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Some Interesting Suggestions On NCAA/College Sports Reform

This has to start somewhere.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 16: U.S. President Barack Obama shares a laugh with former White House aide Reggie Love as they watch the US Senior Men's National Team and Brazil play during a pre-Olympic exhibition basketball game at the Verizon Center on Jul
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 16: U.S. President Barack Obama shares a laugh with former White House aide Reggie Love as they watch the US Senior Men's National Team and Brazil play during a pre-Olympic exhibition basketball game at the Verizon Center on Jul

The Chicago Maroon is an independent student paper at the University of Chicago, and Sam Zacher suggests that between proposals by Arne Duncan and Reggie Love, that there is a way to repair college sports.

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Duncan suggests that incentives for coaches need to be brought under control, but that seems unlikely given the fierce competition for wins and the subsequent revenue. The NCAA's experiment with restricted earnings coaches is not a good precedent.

Love has some better ideas. He argues that educational incentives, including free graduate school and the ability to return to school anytime would be good starting points.

Zacher adds to Love's argument:

"That’s why I believe the NCAA should allow institutions to set aside money for players to collect upon graduation. This amount would be standardized across divisions (to avoid increased recruiting advantages within divisions and subdivisions) based on total revenue brought in by that sport. It could only be collected upon graduation, so student-athletes who leave college early for the exorbitant cash-out in the pros wouldn’t receive said funds.

"Additionally, players’ families in need could apply to the school to receive any portion of this amount while the student-athlete is in college, so that players wouldn’t feel forced to go to the pros early because of a disadvantaged family financial situation.

"Moreover, Love’s idea has lots of merit: A second scholarship at that same school would also be available for any student-athlete, which could be a graduate school scholarship for that same student-athlete or a college scholarship for a family member.

"This potential solution financially incentivizes players to graduate and complete a college education, and allows them to not worry about their families while they compete in collegiate athletics. An even bigger incentive is the opportunity for a student-athlete to pursue a career outside sports, or for a relative to attain a college education, which would certainly make many players of football, basketball, and baseball (sports with the most athletes leaving early) seriously consider staying in college for a couple extra years. But remember, this would all only be available if the student-athlete graduates college."

There is one major complication with all of this that keeps getting overlooked, and that's Title IX.

As long as athletes are students, there is no escaping Title IX requirements, and we're pretty sure that any such benefits would have to be extended to all scholarship athletes. The fact that only two sports really produce any revenue is irrelevant.

For the major conferences, this is probably doable. Keep in mind though that there are 1,000 schools in the NCAA and 420,000 student athletes in total.

We couldn't find a breakdown on how many athletes are in D-1, but assume for argument's sake that it's 1/3, or 140,000.

It'd take a lot of work to figure out how much it would cost to set up what Love's proposing. You can imagine the differences between, say, what the costs are at Duke and at ECU, and in the case of public schools, the legislatures will necessarily be involved.

In short, it's going to be incredibly complex.

Still, these are good starting points. We'd like to add another which would also help to re-emphasize education: tie stipends to academic performance.

In other words, reward outstanding academic work.

That will lead to other complications, including concerns about fairness and the likelihood that Kentucky will suddenly start sporting higher team GPAs than Stanford.

There is another massive unknown in the works, and it's going to change everything.

As big as the NCAA and the Final Four have been, with football moving to a four-team tournament, it's likely to dwarf basketball - and likely to fuel fresh outrage over just where all that money goes.

Digital rights alone, we understand, are going to be huge.

Actually, there is one more wild card, and that's new NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

Well aware of the deterioration of the NBA game, Silver has suggested that the league may be willing to contribute towards player stipends and insurance in order to help raise the age and experience level of NBA rookies.

According to ESPN, Silver said that "[j]t does, in my mind, need to be a three-way conversation. You heard college administrators at press conferences around the [NCAA] tournament say that it's the NBA's problem or the union is putting up resistance. It's a more complex problem than that."

Silver, by the way, is a Duke grad and also got his law degree from the University of Chicago.