College Sports Are On The Road To Ruin

I have always hated the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletics Association) as being a heartless bully and arrogant, arbitrary oppressor of athletic talent that favors the blue blood institutions in every sport. They are also wildly expensive, rake in a ton of money, and have built a financially extorted dynasty that is second only to the British royal family.

The NCAA, however, is not what will exclusively kill college athletics.

There are four things:

 1. The NCAA and its feudal fiefdom;

 2. NIL — name, image, likeness — the ability for a college athlete to be compensated by lending their name, image, likeness to third parties typically in an endorsement marketing capacity;

 3. Unions — there have been a number of unsuccessful and, now, successful attempts to unionize college athletics, typically an entire team, such as the Dartmouth men’s basketball team. Here is that story:

Dartmouth Men’s Basketball Team Votes to Unionize

 4. The transfer portal


You know my sentiment on the NCAA, but why it will ruin college athletics is because of its inability to surrender power to the changing times and its increasing loss of touch with the reality of the current marketplace for athletic talent and social issues.

The reality is college athletics is big business and the NCAA is a feudal plantation overseer rather than an operator of a free marketplace. Universally, the NCAA punishes college athletes rather then lifting them up. It will die a natural death, but will take college athletics with it.

One other pointed issue for the NCAA is its inability to figure out how to deal with transgender athletes — men who have decided they are really women and want to compete in women’s sports wherein they dominate the other female athletes such as the former University of Pennsylvania man Lia Thomas who dominated women’s swimming after being a mediocre male swimmer.

While this is woke AF and appeals to the social theme of the day, it is madness and wildly unfair and unsafe to women athletes.

Name, image, likeness

I am in favor of athletes owning their names, likenesses, and images plus sharing in the value of their participation in college athletics.

The biggest hurdle to this free market has been the NCAA.

It does however completely overshadow the “amateur” status of college athletics which may simply be a sea change and there will no longer be what we have known as “amateur” athletics.

I am perfectly fine with that. There is no reason why the Duke book store should be able to sell the jerseys of players without the player receiving a fair share of the profits. There is no reason why a college should control the marketability of a player’s playing persona.

There is, however, going to be a new world out there with some interesting ramifications — college players earning millions of dollars to play a sport at a specific program and those dollars and those programs becoming an integral part of the recruiting mojo of those schools.

How about this:

 1. Oklahoma recruits a first rate, 5-star quarterback and promises him an NIL income of $1,000,000 annually for four years.

 2. Texas, lusting after the same quarterback (shades of Arch Manning, anyone?), swoops down and promises the same quarterback an NIL income of $2,500,000 for four years.

OK, OK, I know both Oklahoma and Texas are not supposed to do that and be so brazen, but for goodness sake it’s Oklahoma and Texas, right?

College athletics devolves into a pay for play market rather than a merit based market. Would that QB play at an inferior Texas “cause the money is better?” You bet.

Imagine this conversation:

“Son, my name is Billie Bob Roberts, and I want to license your image and likeness for four years whilst you are playing defensive right tackle for the Texas Longhorns and to show you how serious we are here at Billie Bob Roberts Drilling Mud Company in Odessa, Texas, I am going to give you a down payment of a new home for your momma and a black Escalade.”

How far are we from signing bonuses? Not too bloody far.

Unions, Big Red Car

There have been a number of legal cases that have ended with the Dartmouth men’s basketball team forming a union that will negotiate with Dartmouth University (likely in the person of the athletic director and the basketball coach) as to an agreement stating how the union players will perform for the school-appointed basketball coach.

I have no problem with players banding together to deal with the university, but this will end badly on both sides. [Imagine “working” for Rick Pitino as a point guard/shop steward and negotiating a new agreement. Yikes!]

How long will it be before a basketball team or a soccer team will conduct a work stoppage to impact the university management’s stance on their agreement? The lacrosse players will be real trouble and don’t forget women’s hockey.

I predict the University of Georgia men’s football team will have a ten minute work stoppage in the next National Championship Game. If the game is to start at 7:00 PM, the Georgia Daws will sit on their hands until 7:10 PM because they can.

The transfer portal

I just watched the University of North Carolina beat Duke University in men’s basketball in a sweep of the regular season and the championship of the Atlantic Coast Conference. I am a huuuuuuuuuuuuuge Tarheels fan and, as part of the shtick, I am a proforma Duke hater (I admit I root for Duke if Carolina is eliminated from March Madness).

The two top performing players on Carolina — a team that did not make the March tournament last year — were both portal transferees. You can now rebuild a team using the portal. Exhibit No 1 — the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Worth noting that the highest scorer on the Heels prior year team is now playing for the Arizona Wildcats and knocking it dead out there. The portal giveth, but the portal taketh.

If a team has a 5-star second string quarterback or a 5-star McDonald’s All American power forward and they do not see meaningful playing time that first year — transfer portal here we come.

I am not opposed to this, but it — taken with the ability to package NIL revenue — will continue to have a gigantic impact. Maybe Arch Manning transfers to Georgia?

Bottom line it, Big Red Car

The NCAA plantation society days are over, but we have entered an unplumbed and wild age in college sports and the end will not be pretty.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car.

Have a great week. Root for the Heels in the ACC basketball tournament this week.