In case you had not heard Alex Rodriguez is back playing ball for the Yankees pending his appeal of a suspension through the end of the 2014 season. While most folks are devoting time and energy to commentary on that situation today, my position on this matter can be stated very simply:
I would so like for A-Rod to B-Gone.
Bob Molinaro seems to have a view similar to mine based on this recent comment in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“Exhausting: Alex Rodriguez is hurt. He’s not hurt. Who cares? The A-Rod-Yankees saga is the worst reality show ever.”
When I posted my notice of hiatus last week, Doug suggested that I read a link he provided in the comments section on Alabama.com. The story there involves the intersection of two of my least favorite institutions in the country – the NCAA and the US Congress. With those two actors on stage in Act 1, the best I can hope for is that Acts 2 and 3 will be mercifully brief. Here is the deal:
In a spasm of bipartisanship, two members of the House of Representatives of different parties have joined together to introduce the NCAA Accountability Act. This bill would prohibit a university from receiving “Title IV funds” if they belong to organizations such as the NCAA which do not implement the rules covered in this bill.
Title IV funds include things like Pell Grants and funds to provide special programs for students who need assistance in collegiate level studies. All universities will get about $140B under Title IV this year.
The new rules for the NCAA would include:
Mandatory baseline concussion tests for all athletes
Irrevocable 4-year scholarships for students in contact sports
No policies to prohibit paying stipends to college athletes
Athletes and schools have the right to a full administrative hearing and at least one appeal prior to any sanctions by the NCAA.
Here is the link to the entire article. Doug was right; it is worth reading.
I am still ambivalent about the idea of paying college athletes – whether you call it a stipend or profit sharing or whatever. The idea that an athlete cannot accrue for himself/herself anything of value based on his/her fame generated by athletic prowess while on scholarship is a bit ridiculous. At the same time, universities are not there to put their name on the uniforms of professional sports teams. I do not know how vehemently I would support that aspect of the NCAA Accountability Act but I would throw my full support behind the other three bullet items above.
Later in that same article, there is a discussion of the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA [I am rooting for O’Bannon big time here.] and speculation by Professor Michael McCann who is the director of the Sports Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire that perhaps the Congress might look at the tax-exempt status of the NCAA and university athletic departments. I have been suggesting that change in the tax law for several years now; I would love to see that happen.
With regard to Ed O’Bannon’s suit against the NCAA, the plaintiff has already won a small victory. A recent article at CBSSports.com said that Moody’s Investors Service had downgraded the NCAA’s credit rating to “negative” based on that suit in Federal Court. O’Bannon’s suit is in a holding pattern at the moment while a judge ponders if it should be a class action suit or not. According to Moody’s, the possibility that it could become a class action suit is enough to warrant the downgrade and Moody’s left open the possibility that further downgrades could happen if class action status is approved by the court.
Previously, the NCAA had a rating of Aa2 – which I believe is the third highest level an organization’s debt can have on the Moody’s scale. The downgrade would mean that future borrowings by the NCAA would carry a higher price tag in terms of interest rate than would have been the case had the NCAA maintained its Aa2 rating. The NCAA has about $40M outstanding in debt, which is not a lot of money considering the profits the NCAA accrues annually. This action does not signal the financial downfall of the organization by any means, but it is a warning signal to investors and banks that the NCAA should be scrutinized far more carefully when it applies for credit than has been the case in the past.
In the midst of all that, add the Johnny Manziel hubbub regarding the allegation that he may have profited from selling his autograph after winning the Heisman Trophy as a freshman last year. On one hand, it is his signature and no one else’s. If someone is willing to pay him for signing a piece of paper, why does the NCAA or the school have anything to say about that? On the other hand, those are the current conditions by which Manziel has his athletic scholarship and maintains his eligibility to play college football. It will be interesting to see how the NCAA pursues this matter in light of the pending O’Bannon case.
Personally, it seems to me that Johnny Manziel is an immature young man who has an addictive relationship to his celebrity status and a huge helping of entitlement going for him. He would not be my favorite poster-child for taking on the NCAA and its arcane rules, but if he is the one on the spot at the moment, he will have to do.
Finally, here is cogent and incisive analysis by Greg Cote of the Miami Herald:
“Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson says Alex Smith is the best quarterback in the NFL. A Breathalyzer for Dougie, please.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………