Who amongst us ever had a pen pal? Perhaps a Canadian girlfriend (they exist!) or some inmate you desperately wanted to marry once they got on the outside. You would write them a letter and wait patiently by the mailbox for their reply. Your hands trembled with unrestrained glee as you tore open their response. If you are under the age of 40, feel free to skip this paragraph, which you presumably already read.
Well, guess what? Our conference has a penpal! Five penpals, in fact. The four other major conferences and the Pac-12's Canadian girlfriend, Mallory. We met her at camp. She loves long walks on the beach and really poor officiating. It's a perfect match!
I'm sure that she, along with the other four major conferences (does that include the ACC??) waited by the mailbox, their hands trembling with unrestrained glee as they tore open this letter. What did it say?????
Dear Other Football Conferences,
"I Feel Like We Make Too Much Money. Let's Change That!"
So, the Pac-12 wants to change things in an extremely serious way and so they sent an Extremely Serious Letter. This letter had 10 different ways that the Pac-12 wanted to change things in the NCAA world. They say the pen is mightier than the sword (which explains why Larry Scott did not attempt to sign the letter here with a sabre). Can this letter change the world? Mayhaps. Let's look at the 10 different ways that the Pac-12 wants to revolutionize college football as we have known it.
1. Permit institutions to make scholarship awards up to the full cost of attendance.
This is especially true given that there would be weird stories about people eating too much pasta. It is almost as if Okie State self-reported these things to show the absolute idiocy of the rules here. It'll be interesting to see how Mark Emmert, the child putting his fingers on the dam here, responds to this particular issue. It is one of the most important issues facing student athletes today, but the NCAA has been antagonistic towards it for some time.
2. Provide reasonable ongoing medical or insurance assistance for student-athletes who suffer an incapacitating injury in competition or practice. Continue efforts to reduce the incidence of disabling injury.
This is a question that always interested me. How does the medical insurance system work for the players? It appears that it works fairly well. Most, but not all, schools cover insurance plans up to $90,000.00. The NCAA has a catastrophic injury policy above that.
However, there are gaps. For example, if you are no longer a student-athlete, you no longer get covered by the school.
Since scholarships are year by year (for now), that means that if you get injured and get shuffled off of your scholarship to make space for a healthy player (this happens), then you might not only find yourself stuck with full tuition, but full medical costs. Given that physically demanding and injurious football is, this does not seem like a minor concern to me.
Presumably here, when they say "reasonable ongoing medical assistance," they mean beyond their time on scholarship or even campus. These sports can have lifelong physical effects and it is important for insurance coverage to assist as much as possible going forward, in my view. That could be extremely expensive given the large amount of players, so we'll see.
3. Guarantee scholarships for enough time to complete a bachelor's degree, provided that the student remains in good academic standing.
This is a no-brainer. Right now, they are on a year to year process. They can basically be kicked off their scholarship each year every year. This might be advantageous to the schools, but the purpose of these changes is to benefit the players. This will be interesting, because it would basically force teams to keep players on scholarship, even if they do not want to play anymore.
A recent example of this is Gabe King, who left the football team to focus on his degree (STANDING OVATION, PLEASE!). Cal could have, presumably, kicked him off of scholarship, but chose not to (because we are nice people). Under this new rule, I guess that Cal's hands would have been tied and he could have forced them to keep him under scholarship the entire time. Is this going to be a major concern regarding players leaving the team? Probably not. Few are like Gabe King. It probably relates more to players having career ending injuries, but still being able to stay at the school.
4. Decrease the demands placed on the athlete in-season, correspondingly increase the time available for studies and campus life, by preventing the abuse of organized "voluntary" practices to circumvent the limit of 20 hours per week and more realistically assess the time away from campus and other commitments during the season.
This is nice and all, but I do not see it happening. It's a continual arms race in college football to win as much as possible to make as much money as possible. College football is the financial engine that allows schools to pay for all those money-losing sports. Coaches, who get paid a lot of money to win and are highly competitive, are not going to want to give up any practice time at all. Period.
5. Similarly decrease time demands out of season by reducing out-of-season competition and practices, and by considering shorter seasons in specific sports.
