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Jared Pincin - March 26, 2015

Once again, the nation has a case of March Madness. In two weeks, Cinderellas will be championed (maybe), office productivity will continue to plummet (to the tune of $1.9 billion according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., a U.S. based executive outplacement firm), and brackets are busting across the country. However, what should not be lost in all of the excitement is that NCAA regulations manipulate the rewards from a booming industry. College athletics seemingly enrich everyone except those directly responsible for on-stage performance, the college player.

The NCAA is awash in money, largely due to its monopoly ownership of the rights of its 89 championships. In 2011, the NCAA, CBS Sports, and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. agreed to a 14-year television, internet, and wireless rights agreement worth $10.8 billion to broadcast the Division I Men's Basketball Championship. The next year, ESPN inked a 12-year agreement worth $7.3 billion to televise the College Football Playoff. The most recent consolidated financial statement from the NCAA shows the non-profit making read more »

John Tamny - March 24, 2015

Of free trade’s many wonders, arguably its most appealing quality is that it maximizes the possibility that individuals will get to pursue the work that most animates their skills. As I write in my upcoming book "Popular Economics," the value of our work effort constitutes our demand, or our ability to consume the products and services offered by others. In that case, we generally have the most value to exchange for other goods when free to do what we do best.

Applied to schooling, there’s a natural tendency among college students to choose majors that accentuate their skill sets. Those interested in a career in finance tend toward business degrees, future medical doctors often migrate to the hard sciences, while aspiring actors are usually found in drama classes.

So while most college students are encouraged to major in what is most applicable to what they hope to do after graduation, college football players arriving on campus with dreams of playing in the NFL are nearly always urged to shift their educational focus away from the sport. They’re told this despite the fact that the average NFL player earns $1.9 million per year.

The predictable response to the above is that most college players don’t wind up making it to the NFL, so student-athletes must have a career skill to fall back upon. At first glance, statistics back up this seemingly reasonable point of view.

As Jay Smith and Mary Willingham reported in their recently released book “Cheated,” since 2003 only one-fifth of the University of North... read more »

Sheldon Hirsch - March 23, 2015

Dan Gavitt, an NCAA men’s basketball vice president, recently said of the college game “I have great concerns. The trends are long-term and unhealthy. I think some people understand the urgency of it …” Iona coach Tim Cluess agreed, “The product stinks …. We’ve accepted mediocrity.” Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis wrote, “College basketball is facing a crisis … it stinks. It’s time for an extreme makeover.”

Men’s college basketball has become a punching bag. 

The doomsayers cite a plodding pace, lower scoring (67.1 points per team per game this season, compared with 77.7 in 1972), and seven consecutive years of decreased Division I attendance.

No one can dispute those basic facts. Nevertheless, as Aaron Rodgers said in response to the 2014 early-season angst of Green Bay Packer fans: “R-E-L-A-X.”

College basketball has merely followed a course previously taken (and ultimately reversed) by other major sports: Higher scoring early in the sport’s history, then a significant decline.

In Major League Baseball, the mean batting average dropped from .296 in 1930 to .237 in 1968, with a concomitant decrease in runs scored from 11.1 to 6.8 per game. Similarly, points per game in the NBA dropped from 118.6 in the 1961-1962 season to 91.6 in 1998-1999. Points per game in the NFL dropped from 47.2 in 1948 to 34.4 in 1977.... read more »

Sheldon Hirsch - March 16, 2015

Last year, Sports Illustrated named Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari among the most disliked people in sports. Calipari animus recently resurfaced when Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy absurdly referred to alleged serial rapist Bill Cosby in a diatribe against Calipari.

Why all the hatred?

Calipari, whose Kentucky team this year is 34-0 entering the NCAA Tournament, rubs some people the wrong way: His appearance, his mien, his arrogance, his success (his teams routinely beat ours), and similar reasons.

That’s not the entire story. Sports Illustrated cited concrete criticisms of the Kentucky coach: His “trail of NCAA violations” and his “position at the forefront of college basketball’s ‘one-and-done’ era.”

Unfortunately, many who dislike Calipari twist the facts of his alleged missteps to fit their bias and feed their anger: verdict first, then trial.

The hyperbolized “trail of violations” actually consists of only two discrete incidents over 10 years apart. First, Calipari’s University of Massachusetts team lost its NCAA designation as a 1996 Final Four participant and returned its tournament revenue because center Marcus Camby accepted money from an agent. Then the NCAA similarly sanctioned Calipari’s 2007-2008 University of Memphis team when it found that someone took Derrick Rose’s SAT for him.

However, no one, including the NCAA, alleged that Calipari knew anything about Camby’s behavior or... read more »