Monday, September 30, 2013

Why Congressional Regulation Should Be Embraced by the NCAA

In a letter to Mark A. Emmert, Ph.D., President of the NCAA, dated October 29, 2011, I asked the following question:
I believe that given the current circumstances of the NCAA, its sustainability is questionable, and I believe that the only hope that it has for survival is to seek regulatory approval and supervision by the Congress. Given the paradox of its genesis juxtaposed with what it has become, this is something the NCAA would cringe at, but in terms of crisis management, what other choice do you really have, if you impartially consider the factors now impinging upon your organization? I am very interested to learn if you actually appreciate the severity of the current situation, and I am fascinated by crisis management or the lack thereof in such circumstances. 
In Dr. Emmert’s letter back to me, dated November 18, 2011, he chose to ignore answering this question.

So is the NCAA on its slow decline into oblivion?

Certainly, the current onslaught of major lawsuits threatens the NCAA's very existence, and the recent settlement by EA and CLC leaves the NCAA left holding the bag it created.  At the end of the day, in regards to the broadcast rights, which is the vast bulk of the money, nobody can explain how the NCAA or its members have the right to be paid for recording or televising college athletes at play, since they do not receive releases from any of them for this.  Essentially, the networks just assume that they can contract with the NCAA and its members without ever having considered why that would be so.  Video games and t-shirts won’t sink the business model, but a redistribution of this broadcast money will sink the NCAA and the major conferences like an iceberg at sea.

As the outgoing Princeton A.D., Gary Walters, said recently, the current tension is between the NCAA and its Division 1-A members and the major conferences on one side, who make the vast majority of the men’s football and basketball revenue, and everyone else in the NCAA, who do not run for-profit football and basketball programs.  These are irreconcilable.  When the NCAA gets hit for the recording and television revenue in one of these pending lawsuits, the major conferences will pick-up and go, if they haven’t by then already left, and those conferences will then negotiate a business deal with their players rather than kill the golden goose.  As they say, that will be that.  Whether the NCAA continues to exist to serve the interests of its unprofitable members, who knows, because there’s not much benefit for the remainder of Division 1 to be allied with Division II or Division III, and vice versa.

Assuming that the money issue is resolved by paying college athletes, how does this solve all of the other problems affecting college sports, other than taking a pot of gold off the table to pay for everything else that needs to be done, from the concussion issue to the insurance issue to the student welfare issue and so on?

I previously wrote about why Congress should regulate the NCAA, but if the NCAA was smart, it would have already gotten the Department of Education on board and proposed comprehensive legislation to Congress.  The fact that it hasn't shows a complete failure in leadership in the top, not just in the executive office, but also on the executive board or whatever they call it now that actually runs the NCAA, some sixteen college and university presidents.  The time is now for the NCAA leadership to actually start thinking about controlling the NCAA’s own destiny, and this cannot be done without regulation by Congress.