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

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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.

CU Receiver Daniel Arias Staying Prepared Despite Uncertainty Surrounding CFB Season

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Colorado Buffaloes wide receiver Daniel Arias has been learning to adjust to life away from his teammates.

There is rampant speculation around whether the 2020 college football season will be played due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Players cannot train with their teams, and coaches have to rely on video calls to be able to communicate with their teams. Players are used to having a routine associated with getting prepared for the season.

“Being away from my brothers feels weird. It’s just different, not having to play football,” Arias said.

Daniel Arias Has Been Working Out With K.D. Nixon Despite Pac-12 Suspending Organized Team Activities

The Pac-12 has suspended all organized team activities across all sports until May 31. Virtual group activities are limited to two hours a week, per the Pac-12 Pandemic Policy.

However, Daniel Arias has been working out with fellow wide receiver K.D. Nixon in the morning. These workouts are not team-sanctioned, so they are not subject to Pac-12 policy.

“We’re just out there just putting in work every single day, not letting (the absence of team workouts) stop us, but just being safe at the same time.”

Colorado Buffaloes Coaches Have Done a Good Job Providing Playbook and Film

When players are communicating, they are still holding each other accountable. Arias said that teammates are making sure they are staying in shape and learning the playbook. With having a new coach in Karl Dorrell, one may assume that learning the playbook would be more difficult.

However, Darrin Chiaverini has been a staple with Colorado football over the past few seasons. He has reclaimed his old post as offensive coordinator, so the playbook is similar to the one Daniel Arias had in 2018, his freshman year. Arias believes that this playbook will be easier for him to learn because of this familiarity.

Arias said he appreciated how the coaches have made access to the playbook and film easy for the team. Because of this, the players and coaches still operate as a cohesive unit.

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“The coaches have done a really good job being flexible and having all of us together on the same page.”

The team’s plan is to meet three times a week via Zoom video calls. Although the team may be falling behind in some aspects, Arias hopes that the summer will help the team prepare for the season.

“When summer comes around, hopefully we can come back together, catch up, and start working again.”

However, Arias emphasized how players need to hold themselves accountable for learning the playbook now. He stressed the need for his teammates to make sure they are pulling their weight both on and off the field. If each player does this, Arias believes it will lead to team success.

Daniel Arias Stayed In Boulder to Keep Up With Education

Some players on the team also stayed in Boulder, while others left for home. The majority of students at CU Boulder have left the Boulder area because of the pandemic. However, Arias decided to stay in Boulder, as he believes it presents the best for his education.

“I just wanted to stay on campus and just finish this semester strong and do what I needed to do in order to be successful this semester before going home.”

Arias has been able to keep with his routine because of school. Even though there is no football practice, he still feels a sense of normalcy.

“For me, it’s like a normal day of school,” Arias said.

He added that he does not have much free time because of how he is keeping with his routine of training in the morning. In the afternoon, he will attend virtual classes and does his homework. However, he still prefers being in the classroom to having virtual classes.

“I would prefer physically going to class instead of doing the zoom (virtual classes),” Arias said. “You could be in bed listening to the lecture and it’s just different from being in class physically.”

Daniel Arias and Colorado Buffaloes Will Still Work Hard Despite Uncertainty

Safety is paramount in these times, as the COVID-19 Pandemic has swept across the United States. Some are speculating that the 2020 college football season may not take place until the spring of 2021. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the college football season, Arias’ main focus is on becoming a better football player.

“We all have the same goal of winning the championship,” Arias said. “We’re going to keep working hard.”

Arias stated that the experience would be “different” playing in front of fans. For now, he wants to focus on what he can control: becoming a better football player.

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.

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. 

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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. 

The NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate: A Factor For Postseason Eligibility

The NCAA's Academic Progress Rate: A Factor For Postseason Eligibility

Postseason play is what makes sports great, especially in the NCAA. However, in college sports playing in the postseason is not a given. The assumed reasons for teams not being eligible for the postseason are not winning or that program broke an NCAA bylaw. NCAA sanctions have cost teams from being eligible for the postseason. However, a program could be ineligible for the postseason if they are not performing up to academic standards. Because of this, the Academic Progress Rate initiative was started by the NCAA.

APR Holds Universities Accountable for Academic Success

The Academic Progress Rate was an initiative that was adopted by the NCAA in 2004. The initiative holds universities to a standard of ensuring academic success for their students.  The NCAA’s official site says the initiative “holds institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term”.

