to acknowledge it or not. It is especially true when it comes to college basketball. Over the last few years, several highly ranked high school basketball prospects have opted out of college and pursued other unconventional paths to the NBA. It is happening again with top-ranked high school basketball prospects Jalen Green, Isaiah Todd, and Daishen Nix. Green, Todd, and Nix have opted-out of college basketball to participate in the NBA G League’s Professional Pathway Program. Once again, the NCAA has to watch as two highly sought after recruits choose different paths to the NBA. If the NCAA wants to continue to survive and thrive, the organization must make some major changes.

What is the NBA G Leagues Pathways Program and Why is it a Viable Option?

In 2018, the NBA G-League became an option for elite basketball players. Then the league announced that it would provide “select contracts” valued at $125,000. The players had to be at least 18 years old and ineligible for the NBA Draft. The G-League has since then revamped the program to make it more attractive to prospective players. Specifically, the G-League now offers higher valued contracts and a full scholarship to Arizona State University.

Accordingly, Green’s contract is said to be for $500,000 or more. Green could possibly net $1 million by the time endorsements are factored in. Todd and Nix will also earn a six-figure salary.

Green, Todd, and Nix will play on a new team with no affiliation to any existing G-League or NBA team. The team will only play 20 games as opposed to the G-League’s usual 50 games. The G-League’s program is so attractive to players like Todd, Green, and Nix because it gives them an opportunity to earn their worth. Players in the G-League program will also get on and off the court training and coaching from top NBA officials. The NCAA currently does not provide that type of opportunity. It is true that many players receive scholarships. The scholarship and the ensuing education are very valuable. However, it is not representative of a player’s full value.

Big-Time College Sports is a Billion Dollar Business

The NCAA makes a billion dollars from the March Madness tournament alone. Coaches and other administrative staff have high six-figure and million-dollar salaries. Meanwhile, the players may only receive a scholarship up to the cost of attendance. While scholarships are valuable, it does not mean that the players should not be able to receive other forms of compensation. The college sports system needs to create a more equitable system or players will keep choosing other options. College basketball has already missed out on quite a few exceptional talents in recent years.

College Basketball has Missed out on Exceptional Talent Over the Last Few Seasons

Recently, top college basketball prospects have skipped college and pursued other paths to the NBA. For instance, Darius Bazley was the 13th best high school basketball player in the class of 2018. He decided to forego playing for Syracuse University to prepare for the NBA Draft on his own. While self-preparing for the NBA Draft, he completed an internship with New Balance where he earned $1 million. Bazley has the potential to earn up to $14 million from the internship if he meets all of his performance incentives. Additionally, RJ Hampton, who was ranked number 5 in 2019, skipped college to play professionally for the National Basketball League’s New Zealand Breakers.

Similarly, LaMelo Ball made it clear he would not be attending college early in his high school basketball career. While in high school, Ball signed with an agent and entered into a contract to play in the Lithuanian Basketball League. At that point, any chance Ball had at playing college basketball ended. LaMelo Ball went on to play professionally for the National Basketball League’s Illawarra Hawks. Earlier this month, it was announced that Ball was in negotiations to purchase the Illawarra Hawks team. The opportunity to purchase the team he is playing is an extraordinary perk and outcome of charting a different path to the NBA.

Ball and Hampton are projected to be picked in the first round of the NBA Draft this year. If Ball and Hampton, like Bazley, are drafted in the first round it is sure to get the attention of future potential college basketball players. More players may decide to follow in their footsteps.

Other Players Have Sought Other Unconventional Routes to the NBA Outside of the G-League and National Basketball League

Green and Todd are not the only players who decided not to attend college. Kyree Walker, another top high school basketball prospect, also announced that he would not be attending college. Walker has opted to train with Chameleon BX. Chameleon BX is a 12-month program ran by Frank Matrisciano. The program is designed to prepare elite high school athletes for the NBA Draft.

The NCAA Better Wakeup and Seize Their Opportunity to Finally Allow College Athletes to Earn Their True Value

The NCAA still has a chance to make college sports more equitable and become a better option for future basketball prospects. Due to increasing pressure from public opinion and several state legislatures, the NCAA has been forced to consider allowing college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness. Last year, California became the first to enact legislation requiring schools to allow college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness. The law is set to take effect in 2023. Other states quickly followed suit drafting related bills. In March, Colorado joined California and signed a similar bill into law designed to give college athletes the ability to profit from their name, image, and likeness. That bill too is set to become effective in 2023.

However, Florida is currently considering a similar bill that could become effective on July 1, 2021. In the midst of all of this, the NCAA created a working group to address the name, image, and likeness issue. In October the NCAA announced that they were going to allow college athletes to “benefit” from their name, image, and likeness. The NCAA issued guidelines and principles that they are going to consider regarding the issue. Their guidelines left more questions than it provided answers.

The NCAA is scheduled to announce its detailed plan to allow college athletes to “benefit” from their NIL this week. They have another opportunity to make meaningful changes to make college sports more equitable. The billion-dollar non-profit organization must update its rules to adequately compensate the players who make their revenue possible. If they do not, they will continue to lose their top talent to the G-League and the National Basketball Association.

