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NCAA Tests Insanity Definition With Run At California Schools

Michael Angelo
via flickr

It turns out that Albert Einstein may not have been the first person to say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Even if Einstein didn’t say it, the saying is still true, as demonstrated – again – by the NCAA.

Once more, the folks who run the governing body for college athletics have shown that they just can’t stop doing their favorite thing, which is trying to keep college athletes in the Dark Ages.

Not merely content to continue restricting the movement of student-athletes, NCAA officials have moved to continue restricting the ability of those student-athletes from making money.

And they’re attempting to strong arm the state of California into helping them keep those young athletes under heel.

Golden State legislators are in the midst of considering something called the Fair Pay to Play Act, a bill that, if passed, would permit California college athletes to be compensated for the use of their likenesses, names or images.

At present, only the colleges and universities are permitted to make money off the labors of so-called student athletes by selling t-shirts, jerseys or posters adorned with the names and/or faces of the players.

Of course, there are those who believe that the cost of a college scholarship alone should be enough for these would-be scholars, but those numbers are rapidly dwindling, as anyone who has been paying attention would tell you.

However, the NCAA still refuses to allow schools to pay the players outright, or to allow them to capitalize off their images and likenesses, on the antiquated notion that to do so would compromise the concept of amateurism, whatever that means in the 21st century.

Enter State Senator Nancy Skinner, who represents Berkeley, where the main University of California campus is located. Skinner, the lead sponsor, says the NCAA has had plenty of opportunities to correct the situation, but has not.

Skinner says the bill would not go into effect until 2023, giving the NCAA four more years to get its act together. Instead, NCAA president Mark Emmert sent an ominous letter to two of her colleagues two weeks ago.

In the letter, Emmert said the proposed legislation quote “threatens to alter materially the principles of intercollegiate athletics unquote, adding that the bill would quote make it impossible to host fair national championships unquote.

In case you missed it, that was a threat. Emmert, one of the emptier of empty suits in sports management, was essentially saying that the NCAA would keep athletes from California teams out of championship competitions and move any championship events out of California.

A Senate subcommittee saw Emmert’s warning and raised him by voting 5-0 to move the bill onto a larger committee.

And you can bet that the television networks and the conferences will find Emmert’s gambit amusing too, as the prospect of high profile events without big schools like USC, UCLA and Stanford will not go over well.

Of course, Emmert could back off his threat, but that would be sane, and we know that never happens when the NCAA is involved.

Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.
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