Well, The Roof Just Caved In…

Amateurism in the collegiate ranks is dead and will soon be buried. The highest court in the land just ruled that sports are no longer playing games but is now actual employment for the student/professionals.

The Supreme Court of the United States unanimously affirmed a ruling Monday that provides for an incremental increase in how college athletes can be compensated and also opens the door for future legal challenges that could deal a much more significant blow to the NCAA’s current business model.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the court’s opinion, which upheld a district court judge’s decision that the NCAA was violating antitrust law by placing limits on the education-related benefits that schools can provide to athletes. The decision allows schools to provide their athletes with unlimited compensation as long as it is some way connected to their education.

Even though I agree with the Supreme Court’s ruling I do think it is sad that a whole wonderful and simple way of life in collegiate sports has now been completely lost. The beginning happened as soon as cable TV came on the scene and the big TV revenues were no longer restricted to the more popular “Big Dog” programs (Notre Dame, USC, Ohio State, Penn State, etc.) who played live on TV at 1:00 pm Saturday afternoons with Keith Jackson calling the plays.

However soon even crappy schools were getting big paydays through their conference TV contracts and that is when things started to change. Soon every school and its brother were getting kickbacks from ESPN. From there it just grew and grew.

Honestly, for me, what made college football magical is that it was accessible to almost every person at almost any time. If you were a student at Pitt you could walk into the Pitt Stadium stands with your friends during varsity football practice and watch the kids play out there and see the coaches coaching them. pitt-panthers-football-ticket_1_4bdb03bb5696a0e95ae2c10f5193a691Regular people could actually walk up to the stadium window and buy a ticket for that day’s game without having to take loans out for seat licenses (extortion IMO) and breaking the bank while doing so. Price to watch the National Champ Panthers in ’76? $7.00…

Football wasn’t dissected and micro-managed to the nth degree as it is now. When the game was over you either went to a bar, your dorm or home and then got on with your week ahead.

When you walked into a dorm you saw some of the players you had just seen out on the field. You sat next to them in class and ate with them in the cafeteria.

You might have envied them because they were getting a free ride on tuition and room & board but you knew they were just like you but with a talent specific to them. They were no better or worse than any other student when it came down to it.

Forget about that now – it has changed in ways that are almost unrecognizable to fans of a certain age. Back in the day a player might have some bucks slipped to them by a booster (Dorsett drove a Lincoln Continental and had $1,145 in Oakland streets parking tickets that somehow got paid when that was made public…”He’s an All-American scofflaw,” Angela Marasco, chief clerk of the city traffic court, said at the time.” ).

But that was Dorsett. The other 90+ players on the roster were pretty much regular students, especially when they actually went to class. They certainly weren’t on the University of Pittsburgh’s payroll like the current Panthers are about to be.

Does this bit mean all will be tied into academic performance and not what the athlete does on the field of play?

“Athletes playing Division I men’s or women’s basketball or Bowl Subdivision football will be able to receive benefits from their schools that include cash or cash-equivalent awards based on academics or graduation.

Among the other benefits that schools also can offer are scholarships to complete undergraduate or graduate degrees at any school and paid internships after athletes have completed their collegiate sports eligibility.”

Is the ‘pay’ to players based not on their athletic abilities but on “academics or graduation” standards and is paid out as either cash or more scholarship opportunities??? Who makes those criteria for standards applied in this case – the NCAA? The Conferences? The schools themselves?

Gee, won’t it be fun to see what West Virginia deems the standard for a player to be academically eligible for a salary. Maybe the accountants will start with this: if a WVU player can actually find the classroom they are supposed to have been in attendance all semester without having to ask for help, they will get the Federal minimum wage to start.

Inquiring minds want to know…

However things are laid out will we see a bunch of D1 athletes working harder in the classrooms to get the higher pay involved? Or is it that they have to meet a set standard of academic achievement to meet the “pay” criteria at all?

I can’t help but wonder about all the undergrad research assistants who work on the projects that UPMC will make tons of money on when the project is successful and monetized. Are those students (who might not even be on scholarship) not in exactly the same position that the athletes are? Their efforts result in money earned by a formal institution without them seeing a single cent so shouldn’t they get compensated just as players will now be?

Who knows what is in the future, but for me this is just another nail in the coffin lid of what was once a pleasant and enjoyable hobby – and that is what being a fan is supposed to be. Following the team and attending games should not be something that you bust your ass for to be able to afford, but should be one of the things one spends some hard earned money on because they like it as something fun to do.

Say goodbye to that my friends because lets be honest here – who in Hell do you think is going to pay those monies to the college athletes? It won’t be the NCAA or the Supreme Court or even the school themselves. No – it will be the fans who pony up via higher ticket prices and increased “club” fees along with higher prices for everything else related to the football programs.

I can see it now…

Narduzzi: C’mon Pitt fans , we need another 4* defensive line star and that salary won’t come cheap. Time to show us how much you really love the team.

Fan: What can we do coach? How can we help…?

Narduzzi: The very best fans can run out and buy even more season tickets and don’t forget to up your Pitt gear purchases either. That way you can brag to your friends that you are paying a 1,000th share of the next Pitt All-American nose guard. Regular fans can try to donate at least something you skinflint bastards. The last thing we Pitt family members want is a reduction of my salary to pay the players. That just wouldn’t be right.

I know this is the way of the world now and as I said above I agree with the Court’s decision in this matter. I just wish all we had to think about and do was just enjoy Pitt football without all the minutiae of everything else involved.