The NCAA has done it again! The billion-dollar non-profit organization demonstrated twice last week that it’s primary objective is protecting the sham of amateurism. First, the NCAA proved that it will be dedicated to protecting their self proclaimed noble objective even when it makes no sense and hurts it’s beloved “student-athletes”. The NCAA’s ruling in the James Wiseman case does exactly that. It makes no sense and is harmful to James Wiseman. Secondly, the NCAA demonstrated that they have no intention of allowing college athletes to “benefit” from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) anytime soon when they released their NIL compensation timeline. In their announcement, the NCAA reaffirmed that any college athlete NIL compensation will be consistent with the current “collegiate model.”
The James Wiseman Ruling
The NCAA ruled that potential number one NBA draft pick, James Wiseman, will serve a 12 game suspension and donate $11,500 to charity for a transaction that transpired between Wiseman’s mother and Penny Hardaway. When Wiseman was in high school Penny Hardaway gave his mother $11,500 for moving expenses. At the time, Wiseman was unaware of the transaction between Hardaway and his mother. Hardaway was not Wiseman’s coach although he later became Wiseman’s high school and college coach. Even though Wiseman did not have anything to do with the moving expenses Hardaway gave to his mother, the NCAA decided that he should be punished anyway. How does this make sense?
The answer is that it does not make common sense, it only makes NCAA sense. Per the NCAA’s rules, it is reasonable for Wiseman to serve a 12 game suspension for something he did not do. It is reasonable to require a “student-athlete” to pay what amounts to an $11,500 fine to a charity for an “impermissible benefit”. This is reasonable from an NCAA perspective because no college athlete is allowed to receive any benefit that is not NCAA approved. From a common-sense perspective, this punishment is completely irrational. A rational person would wonder why is Wiseman being punished? He did not do anything wrong. A rational person would also ask where is a “student-athlete” supposed to get that kind of money?
How Can James Wiseman get the Money Without Violating the NCAA’s Rules?
Wiseman’s sport does not allow him enough time to work to earn that kind of money. Perhaps, his family or a close friend could loan it to him. No, that will not work because that is not permissible, just ask Chase Young. Perhaps, random people could donate the money to Wiseman through GoFundMe like ESPN analyst Jay Williams called for people to do.
This seems like a plausible way for Wiseman to get the money. People who feel that Wiseman has been wronged could offer a helping hand. There is only one problem with this approach. Wiseman would not be able to accept the money because accepting the money would likely result in another NCAA violation. Really, what is Wiseman to do to pay this excessive fine that the NCAA has placed on him all in the name “amateurism”?
The NCAA’s NIL Compensation Timeline is a Stalling Tactic
In addition to the James Wiseman decision, the NCAA showed its resistance to change when it released it’s NIL timeline. When the NCAA released its very lengthy NIL compensation timeline it became clear that the NCAA is stalling. Per the timeline, the NCAA will not vote on the issue until January 2021. This should come as no surprise. Afterall the NCAA is only addressing the issue after being forced to.
The NCAA was Forced to Address NIL Compensation
The NCAA formed a working group to address issues surrounding college athlete name, image, and likeness (NIL) compensation. They were forced to address the issue under pressure from several state legislatures that introduced bills seeking to allow college athlete NIL compensation. The NCAA also faced pressure from Congress as Congressman Mark Walker introduced the Student-Athlete Equity Act. In October, California became the first state to allow college athlete NIL compensation when Governor Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law. In October, the NCAA released the findings of the NIL working group. However, the NCAA is not going down without a fight.
When the working group’s findings were released, it became clear that the NCAA is still trying to retain as much power as possible. It has also become clear that the NCAA is going to give college athletes as little rights as possible. The NCAA is dedicated to retaining the current “collegiate model”. The findings did not provide much clarity on the NCAA’s stance on the issue. In fact, it only led to more questions. It seemed like a stalling tactic to slow the momentum of the progress of the NIL compensation movement. The timeline proves that it is a stalling tactic. However, their tactics are not working as Florida is considering legislation that could allow college athletes to profit from their NIL as early as July 2020.
Wiseman’s Decision and the NCAA’s NIL Compensation Timeline Demonstrates that the NCAA will not Change
The NCAA’s decision in Wiseman’s case and the NIL compensation timeline proves that the NCAA is not genuine in making meaningful changes in college sports. The NCAA is only willing to take half measures. The NCAA only wants to give the appearance of change. Their primary concern is retaining control of their billion-dollar cash cow. The NCAA remains dedicated to their cause, even when it is so clearly wrong. Their decision in the James Wiseman case is clearly wrong. The NCAA’s primary motive is showing that they are still in control and dedicated to preserving amateurism at all cost. Once again, the NCAA has proven that some sort of legislation is necessary to push the college athletes’ rights movement forward.