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.
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.
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.
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:
The student-athlete is receiving financial aid that is athletically related.
By how long the student-athlete stays in school.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Willie Taggart, Chad Morris, and Matt Luke are all college football coaches who were fired, while Clay Helton, Will Muschamp, and Kevin Sumlin were all retained. It is abundantly clear that many college football programs do not make good decisions when it comes to deciding whether to retain or fire their head coaches. So I am here to help. I have come up with a simple, absolutely genius, and foolproof Coaching Test to determine whether or not your head coach needs to be fired. Thanks to social media, fans, and boosters that scream about wanting their coaches fired are now heard except at USC. More often than not get their wish granted.
2019 Coaching Changes
As of December 12th, there have been 15 FBS head coaching jobs that have come open. All of the schools fired their coaches except two. Chris Petersen (Wash) and Jeff Tedford (Fresno St) unexpectedly resigned.
The Power 5 firings happened at Arkansas, Missouri, Florida State, Ole Miss, Boston College, and Rutgers (Is it ok to call them Power 5).
None of these coaching changes were unexpected, but were they justified? Often, coaches are on an extremely short leash and are expected to win now despite the dysfunction they inherited. College football fans and school administrations demand microwave results for problems that took years to make.
Fans and boosters have called for Clay Helton (USC), Tom, Herman (TEX), Gus Malzahn (AUB) fired. But should they be gone as well?
Cost of firing a coach
With some coaches having enormous buyouts, there are obvious financial ramifications to firing a head coach. For instance, for USC to fire Clay Helton they would have to pay out over $20 million for him and his assistants remaining contracts. Kevin Sumlin is another name that rings a bell. The school just paid Rich Rodriguez a buyout and is probably reluctant to pay another so soon.
In addition to financial ramifications of firing the coach, there is often a lot of uncertainty when you don’t know who the next head coach is going to be. Many fan bases that have called for their coaches to be fired are learning a hard lesson. You may get your wish with your coach being fired, but your new coach may be from the “scratch and dent bin.” There are good coaches in the scratch and dent bin, but they aren’t perfect and have some unsuccessful times in their history. But you got what you wanted, a new coach.
Most importantly, recruiting classes are often destroyed when recruits believe a coach will be fired. No matter how good a coach is, he cannot win without players.
Unafraid Show Coaching Test
Every head coach needs to be reevaluated every season. It does not matter whether the coach went undefeated and won the championship or went defeated and zero games. You only need to answer two questions to know whether your coach needs to be fired or not.
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Is there a coach that is guaranteed to take your job that is better than your current coach? Example: James Franklin is the head coach at Penn State. In fact, they just gave him an extension. He is winning football games while recruiting well, but PSU would fire him without a second thought if Dabo Swinney or Nick Saban were walking through that door. Often coaches are fired, and the schools have no clue who will replace him. I believe that is part of the reason USC did not fire Clay Helton. They kicked the tires on Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer but ultimately couldn’t get a deal done. So, Helton lives to “fight on” for another day.
Coaches are more often valuing the stability at a top 11-25 job rather than jumping at the chance to coach a top 10 team.
Is there still hope? Can your current coach go into the living rooms of 17-21-year-old players and sell them and their parents on the fact that the future of your program is brighter than the past? Can you make them buy-in, believe, and go all-in with you? If you can’t answer both of these questions in the affirmative, then you need a head coaching change. The Unafraid Coaching Test is a simple and foolproof test. If Athletic Directors and administrators answered these two simple questions every season, they wouldn’t consistently mess up their programs.
This method of determining whether to keep or fire your coach is an easy explanation for the boosters and other influential people around your program. It will keep the waters from being muddied by people with personal agendas and faulty reasoning. When Athletic Directors and administrations listen to the mob of angry fans, they mess up their programs by firing a coach too prematurely, or they rely on their gut/pride and keep the coach too long. The angry mob of fans and boosters change their minds like the wind; their opinions cannot be trusted in the short term. Think about this. Last year Florida State fans couldn’t wait to get Jimbo Fisher out and Willie Taggart in. Now, they would happily take Jimbo back. Texas fans were unsure about Tom Herman’s prospects as head coach. Now the Longhorns fanbase is smiling. Here are a couple of common questions I got when I explained this on the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast:
What if the coach is winning, but he can’t recruit?
