SBD/May 20, 2011/Colleges

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  • Conference Commissioners Weigh In On Paying Student-Athletes In Addition To Scholarships

    Banowsky feels the issue of paying student-athletes needs to be explored

    Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky said "something has to give” on the issue of paying student-athletes more than the scholarship money currently awarded, according to Joe Schad of ESPN.com. Banowsky said, "Unless the student-athletes in the revenue-producing sports get more of the pie, the model will eventually break down. It seems it is only a matter of time." SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said, "I have long thought that we should revisit the current limitations on athletic scholarships by expanding to the full cost of attendance." Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe, ACC Commissioner John Swofford and Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott said that “the concept should be further explored.” MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said that “the issue merits study.” But he added, "The first question to answer is -- is this the right thing to do? That is a worthwhile debate. As an association the NCAA strives to differentiate intercollegiate athletics from professional sports and it is important that we continue to maintain the collegiate model." A spokesperson for NCAA President Mark Emmert on Thursday said Emmert "continues to be interested in discussing options about how to meet student-athletes' needs without paying them salaries." Emmert has said that “closing the gap between monetary awards to merit scholars and student-athletes is worth exploring.” Schad noted “on the table could be $2,000 to $5,000 per year per athlete for expenses such as transportation and clothing” (ESPN.com, 5/19).

    BAD IDEA? In Jacksonville, Michael DiRocco wrote of paying athletes a stipend to cover living expenses, “On the surface, it seems like a good idea. … But it’s a bad idea. It’s something that can’t be implemented unilaterally across the NCAA.” Ohio State “might be able to afford the cost,” but some schools “wouldn’t even come close to having those kinds of funds.” Even if the funds “come from the conference’s TV deals and are distributed equally among every school, there’s a huge difference in the SEC’s TV contract and, for example, the Sun Belt’s TV deal” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 5/19). In Detroit, Drew Sharp writes, “It's a terrible idea. It's not merely a slippery slope. It's a sheet of ice down the mountain. Throwing more money at a cultural or political problem rarely offers a cure. It simply provides more room for corruption” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/20).

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  • NCAA Looking At Allowing Players More Access To Representation

    The NCAA is looking at allowing student athletes more access to representation in order to make better decisions about their professional sports careers, NCAA Dir of Agent, Gambling & Amateurism Activities Rachel Newman Baker said Thursday at the Sports Lawyers Association's annual conference in DC. "We want individuals to be able to make good decisions," Baker said in regards to student athletes having representation in their future careers as professional athletes. Baker said the decision of having more debate on the issue was not related to the fact that an Ohio state judge found an NCAA rule which allows student athletes to have lawyers, but does not allow those lawyers to interact directly with professional sports teams to be "arbitrary and capricious" and in violation of public policy of every state in the nation. The judge made that ruling in the case of Tigers P Andy Oliver, who was suspended as playing as a college student at Oklahoma State Univ. after it was learned his advisors had direct interaction with the MLB club that drafted him out of high school, a common industry practice. The NCAA settled that case in ‘09 by paying Oliver a settlement of $750,000. Baker said after speaking before the SLA that some members of the NCAA are interested in re-examining the ability of student athletes to interact with lawyers and agents. "We are looking at where we want to draw the line," Baker said. "There seems to be a limited faction, it's not a huge public outcry, but there have been some individuals or institutions that have indicated an interest in a much more national debate on that particular topic -- where the line should be related to agents.”

    OTHER ISSUES: NCAA regulations as related to agents, as well as the BCS system, dominated the first day of the conference. In addition to the panel on agent interference, the conference hosted a town hall debate on the issue of whether the NCAA's BCS system violates antitrust laws. Allen Fishel, an attorney who represents the Mountain West Conference and Boise State Univ., argued that the system does violate U.S. antitrust laws. But attorney Robert Wierenga, who represents the NCAA, said the BCS system is not a violation of antitrust law because antitrust laws were adopted to protect economic competition and have rejected antitrust challenges to rules adopted by leagues and other sports entities.

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