LaMelo Ball Foregoing NCAA for a More Profitable Path to the NBA Draft

The pressure is on for the NCAA once again! Another high-level NBA Draft prospect is showing that there could be a more prosperous road to the NBA than college basketball. On April 2, 2020, news broke that LaMelo Ball and his manager, Jermaine Jackson, plan to purchase the IIawarra Hawks. The Ilawarra Hawks is the Australian based National Basketball League (NBL) team that Ball played for last season. It became clear that Ball would not be playing college basketball a few years ago.

In 2017, LaMelo Ball signed with an agent and entered a contract to play in the Lithuanian Basketball League. Eventually, Ball returned to the United States to play high school basketball at the Spire Institute in Ohio. However, Ball’s return to US high school basketball did not reinstate his eligibility for college basketball. He lost eligibility when he signed with an agent prior to playing in Lithuanian. As a result, after finishing at the Spire Institute Ball was left three options. Those options were to declare for the NBA Draft, play in the NBA G-League, or returning to playing professional basketball overseas. Ball chose to play professionally overseas.

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LaMelo Ball and Other Highly Sought After Recruits Have Taken Unconventional Routes to the NBA Draft

LaMelo Ball is not the only player who opted to play professionally overseas. R.J. Hampton also opted out of college basketball to play for the NBL’s New Zealand Breakers. Both Ball and Hampton come on the heels of Darius Bazley who ultimately decided not to attend college in 2018. Bazley was the 13th best high school player in the 2018 class. He was slated to play for Syracuse University before he backed out and opted for the NBA G-Leauge. He then decided not to play in the NBA G-League to do an internship with New Balance and prepare for the NBA Draft on his own. Bazley received a guaranteed $1 million for the internship and was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2019.

Bazley along with his agent, Rich Paul, charted a new path to the NBA showing upcoming basketball players a new way. It is possible that LaMelo Ball is doing the same thing here. Ball has high draft potential for the 2020 NBA Draft without playing a second of college basketball. He also has the opportunity to have an ownership interest in the professional team he played for. Even if Ball ultimately does not become the owner of the team, he has already given future college basketball prospects something to think about.

Future College Basketball Prospects will Continue to Forge Their own Paths to the NBA Draft

Future college basketball prospects will wonder if they should go play professionally where they could have an opportunity to grow their brand, learn about business, and possibly own a team. They will weigh this against signing their rights to away college basketball for a system that acts like it is brain surgery to create a program where players can profit from their own name, image, and likeness. Either way, the NCAA has once again had to feel the pressure as players are forging other more profitable avenues to the NBA Draft.

Did NCAA Really Agree to Allow College Athlete NIL Compensation? Nope

NCAA Name Image Likeness NIL Pay college athletes

On Tuesday, the NCAA’s working group released its decision on the college athlete name, image, and likeness (NIL) compensation issue. Or did they? All of the headlines immediately read that the NCAA allows college athlete NIL compensation. At first glance, the NCAA’s statement would lead one to believe that they did just that. The statement read that “the NCAA’s top governing board voted unanimously to permit students participating in athletics the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image, and likeness.” However, when looking a bit closer it becomes very apparent that the NCAA never used the word compensation in the context of allowing NIL payments. The NCAA danced around the compensation issue without ever calling it compensation.

In fact, the NCAA was not clear at all about how they plan to address the college athlete NIL compensation issue. They essentially addressed the issue without truly addressing the issue. Their statement is riddled with unclear ambiguous language that essentially renders the NCAA’s true stance on the issue unclear. The NCAA’s lack of clarity should come as no surprise. After all the NCAA is only addressing NIL compensation after being forced to do so.

The NCAA was Strong-Armed into Addressing College Athlete NIL Compensation

2019 has been a volatile year for the NCAA. State and federal lawmakers have become increasingly vocal about the injustices that plague the college athletics system. Several lawmakers introduced legislation to remedy those injustices. In January, Washington State Senator, Drew Stokesbary, introduced legislation to allow college athletes in Washington state to profit from their NIL. Soon after, Congressman Mark Walker introduced the Student-Athlete Equity Act. Under the Student-Athlete Equity Act, the NCAA would lose its tax-exempt status if it does not allow college athlete NIL compensation. While these bills were being introduced, lawmakers in California were debating the Fair Pay to Play Act. All of this led the NCAA to create a working group to address the NIL compensation issues.

However, the working group did not work fast enough for California. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law. Under the law, college athletes in California will be allowed to profit from their name, image, and likeness and sign with agents starting in 2023. In spite of the NCAA’s efforts to thwart the Fair Pay to Play Act, it still became law. As a result, the NCAA’s working group had no choice but to acknowledge the need to “modernize” their rules in favor of college athlete NIL compensation. The NCAA was forced to either move towards NIL compensation or to at the very least appear to be moving towards NIL compensation. It seems as though the NCAA has chosen to appear to be moving forward with college athlete NIL compensation.

The NCAA Has Chosen to Give the Appearance of Moving Towards College Athlete NIL Compensation Instead of Truly Moving Towards it

While the NCAA has everyone saying that they have decided to allow college athlete NIL compensation, that is not exactly true. In fact, the NCAA never used the word compensation in that context. The NCAA voted to allow college athletes to “benefit” from the use of their name, image, and likeness, not to be compensated. It is not clear what “benefit” actually means. What kind of “benefit” will the NCAA allow? How are NIL benefits different from NIL compensation? However, what the NCAA did make clear is that the “benefit” will be done “in a manner consistent with the current collegiate model.” In true NCAA fashion, the NCAA spared no expense in making it clear that they are dedicated to preserving as much of the current collegiate model as possible. In fact, the NCAA set out a list of guidelines that are dedicated to doing just that.