The APR measures student-athletes’ academic progress by three factors:

  1. The student-athlete is receiving financial aid that is athletically related.
  2. By how long the student-athlete stays in school.
  3. What type of grades student-athletes receive.

The APR score is related to specific programs (football, basketball, etc.) within a university’s athletic department. The minimum multi-year score needed for a team to be postseason-eligible is 930. There have been programs who have struggled to obtain this score. A good APR score is 980, with the highest obtainable score being 1,000.

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APR’s Requirement for Athlete Retention is an Issue In College Football and Basketball

One of the factors that contributes to a program’s APR score being lower is that there are players that leave school early to go pro, especially in football and basketball. In basketball, a school truly cannot form a “one-and-done” team, in the case of college basketball, because of this rule. The rule impacts how coaches, such as John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski, recruit. Both Calipari and Krzyzewski are known for recruiting the top high school players, who go pro after one year.

To a lesser degree, the APR initiative also impacts the scores for football teams. Players can leave after they have been in school for three years to play in the NFL. The NCAA may need to amend the initiative, as the cases of players leaving school early in college basketball and football is becoming more common.

UCLA Men’s Basketball Team Able to Become Eligible for 2021 Postseason

On January 22, 2020, it was reported that the UCLA Bruins men’s college basketball team would be eligible for the 2021 postseason. They barely squeaked by the minimum APR score required to be eligible. Being eligible for the postseason is a big deal for first-year coach Mick Cronin. UCLA has been on the downswing as of late, so getting to the postseason is important in the early stages of Cronin’s tenure.

The Bruins currently have a 12-10 (5-4 Pac-12) record this season. They most likely have to win the Pac-12 conference tournament to be considered a threat for the NCAA Tournament. They also are dealing with the transfer of star recruit Shareef O’Neal. The Bruins signed Daishen Nix, a five-star Point Guard and number 20 in the ESPN 300, for next season.

Florida State Football Had Similar Issue in 2019

The Florida State Seminoles football program had a multi-year APR score of 936 in 2019. It was the worst score out of all of the football Power 5 schools. Jimbo Fisher left the program as Willie Taggart took over. This coaching change led to a lot of player turnover within the program. Player turnover hurts a program’s overall APR score.

Willie Taggart was fired by Florida State this past November, and the program hired Mike Norvell. There may be more player turnover because of the new hire, which stresses the importance of Norvell building a culture of accountability at Florida State. The Seminoles cannot afford to have low APR scores. Consequently, the prospect of not being eligible for the postseason may be a real possibility for the program.

The Future of APR

There are multiple factors that go into how the APR is calculated. That has made programs take the threat of not being eligible for the postseason seriously. It will be interesting to see if there are adjustments made to the APR model based on the number of players that choose to leave for professional leagues, most notably the NFL and NBA. There are numerous ways a player views their education, and if athletes start receiving more financial benefits from the NCAA, could there be changes to the APR model? For now, the model has proven effective, as programs have taken it seriously enough to be above the benchmark of 930.

NCAA Aims to Stop Graduate Transfers in College Football and Basketball

NCAA is trying to block Graduate transfers in college football and basketball

Millions tuned in to watch the Men’s March Madness Championship game. The University of Virginia (UVA) took on Texas Tech in a game that turned out to be a thrilling, seat clinching exhibition. College basketball fans witnessed UVA clinch its first NCAA Championship when they defeated Texas Tech in overtime. While it was a first for UVA, the game may have been the last for graduate transfers like Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens of Texas Tech as the NCAA aims to stop graduate transfers.

Mooney and Owens landed in the Final Four due to one of the NCAA’s rare rules that actually benefits college athletes. That rule is the graduate transfer rule. However, that rare benefit that the college athletes receive may be reduced drastically if the NCAA adopts a proposed change later this month.

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The Graduate Transfer Rule

The current graduate transfer rule gives college athletes a certain level of autonomy. The graduate transfer rule allows college athletes who have completed their four-year degree and have remaining eligibility to transfer to another school and compete as a graduate transfer without having to sit out a year. The athlete must enroll in a graduate program. The current graduate transfer rule actually makes sense. An athlete who has remaining eligibility and has completed his undergraduate degree at one university should be free to use his remaining eligibility at the graduate school of his choice.

The rule allows college athletes to freely decide where to pursue their graduate education while providing the opportunity for them to continue playing the sport they love. Due to the freedom the rule provides college athletes to take control over their careers, it should come as no surprise that the rule is under fire.

