The beauty of writing an article such as this is that no one ever tells us what to write or how to write it. No parameters have ever been put on topics or points of view. It is in this vein that we write to you this month on a topic more important than the First Amendment, closer to our hearts than due process of law and more cherished to the average citizen in this country than the Constitution. Yes, this month’s article will be dedicated to college football.
Since everyone and their brother has had an opinion or spoken on the Miami Hurricane recruiting scandal covering the last decade involving convicted felon Nevin Shapiro, it is our First Amendment right to express our opinions on the same. (See, we got the First Amendment in this article) As University of Florida alumnus and avid Florida Gator fans, it would be easy to trash the University of Miami. Yet, we have no intention of doing the same. Rather, what occurred with Nevin Shapiro giving cash to players, taking them or having them taken to strip clubs, paying for prostitutes, taking them for rides on his yacht, hosting them at his multi-million dollar mansion, and even providing an abortion for one player’s girlfriend, quite honestly could have had occurred at other institutions and in fact might just be occurring as we speak. The scandal surrounding the University of Miami football team is not just the University of Miami’s problem.
Rather, the problem simply is a multi-million dollar sport that pays its inventory i.e. the players virtually nothing. The problem is a system where coaches make millions and assistant coaches can make up near the million dollar mark. The problem is a system where players cannot sell their own jerseys but institutions sell likenesses of their jerseys and make millions. The problem is players being interviewed on television, radio and in the print media as superstars and receiving virtually nothing for that stardom.
Some will say that athletes receive scholarships and that is payment enough. A four year education at a fine institution quite candidly is of value. To some of the athletes it is a greater value than their talents would get them on the open market if there was an open market to pay college football players. To others it is trivial considering their star power, their athletic prowess, and what the open market would bear for their services.
Others say pay these athletes for their services, such as was proposed by Steve Spurrier, the now coach for the South Carolina Gamecocks. His proposal was $300.00 a game for the football players. Others would pay a greater amount to football players who generally pay for the rest of the athletic department’s expenditures. But will payment of these players of a certain fixed amount really solve the problem?
For example, paying a player a thousand dollars a game may in fact relieve that stress that player has in providing clothing, entertainment and a normal college life. It may even give him some money to send back home to his family that is in need. But will it really stop that player, that superstar, that athlete that feels entitled, from turning down the $10,000.00 in rolled up bills given by a booster or the use of a new car while he attends college? Will it stop the athlete in need from being persuaded that if he goes to such and such school that his father will get a job working for one of the booster’s companies?
Not because of the University of Miami scandal but highlighted because of it, over the next several months there will be a multitude of ideas of how to fix the system that is broken. Some will clamor for strict compliance while others will say that the fault lies in the NCAA rules that quite honestly are bazaar at best. The bottom line is, as long as college football brings in millions upon millions to the institution and billions upon billions to the college world as a whole, unless these athletes are paid like pro athletes with a value for their service determined by their ability and prowess, then there will always be cheating, and violations.
So five years or ten years from now when we are older and grayer, we will revisit this article and this situation, because fundamentally nothing will have changed and another scandal involving another college will have reared its head. When this does occur, again we will step outside of the First Amendment arena, pontificate about nothing, spout our opinion and as the great Emily Litella of Saturday Night Live once said “never mind”.