Under the NCAA’s convoluted “booster” logic, if you get a meal, work at a Wal-Mart or play at a Boys Club the Walton Foundation funds, you cannot play for Arkansas. Ditto for Warren Buffett’s foundation and Nebraska, etc.
Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves with his Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln’s construct was one we all agree on: No one has the right to another person’s labor or talent. But the NCAA never got the memo.
The NCAA is so mad at UNC for decades of systematically creating fraudulent “classes” for its athletes that it has decided to punish The University of Memphis.
The recent debacle in which the NCAA cleared #1 basketball recruit James Wiseman to play for Memphis in May, and then waited until the season started to say, “Oh wait, maybe not,” tells you all you need to know about this laughable “organization.” It takes billions of dollars from college sports for itself, with no accountability.
Birthed in political patronage in 1910 when President Teddy Roosevelt’s son got banged up in a Harvard football game, the NCAA has evolved into a feckless semi-United Nations more akin to the corrupt soccer cabal FIFA. FIFA was so corrupt and knew how to get around the murky rules it created that, when the FBI busted into its board meeting to arrest a few of the members, they instinctively fell to the ground and faked injury.
Per famed Indiana coach Bobby Knight, the NCAA “could not find a polar bear stabbed in a snowstorm.” The NCAA didn’t find out — or care — about Jerry Sandusky at powerhouse Penn State after years of reported pedophilia. The NCAA steps on ants while elephants jump over the fence. At least station a lifeguard in the boys’ shower in Penn State’s locker room, NCAA! I once suggested in a column that, when they took the statue of Joe Paterno down, they should install it looking the other way at Neverland Ranch.
Annual in-state tuition at The University of Memphis is $9,125, and needs-based grants make it much less. Wiseman could have been the #1 pick in the NBA draft or, as the Kardashian sisters call it, “Tinder.” In the NBA, the first-year salary of a top draft pick is $5,855,200. Now I’m no Nobel Laureate economist, but the NCAA, or any college that gets Wiseman and his $5,855,200 of labor for less than $10,000, should be ashamed. Slaveowners would have been proud of that deal.
And speaking of confederates, oligopoly powerhouses (Duke, Ohio State, UNC, Kentucky) heard footsteps when Memphis got the #1 recruiting class. Wiseman played his first game, and THEN the NCAA whimpered that it is reconsidering. Something fishy happened, and it smells like calamari left out in the Kentucky sun.
There is no person better than Penny Hardaway; the U-Memphis grad gave $1 million to the school in 2008. He gave much more to kids in need, a few he coached from age eight. He helped Wiseman’s family move when Tubby Smith had a five-year contract coaching Memphis’ mediocre basketball team. He self-reported this de minimis help. Another life lesson to the kids: Never be honest with the NCAA.
Under the NCAA’s convoluted “booster” logic, if you get a meal, work at a Wal-Mart or play at a Boys Club with Walton Foundation funds, you cannot play for Arkansas. Ditto for Warren Buffett’s foundation and Nebraska, etc.
Yet here we are. I hope Memphis and Wiseman crush the NCAA with this case. The NCAA’s nefarious hand on the throats of athletes was loosened recently when California ruled that athletes have the right to sell their likenesses. To illustrate the joke the NCAA has become, The Onion reported after that decision: “New NCAA Rule Forces Athletes to Remove All Facial Features to Prevent Them From Profiting Off Likeness.”
Like most of the country paying attention (those 90% of us who did not attended a powerhouse legacy sports school), I support his case against the NCAA. The premise that star college athletes can only get food, housing and education (a “scholarship”) in exchange for their labor is disingenuous and false. Remember, slaves got food, housing and education for their “labor,” too.
The suit by Wiseman and the California decision are cracks in the NCAA’s facade. They will bow up; they can’t risk too many runaway slaves not being brought back to the NCAA plantation.
Colleges which profit from monopolistic bureaucracies like themselves and the NCAA take the labor of a few to help build their costly fiefdoms. Liberal colleges fear that if athletes are allowed to learn to make money for themselves in the free market, they might graduate Summa Cum Republican.
Trump, who was cheered at the LSU/Alabama game, might be smart to intervene here. He’s a college sports fan — of the Syracuse Orangemen, I presume.
Ron Hart, a libertarian syndicated oped humorist, worked at Goldman Sachs and is an award-winning author and TV/radio commentator. He can be reached at Ron@RonaldHart.com, or visit www.RonaldHart.com.