Ex-agent: let athletes receive agent loans while in college

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If money equals popularity (and it does in the world of sports), then the multi-billion dollar media contracts worked up between major college football conferences and leading media outlets is confirmation of what many of you already know: college football is arguably the second-most popular sport in America only behind the NFL.

It’s also up there in the highest echelon of the most dysfunctional.

Be that as it may, major college football is still a product that we can’t get enough of (see bowl games), even though its postseason format is, if nothing else, financially irresponsible — the BCS is nothing more than a middle man, a wholesaler that marks up prices for its benefit — and the rules of the business are so numerous and largely unenforceable that violations are piling up faster than the enforcement staff — the NCAA — can keep up.

2011 was the year where it all reached a head. It’s not that the scandals at Miami, North Carolina, Ohio State and USC were unprecedented. Rather, they were signs that the wealth of the sport had caught up to and surpassed the philosophies on which it was established.

So, the Association and the BCS powers, albeit begrudgingly, recognized something had to change. The NCAA and its over 300 Division 1 members have discussed slimming/adjusting the rules to reflect modern thinking, and the BCS has met, and will continue to meet, over how the current postseason format can be altered.

But change is slow and oftentimes done one click at a time. So a former agent, Josh Luchsthe Sports Illustrated tell-all guy, if you remember from a 2010 interview — proposed a radical idea: let the good players in all collegiate sports– you know, the small percentage who will likely be going pro  — receive loans from agents.

Before you read on, check out the proposal from Luchs in this SI piece. Like a converted con man who helps the FBI crack future cases, a la “Catch Me if you Can”, Luchs lays out 11 points as to why receiving agent loans before a player goes pro works.

(Also, if you’re interested, here’s Andy Staples‘ take on the excerpt, which comes from Luch’s book, “Illegal Procedure: A Sports Agent Comes Clean On The Dirty Business Of College Football.”)

Of course, it’s an idea that will almost certainly never be approved as long as the NCAA has anything to say about it. The Association’s duty is to protect the amateurism ideal of collegiate athletics; allowing players to work with agents while still in college would do just the opposite.

Now, in fairness, the NCAA isn’t just an evil empire that works tirelessly to ensure starving college athletes aren’t paid a dime more than necessary — even though sometimes it feels that way. On the contrary, I believe the NCAA genuinely cares about the well-being of student-athletes. It’s an organization that also serves its members. New legislation has to be approved at the institutional level.

It just so happens that some of the rules are outdated when you consider how much the NCAA banks off the services of athletes. And if the concept of paying athletes, or simply allowing an additional stipend beyond the value of an athletic scholarship, is going to meet as much opposition as it is right now, perhaps a practical alternative is to put the decision in the hands of the athletes themselves.

It’s not like they have much of a say anyway.

College football operates as a free market economy. Supply and demand dictates everything from TV contracts to ticket sales. Shouldn’t the athletes who work hard, get injured and miss class while they travel across country to play an opponent in a new conference they have no business being in be allowed operate the same way?

Jon Runyan Jr. expected to play for Michigan this weekend at Wisconsin

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The Michigan Wolverines may have one of their best offensive linemen on the field this weekend when they hit the road to play at Wisconsin. Jon Runyan Jr. will make his season debut on Saturday against Wisconsin, according to Michigan offensive line coach Ed Warinner.

“We’ve had two weeks to work him through, so he’ll be ready to go,” Warinner said, according to MLive.com. “Jon will be excited to get some action.”

Runyan is a starting offensive lineman, although Warinner didn’t specifically say Runyan will get the start against the Badgers. However, that would be a safe assumption if Runyan is ready to get back on the field. Warinner did say Runyan will play left tackle. This will help solidify the left side of the offensive line as the Wolverines try to get their offense on track. The new-look Michigan offense hasn’t quite gotten going as hyped heading into the season, although the absence of Runyan is not believed to have been a major reason for the mild offensive struggles.

Runyan had been out for the start of the season due to an undisclosed injury. He was dressed for Michigan’s game against Army, but he was held out as a precaution. Michigan had a bye week last week, allowing more time to get ready for a game that should be quite a battle on the line of scrimmage against Wisconsin this weekend.

Bill proposed in New York aims to share college athletics revenue directly with student-athletes

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As the state of California moves forward with a push adopt a law that would allow student-athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name and likeness, a new bill proposed in New York aims to go one step farther. Senator Kevin Parker has proposed a bill that would allow student-athletes to be compensated directly from the school’s annual revenue.

As written, Senate Bill S6722A in New York seeks to allow student-athletes (including college football players) to be able to receive compensation for the use of their name, likeness or image; the ability to hire an agent; and to receive an even distribution directly from the school from the university’s athletics revenue. The bill intends to require schools to set aside 15 percent of revenue earned from ticket sales and distribute that evenly among every student-athlete at the school.

