NCAA Recruiting Scandal: The Big Business Of College Sports

Sipan MathevosianContributor IIOctober 14, 2010

If you haven't realized by now, because you are either living under a rock or dead, the NCAA is all business....Big Business. 

Sports Illustrated recently released a first hand account of former sports agent, Josh Luchs, and his scandalous career in the recruiting business, further evidencing the true ongoings of the business.  And, Luchs notes, whether or not you believe everything he says, or if you believe half of it, or just a little bit of it, it still means you have to believe that there is "an elephant in the room."  College sports is all business, but it's a purgatory of sorts for the top athletes in the nation. 

You're not saying anything new...What are you even trying to say?

I'm still not sure. I'm making this up as I go along.  What I do know, however, is that the NCAA has a problem on its hands, but you know what....they are just as responsible!

The NCAA is using these kids for the benefit of their schools, their programs, the BCS, and you're telling me I can't make some money for playing ball.  Why?

Athletic scholarships are a joke, especially when the majority of top recruits don't ever even receive their diplomas.  And I don't blame them.  Who can blame a kid for wanting to play professional sports?  College recruits that are coveted throughout the nation are solicited by agents to play at this school and that school, with the promise of here and you'll get a better education?  Sorry, but that one doesn't work too often.  You're telling me a kid can't take a suit, or tickets, or money...Why?  Because he's not a professional athlete?  Because he is a student athlete?  Listen, I am all for education.  Anyone who knows me knows that I love to learn and that I love knowledge (No, this is not satire).  I think the whole world should be more educated.  But who is anyone to say that a kid should be a student first, and not an athlete when a large percent of the top college athletes in the nation don't ever receive a degree.

You know what they say when a kid leaves school to enter the NFL or NBA draft?  They say he's opting to forgo his sophomore/junior/senior year to enter the draft, or some other bullish jargon like that.

You know what it really should be called if the term "student athlete" is a serious one?

Dropping enter the draft. 

Because when you don't finish school, it means you dropped out! If you come back to finish your degree, like many athletes have, then more power to you.  I implore every athlete to do the same.  But the truth is that when you decide to leave school and "opt to forgo" your remaining are dropping out of school. 

But this term is never used, because the person is leaving for a much, much more profitable and relished profession.  If I opted to forgo my junior and senior years of college to sell mojitos on Venice beach, you would say I dropped out of school to be a bartender, and your tone of voice wouldn't be very flattering (No disrespect to any bartenders....I love you all and the product you provide). 

Now I'm not trying to undermine the values of any of these athletes.  I'm not saying they don't want to be in a classroom, that they don't want to learn, or that they don't want a degree.  The NY times reported that half of NFL players and about a quarter of NBA players have undergraduate degrees,  which is a fairly decent amount. 

My point is that they aren't recruited to get an education.  They come to play ball, and usually they leave when their stock is at its peak, in order to get the best possible contract.  There isn't anything wrong with this, but the schools are responsible for establishing a bridge between high school and professional athletics but leaves college recruits very susceptible to receiving money and gifts.  It's part of the program and if you think it's not, then you are delusional.

If you think Pete Carroll didn't benefit from having Reggie Bush take money or gifts while playing at USC, you are delusional.  If you think Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and every other major athletic department coach in the country doesn't benefit from agents greasing players, then you are not seeing the big picture. 

It's a cute little term called "plausible deniability."  They might not "know" about it, but they know about it!  Player X receiving money at School Y and helps them win a bowl game making the coaches and the schools money.  The only one who isn't supposed to be compensated is the student.

So what is the solution?

My solution...or at least I like to think it's mine because nobody I personally know has ever said it before and I haven't really heard it before, although I'm  almost positive someone else has thought of it before....but still, this is my article and we'll call it my solution...

Either let the students make money or you have to change the entire structure of college sports. .

I think you have to get rid of the college programs the way they are organized.  If a student goes to play ball on an athletic scholarship, they should be obligated to commit for three to four years...the average time it takes to get a degree.  If they agree, then the NFL should make them ineligible for the draft during those years.

But...there should also be minor leagues, just like in baseball, for basketball and football that pay these top recruits, legally, to come and play, and the athletes can be recruited out of that bucket of talent.  No schools, no BCS, no BS college rankings, no more under the table stuff.

You either go to college under the aforementioned stipulations, or you enter the minor leagues.  NBA or NFL teams can then draft you the same way they do, but from both the minor league and college.  How they can set that up, I can't tell you.  I just know that the college system doesn't work. 

I think if you aren't going to pay the players in college, then there should be some other system that pays them (and don't tell me they can go to Europe or the CFL).  They live in America, and if they want to be paid to play, they shouldn't have to leave the country.

Maybe things are fine being swept under the rug.  Maybe a minor league system is absolutely ridiculous.  Maybe college athletes should just receive compensation and everything else should stay the same.  Maybe a minor league system will ruin college sports....but then again, I was never really too into college sports, because of the underlying agenda.  Maybe I just don't like the idea of people making money off of these young athletes, then putting a "student athlete" label on them and saying that compensation of any kind for them is forbidden.  I think it's hypocritical. 

What I do know is that there is a problem with the way the NCAA runs things.  It's not just the agents, but it's the schools as well.  Something needs to change, because the way things are going, with enough investigation, every major college program is going to be hit with a playoff/bowl ban for the next millennium.  And since things don't seem to be changing...

I think I'll just stick to watching football on Sundays.