The NCAA’s Rule Modernization Guidelines

As a part of its effort to allow college athletes to “benefit” from their NIL, the NCAA has urged each division to consider modernization of its bylaws and policies. To help each division with doing that, the working group created a set of guidelines for each division to consider. However, those principles and guidelines seem to be more about ensuring that the divisions create bylaws that maintain the NCAA’s commitment to amateurism.

For example, the NCAA has urged its divisions to amend their rules so that athletes receive similar treatment as other students. However, the guidelines provide a caveat that will allow athletes to be treated differently when there is a compelling reason for doing so. However, in true NCAA fashion, there is no clarity on what is a permissible compelling reason for different treatment. Additionally, the guidelines require that the amended bylaws maintain a “clear distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities.” This is clear amateurism perservation language.

The NCAA also urged that the bylaws be amended so that it is clear that “compensation for athletic performance or participation is impermissible.” In fact, that is the only context in which the NCAA made reference to compensation. They mentioned it to reiterate that compensation related to athletic performance is not permissible. Furthermore, the NCAA instructed that the bylaws be amended with the caveat that “student-athletes are students first and not employees of the university.” Again, their true focus is on preserving amateurism.

The NCAA’s Statement is not the Earth Shattering Development it was Made out to be

While the NCAA’s statement is noteworthy, it is not the groundbreaking development it was made out to be. It is noteworthy because the NCAA finally acknowledged that college athletes should be allowed to “benefit” from their NIL. However, it is not groundbreaking because the NCAA is still committed to preserving the farce of amateurism. After all, the NCAA is only addressing this issue after realizing that they had no choice. The NCAA was very careful not to say that college athletes are allowed to receive compensation. They strategically used the word “benefit” and neglected to define what a “benefit” would be.

While some of the guidelines addressed the betterment of college athletes, there was a heavy focus on protecting amateurism. The guidelines also created more questions than answers. It is for these reasons that the NCAA’s statement feels like a half measure that was intended to slow down the momentum of related legislation. Furthermore, the statement does not address college athletes’ ability to sign with agents. The NCAA addressed this issue during the summer for elite men’s basketball players. The NCAA needs to address this in the broader context as the Fair Pay to Play Act and other proposed legislation seeks to allow college athletes to sign with agents. The most useful finding that comes out of this statement is the fact that the NCAA has acknowledged the need for change. However, what form the NCAA will allow that change to take is still very unclear.

NFL Players Should Use the CBA to Force the NFL to Become Player Centric

NFL players are at a pivotal moment. They are faced with the decision of whether to approve the proposed collective bargaining agreement (CBA). For months, NFL ownership and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) have worked to create an equitable CBA. On February 26, 2020, the NFLPA Board of Player Representatives voted to send the proposed CBA to the players for a full membership vote. Whether this proposed agreement is truly equitable is a matter of opinion. Many are of the opinion that it is not. Critics argue that the owners are essentially getting everything they want while the players are not getting enough in return. Given everything NFL ownership is getting compared to what the players are getting, the deal is not the most equitable. Accordingly, the players should take a stand and demand more.

Summary of the Owners and Players Benefits in the Proposed CBA

The 17th Game

First, NFL ownership would get a major victory by simply getting the players to agree to a deal at this juncture. The current CBA does not expire until March 3, 2021. From the players’ standpoint, there is not much reason to rush. The players are not yet facing a lockout. The 2020-2021 NFL season can be played under the current CBA. Therefore, any threat of a lockout would be a whole season away. Second, if the players agree to this deal the owners will have the thing they wanted most – a 17th regular-season game. The owners have wanted this for a long time as they know it will lead to an increase in revenue.

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In fact, NFL ownership is set to enter negotiations with broadcasters and streaming services after the start of the NFL league year on March 18, 2020. NFL ownership would love to enter those negotiations with a new CBA in hand without the threat of a future lockout. It is precisely this fact that gives the players a bit of leverage in these negotiations. The players have something the NFL refuses to move forward without – the 17th game. The players should use that to their advantage. They should also use the fact that NFL ownership needs to enter broadcast negotiations without the threat of a future lockout looming. These two things alone could be enough for the players to increase the revenue split to 50/50.

The Revenue Split

Under the proposed CBA the revenue split will only increase to 48%. The revenue split has the potential to increase to 48.5% if there is a 60% increase in TV revenue. Therefore, the ability to receive a 48.5% revenue split is not guaranteed. Furthermore, the players will have no opportunity to receive a 50/50 revenue split for at least 10 years. As written, the proposed CBA will be in effect for 10 years with no opt-out provision. A ten-year deal with no opt-out provision should be a major concern to the players.

Even with Salary Increases, the NFL Players are Not Getting Enough in Return

It is true that many players will receive a significant increase in their salaries as early as 2020. Many players’ salaries could increase by roughly $100,000 next season if the CBA is agreed to. However, those increases are not enough to make up for the inequities of the deal. Many players have recognized this and have taken a stand against the proposed CBA. Several high profile players announced their intent to vote against the proposed CBA urging other players to vote no. One of those players is Green Bay Packers’ star quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Another one is Seattle Seahawks superstar Russel Wilson.

