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#AskEmmert: Do we even need college athletics?

Rinard's Rundown

By Jordan Rinard
On April 21, 2014

After the fiasco over the weekend regarding NCAA president Mark Emmert's appearance on "Mike and Mike in the Morning," public dissension about the organization is at an all-time high with cases like the Northwestern football union and Ed O'Bannon slowly chipping away at the current conception of college athletics. But what if college athletics aren't even necessary to have?

If college athletics is nothing more than a feeder system to professional leagues, why not separate sport programs from colleges and spend all the time and effort on developing athletes who want to go to the next level? With all the restrictions placed on NCAA member programs such as time and workload of the athletes, it is difficult for players to reach their potential athletically. This proposed model will not only give them more opportunities to do so but will give them a better quality of opportunities with qualified coaches and higher-grade facilities for talent development.

Not only will there be more and better opportunities, the salary for being in a developmental league can offset whatever scholarship is offered at the college level.

This is starting to happen in the NBA. A future proposal on the table for the league is that, after raising the age limit of entry by two years, it will expand salaries in the D-League by instituting a salary cap for each team and allowing executives to sign players at their discretion. As it currently stands, lower tier D-League players make around $18,000 per year while top players make slightly over $30,000 a year and high school players can forgo college to go straight to the D-League, assuming that they have the talent.

College athletics, among other things, do much to promote physical activity to a broad range of people but college athletes are perhaps the only demographic that do not need to be encouraged to workout or practice good nutrition. On top of that, eliminating college sports and replacing them with professional developmental leagues would inevitably also eliminate thousands of opportunities for players, coaches, and the support staff.

However, doing so would ensure that the best of the best would get the job and it wouldn't necessarily be a bad tradeoff. Also, why would separating sports from colleges be a bad thing when schools say that they are losing money on funding athletic programs? Couldn't that money possibly be used get the best possible resources for the students?

Obviously, the ties with colleges and sport (and money) go back a long way, so it is hard to see a future where intercollegiate athletics do not exist.

However, it is also hard to deny that the current college sports model is highly problematic for many, many reasons. Maybe the best thing that can be hoped for all involved is that a middle ground can be found where there is a sense of justice for all who work in college sports, from the administrators, to the coaches, to the players.


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