Critics Issues With the Graduate Transfer Rule

Some feel that college athletes abuse the system. Critics argue that college athletes only use the rule as an opportunity to play in hopes of making it to the pros, rather than focusing on their graduate degree. Some liken the graduate transfer rule to the one-and-done rule because some graduate transfers leave after only playing one year. A study from 2012 found that only one-third of men’s basketball and one-quarter of football graduate transfers earn their graduate degree after two years. Due to this concern, a reform to the graduate transfer rule has been proposed.

The New Proposal

The proposal requests that colleges commit to providing two years of scholarship to each graduate transfer unless the athlete completes the degree in one year. In sum, the school must be willing to give up a scholarship the next year for each graduate transfer they take unless the graduate transfer finishes his degree in a year. This proposed rule change will only affect men’s and women’s basketball and football. That is right, this change will only affect the major revenue-producing sports.

If Adopted the Proposal Will Essentially do Away With Graduate Transfers

There are several issues with this proposal. One is that it is not practical to think that any graduate student will finish their program in one year. This is especially true in regards to college athletes, who are balancing the demands of their sport with academics. Another issue is that if this rule is adopted, graduate transfers will no longer be an attractive option to coaches. Most coaches will not want to forfeit a scholarship for the next season to get a graduate transfer or two. The benefits simply do not outweigh the cost. For this reason, the proposed change would drastically limit college athletes’ ability to seek opportunities as graduate transfers.

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This proposal does not benefit college athletes at all. It takes away college athletes’ ability to pursue a graduate degree of their choosing while playing. Yes, an athlete could play as a graduate if he remains at his original school. However, that may still put the athlete at a disadvantage. What if the original university does not have the athlete’s desired graduate program? Now the athlete is unfairly forced to chose between their preferred graduate program and what is probably their last opportunity to play their sport on the big stage.

Another issue is that yet again, the rule unfairly affects the athletes who participate in the major revenue-producing sports. This very fact shows that the proposal has little to do with making sure athletes are getting their graduate degrees. This proposal is all about control. Proponents of the proposal want to control every move men’s basketball and football players make. There is nothing about this proposal that benefits the college athletes. It does the opposite by severely limiting men’s and women’s basketball players and football players options.

What Will the NCAA Do?

Will the NCAA keep the current system, which serves as a major benefit to many athletes? Or will the NCAA in typical fashion swoop in and severely limit the college athletes options? The NCAA will most likely do the latter. This is true especially given the fact that NCAA President Mark Emmert stated that he would not be surprised if the rule was revised.

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.

College Football Bowl Game Participants​ Should get More Than a $550 Bowl Gift

College Football Bowl Game Gifts

It is that time of year again. College football playoff and bowl game season! The College Football Playoff (CFP) matchups are set. Bowl game matchups are set. There is a lot at stake during the college football post-season. Bragging rights for winning a bowl game, being crowned the CFP champion, and last but not least – MONEY. There are millions of dollars at stake for coaches, conferences, and schools. However, there is one group that is systematically left out of the financial distributions. That group is none other than the football players themselves. 

It is true that the NCAA permits bowl game participants to receive up to $550 in gifts. However, those gifts severely pails in comparison to the rewards that coaches, schools, and conferences receive. Right out the gate, the conferences of the schools that qualify for the College Football Playoff semifinal games receive 6 million dollars for each team. Conferences that do not have a CFP contender still have a chance to rake in 4 million dollars for each team that qualifies for a bowl game. However, this revenue barely scratches the surface of all of the money that is at stake. Let’s take a look at how much the coaches, schools, and conferences stand to earn during the college football post-season.

The CFP and Bowl Games are a Cash Cow for the Participating Coaches

Dabo Swinney $93M contract There's enough money to pay the players

Several college football coaches enjoy million-dollar salaries. CFP champion coach, Dabo Swinney, signed a 9.3 million per year contract for his base salary  Many more coaches enjoy salaries in the upper six figures. However, the college football post-season is the sweetest time of year for qualifying coaches. It is sweet because qualifying for post-season play demonstrates that the coach has led the team through a very successful season. It is also sweet because qualifying for post-season play equals sizeable bonus money for the coaches.