If your coach can’t recruit, then he can’t win long term. If he can’t win, there will be a loss of hope. When the loss of hope happens, fire your coach. Don’t fire a winning coach!
Those people that tell you “recruiting stars don’t matter” are delusional. There is no coincidence that the best teams in college football every year finish at the top of the recruiting rankings.
What if the coach recruits well, constantly goes 8-5 or 9-4, and can never get you “over the hump”?
This is clearly referring to the coaches like Tom Herman and Mark Dantonio. These coaches are expected to compete for conference championships and sometimes be in the national championship conversation. Coaches that consistently recruit well stay in around 8-9 wins per season. They are really close to breaking through and will eventually win the conference. But, fan bases aren’t happy with nine wins per season. They want a maximum of one loss per season. It is damn near impossible to put up win totals like Nick Saban every year.
Next time you get into a discussion about whether or not the coach of your favorite college football team needs to be fired refer to the Unafraid Coaching Test.
If anyone is still wondering why lawmakers are so interested in college athletes’ rights, they got their answer last weekend. The NCAA once again demonstrated how unfair their rules are and how they are inconsistently enforced when they declared college football’s and men’s basketball top players ineligible. Ohio State University’s (OSU) defensive end and Heisman Trophy contender, Chase Young, was declared ineligible just ahead of OSU’s game against Maryland. Similarly, the University of Memphis (Memphis) men’s basketball center, James Wiseman, was declared ineligible prior to their game against Illinois-Chicago.
A reasonable fan may wonder why the NCAA would declare their top performers in their major revenue-producing sports ineligible? Did they get caught cheating on a test? Did they engage in illegal activity? Most would agree that if the answer to those questions is yes, the players deserve their punishment. However, that is not the case for Young nor Wiseman. Neither of them did anything clearly wrong. They were both declared ineligible for receiving financial assistance. Why would the NCAA declare a “student-athlete” ineligible for receiving needed financial assistance?
The answer is simple. The NCAA’s primary motive is to protect the farce of amateurism. For the NCAA, that means making sure athletes are not given any benefit that is not NCAA approved. No matter how dire an athletes’ need is. Chase Young’s and James Wiseman’s cases are textbook examples of the NCAA’s commitment to their rules; even when it defies all logic.
Chase Young’s Case
Young was suspended for accepting a loan from a family friend. He reportedly accepted the loan to pay for his girlfriend’s trip to watch him play in the Rose Bowl last season. That is right, Young was declared ineligible for getting a loan from a family friend so that someone he cares for could be there to support him. Here is the real kicker: Young repaid the loan in April. The person who gave Young the loan is not a booster nor an agent.
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Despite those facts, the NCAA still suspended him. The NCAA felt it right to disrupted Young’s potentially Heisman Trophy-winning and record-breaking season to reaffirm their position on unapproved financial assistance. All Chase Young wanted was for his girlfriend to be there to support him while he gave his body to make millions of dollars for others. Young will serve a two-game suspension for taking a loan from a family friend and paying it back. Somehow, the NCAA believes that this is fair and is the right thing to do. It is precisely these type of decisions by the NCAA that makes lawmakers feel the need to get involved.
James Wiseman’s Case
James Wiseman’s eligibility issue stems from a rather complicated story. Here is the crux of his eligibility issue. Wiseman’s eligibility is in jeopardy due to an $11,500 payment that the current Memphis coach, Penny Hardaway, gave to Wiseman’s mother in 2017. At the time, Wiseman did not know about money. The money was intended to cover moving expenses when Wiseman’s family moved to Memphis.
However, this is not why the NCAA declared Wiseman ineligible. The NCAA declared him ineligible because they determined that Penny Hardaway was a booster due to a 1 million dollar donation he made to Memphis in 2008. The donation was made to fund the school’s Penny Hardaway Hall of Fame. Since the NCAA determined that Hardaway was a booster, the $11,500 that he gave to Wiseman’s mom is impermissible under NCAA rules.
According to NCAA rules, this would make Wiseman ineligible. However, the problem here is that the NCAA knew about the $11,500 payment. With that knowledge, the NCAA declared Wiseman eligible. For some reason, the NCAA has gone back on that decision and declared him ineligible. How is this fair? The answer is that it is not fair. James Wiseman’s case reaffirms how inconsistent the NCAA is in its rule enforcement. It is for this reason, that lawmakers have begun advocating for college athlete rights.
