California bill may drive wedge in collegiate sports

As if rampant tax-and-spending and mismanaged forest fires weren’t enough to keep the powers in Sacramento occupied, two Democratic senators in California believe college student-athletes deserve even more perks than are allowed under NCAA regulations, ranging from stipends to agents to health insurance. And the arm of government is ready to provide a greater helping hand at the taxpayer expense. The passage of the state government’s bill could result in the universities being banned from NCAA competition. That means kissing goodbye to $40 million in revenue the state schools and their conferences receive in annual revenue.

Evidently, college students paying for tuition must be comparatively 'well off' compared to student-athletes who are offered something millions would love to receive: A free tuition at a major university (with a potential for future professional sports megabucks, no less).

(California Senator) Murray has said he doesn't want the state's colleges to leave the NCAA, but he does want the NCAA to overhaul its policies. He claims many students-athletes can't afford to buy toothpaste and toilet paper because of scholarship limits.

Jason Whitlock comments in a 2002 ESPN Page Two column that "the notion that a full scholarship isn't a fair exchange for athletic services provided to a university - regardless of how much money an athletic department generates from those services - is ridiculous." Very True. What continues to amaze me is how, in the face of high costs in education, free tuition apparently seems not enough of a reward for playing a collegiate sport, something the athletes are participating on their own volition. Tuition at Stanford, for example, is close to $36,000 per year. Not exactly chump change. A 4-degree from a prestigious university? Take the offer, and ask the parents to send some Crest and Charmin.

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"the notion that a full

"the notion that a full scholarship isn't a fair exchange for athletic services provided to a university - regardless of how much money an athletic department generates from those services - is ridiculous."

Putting on my Austrian hat for a moment, the only people who have the ability to determine whether or not this is a fair exchange are the people who are actually involved in the exchange - the colleges and the athletes.

One must remember that for all students, even those who are not student athletes, college involves many costs above and beyond the actual, explicit costs of attendance; namely, the opportunity cost of lost earnings that could have been accrued if the student skipped college and went straight to the workforce. This is even more true for student athletes, many of whom earn millions of dollars if they make it to professional leagues, and some of whom already skip college and go pro directly.

Sure, free tuition looks good to you and me, but then I doubt either of us expects to be earning millions of dollars a year in the near future. For those who do, however, more perks may be needed in order to discourage them from skipping college altogher.

Nearly 100% of the time, in

Nearly 100% of the time, in any given scenario, I'm in favor of allowing the levers of free-market economics determine the exchange of goods and services over regulation and price controls. However, my gut feeling is not to turn collegiate student-athletics into a laissez-faire market. If given the choice between (a) watching dozens of universities get into a monetary bidding war over LeBron James and his agent to "discourage him" from skipping college; or (b) keeping NCAA regulations in place whereas tuition, room, and board is the uniform contract with a prospective recruit, then I?d opt for 'b'.

As for the California politicians... is there some outburst from a large segment of student-athletes to break the NCAA chains and shackles, or are the senators merely engaging in a little class warfare, attempting to buy votes by painting the student-athlete (who will never have a massive student loan hanging over their heads as non-athletes do) as a downtrodden, helpless figure who must choose between buying toothpaste and toilet paper? After all, only a very small percentage of college athletes wind up in the pros. Most do not. And I?d suspect the many tennis, basketball, golf, etc, players who aren?t pro-bound still love the idea of free full-ride tuition, room, and board at a major university as opposed to the alternative ? living at home, attending the local community college and/or working the late night shifts at Taco Bell. I'm suspecting the California bill to 'raise the minimum perks' is another way of kissing babies in front of the television camera, tugging at heartstrings.

If Michigan running back, and future NFL player, Chris Perry is really having trouble affording that roll of toilet paper, he has the choice of either leaving college now and finding a temporary job until the NFL draft, or sticking it out in college scraping by on parental allowances for a few more months. Either way, he can use $20 bills in lieu of toilet paper in the very near future.

It?s true I?m viewing all this from an emotional standpoint moreso than a logical and common sensical economic-libertarian standpoint, but I?d have a lot of trouble accepting a pay-to-play initiative in college athletics while full scholarships are still in place.

Yeah, college athletes are

Yeah, college athletes are the last oppressed minority, all right.

Coincidentally, I heard on the radio yesterday that the NCAA is considering reducing the college entrance requirements for athletes to a 1.0 average.

Hallelujah! Thank God! There's not a day gone by I didn't ask myself, how much longer these hellishly stringent admission requirements for athletes could go on.

Last semester, a large

Last semester, a large number of student athletes at Georgia Tech were disqualified from playing because of low grades. I think these requirements are incredibly silly.

I couldn't possible meet the physical or athletic requirements necessary to play on college sports teams; why should athletes have to meet the same requirements to become academic scholars? These incompatabilities are the inevitable result of forcing one organization to serve multiple purposes for vastly different people.

Well, GT isn't a sports

Well, GT isn't a sports academy, but rather an institute of technology that happens to have a Division I-A football team.

The standard is based on what comes first, which is the Institute, not the Football team.

Now, if it were such that a diploma in "athletics" was developed where physical attributes (or maintenance/improvement thereof) were a significant part of the grade, then I suppose it would be true that applying the scholastic GPA requirements would be somewhat silly... OTOH, if they got A's for their bench press numbers and/or # of wins or game stats, they wouldn't have the problem either.

I agree. I think that an

I agree. I think that an athletics major would be a great idea.

An athletics major would

An athletics major would just be honest. At least for the major sports, that's already what many do. They spend most of their day training and practicing for the big game. If they have some extra time, they go to class and study. Student athletes could still get their full scholarships (just like non-athletic students do) and they might even be able to earn some money or *gasp* accept a gift from a booster.