Posted: 2:14 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013
At this point, given not just the scandals which have hammered UNC but the tepid reactions to said scandals, one could be forgiven for being entirely cynical about a report – any report – suggesting reforms.
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Sure enough, though, an “outside panel” has come up with some ideas, among them:
Blah, blah, blah. As long as reforms ignore market forces (and pressures), nothing is going to change. We tried this during Prohibition and got Al Capone. We’ve tried to outlaw plants like marijuana and coca for decades and gotten absolutely nothing done other than making some criminal entrepreneurs very wealthy, jacked up prices for desperate addicts, who have no other way to feed their habits than to steal.
These proposals are meaningless. The better proposal is this: toss out the rulebook, start over, with the idea that the replacement must be in layman’s language, that every rule has to be re-approved every seven to ten years, and that the overall length of the book can’t be more than say 50 pages.
Secondly, it’s irrational to expect that people will ignore great wealth when it flows like a river around them, not least of all when so many of the rising players come from impoverished backgrounds.
The NCAA, or someone else, needs to sit down and take a cold hard look at economic realities. Part of this should still be delayed gratification: i.e., getting a free college education is worth a lot. You can price it at the cost of an education (for argument’s sake, taking out the high and low ends, let’s say $75,000). You could legitimately start to factor in projected lifetime earnings.
But it’s harder and harder to ignore big money. Why not take those points and these as starting points: you’re a fool if you pass up a free education, and effort should be rewarded. So base stipends on academic accomplishments. A 2.0 gets some, a 3.0 gets more and 4.0 means you’re enjoying life. Each year the stipend gets larger. You could even have a graduation annuity. That way academics can at least be acknowledged, if only in a crass way.
At the same time, the NCAA could use things like jersey sales, video game rights and, yes, autograph sessions to help build a pool of money. The more prominent college athletes could get a direct percentage individually (there, Johnny Football) and the rest could go to the pool.
The NCAA, the conferences and the member schools could kick in matching amounts (or more likely larger). Surely there will always be ways to game the system, but it would be better than what we have now.