Wiseman’s Case is not Over Yet as he has Sued the NCAA
Wiseman has sued the NCAA and Memphis. He also obtained a temporary injunction on his suspension that has allowed him to continue to play. On Monday, the case will resume where Wiseman will as for an injunction to continue playing. If Wiseman is successful in this suit it could dire ramifications for the NCAA and their ability to enforce their eligibility rules.
The NCAA Continues to Prove that Legislative Action is Necessary
What point does the NCAA really think it is making by declaring Young and Wiseman ineligible? All the NCAA has done is further make themselves bad an unable to consistently enforce their rules. They have inadvertently strengthened the case for college athlete name, image, and likeness (NIL) compensation legislation. After all if Young had able to profit from his NIL he may not have needed the loan. As coaches’ salaries and television revenue continues to soar, the NCAA cannot continue to justify its actions in cases like Young’s and Wiseman’s. The NCAA’s unfairness and inconsistency in its rule enforcement are precisely why lawmakers have gotten involved. Their involvement appears to be necessary.
Governor Gavin Newsom broke the internet this morning when a video of him signing the Fair Pay to Play Act into law was released. The Fair Pay to Play Act was one of the hottest issues of the summer. It led everyone to debate ifcollege athletes should be paid above a cost-of-attendance scholarship. The debate is no longer, at least for college athletes in California. Governor Newsom sat with LeBron James on his hit show The Shopand signed the bill into law.
King James was an ardent supporter of the bill. The Fair Pay to Play Actwill give college athletes in California the ability to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) and the ability to sign with an agent. Governor Newsom ignored the NCAA’s threat to prohibit colleges in California from participating in post-season championships and signed the bill into law. What will this mean for college athletes in California in 2023 when the bill is set to take effect?
The Fair Pay to Play Act
The Fair Pay to Play Act seeks to accomplish two goals for college athletes attending four-year colleges in California. One goal is to allow them to sign with agents. Pursuant to the bill, the agents must be licensed with the state. The agents must also be fully compliant with the federal Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act. The second goal is to give college athletes in California the ability to profit from their name, image, and likeness.
Under the Act, colleges will be prohibited from upholding any rule that prevents college athletes from receiving compensation for their NIL. Any compensation that is earned will not affect the athletes’ scholarships. Furthermore, the NCAA will not be able to keep college athletes from participating in collegiate sports simply because they receive NIL compensation. The NCAA also will not be able to ban a school from participation because its athletes receive NIL compensation.
However, college athletes do not have a blanket rule to enter into a contract without any consideration for their team’s pre-existing contracts. If an athlete enters into a contract, the athlete must inform the school. If the athlete’s contract conflicts with the team’s contract, the athlete will not be able to enter into that contract. However, the team contract will not prevent an athlete from receiving NIL compensation when the athlete is not engaged in official team business. The Act does not apply to prospective college athletes. The Fair Pay to Play Act will only apply to four-year colleges. However, the California legislature intends to create a community college NIL working group to study the California Community College Athletic Association’s rules.
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How will the Fair Pay to Play Act Effect Colleges in other States?
During his appearance on The Shop, Governor Newsom stated that “the [Fair Pay to Play Act] will initiate dozens of other states to introduce similar legislation.” Governor Newsom could not be more right. Before he signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law other states had already followed suit. For example, New York state senator Kevin Parker introduced the New York Collegiate Athletic Participation Compensation Act. The New York bill is very similar to the Fair Pay to Play Act, but goes a bit further.
New York Collegiate Athletic Participation Compensation Act
The New York Collegiate Athletic Participation Compensation Act also seeks to give college athletes the right to profit from their NIL without losing their scholarship or collegiate eligibility. The bill prohibits New York colleges from upholding any rule that prevents college athletes from receiving NIL compensation. The bill also prohibits the NCAA from banning an athlete from collegiate participation due to NIL compensation. Likewise, the bill prohibits the NCAA from banning colleges whose athletes receive NIL compensation.