Wilson stated that “The NBA and MLB are doing it right. Players come first.” This was a very interesting take on the issue and is even more reason for the players to take a stand. The NBA and MLB are considered by many to be more progressive leagues than the NFL. The NBA and MLB are viewed that way because they are more player-centric. If NFL players want the NFL to become more player-centric, they have to be willing to stand up for themselves. NFL players should not agree to a deal where the franchise tag remains intact while the penalty for training camp holdouts becomes more severe. NFL Players should take their time and make the most out of their negotiation power.

The NFL’s Rooney Rule Needs to be Revamped, But How?

Anthony Lynn Mike Tomlin Black coaches NFL Rooney Rule

When the Cleveland Browns selected Kevin Stefanski to be their new head coach, it eliminated any possibility that the NFL would increase its number of minority head coaches for the 2020-2021 season. 32 teams make up the NFL. Of those teams, only four have a minority head coach. There are three African-American head coaches – Anthony Lynn with the Los Angeles Chargers, Brian Flores with the Miami Dolphins, and Mike Tomlin with the Pittsburgh Steelers. This hiring season, the Washington Redskins re-hired the only Latino head coach in the league, Ron Rivera. Rivera was fired by the North Carolina Panthers shortly before being hired by Washington. The NFL had five opportunities to increase its number of minority head coaches and failed to do so. The NFL’s failure to select an African-American head coach has re-ignited the debate regarding the Rooney Rule and its effectiveness.

The Rooney Rule is named for former Pittsburgh Steelers owner, Dan Rooney who spearheaded the league’s adoption of the rule. It was adopted in 2003 to require NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate for all head coach openings. In 2009, the rule was expanded to include general manager positions and other equivalent front-office positions. The rule was later expanded to include women for executive openings in the commissioner’s office. Due to the NFL’s recent hiring practices, many are questioning the effectiveness of the Rooney Rule. Last year, the NFL had eight head coach openings. Only one was filled by a minority candidate. This year the only minority candidate hired was Rivera. The NFL’s failure to give any new black coaches a shot at being a head coach for the upcoming season has critics rightfully questioning the effectiveness of the Rooney Rule.

The Creation and Adoption of the Rooney Rule

Before the effectiveness of the Rooney Rule can be adequately addressed, it is important to briefly address what led to the adoption of the rule. In the twelve seasons before the Rooney Rule was adopted, the NFL had only 6 minority head coaches. In 2002, lawyers Johnnie Cochran and Cyrus Mehri threatened to sue the NFL due to their hiring practices after a shocking report was published. The report found that over a period of fifteen years, black coaches were statistically more successful than white coaches. However, the NFL’s hiring practices did not support that finding. During that time, Tony Dungy and Herm Edwards were the only black coaches in the league. The next year in 2003 the league adopted the Rooney Rule requiring each team to interview at least one minority candidate for every head coach opening.

Has the Rooney Rule been Effective?

Four years after the Rooney Rule was adopted, the Steelers hired Mike Tomlin. His hiring was a sign of progress for black coaches in the NFL. It made the rule appear to be effective. In 2011, the NFL employed its most minority head coaches with a total of 8 head coaches of color. The NFL also promoted Mel Tucker to interim head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars when Jack Del Rio was fired during the week twelve of the 2011 season. This briefly bought the number of minority head coaches up to nine. Initially, it appeared that the Rooney Rule was garnering its desired effect. However, fast-forward to 2020 and there are only four minority NFL head coaches. What happened? How can the NFL fix this problem?

Why Does the Initial Progress Appear to be Going Backwards?

It appears that the NFL is going backward in regard to hiring African-American head coaches. Even when the NFL hired its most minority heard coaches, those coaches only made up 25% of the coaches while the players were 68% African-American. Today, approximately 70% of the NFL’s players are African-American. However, African-Americans presence is almost non-existent amongst head coaches. The Rooney Rule initially led to the hiring of a substantial number of minority head coaches. However, as of late, the rule does not appear to be very effective. In fact, it only seems to be a box that NFL owners have check during the interview process.

Teams Only Interview Minorities to Check off a Box

Many critics argue that the rule is not effective because NFL owners only interview minority candidates to simply say that they did. They further argue that NFL owners only interview minority candidates to “comply” with the rule knowing they have no intention of giving the candidate serious consideration. They argue that such interviews are used to circumvent the rule.

Perhaps some teams are only interviewing minority candidates to comply with the rule with no intention of giving the candidate real consideration. Given the NFL’s recent hiring there is a strong argument to be made in support of that. Over the last two seasons, the NFL has had 13 head coach openings. Only two minorities filled those positions. After the NFL only hired one minority out of 8 openings, the league recommended that teams interview at least two minority candidates. Of those hiring, the Cowboys were the only team to still interview only one minority candidate. Even for the teams that complied with the recommendation, only one hired a minority. Clearly that recommendation is ineffective as well.

There are not Enough Minorities in the Pipeline to Become an NFL Head Coach

Other critics of rule, argue that there simply are not enough minorities in the pipeline to become an NFL head coach. Typically, people who are in the pipeline to become a head coach in the NFL have first served as an offensive coordinator. Being an effective offensive coordinator is the best way to garner serious consideration for being hired as a head coach. The only problem is not many African-Americans are given the opportunity to serve in those positions. Since 2009, nearly 40% of newly hired head coaches were former offensive coordinators. Of those offensive coordinators hired each season, nearly 70% of them were white.

