NCAA President Mark Emmert spoke at the Associated Press Sports Editors meeting yesterday in Manhattan. During his speech, he touched on a bunch of different topics, some of which were specific to Syracuse University and why the NCAA felt as though it had say over what happened here and not, initially, at North Carolina.
"In the Syracuse case, the Committee on Infractions didn't go in and say that course was a fake course or the university wasn't holding itself to its academic standards," Emmert said. "They argued that people in the athletic department were complicit in helping a student-athlete cheat academically.That's right smack in the wheelhouse that I was describing. People on that committee would say 'That's precisely the case we should be deciding.' If it's a case of this professor passes out grades too easily or this course is too easy, that's not our business."
That's a bit of mental gymnastics for sure considering the shady UNC classes in question were implicitly created to help athletes. But, whatever, the NCAA is investigating UNC now. If they don't bring down the hammer, SU fans should save their vitriol for that.
The one thing I noticed throughout Emmert's comments was a thought process completely at odds with the entire industry (and it IS an industry) that he oversees. If what he said is honest, then he should quit right now because he's doing a horrible, horrible job.
Take, for instance, his comments on athlete's abilities to go pro as soon as possible:
Emmert: A young man or woman should not have to go to college to be a professional athlete.— chris carlson (@ccarlsononSU) April 23, 2015
Emmert: If it's about kids coming to college just to get to the NBA, don't come.— chris carlson (@ccarlsononSU) April 23, 2015
And yet, that's exactly the system that's in place. A system that requires elite athletes to spend at least one year in college before going pro, throwing the entire academic and amateur procession off-kilter. If you really want that to happen, work with the parties involved to make it happen instead of being a snake oil salesman.
On the flip side, Emmert clearly doesn't understand that you can be extremely successful as a professional basketball player outside of the NBA.
Emmert: Worst case is athlete going to school, dojng just wnough to stay eligible, go to the D-League or Europe and then you're stuck.— chris carlson (@ccarlsononSU) April 23, 2015
Stuck? Guys can go pro in Europe or Asia or Australia or the Middle East and make solid money for years. You don't HAVE to go to the NBA anymore. Spending eight years as a pro basketball player abroad is a solid career (and potential more lucrative than a three-year NBA career).
Emmert also touched on the recent Pac-12 study that said student-athletes are overloaded and too tired to handle academics.
Emmert: we've had similar data to Pac-12 study for 10 years. Time crunch is a hard one, and difficult to solve.— chris carlson (@ccarlsononSU) April 23, 2015
Emmert: everyone knows we need to try to solve that.— chris carlson (@ccarlsononSU) April 23, 2015
What a load of crap. You have absolutely no desire to solve this issue. There are more bowl games, more primetime games, more playoff games, more tournament games and more teams that ever before. College athletics are in a never-ending state of expansion and you're doing nothing but perpetuating that. Stop bullshitting us, Mark.
Emmert then went as far as to float a rather interesting proposition...
Emmert: I don't see anything wrong with a kid spending a year in a D-Leafue and saying, whoa, and going back to college.— chris carlson (@ccarlsononSU) April 23, 2015
In theory, yes, the idea that a guy could take a shot at going pro, realize it's not for him and then return to college sounds like a win-all. But...how in the hell would you pull that off the way the NCAA cracks down on non-amatuer status? Does a guy have to play in the D-League for free? Do they have to give back the money if they go back to college? Shouldn't colleges just pay them a salary then?
There's an obvious middle ground that would work for everyone. Just use the baseball system. Let kids enter the draft. After they find out their status, then they can decide to go pro or go to college. It's so God damn simple it makes my brain hurt having to even say it. I don't know why it needs to be any more complicated than that.
Ultimately, the thing that jumped out most to me was Emmert's comments on player expectations and the NCAA's role in tamping their expectations with a whopping dose of reality.
Emmert: They've been hearing since 8 that you're the best I've ever seen. 75 percent of athletes think they will be pro basketball— chris carlson (@ccarlsononSU) April 23, 2015
Emmert: 50 percent of D-II say they'll be professional basketball players. These aren't stupid kids but they are deluded.— chris carlson (@ccarlsononSU) April 23, 2015
So here's the thing with this coded bullshit...
Yes, he's right. He's right about all of this. Most college athletes who think they're going to end up in the pros never make it and they have to make a career in something else.
But let's put athletes aside for a moment. Let's talk about Television/Radio/Film majors instead.
I'm willing to guess that a large percentage of TRF majors think they're going to be successful in their chosen field. These are filmmakers, screenwriters, broadcasters, TV personalities and radio hosts. These are the kinds of personalities that do what they do for the chance to perform and entertain large audiences. Fame is a byproduct of all these professions and, conscious or subconsciously, that's part of the appeal for these people.
Most of them will never achieve that goal.
I don't hear Mark Emmert worried about saving TRF majors from themselves, though. Nor will you ever hear the Newhouse Dean say something like that either, underestimating those in his charge and belittling them to the outside world. Why is that?
Why does Emmert, a rich, white man who makes money on the backs of a largely African-American workforce that doesn't see most of the money generated for their efforts, seem so concerned with saving said athletes from themselves, when there are plenty of other subsets of college students with the same mindset and same career outlook and same odds at success? (Oh I'm not saying...I'm just saying...).
Why are all of Emmert's comments about student-athletes, specifically college basketball players, so negative? Everything is about how they'll try out the pros and fail, or they'll think they can go pro but they can't cause they're not good enough. They're "deluded." His opinion of college athletes seems to be that they, quite simply, suck.
Maybe instead of making his life's work all about setting up barriers that corral college athletes, he should actually do some of those other things he claims to be interested int Actually make it easier for them to chase their dreams however they see fit. Worry less about showing these cocky, young punks a thing or two about the "real world" and worry more about how you can open doors for them to learn it for themselves.
You're a great talker, Mark. But you're pretty much shit at everything else.
Check out a full Storify of Emmert's comments here.