BY EVAN WEINER
THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
One of the more laughable quotes that has come out of the sorry situation at Penn State University in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky crisis was uttered by National Collegiate Athletic Association President Mark Emmert while he was announcing sanctions against the school.
"Football will never again be placed ahead of educating," said the guy running the cartel known as the NC double A or the NJC2A. While Emmert was uttering his remarks, other big time college football programs were laying low until they got clearance to raid the Penn State football team. Emmert and his cohorts at the NCAA, an August group of college presidents, chancellors and provosts who seem far more interested in money-making adventures than education at their respective schools, then gave them the green light to pick apart the Penn State football carcass.
Penn State's players could leave the school immediately without having to sit out a season and lose a year of football playing eligibility.
The vultures flew over the campus and took away players. You see, for big time college football schools, it is not about education, it is all about putting yourself in the position to win games and get to tax-exempt bowl games and collect big dollars to support what are money-losing sports programs.
There was a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the University of Georgia was seriously reviewing the merits of 19 Penn State players that might fit into that school's football program. Eight players have bolted for other programs including star running back Silas Redd. Penn State's Big 10 conference business partners have decided the best way to help out is to waive Big 10 rules and let Penn State players join conference schools.
That is rather nice of the college presidents, provosts and chancellors who adhere to rules that limit the amount of money "student-athletes" can make from non-sports jobs and still cling to the notion of "student-athlete" which really is a term that is designed to keep athletes enrolled in a school from collecting workman's compensation.
It was one-time NCAA President Walter Byers who came up with the term and a Colorado court give Byers and the NCAA legitimacy in the 1950s by ruling that Fort Lewis A&M was not in the football business. The case involved a Fort Lewis player, Ray Dennison who died from injuries suffered in a Fort Lewis game. Dennison's widow sued for workman's compensation. She lost, the NCAA and member schools have been big winners for a half of a century.
Again the college poker club, the presidents, chancellors, provosts and trustees, has more important things to worry about than an athlete on a scholarship. They have to maximize that athlete's value whether it is through TV contracts, ticket pricing, sponsorship and marketing partners or boosters.
Just in case you thought college football and college sports programs were built by industrious college innovators, brace yourself for a puncturing of a political talking point. College sports was built by someone else—the government.
The NCAA has roots in a 1905 Oval Office meeting between President Theodore Roosevelt and the presidents of Harvard, Yale and Princeton. College football was a brutal sport and 18 players died from injuries suffered on the field that year. There were calls to ban the game. A compromise was struck; the American Football Rules Committee was formed with the sole task of cleaning up the game.