In 2010, 2011, and 2016, every newly hired offensive coordinator was white. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Byron Leftwhich and Kansas City Chiefs Eric Bieniemy are the most recent minority offensive coordinator hires. Without the opportunity to serve as an offensive coordinator, it becomes increasingly less likely that there will be a substantial increase in minority head coaches. These bleak opportunities have led many African American football personnel to seek opportunities in college football. They hope to do well enough in college sports to garner the attention of hiring officials in the NFL. However, the pastures there are not much greener.

The Lack of Diversity Amongst College Football Coaches

While there are more opportunities in college football because there are more teams, those opportunities are not going to African-Americans. At the beginning of the 2019 college football season, there were only 14 black head coaches out of 130 Division I Football Bowl Subdivision teams. Due to college football’s lack of a substantial number of African American head coaches, some scholars have advocated for the adoption of the Eddie Robison Rule. The Eddie Robison Rule, like the Rooney Rule, would require colleges to interview at least one minority candidate for each head coach position.

In 2009, the state Oregon legislature enacted a law requiring its public universities to interview minority candidates for all head coaching and athletic director positions. The law has been effective. The University of Oregon’s last two football coaches have been black. The law made a difference for minority candidates in Oregon. Immediately after Oregon passed the law it seemed that other states would follow suit. However, other states have not. Due to other states not passing a similar law, college football management continues to lack diversity. Due to that, college football is not necessarily a strong pipeline for black coaches hoping to make it up the ranks of the NFL. Other states should follow suit and enact similar legislation. If they did it would increase the number of minorities in the pipeline for NFL jobs in the long run.

How to Improve the Effectiveness of the Rooney Rule

There are many suggestions for ways to strengthen the Rooney Rule. Perhaps the most direct option is to apply the rule to offensive coordinator positions. Perhaps requiring teams to interview a minority for offensive coordinator positions would get more minorities hired on the road to an NFL head coaching job. Some argue that telling a coach who he has to interview for his staff could create bad blood. There is a possibility that would happen. However, as professionals, those feelings should dissipate in the interest of getting the job done.

Another way to strengthen the rule would be to make the recommendation of interviewing at least two candidates a part of the rule. It would put more minorities in front of the hiring committees. The NFL must also create a system to hold teams accountable and to ensure that they are giving the candidates serious consideration. Most, importantly the league and NFL owners have to truly want to fix the problem. The rule can be re-vised 10 times. However, if there is not a genuine want to increase diversity no revision will matter.

NCAA Addressed NIL Compensation Before the United States Senate

College basketball is in full swing! The NCAA and college basketball fans are gearing up for the March Madness tournament.  In the weeks to come, fans will fill out brackets predicting which teams they believe will make it to the Final Four. The NCAA again stands to generate a billion dollars from the tournament, which is the organization’s biggest moneymaker of the year. Fans will relish in the excitement of Cinderella teams and major upsets. The NCAA will undoubtedly be raking in the money. However, the NCAA will also be spending money as it continues its work behind the scenes to preserve the amateur collegiate model. The farce of amateurism is being challenged at every turn. The challenge currently gaining the most traction is those from several state legislatures with name, image, and likeness (NIL) compensation bills. 

States with Proposed NIL Compensation Bills

Several state legislatures have proposed legislation seeking to give college athletes the ability to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) and to sign with agents. Last year, the state of California signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law. Since then,  several other states followed suit proposing similar legislation. While the Fair Pay to Play Act will not take effect until 2023, two similar bills in Florida may become effective much sooner. Florida currently has two college athlete name, image, and likeness bills before its state legislature. One is before the house and the other one is before its senate. State lawmakers are not the only ones seeking to expand college athlete rights. The federal lawmakers are too.

Specifically, Congressman Mark Walker introduced the Student-Athlete Equity Act seeking to give college athletes NIL rights. Senator Chris Murphy released a series of reports detailing the myriad of reasons reform is necessary for college sports. All of these critiques of the current collegiate sports model have put the NCAA in the hot seat. The organization has been backed into a corner where it has no choice but the address the elephant in the room. In fact, the NCAA was forced to address that elephant at a Senate hearing last week. 

Name, Image, and Likeness Informational Podcast

The NCAA is in NIL Compensation Crisis Mode

The college athlete NIL compensation issue has taken the NCAA by storm. The NCAA is in full crisis mode. They have realized that there is a strong possibility that several states could enact different laws to address NIL compensation. The NCAA does not want that to happen. As such, the NCAA has turned to the federal government for help. In fact, the organization has spent big money in an attempt to persuade federal lawmakers in their favor. The NCAA and two conferences spent at least $750,000 last year lobbying federal lawmakers to make reforms that favor the current collegiate model. The NCAA is sparing no expense to preserve amateurism.

Amateurism is the notion that college players simply play for the love game and are not paid. The NCAA purports that amateurism keeps collegiate sports distinct from professional sports. They further purport that if college athletes were paid, fans would lose interest. The NCAA maintains that its rules prohibiting payment help ensure that college athletes are not taken advantage of. As such, college athletes are not allowed to receive any type of payment outside of their cost-of-attendance scholarship or other NCAA approved benefits. However, many feel that the NCAA and the collegiate sports system as a whole are in fact taking advantage of the very athletes they claim to protect.

