John Calipari In New Book Says NCAA Could Crumble Unless It Embraces Reform
Univ. of Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari "likens the NCAA to a dying superpower and believes the college-sports governing body faces extinction unless it embraces reform," according to Ben Cohen of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Calipari, in his upcoming book, "Players First: Coaching From the Inside Out," writes, "The situation reminds me a little of the Soviet Union in its last years. It was still powerful. It could still hurt you. But you could see it crumbling, and it was just a matter of time before it either changed or ceased to exist." In the book to be published April 15, Calipari "outlines a 13-point plan for improving the experience of big-time college athletes." Calipari "accuses the NCAA of selectively enforcing its own rules and hints at a future when college sports are governed by 'super-conferences' instead of the NCAA." Calipari writes, "The NCAA will soon have to reform itself or it will not remain the dominant force in college athletics." Among Calipari's suggestions for "enhancing the life of college athletes is one that other high-profile coaches have recommended: a $3,000 to $5,000 stipend for players to cover the full cost of attending a university." Calipari also "lobbies for the NCAA to cover eligible players' insurance premiums and allow college athletes to accept loans against future earnings up to $50,000." Such a benefit "currently violates the NCAA's amateurism rules." Many of Calipari's recommendations "reflect the growing movement to expand athlete rights" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/9).
UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: SI.com's Pete Thamel wrote under the header, "The NCAA's Real Problem? Lack Of Leadership, Starting With Mark Emmert." The NCAA used its "signature media opportunity" in Emmert's State of the NCAA address on Sunday to "rationalize the organization's incompetence as the collective effort of a large organization, rather than just ineptitude from the home office in Indianapolis." The main NCAA talking point "revolved around it being a member-driven organization with 460,000 student-athletes and 1,100 schools, which is why there's little tangible change." Emmert pointed directly at Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlby to "answer a question about the NCAA's eroding power and myriad issues," which may have been his "most decisive action of the day." Thamel: "The whole misdirection charade underscored why the organization can't get anything done in the first place." There were "varying voices not in concert, and perhaps the most telling part was that Bowlsby stuck around to answer every tough question while Emmert's phalanx of handlers ushered him away." If Emmert is "ever going to gain back any measure of public acceptance after his early public missteps and the NCAA's enforcement nightmares, he should start by standing in and taking tough questions" (SI.com, 4/7). In Chicago, David Haugh notes Emmert called the idea of college athletes unionizing "grossly inappropriate." Haugh: "He's the top executive in intercollegiate athletics, not a talk-show host. Be professional, not polarizing. Showing an understanding of the opposing position only can strengthen his" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/9). Also in Chicago, Steve Rosenbloom wrote under the header, "NCAA's Choice: Pave A New Road Or Become Roadkill" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 4/8).
TAKING A STAND: NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith in a special for the HUFFINGTON POST writes the NCAA "has not allowed athletes to have a seat at the table to discuss serious issues and therefore has done little to address full medical coverage for injuries sustained, limitations on practice time, scholarship shortfalls and rules to make promised education a reality." These are the "real issues for Northwestern's 'student athletes,' not the classic bait-and-switch argument that recent columns by university presidents and NCAA officials made regarding whether or not college athletes should get paid." Smith: "The response of the NCAA, the university president and people who don't want to hear [former NU QB Kain Colter] and his teammates is essentially, 'Shut up and play.'" The NCAA "sells and wants college athletes to be a team everywhere except in a room where they can talk about the issues they care about." But the "truth is that they do not want a team that demands a response from a system that makes millions from their play." Smith: "Our collective bargaining agreement today includes better pensions and benefits, safer practices, and injury protections because [players] fought for and won the ability to bargain and fight as one team." It "must start with the unselfish commitment and sacrifice of the few for the many whom they will never know or meet." Current and future college athletes -- "and especially their parents -- should stand behind, support, and be proud" (HUFFINGTON POST, 4/9).