Sorry, that's the shortest title I could come up with to describe what's on the verge of going down in college football.
I'm not going to cover this lawsuit from its birth to this article,but here's a quick paraphrasing, and I condensed like a sonofabitch.
- In 2009, Ed O'Bannon files a class action lawsuit against the NCAA on behalf of former college men's basketball players suing over the use of their images and likenesses in video content and memorabilia.
- In 2010, a U.S. District Court denies the NCAA's motion to dismiss and combines the case with Sam Keller's similar class action suit.
- In January of this year, the District Court denies the NCAA's attempt to prevent the case from being a class action.
- As part of a declaration filed in support of the NCAA's motion, Jim Delany addresses the potential issue of pay-for-play and makes the emptiest threat since that day on the beach when Daniel-san assumed a martial arts stance and invited Johnny to "C'mon, man!!" And we all know how that ended.
"...it has been my longstanding belief that The Big Ten's schools would forgo the revenues in those circumstances and instead take steps to downsize the scope, breadth and activity of their athletic programs," Delany wrote. "Several alternatives to a 'pay for play' model exist, such as the Division III model, which does not offer any athletics-based grants-in-aid, and, among others, a need-based financial model. These alternatives would, in my view, be more consistent with The Big Ten's philosophy that the educational and lifetime economic benefits associated with a university education are the appropriate quid pro quo for its student athletes."
A couple of quick points about Delany -
1) I completely understand where he's coming from by trying to take the extreme position that the Big 10 will take its ball and go home if it has to share the pie. The NCAA must win this case outright or get it dismissed. If they so much as agree to settle, then the gates have been opened to pay players and there is no going back. Compromise will be at a minimum.
2) Although I'm poking some fun at him about this statement, I do love the guy even if he does remind me a little of Warden Norton from Shawshank. From meetings with Osborne/Pearlman at the secret cabin to basically saying the reason that the Big 10 Network was started was so that ESPN could go fuck themselves to making sure that the Boise's and TCU's of the world get sonned anytime they start getting a little too greedy, I have to admit that he has style.
However, the boldness of that threat is only exceeded by the unlikeness that anything remotely resembling a Division III B1G happens. Unless you can package Purdue, Indiana, Northwestern and post-Sandusky Penn St. and still call that the Big 10 with a straight face. And maybe not even the last two.
Anyway, there are multiple reasons why the noble Division III scenario will never come to pass. This isn't an all-inclusive list by any means and I freely admit to stealing more than one of these from other folks.
- Guys that pull down close to $2 million per annum, generally don't support recommendations that would reduce their salary a whole bunch of a lot. Is commissioner of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference even a full-time job?
- Big Jim has a track record of makin' big talk without walkin' the walk.
- Lots of schools have new stadiums, additions, arenas, etc. that need to be paid for. Nebraska's still making stadium changes and additions and has a big, new shiny basketball arena. Think they're ready to shut off their major sports revenue stream?
- Okay, it's Nebraska. I'm guessing an announcement that the state's main identity is about to go SMALL time might be met with some...resistance.
- Don't believe me? Take a peek at State College, PA. A shocking percentage of the Nittany fan base considers a lowering of scholarships to I-AA levels to be too stern a punishment for a multi-year institutional cover-up of child sex crimes. Don't expect voluntary leaps to DIII to be forthcoming.
- How many sports just go away at many schools if the football tap is turned off?
- Okay, this is like shooting fish in a barrel or beating Gary Pinkel at Scrabble. Damn you, Delany. Time to wrap up.
- Fan anger
- Money, money, money - mo - ney.
- $$$$$ - people just don't walk away from it.
If anyone envisions a scenario where a drop to a Division III-like situation could come to pass, please feel free to dive in the comments with it, though. Extra credit for humor and originality.
But let's consider what actually does happen as a result of the O'Bannon case.
If the NCAA wins? That's easy. Business as usual continues to be the order of the day. The member institutions will continue to claw and slobber for as much TV and cash as they can lay hands on while making sure assistant coaches don't buy a player a burger.
If the players win or the NCAA settles?
Well, that's where the fun truly begins, isn't it? Pandora's box may have to be named after O'Bannon if the courts pop the locks on paying college players. Would only revenue-making athletes be paid? Would Title 9.1 force the cabbage to be spread evenly between the football team and women's crew? Is everything deferred till they leave school? Would Kenny Bell be paid the same as Ron Kellogg III? Could he hold out for more if he was? Doesn't his hair alone make him more marketable?
I'm being silly now, of course, but changes could range anywhere from some deferred compensation for likeness rights to Scott Boras taking on college clients in revenue-generating sports.
What I want to do is throw in a shortened version of a plan put forth by Rick Telander in his book, The Hundred Yard Lie. Originally published in 1989. The plan outlined below, while not perfect, is still the best suggestion I've read for how to keep big-time college football around, pay the players what they deserve for basically having a full-time job and provide an option for true "college" football players.
After that, I want to open the floor. If O'Bannon and the players win, what do the CN faithful see as the future of college football when they look into their crystal balls?
AGPFL - The Telander Alternative
- Determine which universities want to stay on as "big-time" programs and make them the AGPFL - Age Group Professional Football League. They would sponsor the teams with their stadiums, facilities, equipment, etc. being used along with team names, colors, mascots, etc. They would not be allowed to move.
- Demand that the NFL help subsidize it. They would then draft from the AGPFL but couldn't use it for player call-ups or anything similar.
- Players would be aged 18-22 and high school grads. They are not required to attend the school.
- Set up a pay scale with players receiving contracts, bonuses, etc. like any pro league. They would also receive 1 year of free education for each year they play for the team, redeemable at any time.
- Schools not wishing to do this could maintain college football teams. No scholarships, freshmen are ineligible, no redshirting. Players may play for 3 total seasons. Limited coaching staffs and all coaches must have other teaching duties and be eligible for tenure. They may not receive additional compensation for coaching such as radio or endorsement deals.
- Practices limited to 5 days, 90 minutes each max.
That sums it up a bit quick (CLICK HERE to see the detailed proposed rules - you do have to scroll down a little), but you get the idea.
So here's your chance to spill. There's been a clamoring to pay players for years - if it comes to pass, how do you see this happening?
(This is not the "To pay or not to pay" argument thread. Let's assume we can pay and talk about how.)
(Follow me on Twitter @andykett20)