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The Death Of Big-Time Amateur College Athletics

23 - Published June 14, 2011 by in College, Pro Lacrosse
The Rose Bowl - Ducks vs. Buckeyes

These guys are basically Pro athletes, are they not?

Does the seemingly ever-emerging Ohio State football scandal really bother anyone else? Because it definitely bothers me.

The problems are almost too numerous to cover in one post, but as I see it, the major ones are pretty easy to establish.  First, “amateurs” are being paid to play sports.  If an athlete gets a scholarship (that isn’t need based), preferred class registration or preferred acceptance to a school, or program within a school, then they are being paid.  The definition of getting paid is “you do something for us, we give you something”.  Ok, that is DEFINITELY happening here.  No question about it.

Do I have a problem with the above?  Not really.  Until the NCAA tries to call all college athletes amateurs.  Because, quite simply, they are not.  Most of the college athletes out there get some sort of break or help from the school, and then a small percentage (including the OSU football team) receive far more than that, and are LITERALLY treated like Pros.

When you get free tutoring, live in special dorms, have entire facilities dedicated JUST to your sport, get booster love (and sometimes cash!) and have coaches tell you, “you’re here to play football”, but are expected to remain an amateur, then there is a problem.  When the apparel companies, video game companies and even the college and universities themselves are making money hand over fist, but the players “can’t see a dime of it”, then there is a problem.

Ohio State’s football program was clearly out of control.  But for big-time college football, that’s the norm.  Believe it!  Players shop at places like Saks Fifth Ave, drive nice cars and are being wined and dined at the nicest places in town.  They hang out at clubs, meet all the local sharks and act like professional players before they even step on campus.  Is there some blame to be placed on the players?  Absolutely.  But in the end, they are only doing what they can get away with, and it is the rules that need to be changed.

OSU and the NCAA were complicit in every single infraction at Ohio State.  OSU cares more about its football program than anything else, and every OSU alum should be embarassed by that.  You are THE Ohio State Univeristy, not Ohio State football factory.  If you want to be the latter, change your name and drop the pretense.  It’s time to get back to a correct priority set here.  Academics first.  If football is so big time, then there should be a ming league.  But to just take American college campuses and turn them into football star production labs is laughable, and probably goes a long way towards why American academic rankings have been slipping consistently when compared to the rest of the world.

College used to worry about educating future generations, now all they care about is how well their BCS team does and how far the bball team makes it into March Madness.  Frankly, it’s kind of disgusting.

And the NCAA really comes off the worst in all of this.  They were set up to keep things clean and fair, and to keep priorities straight.  But now it seems like the NCAA needs its own oversight body, because the job they do is of the lowest standard.  Corporations are allowed to profit massively from college sports, and the gambling that goes on with college sports is pretty much unchecked.  Yet these are amateur athletes who get crushed if they get caught taking even a dollar.  I’m not saying they should be taking dollars either, but you can see the hypocrisy, can’t you?

Now, I know a lot of our readers come from big state schools, or schools with amazing athletic histories, but is that enough for you?  Are you satisfied?  Personally, I’d be a little pissed off if the first thing people said about the school I went to was, “Oh, you guys had an awesome football season last year!”  Because the academics don’t matter.  The 99% of students don’t matter.  All that matters is winning games, producing the next big star and keeping the EA Sports and Nike money coming in.  To me, that’s just not a University… that’s the New York Yankees.

Disagree with me?  I’m sure you will!  But that’s what makes it fun.  College athletics.  Right or wrong?  Sound off!

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