Like the Fair Pay to Play Act, college athletes in New York would not have the blanket ability to enter a contract without consideration of their team’s pre-existing contracts. The athletes will be required to inform their school of any contract they enter into. They would not be allowed to enter a contract that conflicts with the team’s contracts. However, a team contract will not prevent an athlete from receiving NIL compensation when the athlete is not engaged in official team business.
The New York Collegiate Athletic Participation Compensation Act also gives college athletes the ability to sign with agents. The agents must be properly registered and compliant with federal laws. The bill also exempts community colleges and calls for a working group to be created to address the NIL issue for community colleges. The bill also does not apply to prospective college athletes. The New York Collegiate Athletic Participation Compensation Act is very similar to the Fair Pay to Play Act. However, the New York bill takes college athlete compensation a couple of steps further.
The New York Collegiate Athletic Participation Compensation Act Seeks to go the Extra Mile
The New York Collegiate Athletic Participation Compensation Act seeks to go the extra mile by requiring that each college establish a fund for injured athletes. With this provision, athletes who suffer a career-ending injury in a practice or game will qualify for the fund. The athletes would receive the money upon graduation. The amount of compensation would be determined by each school. Perhaps most notably, the bill goes further by requiring that each college share 15 percent of its revenue from ticket sales with the athletes. These are major differences because it requires the schools to make direct payments to the athletes. Hopefully, California has broken the ice so that these additions to college athlete compensation can become law.
Colorado and South Carolina Also Have Plans to Follow Suit
Lawmakers in South Carolina and Colorado have already announced their intentions to follow suit. They both plan to submit legislation similar to the Fair Pay to Play Act in their upcoming legislative sessions. South Carolina State senator Marlon Kimpson and representative Justin Bamberg plan to introduce the bill. The bill will require the biggest colleges in South Carolina to pay $5,000 a year stipends to athletes in profitable sports like football and basketball. The bill will also seek to allow college athletes to receive compensation from sponsorships and autograph signings.
The Colorado legislation was introduced last session by state senators Owen Hill and Jeff Bridges. However, it was too late in the session when it was introduced. The senators plan to re-introduce the bill in the next legislative session. The Colorado bill will also require direct payment to college athletes from schools. Former college athlete Jeremy Bloom is a supporter of the Colorado legislation.
Whether the NCAA likes it or not, NIL Payments are Coming
Governor Newsom did not back down to the NCAA. From the looks of things, other states are not going to either. Whether the NCAA likes it or not, NIL compensation is coming. As Maverick Carter pointed out on The Shop, America is a capitalistic society. College athletes should have the same rights to participate in this capitalistic society like every other student. The Fair Pay to Play Act and other similar legislation seek to give college athletes that right. In light of Governor Newsom’s decision, it will be interesting to see what the NCAA’s NIL working group proposes. The working group is expected to share its findings and decision soon.
If anyone ever doubted the influence of LeBron James and his team, that doubt should be put to rest. Yesterday the NCAA announced that they were removing the controversial bachelor’s degree requirement from their agent certification requirements. This announcement came just hours after Rich Paul, LeBron James’ longtime friend and agent, released an op-Ed in the Athletic criticizing the bachelor’s degree requirement. If that is not a demonstration of insurmountable influence, then what is?
The NCAA’s Agent Certification Process did not Last a Week Before it saw Sweeping Change
Last week, the NCAA revealed their new agent certification process. The certification process is for agents who wish to represent college basketball players looking to test the NBA Draft waters while maintaining collegiate eligibility. When the NCAA revealed that completion of a bachelor’s degree was one of the requirements, the sports world went into a criticizing frenzy. King James led the charge, dubbing the rule the “Rich Paul” rule, as he saw it as a snub at the success of Paul.
Rich Paul has Evolved into a Super Agent
Paul has experienced unprecedented success as an NBA agent. Moreover, he disrupted college basketball when he represented Darius Bazley. Bazley was a top high school basketball recruit. However, he opted out of playing for Syracuse to workout on his own. During this time he interned for New Balance. As a part of the internship, Paul helped Bazely receive $1 million guaranteed and a shoe deal. Bazley has the potential to earn up to $14 million on the deal and was drafted in the first round of the 2019 NBA draft.
Bazley’s New Balance deal speaks to Paul’s abilities. More impressive is that Paul has done all of this without a bachelor’s degree. The NCAA’s initial rule was seen as a slight at the success of Paul. It was also viewed as yet another barrier to future agents like Rich Paul, limiting abilities to break into the sports agent business.
