The harsh truth about the NCAA

David MoonBlog

I love college football. I love the pageantry, tradition and passion surrounding the game.

But I do not love the game’s governing body. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is among the most morally corrupt organizations in the free world. Society willingly accepts the situation because of tradition, ignorance or outright self-interest.

The NCAA’s practically religious mantra is “amateur athletics.”

The supporters of the quaint, idyllic notion of “amateur athletics” are quick to defend the cost of a scholarship as fair compensation to college athletes.

Once a person accepts that it is morally permissible to exchange tuition, food and a little cash for the ability to rush the passer, he has already conceded the compensation argument, admitting that college football isn’t a hobby (which is what the NCAA calls it,) but a job, where the owners collude to price fix the salaries.

The NCAA is a behemoth, tax-exempt organization with more than 1,300 members, collecting nearly a billion dollars a year in revenue. It currently holds an endowment and other net assets worth more than $625 million.

The NCAA explains that change and reform is time-consuming for an entity this large and complex.

Yet when its public image is at risk, this supposed unwieldy, behemoth somehow manages swift action.

After winning the 2013 NCAA basketball national championship game, University of Connecticut star, Shabazz Napier, created a public firestorm by explaining that NCAA meal rules often caused him to go to bed hungry.

Within less than three weeks, the NCAA council approved new rules allowing student-athletes unlimited school-provided snacks and meals.

The NCAA has been aware of athletes’ problem with meals for decades, only taking action when it became a public relations problem.

Admittedly, college athletes do not make very sympathetic victims. They are literally larger-than-life heroes, stuffed into larger-than-life bodies.

But NCAA regulations tell athletes when they can and can’t have outside jobs. Boosters give coaches private aircraft to jet away on quick personal vacations, but players are prohibited from coming to my house for home-cooked Papa John’s pizza.

Players can’t sell their own signatures, but schools can put their likeness on all sorts of marketing materials.

The NCAA describes itself as a “membership-driven organization dedicated to safeguarding the well-being of student-athletes…” The problem, however, is that the athletes are not the members; the schools are.

For many players at some schools, the universities add no value to this ecosystem. The schools merely serve as pimps, arranging hundreds of four-hour trysts between ESPN and the players.

University officials generally disagree. Some are intentionally lying to protect the status quo and their own incomes. Most, however, have no idea they are playing a game of chess in which they think they are the king, when in reality they are just the game board.