NCAA displays academic disconnect, lacks leadership; SEC, other major conferences should form new regulator

A slate of proposals to be considered by the NCAA illustrates the insanity of the amateur organization. The NCAA will consider proposals to reduce football scholarships and create multiyear athletic scholarships. These plans represent a body blow against major college football and should be resisted. If the proposals pass, the major football conferences should leave the NCAA to form an organization that understands how best to protect the sport, its players and the academic mission of the university.

According to a report from the Chronicle of Higher Education, The NCAA will “consider sweeping changes in athletic aid and eligibility rules.” Some are obviously good. However, where the insanity is on display comes in the area of multiyear athletic scholarships.

According to the report, “Some coaches don’t renew players’ scholarships because they’re not performing as well athletically as the coaches had hoped, Mr. Spanier said, a practice that can reflect poorly on universities.”

This makes sense because universities never kick out poorly performing students.

Oh, wait. They do. Sure, it might not happen as often as the old days when universities required real work, but it happens.

“If our real goal is to help students get degrees, we have to stand behind that” with multiyear aid, Spanier told the Chronicle of Higher Education. “Once you make a commitment to an athlete, you should stick with that athlete if he or she is doing the best they can.”

Again, are students on academic scholarships automatically renewed just because they are “doing the best they can?”

Of course not.

Trying does not equal success. Our institutions of higher learning should not reward incompetence in the classroom or on the athletic field. Shouldn’t college prepare students for the real world? And aren’t athletes students? How is protecting them from responsibility going to prepare them for the roughness of reality?

There is already an appeals process to protect athletes. Why should athletes be rewarded with the scholarship equivalent of tenure when regular students must hustle to keep their scholarships?

But, the lunacy doesn’t end there. The Chronicle reported that the NCAA wants to increase scholarships to cover more expenses and be nearer “the full cost of attendance.”

Of course, the same package of proposals seeks ways to reduce spending. Care to guess how? One of the many proposals includes reducing scholarships.

The Chronicle reports, “Among the finance group’s other ideas, which have yet to be finalized, are to reduce the number of football scholarships for Football Bowl Championship teams from 85 to 80…” And, “The finance group has also agreed in concept to a reduction in noncoaching positions—rapidly growing jobs that some critics see as less than essential. But people like Nick Saban, the Alabama coach who earns $4-plus-million a year, escaped the committee’s mention.”

These proposals are everywhere. The proposals seek to increase funding to athletes and then to cut costs by reducing scholarships. There is no leadership. This makes Tim Brando’s case about the need for a commissioner of college football—someone who could look out for the best interest of the game.

This is an assault on the fundamental operation of major college football. Leading the assault are irrelevant programs jealous of successful Southeastern Conference (SEC) teams. Attempts to cut spending on football operations will result in lower quality teams; this is an attempt to punish schools that invest in their football teams (like Alabama, Auburn, LSU and others) and reward schools trying to run programs on the cheap. Yes, everyone is thinking of UAB and its five fans.

The SEC should lead the way out of the NCAA. The compliance model is broken. NCAA president Mark Emmert appears clueless as scandal after scandal tarnishes the integrity of college football. Now in response to the offseason of discontent, the NCAA considers a package of proposals that will harm the product presented on the field.

The NCAA doesn’t know how to run major college football. It is time for a change.