NBA AM: Schools Can’t Pay Players
Schools Can’t Pay Players: Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy was asked recently to comment on the state of college athletics and typical to Van Gundy he did not shy away from the issue or his answer to it.
“The system is set up for everybody but the kids while pretending to be about the kids,” Van Gundy said. “Athletics and education should be separate. Colleges shouldn’t be farm systems. It doesn’t make any logical sense. But the schools don’t want to be blatantly in the situation of being professional sports even though they already are professional sports. They just want to disguise it, so they hide behind education. But, really, all you want is enough of your athletes to graduate so it looks like that’s what you care about. Anyone around sports knows it is all a bunch of bull [expletive].
“I am not calling college coaches or administrators hypocrites. I believe that, in general, they care about the kids and education. But the system is wrong. Being a farm system creates problems that are beyond the control of even the best and most well-meaning administrators of which [UM’s] Donna Shalala would be at the top of my list.”
“Let the schools decide whom they enroll and how — no entrance or eligibility requirements, how much the boosters want to pay them and whether or not they go to class,” he says. “There are two rules. You play only four seasons, and the upper age limit is 25. No other rules. Players who are paid must declare their income and pay taxes on it. If they don’t and get caught, then they have to deal with the IRS and instead of giving back the Heisman they risk going to jail. This drops the myth about amateurism and education. It allows players to get paid but puts it out in the open. Now people can stop hiding behind their idealism about the purity of college athletics and let you know what the school and alumni truly value. NCAA enforcement is the drug war. We’ve lost. Let’s find a different, more realistic approach.”
While Van Gundy’s concept is probably as accurate an assessment of college sports as you’ll see from someone of influence, the problem is that despite the billions college athletics rake in the largest majority of that money is spent. Schools have allocated those profits to fund other aspects of the school or to hire high priced administrators or build new facilities.
Also keep in mind that while universities and college programs do clean up financially, they have created a culture of expenses that’s not easy to unravel, especially not at the scale that it would take to start paying players.
Keep in mind the moment a school starts paying players, their income taxing status changes. Also as soon as they start paying one player there will be lawsuits and boycotts from every athletic group on campus and it becomes a huge complex mess that no one wants to engage.
It’s easy to say college athletes should be paid… that is the easy part.
The hard part is coming up with a method that isn’t more of a sham than the one in place now.
The broad stroke is always the easiest. Getting the small details of a system worked out is always the hardest part and unless Stan has that part, this is simply one more pie-in-the-sky concept.
Also consider there are costs associated with every student athlete that most people over look or want to minimize. Take UCLA for instance, a full ride scholarship for an out-of-state athlete which includes cost of tuition, fees, room & board, books and supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses runs more than $42,000 a year. You won’t make that much money playing a full season in the D-league.
There is a reality in college sports. It is a business; and a big business at that.
However there is no shortage of athletes that want to use the grand stage of college sports to propel themselves onto the next level.
How many of you interned for a year while in college? You didn’t intern to earn money; you interned because it would give you the experience that might help you land a bigger job after college.
College athletes do just fine. Most of us wish we had the luxuries athletes had in college. Free tuition and books. Free meals and housing. Additional funds to live off-campus. College athletes do just fine.
Let’s be real for a minute, the idea of paying college players makes a lot of sense as a conversation piece. The problem is unless you want to tear down the entire system of college sports and rebuild it with player compensation in mind, it cannot happen and with the billions on the table, no one wants it to happen either.
It’s like the topic of a playoff system in college football. Too many people make too much money off the system in place in order for it to change.
Every expert in the world says getting the average consumer car on the road off of fossil fuel would change the landscape of the energy crisis.
There are too many industries that would have to be totally re-invented for it to happen, regardless of how smart the idea is.
Paying college athletes makes all the sense in the world. Billions are made from the work these kids put in. The problem is that the system is too big, too complex and too wealthy for the system to change and as long as kids will put on the uniform for free the system will never change, no matter how much sense the idea makes.
Calling Their Bluff: The NBA and its Players are set to meet on Wednesday in New York for a formal collective bargaining session. Wednesday’s session will mark two months and one day since the NBA and its Players failed to reach a deal in June shutting down the NBA and forcing the current lockout of players.
