The country has finally realized what we should have all long ago realized: The NCAA has no real power. It’s the Wizard behind the curtain in Oz, the emperor with no clothes.
Today, the NCAA reduced scholarship penalties against Penn State. In so doing, the NCAA cited substantial improvements in Penn State’s governance — whatever that means.
Presumably, USC is still thumbing its nose at NCAA authority. I guess Bruce Pearl’s three-year show-cause penalty for lying about a BBQ is still considered just, too. Ohio State players must also still be getting tattoos in unprecedented volume. Otherwise, how do you explain the continued penalties that exist at those schools?
So the NCAA lifted one of its arbitrary and capricious penalties.
That leaves only a few dozen outstanding.
Rather than focus on one amended ruling, let’s take the next step: It’s time for the NCAA in its present construct to end, forever.
Amateurism, or more accurately, "shamateurism," needs to die. I’ve laid out my plan to change the NCAA — you can read it here.
Since the NCAA is a dead man walking, let’s go ahead and push it off the college sports cliff. The NCAA in its present construct does more harm than good.
In the past several years, six things have conspired to render the NCAA obsolete:
1. We can compare investigations and penalties and read the investigative reports
Before the Internet, most couldn’t share the NCAA’s informational findings. Media and fans paid attention to only what happened to their favored programs in their particular regions of the country. It was impossible to compare Alabama, Ohio State, Tennessee, USC, North Carolina and Miami sanctions.
Once we started to compare the program sanctions, we all realized something: There was no consistency here, no clear principles of penalty or penalty avoidance.
Like an ill-tempered, aging dictator, the NCAA was making it all up as it went along.
2. Fans have stopped gloating over cheating
Yes, some programs probably do cheat more than others, but the NCAA has become a traffic cop, pulling over one program for speeding while everyone else is speeding by on the Interstate as it writes a ticket for the program it pulled over.
In past years, you’d gloat if your rival was caught by the NCAA. Now? Fans don’t really cheer over rivals being caught in the NCAA crosshairs — they just hope it isn’t them, too. That’s because a realization has set in: The NCAA could just as easily be punishing your favorite school as it is another rival school.
3. Cam Newton happened
The most sacrosanct single rule in the NCAA rulebook is that you can’t sell your labor in exchange for your signature to play for a particular school.
The NCAA’s strangled Newton ruling — he was eligible to play at Auburn, his dad tried to sell his services to another school where Newton would have been ineligible to play, but then Cam and his dad decided to go to Auburn for free — was so absurd that even the most rabid Auburn fan on earth had to question the logic.
It led to the impossible result that Newton was somehow eligible to play quarterback for Auburn against Mississippi State, but he would have been ineligible to play quarterback for Mississippi State against Auburn.
How is that even possible? Has any player ever been eligible in the same season to play for one team in the conference and ineligible to play for another team in the same conference?
Of course not.
The NCAA made it up as it went along.
4. Jesus would have been ineligible to play college sports
The guy was a walking NCAA violation in a loin cloth, accepting free room and board all over the place based upon his unique talents.
And it’s not just Jesus who would have been ineligible. I firmly believe that if you rigorously applied the NCAA rulebook to every men’s basketball and football team in the country, every team would be ineligible to compete for titles. It’s impossible for everyone to stay eligible under the currently existing rules.
And, by the way, if you apply the NCAA rulebook to the NCAA, the organization itself is probably the largest serial violator of NCAA rules ever, accepting hundreds of millions of dollars for video game and television rights in perpetuity.
Remember, nobody can make money off the players except for the schools and the NCAA.
They have a monopoly.
5. The college football money skyrocketed
There are billions of dollars a year at stake now.
Why should all the profits from college football go to subsidize other sports at universities? Why should my talent at football or basketball pay for your scholarship in lacrosse or women’s beach volleyball?
Why do players not deserve a cut of that money? So what if they waste or spend the money rashly? Lots of young adults and entertainers make stupid decisions with their money. Easy come, easy go. You know what’s actually good for our economy? Athletes spending all their money.
6. The NCAA’s moral authority died
When you really boil it down, do you know what the NCAA’s job is when it comes to enforcement investigations? Ensuring that if you’re poor and talented, you remain poor and talented when your eligibility to play college sports is exhausted.
You know what most of the rest of us call "improper benefits?"
(And stop with the "they’re paid with a free education" argument. That isn’t a bargained for exchange. They’re forced to take that trade. If you think it’s such a great deal, would you give up your salary for the next four years to continue to do your exact same job while receiving a free education in exchange for it? I sure as hell wouldn’t.)
Right now the NCAA’s enforcement arm is predicated on ensuring that you don’t make money off your own talents.
This means the NCAA is among the most fundamentally anti-capitalistic organization in America today.
If you like markets, intelligence and capitalism — three things I love myself — then the NCAA represents everything you hate.
That’s why I say my political beliefs can be summed up succintly: I’m not a Republican or a Democrat, I’m just anti-NCAA.
It’s way past time for the NCAA in its present structure to end.