Why is College Athlete NIL Compensation on the Radar of so many Lawmakers?

College sports are a billion-dollar industry. Coaches, athletic directors, and conferences commissioners receive million-dollar salaries. Conferences receive billions of dollars from television broadcasting contracts. Top ranking NCAA officials receive million-dollar and upper six-figure salaries as well. Meanwhile, the athletes are limited to their scholarship. College athletes keep very strenuous and demanding schedules to perform their sport. Most spend at least 40 hours per week on athletically related activities. Despite their major time investment, they are not allowed to receive a bigger piece of the pie. A scholarship is valuable, however, the athletes deserve a bigger piece of the pie they generate for everyone else. It is for these reasons that lawmakers are working so hard to expand the rights of college athletes.

Last week, the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade and Consumer Protection held a hearing on the name, image, and likeness matter in Washington, D.C. NCAA president Mark Emmert attended the hearing where he was questioned on the NCAA’s handling of a number of issues. Most notably he was questioned and criticized the NCAA’s handling of James Wiseman’s case.

Wiseman was suspended for 11 games for money that his mother received from Penny Hardaway. Wiseman’s mother took the money for moving expenses while Wiseman was in high school. At the time, Wiseman knew nothing of the transaction between his mother and Hardaway. The NCAA also ordered Wiseman to pay the money back. Due to the NCAA’s decision, Wiseman decided to leave college and prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft on his own. The NCAA’s unfairly punished Wiseman for something he had nothing to do with. 

The Senate Subcommittee Urged to NCAA to Swiftly Find a Solution 

In light of the NCAA’s poor handling of Wiseman’s case and several others in the past, several Senators did not appear to be overly confident that the NCAA would not drag their feet on the NIL compensation issue.  Emmert stated that he would work with the schools and relevant decision-makers to make a decision as soon as possible. However, Emmert also stated that the NCAA may need Congress’ assistance in developing a uniform manner to address the NIL compensation issue.

The NCAA desperately wants to avoid having several states with different NIL compensation laws. The Senators at the hearing urged the NCAA to quickly offer a solution to this issue. In April, the NCAA is expected to make another announcement about their plans for NIL compensation. Hopefully, it will be something meaningful for the athletes. Given the NCAA’s general reluctance to give athletes a bigger price of the pie, it seems doubtful. 

Farewell to Kobe Bryant – The Black Mamba

Kobe Bryant Black Mamba

On Saturday night, NBA fans were abuzz that LeBron James was only 18 points away from eclipsing Kobe Bryant on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. It was truly poetic that James, now a Los Angeles Laker would surpass one of the all-time greatest Lakers, Kobe Bryant, in Bryant’s hometown of Philadelphia.  King James and the Black Mamba gave basketball fans a piece of NBA history to be remembered for years to come. In a post-game interview, James gave accounts of his interactions with Bryant over the years and what it meant to him to beat his record.  

Never could anyone have imagined that the very next day Kobe Bryant would no longer be with us.  Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others tragically perished when his private helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California on Sunday. News of this accident hit hard sending shock waves that vibrated world-wide. His death hit particularly hard as I am like many an avid basketball fan who grew up watching and playing basketball during Bryant’s ascension into NBA greatness. 

I am just old enough to remember Michael Jordan hitting “the shot” in game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals and his subsequent retirement. Even though Jordan was no longer playing, everyone, including myself, still wanted to “be like Mike”. I watched Kobe Bryant’s attempt to fill the void that Jordan left as he became the personification of what it meant to “be like Mike.” Bryant demonstrated extreme excellence on the court and showed us the way through his “Mamba Mentality”. With five NBA Championships, Kobe Bryant got pretty-close to “being like Mike.”

In his quest for greatness, he became Kobe Bryant – the Black Mamba and an inspiration to us all. Bryant showed us how to be relentless in our pursuits and defined the meaning of perseverance and hard work. He showed us how to be comfortable walking away from doing what you love when he scored 60 points in his last game. Soon after, he showed us not to be afraid to strive for excellence in other arenas when he made history as the first African American to win the Oscar for best animated short for “Dear Basketball”. 

Bryant proved that the Mamba Mentality was applicable in all facets of life and that he was so much more than an athlete.  He was a living legend and an inspiration. It is for these reasons that his death has had a profound effect on so many people, including those like myself who never had an opportunity to meet him. 

As the news of his untimely death spread many of Bryant’s former teammates, former competitors, friends, and mentees began sharing stories of the NBA legend. Allen Iverson shared a story about Bryant during their first year in the league. Iverson stated that he was in L.A. for the first time and Bryant invited him to dinner. Bryant asked Iverson what was he doing after dinner and Iverson replied going to the club while Bryant said he was going to the gym.  There Bryant was already showing glimpses of the Mamba Mentality. 

After, reading Iverson’s statement I began thinking about one of the most exciting NBA Finals of my lifetime, the 2001 NBA Finals. In that series, the Lakers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers. I saw one of my hometown heroes, Allen Iverson, go against one of the best duos in all of sports -Shaq and Kobe. Similarly, Michael Jordan issued a statement stating that Bryant was like a little brother to him. After reading Jordan’s statement, I thought of the last matchup between Bryant and Jordan where Bryant dropped 55 points on Jordan who was then with Washington Wizards.