Regardless of where you stand on the subject of labor deals, there is a very scary concept coming from the Players side of things that could threatened to not only derail labor talks, but derail the odds of their being a NBA season all together.
There is a belief from the Players side that the owners are in some ways bluffing and the idea of cancelling the entire season is not going to happen, and that all the Players need to do is hold on, and they will get a better deal than the one on the table.
Take a second to let that sink in…
There is $4 billion in revenue on the table in one of the most volatile economic environments since The Great Depression and we’re hearing talk of bluffs?
League sources have pegged September 15th as the last possible date to reach a deal before Training Camps and Pre-season games are likely scrubbed.
Sources have also said that if even one Pre-season game is lost, the economic impact would be the same as if all the preseason games are lost. It would be a trigger a point in which league advertisers and sponsors could and would start pulling back and season ticketholders would likely start asking for refunds.
Does anyone believe a better deal happens after those two events occur?
Yeah, didn’t think so.
Here is hoping that the idea of “calling their bluff” is simply a negotiating ploy from the Players, because if there is real belief that this fight is winnable with that strategy who knows when we’ll see basketball again.
There is a compromise deal to be had. Egos need to be checked at the door and both sides need to stop posturing and start talking.
Let’s hope that is what occurs on Wednesday, because if it does not, start crossing off Pre-season dates.
The International Game: With more and more doubt being cast on the 2011-2012 NBA Season, more and more NBA players are looking at options overseas. Some players have already agreed to deals, and some are getting ready to report to international training camps in the coming weeks.
Last week ESPN’s Rick Reilly ran a story about the Turkish league, with specific focus on Besiktas ColaTurka.
Reilly likely focused in on Besiktas because of all of the international teams pursuing NBA players, Besiktas has actually landed a major one in New Jersey’s Deron Williams.
Williams recently told reporters that not only is he ready to play in Turkey, but that he’d read Reilly’s piece and felt that he had enough assurances from ownership and management with Besiktas that his interests would be well protected.
The problem with Reilly’s piece is that it focuses solely on Turkey as an unfavorable destination, when in fact the problems Reilly outlines in his piece are rampant issues in all of International basketball.
There are a few things worth saying about most international teams.
First is that they are not profit centers for the people and groups that own them. In many cases they are offshoots of very profitable soccer clubs. Much like D-League teams are to NBA teams.
Some teams like powerhouse clubs FC Barcelona and Real Madrid do well financially, but more times than not they are carried by their parent company’s soccer profits.
The other thing to note is that most international teams are losing money, and as a result things like paychecks can and are often late. It’s not at all uncommon for players to be owed sizable amounts of money at the end of the season.
It’s so common, it’s almost a non-story.
To explain the point, let’s focus on a Player HOOPSWORLD is close with. He needs to remain nameless because he is still playing in Europe and we don’t want his story to cause problems for him.
This player finished his season with the team that had signed him. His contract was complete however the team he played for still owed him roughly $15,000.
Another team heading into the playoffs had a point guard go down just prior to the playoffs and wanted to sign this player for the post-season.
Now again, this player completed his contract with his team and another job was offered in an entirely different league in an entirely different country; all this player needed was his letter of clearance from FIBA.
His old team held his letter of clearance hostage. They told him the only way he’d get the clearance to move on is if he waived the $15,000 owed him. His contract was complete. The old team’s season was finished and this player was never playing for the old team again, yet he had to give up the $15,000 owed him to keep playing.
Spend enough time around NBA players who have played aboard and you’ll hear story after story about owed debt, bad treatment and shady dealings from teams.
This is not a Turkey issue.
International teams tend to be extremely cutthroat and sometimes unscrupulous in protecting their interests.
Some clubs stop paying players when teams go on long losing streaks. It’s not uncommon for teams that fail to live up to expectations to have resources retracted and things like travel and accommodations downgraded.
It too is so common, it’s almost a non-story.
There are some teams that are run like first class businesses, but even the most storied teams in International basketball at one time or another have been linked to a non-payment story or a story like Darius Rice.
So while some players will make a nice living or a decent amount of pocket change playing abroad, the international game doesn’t come anywhere close to the NBA game and it’s going to take pampered NBA players about a week in Europe to realize they are not in Kansas anymore.
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