Past Its “Sell-By” Date?

Football is big business. The National Football League is a powerhouse and earns billions. Even High School football is an up and coming money maker with nationally televised games. But the grand daddy, of course, is the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA for short).

College football produces gigantic revenue streams for major colleges and universities. Everything about NCAA football is big… big stadiums, big training rooms, great dorms, great food, and of course big lucrative contracts with television and merchandizing companies. The NCAA is estimated to receive about $1 billion each year from college football alone.

Protecting this pot of gold has not been easy. The NCAA’s rules committee has diligently developed and then defended the amateur nature of collegiate sports. In a “are you kidding me” manner, the NCAA swears that their role is to protect the student athlete. Hmmm.

This must be why the NCAA has vigorously defended its practice of selling “rights” to student athletes’ names and likenesses and not sharing any of the gain with the student. Hmmm.

So here’s another. In the recently completed “Little League World Series” (won by an inner city Chicago team), another inner city team from Philadelphia won the attention of millions. The teams star player was a 13 year old girl named Mo’ne Davis.

In the first playoff game, she cooly pitched a shut out throwing the ball about 70 mph which adjusted to major league levels had the same effect of a 92 mph fastball. Mo’ne was television ready and projected a cool, determined, yet polite persona. She was such a story that Sport Illustrated put her picture on the cover!

When interviewed, Mo’ne said it was great to be in the world series but baseball was not her favorite sport, basketball was. And to add an exclamation point, Mo’ne said she hoped her picture might appear again on the cover of Sports Illustrated in a University of Connecticut basketball uniform.

UCONN coach, Gino Auriemma, asked his AD whether he could call Mo’ne and congratulate her performance. Granted permission, Gino called and this was reported during national TV game coverage. End of story? Nope.

The holier than thou, NCAA, opened an investigation. College coaches are not suppose to contact potential student athletes except under specific circumstances. An appropriate moment for contacting this 13 year old playing Little League baseball was not one of them.

The NCAA has now announced that UCONN (and Auriemma) were guilty of a level two infraction. OMG.

It would appear that the glitter of all this money has blinded the NCAA. Instead of finding some revenue sharing model (put in trust) with football players (and surely basketball players too), the NCAA has chosen to keep it all. And to call Auriemma out on a “right moment” feel good phone call simply displays a serious lack of judgement and misuse of time.

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