This is intriguing, but I do not see it happening for the reasons noted above. I do not know what they mean by shorter seasons in specific sports. It is too vague to mean anything, really.
6. Further strengthen the Academic Progress Rate requirements for postseason play.
This seems vague. I presume they mean they want to increase the base APR needed. Right now, you have to have a 930 to participate in championship play. Here is the information on the future.
Beginning with 2012-13 championships, teams must earn a minimum 900 four-year APR or a 930 average over the most recent two years to be eligible to participate. For 2014-15 championships, teams must earn a 930 four-year average APR or a 940 average over the most recent two years to participate in championships. In 2015-16 and beyond, teams must earn a four-year APR of 930 to compete in championships.
Cal is currently at 938 for its APR, which is right above the bright line there. If the NCAA does raise the number needed to avoid penalties, Cal could find itself on the wrong side there. Now, Cal posted a 969 in 2012-2013 to help raise the numbers there and hopefully it'll continue to grow. This is one to watch, for sure.
7. Address the "one and done" phenomenon in men's basketball. If the NBA and its Players Association are unable to agree to raising the age limit for players, consider restoring the freshman ineligibility rule in men's basketball.
8. Provide student-athletes a meaningful role in governance at the conference and NCAA levels.
This is delightfully meaningless. They can easily have some token athletes on some committee. They can furrow their brows and say important sounding things and the NCAA can continue to do its great job of ignoring them. The only thing better than keeping athletes out of the process is making it seem like you are including them in the process. It'll most likely just be Kabuki theatre.
This appears to be the list of NCAA governance as it currently exists. It is an unceasing stream of committees that provide Very Important Reports that people with actual power can safely ignore. I look forward to more and more committees with more and more Very Important Reports!
9. Adjust existing restrictions so that student-athletes preparing for the next stage of their careers are not unnecessarily deprived of the advice and counsel of agents and other competent professionals, but without professionalizing intercollegiate athletics.
So, basically, the Pac-12 wants to bring agents out of the shadows, but also doesn't want to bring agents out of the shadows. You can't have your cake and eat it, too, Pac-12.
I only vaguely know one professional athlete (family friend). He had an "agent" throughout his collegiate career and then as soon as that career ended, he signed the agent up. Right now, it's basically a sham situation where people pretend agents don't exist despite repeated Sports Illustrated BREAKING NEWS INVESTIGATIONS!!!!!!! showing that agents stand right outside locker rooms on top of Porsches waving large sums of cash. They are standing right there right now and you are missing the whole thing!
They can bring the agents out of the shadows if they want, but nothing is going to stop agents from paying players until either players can make money off of their own likeness (ED O'BANNON COME ON DOWN) or in the alternative, agents can legally pay players. Except for at Cal, where, of course, none of this ever happens. Ever.
If you do not know what I'm talking about with agents paying players,read the link up there from SI or this one from SBNation.
10. Liberalize the current rules limiting the ability of student-athletes to transfer between institutions.
This just probably means the simplification of the current thicket of rules that preclude players from transferring from school to school without sitting out a year. It is possible to avoid that year off, but it requires some complex legal gymnastics. I don't really see them totally relaxing this, because coaches will hate it if there is no punishment for transfers. They want to keep this year off in there as a punishment to deter transfers. Otherwise, it'll be open season on transferring and not only do you have to recruit your players to your school, you have to continuously recruit them to stay at your school.
So, there is a lot to cover here. 10 separate proposals to radically alter the NCAA. From the NCAA's point of view, no weapon that is formed against them will prosper. Every tongue that accuses them in judgement, they will condemn. That is the heritage of the servants of the almighty dollar, and their vindication is from making that money, declares Mark Emmert. Because we here at CGB love nothing more than to end our posts with Bible quotes. Up next, the Book Of Marshawn: And lo they were all about that action, boss.
What are your thoughts on these proposals? Do any of them stand a snowball's chance in Stanford to make it through the myriad committee processes they will be subjected to? For us lawyers, it's about to be a pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good time. Tell us your thoughts in the comments!