Control and College Athletics

NOTE: The following post is contributed by a fellow Valerian, with minor edits made by myself to make it suitable for a general audience.

From this article on conferences within the NCAA seeking more autonomy:

“What’s really hard in these kinds of things is for people to vote themselves less political authority,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Wednesday. “They don’t do that. That’s not a natural thing to do.”

Props to Commissioner Jim Delany for understanding value.

The non-FBS conferences “have mobilized, and rightfully so,” Benson said. “I think everyone wants to protect their turf and wants to protect their future.”

And protect their value.

For a Valerian, the solution is obvious: protect the value of the individual. The most important issue here is not Big 5 conferences or the smaller conferences or whatever. The party that always needs the most protection is always the individual because they are always the most vulnerable. And so it is in this case as well:

“When critics rip universities for spending lavishly on coaching salaries, locker rooms and facilities while athletes struggle to pay for basic expenses…”

Who ultimately is getting exploited in the massive struggle to control the billions of dollars in value generated by college sports? Not surprisingly, the individual. It’s the kids that are fleeced out of the value they produce. Which shouldn’t be surprising. Which is why it is so important that their value be so strenuously protected. Athletes, even young 20-year-old athletes should be able to control their labor and capture the value produced by their athletic prowess. I mean, why not? Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in college and captured its value. Why are college athletes any different?

The president of the NCAA (unsurprisingly) disagrees:

Despite a growing public perception that college athletes in revenue-generating sports should be compensated beyond their scholarships, NCAA president Mark Emmert reaffirmed Wednesday that his conversations with school presidents don’t echo that sentiment.
“There’s certainly no interest in turning college sports into the professional or semi-professional,” Emmert said at the IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York City.

There’s certainly no interest on the part of those that currently control the value these athletes produce to transfer any of that value away from themselves, and to the athletes themselves. Entirely predictable.

He also conceded that schools and the NCAA haven’t done a particularly good job in recent years of explaining the value of scholarships.
The countervailing voices of this notion that student-athletes are being taken advantage of has been the dominant theme and had played out pretty loudly in a variety of outlets,” Emmert said. “The reality is schools are spending in between $100,000 and $250,000 on each student-athlete.”

Well, golly! Playing a little detective Columbo here, we might ask, you know, because we’re not familiar with college sports, “How much control do student athletes have over the $100,000 to $250,000 in value spent on their behalf?”

Oh, you mean to say that they don’t have any control over it? You don’t say… So, who does control that value? Administrators, coaches, and the Universities? Hmmmm… They control $100K to $250K per student? No wonder they have an interest in keeping student athletes under the their thumb…they’re worth a lot of value!