Education and Athletics
THE ASC AND THE “PAYING PLAYERS” ISSUE. HERE IS WHERE WE STAND.
DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES: EDUCATION AND ATHLETICS
The American Sports Council believes that true value of college athletics is not found in crowd filled stadiums or on prime time television broadcasts. We place the highest value on the educational experience that participation in sports offers to students. Most college athletes are not superstars or media darlings, but when you match athletics with a strict academic curriculum, it is not just the champion athletes that walk away as winners.
Over the past hundred years, collegiate athletics has evolved from a random collection of student run teams into today’s highly structured enterprise that generates billions of dollars. Now the very structure that was built up over the past hundred years, which supports thousands of athletes, is threatened.
Most of the money to support NCAA Division I college athletics comes from the proving grounds for future professional athletes—football and men’s basketball. Many non-revenue teams rely on the revenues from their football and men’s basketball programs for funding.
However, that economic model is about to change. The recent court decision in the O’Bannon v. NCAA case determined that the NCAA is in violation of anti-trust laws and they can no longer claim that big-revenue sports like football and men’s basketball to be amateur endeavors in order to avoid sharing revenues with players.
The ultimate goal of the American Sports Council is to see the preservation of as many sports participation opportunities as possible. We fully accept that the practical challenges that lie ahead are very daunting. We want to promote a productive discussion of ideas that can lead to real world solutions.
We offer the following initial assumptions to start the discussion:
- Keeping the status quo is unrealistic.
- Paying ‘stipends’ to players will not make the litigation problem go away, because football and basketball players will continue to sue schools for a bigger share of the revenues that they help to create, and less money will be available for non revenue sports.
- Paying athletes will lead to a bidding war for recruits, which will incentivize schools to sponsor fewer and fewer programs in order to target their limited resources towards fewer athletes.
- Paying athletes will undermine competitive parity in non revenue sports between the schools with large football revenues and schools with very limited resources who can’t afford to pay players in addition to their scholarships.
We offer the following proposals to be refined through discussion:
- Non-revenue sports could consider transitioning to need based scholarships like the Ivy League model.
- Consider changing to separate administrative organizations; one for the semi-pro paid athletes; and another for non-revenue sports.
- Alumni need to step up and take ownership of their programs, acting as stewards of their traditions.
- It would be best if the commissioners of the Power 5 conferences could delay their plans to approve paying athletes in order to give more time to study all options.
Educationandathletics.org is an issue site sponsored by the American Sports Council.