Today’s guest columnist is Rick Burton of the University of Syracuse.
As we approach the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship (June 17-27) at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, ending the NCAA Competition Tournament calendar, but also meeting the one-year deadline until Mark Emmert retires as NCAA President, it is worth asking whether schools that are involved in college athletics really want control of the NCAA, or whether intercollegiate sports are becoming a little too risky for them.
Of course, the rectors who run the big Power Five universities essentially run multibillion-dollar corporations that are equal parts of cities on their own and educational institutions built on concepts such as personal teaching, research / discovery, teaching experience, and seasonal detention. clients (many of whom actually graduate).
It is never an easy job.
At any time, the president of the university can wake up and find that he is dealing with scandal, work stoppage, lawsuits, unhappy voters (teachers, students, parents, alumni, staff, performers, fans, etc.) or growing pressure from trustees that something (everything) is being built or improved. Sometimes all these challenges come on the same day.
So, in our compassionate way, we can afford some empathy for a position that looks great on paper (and even better in starting robes with lots of stripes), but we have to keep looking down at the barrel when it comes to keeping lights and wolves out of your neck. This is where intercollegiate athletics comes into play.
Is sports important in colleges for university presidents? And if so, how important?
Some argue that intercollegiate sport is the front door (or front porch) to the academy, the shiny idleness that keeps many schools in the news and in some cases creates contemporary relevance. It may be expensive, but nothing generates free advertising like a winning season or an unexpected tournament.
Just ask Saint Peter’s, a small, private, Jesuit school of liberal arts in New Jersey. In less than a month, Peacocks received approximately $ 70 million in brand recognition for winning some basketball games. It is certainly not a “wonderful change” for the court for president of the school this Cinderella season.
Or what you say when a school, say LSU, decides to pay its head football coach something that comes close to $ 100 million in 10 years. If the mentioned coach is the highest paid civil servant with a big difference, then, yes, the sports department and its numerous stakeholders are important.
This brings us to the age-old question that professional poker logs face every night. If I’m at a high-roller table, how much can I afford to lose and when to fold? When should I withdraw from green felt (or green grass) because the stakes are too high and the risk is unmanageable?
For many college presidents at the moment, this rider (to paraphrase Bob Dylan) is approaching.
When Alabama or Ohio are willing to push more chips in the middle of the table, does the president of Vanderbilt or Northwestern blink? Of course, these two private institutions know that they will receive strong payouts from the network deals of the SEC and Big Ten, but at what point do these CEOs admit that they do not draw from the same deck?
This raises the bigger question of the difference between professional sports leagues and the rapid professionalization of college sports. The 1401 Senate Bill, also known as the College’s Competition and Gender Equality Act, was introduced in California but is now closed to the legislature. However, if any version of this passes in the next few years, some schools in California may be required to pay football and basketball players more than $ 100,000 (over their free tuition, room and food).
You don’t need a very fast calculator to know that the big NCAA schools will soon be unable to afford this “call”. They have to wipe their foreheads, look down at their cards, calculate the chances of drawing to the inner straight and fold. Call it one night in this super-competitive room.
Can several schools draw the same conclusion in their heads? Will some university presidents decide to step down from the table?
Say so much about professional sports: Although they have socialist tendencies (a lot of revenue sharing, a lot of government subsidies, no relegation to North America), these entities are very capitalist. The owners in these games are very effective and generally control or influence their odds.
Now think of college-level sport, where the increased freedom of athletes has spawned a new kind of capitalism that is now fully demonstrated. If a university president can’t control the variables and its ineffectiveness is revealed, will he lose his job? If she allows an athletic director to double in football or basketball and they “fail”, where does he leave her?
In other words, no university president can allow a billion-dollar education-focused enterprise to fail. So while college athletics is popular and important, many big card players are anxiously wondering who will lead the NCAA next, what their vision is, and whether they will establish a “home order” to balance things out.
If this new leader doesn’t want to (or can’t), many presidents can take their remaining chips and go down to the more accessible tables. Logically, this choice is inevitable.
Burton is David B. Folk, a professor of sports management at the University of Syracuse and a representative of the SU Athletics School (FAR) at the ACC and NCAA. His new book is co-authored, NHL-style business will be published by the University of Toronto Press in October.