This could impact three FBS schools in New York; Syracuse, Buffalo, and Army. New York also has a handful of FCS programs as well, including Fordham, Stony Brook, and Colgate. If the bill gains any traction, it would impact each school differently due to the range in ticket revenue generated by each school. The proposed bill currently sits in committee right now and has not been scheduled for a date on the Senate floor in New York.

The NCAA will frown upon this bill, just as it has in California, and it would be expected schools in New York would not be in favor of such a bill. The NCAA has already threatened the state of California with potentially removing all championship events organized by the NCAA from the state. A similar threat to New York would be the typical response if needed. That may not impact the college football world much, although it could mean no NCAA basketball tournament games being played in New York, a state that has routinely hosted NCAA basketball tournament games across the state. The Pinstripe Bowl should be safe because it is not run by the NCAA (although the NCAA could refuse to certify the Pinstripe Bowl if it really wanted). But we are far from the point to have that discussion.

The Fair Pay for Play bill in California, which is currently waiting to be signed into law or vetoed by the state’s governor, merely allows student-athletes to seek representation and receive compensation for the use of their name, likeness, or image. This trend is certainly picking up steam, and it would not be a surprise to see other states attempt to challenge the NCAA’s model of amateurism.

Iowa and Iowa State release joint statement asking fans to treat the marching bands better

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Whatever happened to the Iowa marching band on Saturday at Iowa State must have crossed a fine line, because on Wednesday both Iowa and Iowa State released a statement addressing the concern.

“Both the University of Iowa and Iowa State University are committed to providing a safe environment for everyone attending events on their respective campuses. This includes members of the school’s marching bands,” the joint statement from Iowa athletic director Gary Barta and Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said. “Unfortunately, both the Hawkeye and Cyclone marching bands have been the target of unacceptable behavior at football games in Iowa City and Ames in recent years. Some of the conduct directed at the students in our respective marching bands recently has been rude, vulgar, and in some cases, violent.”

Unfortunately, it is not unheard of for visiting marching bands to be harassed by hostile fans around the country. Sometimes, those shameful acts by fans of teams cause some bands to decide never to make the trip to a specific stadium ever again. Fortunately, it does appear Iowa and Iowa State are committed to ensuring the bands of both schools are treated respectfully in each other’s stadiums, as should always be the case for visiting bands, fans, and players.

“We should all feel embarrassed when students in the bands don’t feel safe when performing at an away game,” the joint statement continued. “Each of our athletics departments is committed to doing whatever is necessary to improve the environment for visiting school marching bands in the future. A significant part of the solution is insisting our fans help address this issue by showing more respect to our visitors. We owe it to these hardworking performers to have a safe stage on which they can showcase their spirit and talent.”

Make all the jokes you want, but a college band is part of what makes the college football atmosphere enjoyable and more authentic. It would be a shame to lose some of the sounds of the crowd because some idiots decided to be a bunch of jerks.

Former USC coach Pete Carroll never thought players needed to get paid

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The state of California recently passed a law that would allow college athletes to hire agents and be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness if they desire. The NCAA, naturally, has weighed in to protest the law and is hoping the governor of California decided to hear their case and not sign the bill into law. Former USC head coach Pete Carroll, now the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL with a Super Bowl championship to his name, was asked for his opinion on the developments in California. Perhaps not surprisingly, Carroll came on the side of the conversation which suggests players do not need any additional compensation beyond what is provided by a scholarship.

“I’ve never been of the thought that players need to get paid,” Carroll said, according to Joe Fann, Seattle Seahawks insider for NBC Sports Northwest.

Of course, nobody needs to be reminded Carroll was the head coach of former USC running back Reggie Bush (Ok, I guess I just reminded you anyway).The NCAA found Bush had received improper gifts from an agent, which ultimately dropped a series of sanctions on USC including four years of probation, forced the Trojans to vacate a national championship and the entire 2005 season. USC was also placed on a two-year postseason ban and was stripped of 30 scholarships over a period of three years. The Heisman Trust also vacated Bush’s Heisman Trophy from the record book, and USC has removed any ties and references to Bush from the program. USC was handed their sanctions after the 2009 season, at which time Carroll left the Trojans to coach in the NFL with Seattle.

Carroll’s thoughts on the idea of players receiving compensation (legally, of course) are not too surprising, and they are common thoughts expressed by other college football coaches who make millions. In 2009, it was reported Carroll was paid $4.4 million for the 2006-2007 fiscal year, four times as much as USC President Steven B. Sample at the time.

Carroll isn’t the only coach chiming in on the subject. Washington State head coach Mike Leach thinks California has some other issues to be concerned about.