Last week, I said that we are on a litigation collision course between the NCAA, which has now finally drawn a line in the sand re: NIL, and bad faith state actors, who have essentially sought to legislate permissible cheating into their statutes and then legally insulate their programs thereafter.
How could we not be?
With more and more ADs clamoring for a finite piece of a relatively small pie, with CFP valuation speculated to rise just modestly in comparison to the now-eligible number of spots, recruiting becomes even more of a currency than it ever was. There is just too much damn money at stake, too many hands reaching into the till. It really behooves programs to establish themselves a few steps ahead and as near-permanent fixtures in the race to the cookie jar.
And it represents a chance for the little brothers and also-rans and try-hards to try to spend their way into the VIP room. Never gonna’ beat Oklahoma consistently are you, Texas? Oh well, just outbid them them. Aggie mad that it doesn’t receive the acclaim it feels it should next to LSU and Alabama and Georgia? “F’ it, just outspend them. It’s how we ended the Cold War.”
The way that is being achieved, of course, is through the pay-for-play sham being instituted at places like Miami and Texas A&M. Their hope is that, in a headlong race towards a permanent bifurcation of haves and have nots, these programs can leverage the wealth of their alumni to firmly perch in the eagles nest, looking down at the untermenschen without such resources.
And they’re being abetted by their corrupted, hayseed local legislatures.
The NCAA has been calling it out for months, and then last week finally fired a shot across the bow of the Aggies and Canes of the world: “No matter what your state law says, we can and will enforce rules of our voluntary association. You want to benefit from the money and administrative cachet of NCAA-sanctioned and sponsored events? Then you follow the rules of the association you voluntarily joined.”
It was a remarkably strident position from the NCAA — much closer to a demand letter staking out their legal position than the “clarification” it was painted as being. The point being I believe that NCAA was putting everyone on notice that this is their institutional position, and if you exceed that threshold, you will be sanctioned…And if you don’t like it, we will see you in court.
The NCAA’s understanding is not only a common sense position, it is four-decade-old, well-established law. I don’t believe, as a legal matter, it’s even controversial either.
But Ross Bjork, professional bagman at Ole Miss and Texas A&M, seems very intent on challenging it. Why aim for competence, when you can just outspend your competition?
So who has the right of it here?
Friend o’ the Site (and just actual friend), Jon Morse over at KSU’s Bring On The Cats published what I think is perhaps one of his best pieces of work ever: why the NCAA is on almost ironclad ground here, why schools are almost certainly playing with fire, and why, at its heart, the issue isn’t one of NIL vs. NCAA; as Jon writes, “This is not a battle between the NCAA and the players. It’s a battle between university administrators and their athletic departments.”
Give it a read, drop them some traffic and comments over there. Feel free to chime in here too. Because the issue is one that goes to fundamental fairness for all schools, and depending on your relative economic position, you can be a permanent victim (see Ole Miss), a permanent bully (Texas et al), or a financial behemoth one moment and a victim the next (Georgia, Alabama).