On Monday, LeBron James issued a heartfelt statement regarding Kobe Bryant’s passing. He stated that he had spoken to Bryant early Sunday morning before leaving Philadelphia. He also vowed to put the Laker’s legacy on his back. Upon reading James’ statement, I thought of the iconic photo of King James and the Black Mamba in Bryant’s final All-Star Game. They were both doing what they love – playing basketball.

In the midst of all these memories, I realized how lucky this generation of basketball fans have been to be able to witness and recall the greatness of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James. These men are NBA legends and are all the GOAT in their own right. 

In Bryant’s second act off the court, he was on a quest to be a great storyteller. Bryant founded a multimedia production company, Granite Studio. The company was to focus on creating content marrying sports with the themes of fantasy and storytelling. Bryant was building Granite Studios from the ground up starting with books. Bryant was certainly on his way to great success in the arena as well.  Although Bryant’s second career was tragically cut short, he gave us perhaps his most profound story and lesson on Sunday. That is that the next second of life is not promised and the importance of showing your love and appreciation for your loved ones every day.

Jeezy Joins Jay-Z and Lil’ Wayne in the World of Sports Agency


The worlds of hip-hop and sports are unavoidably intertwined. Many athletes want to be rappers. Many rappers want to be athletes. The cultural influence that hip-hop has on sports should come as no surprise. Many who aspire to be athletes often aspire to be musicians and vice versa. Drake highlighted this reality in his hit “Thank Me Now,” where he stated, “Damn, I swear sports and music are so synonymous/Cause we want to be them and they want to be us.” Perhaps this is because for many, becoming a rapper or a professional athlete appears to be the most viable career path to success and acquiring generational wealth.

For example, rapper 2 Chainz latest studio album was entitled Rap or Go to the League. The title of the album is the personification of those two options. NBA star LeBron James served as the album’s A and R.  There again highlighting the unavoidable relationship between hip-hop and sports. Thanks to athletes like Allen Iverson, the relationship between hip-hop and sports is ever apparent and growing stronger. Given the relationship, it should come as no surprise that hip-hop artists have begun to enter the business of sports. Specifically, hip-hop artists have begun to create sports agencies.

Hip-Hop Artists who Have Created Sports Agencies

In 2013, newly minted billionaire rapper Jay-Z started Roc Nations Sports. Rapper Lil’ Wayne followed in Jay-Z’s footsteps in 2014 when he started Young Money APAA Sports Agency. Now rapper Jeezy has become the latest rapper to announce his foray into athlete representation with his new sports agency, Sports 99. Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and Jeezy all have one thing in common. That is they want to help athletes.

Jeezy stated he is starting Sports 99 because he wants to help “athletes accumulate real wealth and life skills needed to invest in their future.” In an interview, Lil Wayne stated that he started Young Money Sports because he realized that he could help the athletes “shine off the field.” Jay-Z too stated that he realized he could help athletes after having conversations with multiple athletes at his famed 40/40 club. Why do these artists believe that they are qualified to help athletes in their careers on and off the field? Are they, in fact, qualified to help athletes forge their careers on and off the field?

Are Rappers Qualified to Represent Athletes?

The answer to this question is yes. The answer is yes, for the very reason that is at the beginning of this article. That reason is the relationship between sports and hip-hop. The relationship is born out the fact that for many, sports and music are viewed as the most viable paths to success and generational wealth. Many artists and athletes have the same experiences and struggles. Many come from similar backgrounds where sports and music are very attractive paths to a better life. This common ground makes it easier for rappers like Jeezy to relate to similarly situated athletes. In Lil’ Wayne’s interview, he stated “We all cut from the same cloth…We all from the same place.” It is that commonality that makes rappers and hip-hop artists some of the best people to represent athletes’ interests.

In addition to sharing a common background, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and Jeezy all possess the business acumen to help athletes be successful off the field. Jay-z has become a self-made billionaire through a series of investments and business decisions he made throughout his career. Lil’ Wayne used his business savvy to acquire a net worth of approximately $150 million. Jeezy used his business acumen to garner a Fitness Water deal and to gain an advisory role with the Avión tequila brand. It is very clear why an athlete would sign up to work with these very successful businessmen who are cut from the same cloth. Hip-hop’s foray into sports representation only makes sense and will likely continue to grow.

Madness Inc Report: Don’t Criticize Players Who Sit Out Bowl Games

College Players sitting out Bowl Games

As the college football post-season begins, the list of players opting out of post-season play continues to grow. This is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it appears to be a growing trend. Several players have already announced their intentions to sit out of bowl games. A couple of those players include Brandon Wimbush from Notre Dame and Kamal Martin from Minnesota. More and more players are unwilling to risk injury to participate in bowl games. Many fans heavily criticize players who opt-out. 

For instance, West Virginia University starting quarterback, Will Grier, faced heavy criticism last year when he opted out of the Camping World Bowl. What many fans refuse to acknowledge is that football players are not obligated to play in bowl games. Players opt-out to avoid the risk of injury and to focus on preparing for the upcoming NFL Draft. Fans argue that players who opt out are quitting on their teams and leaving an obligation unfulfilled.