With Pressure from James, Paul, and Others in the Sports Industry the NCAA had no Choice but Give In
Many in the sports industry called the rule out for what it was. It was an attempt to keep those at the top of the sports industry in power. There would be no real challenges to the power structure. The Rich Paul rule would have disproportionately negatively affected minorities and those from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
As Paul mentioned in his op-Ed, the rule as it was would have ultimately prohibited those who do not have the resources, opportunity, or desire to get a four-year degree from entering the agent business. From all of the criticism and pressure, the NCAA was forced to get rid of the bachelor’s degree requirement.
If this is not a testament to LeBron James’ and Rich Paul’s influence, the what is?
The NCAA sent the sports world into a frenzy when they announced their new certification process for sports agents who wish to represent college basketball players. The new rule comes as a part of the recommendations made by the Commission on College Basketball (Commission) last April. After the 2017 college hoops scandal led to an FBI investigation and criminal trial, the NCAA created the Commission to help resolve the problems in college basketball. One of the Commission’s recommendations was that the NCAA allow some college basketball players to enlist the guidance of agents. Accordingly, the NCAA released the process for an agent to become NCAA-certified.
To become an NCAA-certified agent, one must have a bachelors degree, be NBPA certified for at least three consecutive years and in good standing, maintain liability insurance, and submit an application by the appropriate deadline. The requirement that agents have a bachelors degree did not sit well with many in the sports industry. The bachelor degree requirement received instant criticism. LeBron James was at the forefront of the criticism as he viewed the rule as a snub at the success of his friend and agent, Rich Paul. He even dubbed the rule the “Rich Paul Rule.”
Why Would LeBron James Think That the Rule is a Snub at Rich Paul?
Rich Paul is a close friend of LeBron James who later became his agent. Paul does not have a bachelors degree but has been ultra-successful as a basketball agent. He learned the agent business through practical real-world experience. Paul then became an NBPA certified agent and created Klutch Sports. In addition to LeBron James, Paul represents Anthony Davis, Ben Simmons, and a host of other top NBA talent. Given Paul’s client roster it is clear that he has totally disrupted the basketball agent industry. He has become an NBA agent powerhouse. Not only has Paul and Klutch Sports disrupted NBA basketball, but he also ruffled some feathers in college basketball.
Darius Bazley was a top high school basketball prospect who was committed to playing at Syracuse. Bazley ultimately changed his mind and opted not to attend Syracuse and to forego his college eligibility. Instead, Bazely worked out on his own to prepare for the NBA draft. With the help of Rich Paul, Bazley landed an internship with New Balance. Paul helped Bazley garner an internship deal where Bazely received a shoe deal and a guaranteed $1 million.
Once Bazley decided not to attend college many wondered if he would be drafted into the NBA. In June that question was answered when Bazely was drafted in the first round at number 23 by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Paul and Bazley raised a lot of eyebrows with their unconventional newly charted path to the NBA. Given the disruption that Rich Paul has caused in both professional and college basketball, it is very clear why King James thinks the NCAA’s new agent rule is targeting Rich Paul.
Is it Simply Targeting Rich Paul or is the NCAA Seeking to Prevent a Broader Phenomenon?
Changes in College Athletics
Sports fans will never know for sure if the NCAA created the agent certification guidelines with Rich Paul in mind. However, what is known is that change is afoot in college athletics and in professional basketball. One thing that is for sure is that the NCAA and others at the top of the sports industry are threatened by innovators and disruptors like Rich Paul. They have much to gain by ensuring there is a system in place to make it more difficult for future Rich Pauls.
In college athletics, the NCAA’s model is being attacked on all fronts. The NCAA is defending the farce of amateurism in court. Recently, the NCAA was forced to create a working group to address the various federal and state-level bills. The bills seek to allow college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness. With the many challenges to the current college sports landscape, the NCAA is willing to do whatever it takes to retain control. Requiring a bachelors degree is one way that the NCAA seeks to accomplish that goal.
