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Why You Should Care



The structure of NCAA college sports is teetering like a rotten tree, the roots which held it steady for so many years, unable to provide the same support of the past. The NIL, conference realignment, transfer portal, and recent House v. NCAA settlement - in which former college athletes will receive pay directly from the schools they played for - have irreparably changed DI athletics, and maybe not for the good.


The settlement repays $2.75 billion to former DI athletes.


It's not hyperbolic to say this is a watershed moment. Any argument that FBS football and DI basketball athletes are not professional, no longer holds validity. They are. People hail the decision and say its been long overdue - and to some degree I can't say I disagree - but like the Great Depression song, "Ain't We Got Fun," only a small portion of schools will benefit from the changes, while a vast majority will lose - despite the glorious benefits pundits claim.


"The rich get rich and the poor get children."


The schools in the ten biggest DI conferences get anywhere from $30-$60 million a year in football TV revenue and basketball tournament money, but the small conference programs, are lucky if they receive 1/10th that amount. For Big 10 and SEC schools, the financial hit of repaying former athletes will be workable, but for many the repayments will be crushing, budgets stretched to their limits.


Whether you call them the Power 5 (or is it 4?) and the Group of 5 (I think it's still 5), an estimated 96 programs make up this influential group. Yet there are 34 TF conferences in DI, with the vast majority (over two hundred) of them not receiving the astronomical yearly revenue, these DI schools pushed to the curb like an old box of clothes.


To hope AD's at these fortunate DI universities will suddenly become benevolent towards Olympic sports and continue to fund them at the same level is a pipe dream. They won't. Three words - money, money, money. Football and basketball players will only be enticed to the big programs if they are parking Porsches at their $500,000 condos, flying to games on private jets, hiring tutors to do the school work for them.


Oops. DI schools already hire tutors to do that.


And very soon, within five years, smaller DI programs in every state, schools like Illinois State, Northern Iowa, and Indiana State, will begin dropping sports like hot potatoes, trying to keep their football and basketball programs competitive with the big ones. But it's a fool's errand. Not going to happen. Think Sisyphus.


Men's Olympic sports will be hit especially hard as athletic departments try to stay in compliance with Title IX - an inevitable requirement. There will be Neanderthals who put the blame on women's sports, but that's not true. Athletic Directors have complete control over how money is budgeted. If they decided to be equitable there would be no challenge in complying - but most collegiate AD's have the spine of an invertebrate.


I could afford a Porsche Cayman 718 (only $93,000) if I lived in a tent, but my wife would divorce me without a second thought, arguing I have misplaced priorities. And she would be right. Instead, I buy a car withing my financial means.


Why should I care?


Why do universities, or for that matter even high schools, have sports? Because sports have value. Are an important part of an education. Just as theatre and orchestra are. That they don't make money is not a good reason to drop them - but I guarantee it will be the first words out of the AD's mouth at the press conference. Instead of buying a Porsche, maybe that AD should think about buying a Kia.


Athletic scholarships for all Olympic sports are going to drop. It's the largest expenditure in every TF budget. The majority of DI schools will have to explore moving to DII or DIII, harking back to the days when most of the universities in every state were competing in what was then called, the "College Division." It's only reality.


If you don't face the facts now, you will lose control of the future. High school coaches should talk less about athletic scholarships - especially for the boys - and focus more on running for fun and getting good grades, because in ten years that small slice of pie in the photo above is all track and field athletes will be getting.

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