Coach Mack Brown at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Take the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill coach, Mack Brown, for instance. He will receive $75,000 for the Tar-heels qualifying for the Military Bowl. This $75,000 is additional compensation on top of the $3.5 million he earns as an annual salary. Brown is not the only person on his staff who will be a bonus beneficiary. The Tar-heels assistant coaches will receive bonuses up to “two-twelfths of their annualized salaries”. Meanwhile, the football players will receive a compilation of arguably useless gifts up to $550 in value

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Coach Ryan Day at Ohio State University

Another coach who stands to make more in bonus money than most people make in a year is Ohio State’s Ryan Day. Day replaced Ohio State coaching legend, Urban Meyer, and quickly realized that he needed to make a name for himself. Make a name for himself is just what he did in leading the Buckeyes to the CFP for the first time since 2016. Day stands to earn an additional $450,000 in CFP bonuses. Per Day’s contract, he will earn $200,000 just for the Buckeyes making an appearance in the CFP. Day stands to make another $250,000 if the Buckeyes make it to the CFP semifinals.

However, Ohio State and Clemson are set to face off in the Fiesta Bowl. If the Buckeyes are successful in that game, Day will not receive $250,000 if the Buckeyes make it to the CFP semifinals. Instead, Day will receive $350,000 for “team participation in the finals of the College Football Playoff.” These are only the bonuses that two coaches stand to receive for post-season play. Every other qualifying coach stands to receive similar compensation. Meanwhile, the football players are left with arguably useless gifts totaling up to $550 in value.

Conferences and Schools Rake in the Cash from the CFP and Bowl Games too

Justin Fields Ohio State

Merely having a school qualify for the CFP semifinals or a bowl game earns a conference at least 6 to 4 million dollars respectively. There is so much money available to the conferences and schools from post-season play. Each conference with a school that qualifies for post-season play receives $300,000. Each qualifying independent school receives $300,000 as well. An independent school is one that does not belong to a conference like Notre Dame.

Additionally, each of the ten conferences receives a base amount of money. Conferences who participate in the Orange, Rose, and Sugar Bowl receive approximately $66 million for each conference. Conferences that do not participate in those bowls receive approximately $90 million in the aggregate that is dispersed as the conferences see fit. If Notre Dame qualifies, it receives $3.19 million as an independent school. The other three independent schools receive $1.56 million.

Furthermore, each conference with a school participating in the Cotton, Fiesta, or Peach Bowl or the CFP National Championship receives an additional $2.43 million to cover game expenses. This is a lot of money. Meanwhile, the football players receive arguably useless gifts totaling up to $550 in value. The schools do use some of the money to fund their athletic departments to make collegiate sports participation possible. However, there is still enough money that football players can receive more than $550 worth of gifts.

The Bowl Gifts Are a Joke in Comparison to the Coaching Bonuses and Revenue the Conferences and Schools Receive

Football players who participate in bowl games and the CFP are allowed to receive $550 worth of gifts. In the scheme of things, the gifts are arguably worthless and pails in comparison to the six-figure bonuses their coaches receive. Participants in the Peach Bowl will receive a $390 Vanilla Visa Gift Card, a Fossil watch, and a football. While a $390 gift card sounds nice, it is nothing for all of the hard work and effort players put into their sport. It is certainly nothing compared to the bonuses the coaches receive.

Participants in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl receive a PlayStation 4 Gift Package, a Fossil watch, an Ogio Shuttle Pack backpack, a history of bowl games book, and an Ice Shaker Insulated bottle. A PlayStation 4 is a nice gift. However, is it really that useful for a college football player who puts in 40 plus hours a week on football and has to study too? It would seem that sharing the revenue with the players would be a better option. However, that is not going to happen because of the NCAA’s farce of amateurism.

College Football Bowl Game Gifts

What if the NCAA, Conferences, and Schools Decided to Share the Revenue With the Players?

If the revenue was shared with the players it would provide a major financial boost for the players. This is especially true for players who come from disadvantaged situations. Such players often need extra money to make ends meet. Players who may need extra cash cannot even sell their gifts without fear of being declared ineligible for receiving an impermissible benefit like Terrelle Pryor. In 2010, Pryor was suspended for selling his sportsmanship award from the 2008 Fiesta Bowl. If the NCAA, conferences, and schools decided to share some of the revenue they could eliminate this problem for their athletes.

The NCAA could hold the money in a trust for the football players to receive after they graduate. They could provide financial planning seminars to help them manage the money and use it in a productive manner. This would help the players way more than a fossil watch ever could. With all of the money floating around college football post-season play, the players should receive more than a $550 gift.