Having a College Degree Does not Automatically Equal Quality Representation
Yes, it is true that requiring agents to have a bachelor’s degree is a move to safeguard the players. However, simply having a degree does not automatically make a person qualified to negotiate a sports contract. Nor does it automatically mean that the person will not take advantage of the athlete. Furthermore, classroom education does not beat out real-world experience. Hence, the reason entry-level and recent graduate job postings still ask for one to two years of experience. One thing the bachelor’s degree requirement does is make sure others like Rich Paul have another hurdle to cross.
Lack of a college degree does not automatically equal sub-par representation. The clearest example of that is Rich Paul. Furthermore, the degree requirement could automatically preclude those closest to the athletes and with the athletes’ best interest at heart from representing them. Is that in the athletes’ best interest in all cases? The NCAA should have an option where a certain amount of experience takes the place of the degree requirement just as the NBPA does.
Certainly Benefits Those Already at the Top of the Agent Industry
Paul’s willingness to help athletes go after their goals in their own way has made him attractive to other players. This phenomenon has lead to some disruptions in professional basketball player representation. The most telling example of this is Anthony Davis and his attempt to force his way to the Lakers this past season. Other agents are threatened by Rich Paul. Creating a rule that requires a bachelors degree is a way to make sure disruptors like Rich Paul have a harder time getting started in the business.
The bachelor’s degree requirement puts Rich Paul and similarly situated agents behind because it precludes them from building relationships with college basketball players. While requiring a bachelors degree can help safeguard college basketball players, it is not foolproof. For that reason, it is likely that the rule may have been more about the NCAA and other top sports industry leaders retaining their power than protecting the athletes.
The NCAA has formed an independent investigation unit to oversee “complex cases.” Only a school representative, NCAA enforcement staff, or member of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions can bring a case under the new investigation process. What is the unit’s purpose and how does it plan to effect change?
The Independent Accountability Resolution Process
The unit is broken up into four committees:
Independent Accountability Oversight Committee: oversees the entire investigation process, appoints members to the other three committees, and develops policies and procedures to ensure fairness and impartiality.
Infractions Referral Committee: reviews and confirms requests for complex cases.
Complex Case Unit: carries out factual investigations regarding approved complex cases and guides the case through the review process. The Complex Case Unit is made of independent investigators and advocates with no school or conference affiliations and various NCAA enforcement staff.
Independent Resolutions Panel: reviews Complex Case Unit findings and the school’s response, oversees case hearings, and determines penalties. This group consists of fifteen members with legal, higher education, and/or sports backgrounds, and who have no affiliation with any NCAA school or conference. A rotating panel of five members hears each case. All decisions are final and not subject to appeal.
Should We Trust the Process?
The Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) was created upon the recommendation of the Condeleeza Rice Commission to fix college basketball. Its main purpose is to defeat perceived conflicts of interest. However, the IAOC is made entirely of NCAA officials who determine the other members of the unit. Furthermore, the NCAA decides what qualifies as a complex case. If the NCAA truly wanted to promote independence, it would have been better served outsourcing the entire process instead of tethering it to its brand.
The IARP also fails to include methods to protect student-athletes. Noticeably, student-athletes have no right to request a hearing. There’s no mention of how mitigating factors or the effects of institutional control may affect an investigation. It appears the “why” and “how” of a situation is irrelevant in analyzing a case. Strict decision-making may be effective to govern administrations, but a number of variables come in to play when teenagers are involved. The IARP fails to take such factors into consideration.
The IARP is The Same As Current NCAA Policy
The NCAA already has the NCAA Infractions Program. The NIP was designed to “uphold integrity and fair play among the NCAA membership, and to prescribe appropriate and fair penalties if violations occur.” Like the IARP, the Infractions Program requires decisions to be made by a panel of independent arbiters. Specifically, Section 19.3.4 of the NCAA Division I Manual states:
No member of a hearing panel shall participate in a case if he or she is directly connected with an institution under investigation or if he or she has a personal, professional or institutional affiliation that may create the appearance of partiality. It is the responsibility of the panel member to remove himself or herself if a conflict exists. Objections to the participation of a panel member in a particular case should be raised as soon as recognized but will not be considered unless raised at least one week in advance of the panel’s review of the case. Objections will be decided by the committee chair.
One of the unit’s first cases may be the investigation of corruption in college basketball. But it’s odd that the NCAA would create a new committee just for this purpose. What more is there to learn from this subject outside what the federal cases already provided?