Will Grier Bowl Games Sitting West Virginia

However, nothing could be further from the truth. Players opt-out of the bowl games to protect themselves and their professional earning potential. The findings in the United States Senator Chris Murphy’s report highlights this very point. It demonstrates how susceptible football players are to career injuries. The report also shows the lack of support many athletes receive after suffering an injury. After reading Senator Murphy’s latest report on college athletics, fans will see why many players decide bowls games are not worth the risk. Fans will hopefully think twice before judging a player’s decision to sit out of a bowl game. 

Senator Chris Murphy’s Madness, Inc. Reports

Senator Chris Murphy recently published his last installment of the Madness, Inc. Report. The report is a three-part series where Senator Murphy highlights the unjust and exploitative nature of college athletics. The first report came after fans witnessed Zion Williamson suffer an injury when his Nike shoe malfunctioned. The report is entitled Madness, Inc. How Everyone is Getting Rich off College Sports – Except the Players. It exposes just that, the fact that everyone gets rich in college athletics except the athletes. Coaches, conferences, and schools make millions. The NCAA is a billion-dollar non-profit organization. Meanwhile, the athletes are restricted to a cost-of-attendance scholarship.

The second report is entitled Madness, Inc. How Colleges Keep Athletes on the Field and Out of the Classroom. It revealed the excessive time demands that an athlete’s sport places on him. It highlights how difficult it is for an athlete to give adequate time to the sport and to their coursework. Due to the time constraints, many athletes select a less demanding major even if it is not their truly desired subject. The final report lays out all of the reasons many football players decide to not compete in bowl games. It is entitled Madness, Inc. How College Sports Can Leave Athletes Broken and Abandoned. The report explains how many athletes are left with broken bodies and no viable recourse.

College Players: Career-Ending Injuries and No Degree

Per the report, every year there are over 20,000 injuries in college football alone. Of those injuries, approximately 1,000 of them are spinal injuries. These injuries often lead to a lifetime of grief for the athlete. Some injuries are career-ending. Unfortunately, that was the case for Stanley Doughty. Per the report, Doughty played football for the University of South Carolina. After giving his talent and his body away for essentially free, he landed a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. However Doughty was never able to play a single down for the Chiefs due to a cervical spine injury he sustained as a college football player. 

Doughty was forced to play through his pain. The school never ordered an MRI to make sure Doughty was ok. Due to a neglected injury, Doughty was never able to earn his worth for his talents as a professional football player. To make matters worse, the University would not pay for him to re-enroll in school to finish his degree. Doughty was left with no NFL future, no degree, jobless, and injured. It is these types of situations that lead players to sit out of bowl games. Due to stories like Doughty’s and the risk of injury, players are unwilling to have their potential NFL futures taken away in what amounts to an exhibition game. 

Loyalty is a Two Way Street

Some fans argue that a player who opts out of a bowl game lacks loyalty. Why should a player be loyal to a system that is not loyal to him? Neither the schools nor the NCAA is loyal to the players, especially when it comes to matters of athlete safety. Each entity tries to pass the responsibility of player safety on to the other. Per the report, only 1 page out of the NCAA’s Division I 400-page manual is devoted health care for athletes. The NCAA requires athletes to have insurance in order to compete. However, the NCAA does not require schools to cover health care costs to field a team. The NCAA leaves those decisions regarding health care to the schools. 

The NCAA has a history of doing all it can to limit its liability to injured athletes. The term “student-athlete” was coined to do just that. In the1950s, the NCAA created the term to avoid workmen’s compensation liability for the death of a football player who died from a head injury. The NCAA establishes guidelines for schools to follow regarding athlete safety. However, the organization does very little to enforce those guidelines. For example, in 2016, the NCAA along with sports medicine leaders established rules to limit the influence coaches have in the employment of sports medicine personnel. However, the NCAA asserts little authority to ensure these rules are being enforced. Per the report, the NCAA has yet to create an enforcement and penalty process for such rule violations.

The NCAA’s Handling of Concussions

Furthermore, the NCAA dropped the ball in regards to the long-term effects that concussions have on college athletes. While the NCAA has made recommendations to its members regarding concussion management, the NCAA has done little to enforce it. For example, as early 1933 the NCAA made recommendations to its members regarding concussion protocol. Specifically, the NCAA recommended that athletes who suffered a concussion be removed for a significant amount of time. Over the years has made similar recommendations including in 2009. However, the NCAA has done nothing to ensure that its recommendations are followed by its members. 

The NCAA and its members’ hands-off approach regarding athlete safety led to the death of Derek Sheely. Sheely was a football player at Frostburg State University. He died from a brain injury he suffered during practice. Coaches told his parents he died from a freak accident. His parents only learned the truth when one of his teammates told them. From this story and other findings highlighted from the report, it is clear that the NCAA and some of its members are not loyal to its athletes. Why do fans expect football players to be “loyal” and risk injury in a bowl game?

After Reading Senator Murphy’s Madness, Inc. Report Fans Should be More Understanding Regarding Football Players Opting Out of Bowl Games

After reading this report, no fan should have an issue with a player opting out of a bowl game. The findings in this report clearly highlight the players’ cause for concern. It is true that a player runs as the risk of injury in any game as the risk of injury is inherent in sports. However, to risk injury in a game that only results in bragging rights and an essentially worthless gift is not in the best interest of the athlete. Especially for a player with high draft potential.  This is especially true in a system that appears to leave its injured athletes out to dry as gleaned from the report. Fans should think twice before unfairly criticizing football players who chose to put their best interest first and not risk injury in a bowl game.