What The Hell has happen to College Sports Rebuttal

By Dr. Mark D Robinson (BASN) Columnist
Updated: January 20, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (BASN) After reading the special commentary section in the Chronicle of Higher Education “What the hell has happen to College Sports I find it baffling how we consistently focus on the idea of paying college athletes and have lost the plot over the true purpose of college athletics. While I do agree with some of the commentary’s point of view presented I do think as a whole the media and journalist need to slow down and re-think what they are proposing.

Harry Edwards proposes big time college programs share the wealth with college athletes, this is not practical and he should know this. Giving college athletes money with limited or no restrictions would not help the athlete in the short or long run. Most athletes would spend any money from revenue on cars, tattoos, clothes and I suspect some athletes would send money home to family members in need. When was the last time a reported case of an athlete receiving illegal payments provided documentation that these payments were for investments in stocks or bonds, case and point?

The reality for any big time college athlete on campus is they do not need much more than the scholarships provides if they are truly interested in the education offered. The AAU level has a similar setup as the NCAA, coaches are paid, athletes practice, travel, sponsors host big time tournaments (where attendees pay to watch) and the youth athletes receive in some cases meals and apparel. Should these athletes receive some of the revenue generated?

Edwards believes this is a time for action and recounts the civil-rights movement led to greater participation by African-Americans in sports at the college and professional levels, the black-power movement led to increasing numbers of black coaches. Although I would agree I would ask him what have these African Americans in sport and coaches done to assist and advocate for the black athlete in his pursuits of a quality guaranteed education. It seems certain African American athletes and coaches are reaping the rewards from these historical movements but are not sharing the wealth!

Frank Deford proposes a similar solution to Edwards but takes it a step further and suggest The players in the two “revenue sports” would officially be school employees and only, at their option, students. There are so many things wrong with this suggestion I could write a book on alone. Giving an 18 year old kid especially a black kid the option of attending class is simply criminal. Black American males over the age of 20 lead the country’s unemployment rate at 15%. Working towards a degree is the best thing a kid in this population could do.

What surprised yet troubled me the most when reading the thoughts and solutions being offered by this panel was there lack of advocacy for educating the athlete on the NCAA system. These athletes have no idea how the NCAA system works nor do they have a clear picture of the revenue produced until they get out into the real world and by that time their eligibility has expired.

How can we truly advocate for individuals in the NCAA system when these individuals have not been educated on the business dynamics of the NCAA system? As long as the media continues to report on the amount of revenue generated and the rational for paying student athletes they will continue to clearly miss the importance of the needed development of young men to men.

I propose the following; Provide the athletes with a guaranteed scholarship Hire a Personal Player Development and Wellness (PPD) individual who will work with and assist student athletes from the beginning at the recruitment stage. This individual is not to be confused with an academic adviser; the PPD professional has a very different and unique function regarding student athletes and coaches.

Allow each school to start a student athlete revenue fund to assist these young men and women after they complete degree requirements. This fund will allow former student athletes the opportunity to use the fund to possibly attend graduate school, start a small business, job assistance (flights and hotel accommodation) and much more.

This is not the time to pay college athletes due to the complexity of the issue however using portions of the revenue to establish much needed assistance for former collegiate athletes is necessary and in some cases critical.

Mark D Robinson is a consultant on Personal Player Development and Wellness helping individuals and organizations transition from one phase of development to another.