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Schools Forcing NCAA To Rethink Stipend

You have to hand it to the lawyers who run the NCAA. Either they have a fabulous sense of humor, or they are so thoroughly detached from reality as to be dangerous.

You’ll recall that in this space last week, I detailed a plan by the NCAA to pay certain athletes (read big-time football and basketball players) an extra $2,000 on top of the free education, room, food and everything else that they already get with a college scholarship. It seems all that largess is not enough for the typical 20-year-old athlete, and that they somehow require more, even though all the academic scholars on campus seem to be making ends meet just fine.

Usually, the NCAA just jams these decisions down the throats of schools and conferences, but this time it didn’t happen. One- hundred-and-sixty schools said “Wait … this is probably illegal under Title IX regulations, and anyhow most of us cannot afford it.” The Indianapolis bureaucrats seem to forget from time to time that although some schools are awash with athletic money, most are lucky to break even in their athletic department.

So, the policy was sent back to NCAA headquarters, and the Division I board of directors voted 14-4 to rethink it. NCAA head honcho Mark Emmert somehow called this a victory, stating that his take was that the board wants to move forward. Never mind that at least 160 schools object to this idea.

As I wrote last week, only in NCAA land does this kind of twisted logic make sense.

If you are a college baseball coach and you are on the receiving end of a 14-4 defeat, you got waxed, plain and simple. If you are a college lacrosse coach and you won four games and lost 14, you had a miserable season. But in Indianapolis, they play by different rules.

The NCAA appears to believe that some athletes, mostly football and basketball players, need more to subsist. And so in a complete violation of what the term “amateur” means, the governing body is determined to give them more. This policy is a long way from dead; in fact, in some form or other, it is likely to be enacted in 2013.

The R&A and USGA recognize that some college golfers could also use a helping hand, and so in the 2011 rules update, they specifically allowed for student golfers to receive subsistence assistance if it came from a recognized golf association. But the NCAA won’t allow this to happen, even though the money is available and won’t cost the schools a nickel.

Hypocrisy, thy name is the NCAA.

The decision to ignore the new unified global rules of golf makes it pretty clear what this $2,000 stipend is all about. It is a bribe. It is an effort to keep so called student-athletes from selling jerseys and rings and other memorabilia and away from criminals and other unsavory people. The NCAA can dress this policy up any way they want and call it whatever they want, but they will only be fooling themselves. Everyone else will call it what it is – pay for play, clear and simple.

It is also a complete repudiation of what any thinking person would call amateurism.


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