NCAA president Dr. Mark Emmert was on ESPN"s Mike and Mike this morning with Jorge Sedano and Mike Golic to spout his increasingly desperate sounding pabulum about the NCAA's commitment to change and to its athletes.
Some especially choice comments:
1) About transfer rules, Emmert purported to agree that they were unfair. He said: "You don't want to be punitive to an athlete who makes a change, obviously, but you don't want to have coaches recruiting people off other people's benches." This is absolutely classic NCAA stuff -- in order to prevent the coaches from engaging in improper practices, we're going to punish the players. Brilliant. In professional sports, they have this thing called "tampering." Why can't the NCAA have such a rule? Hint: Their main concern isn't coaches recruiting off each other's benches. It's about restricting player movement to increase control over them.
2) Emmert repeated the claim that the NCAA is just an amalgam of its member schools subject to the decisions and preferences of its members and decisions take a long time to make. Or they don't get made at all. Fine. But if your argument for why you can't do a better job of meeting the players needs -- which you profess so much concern for -- is that you preside over a slow, unwieldy apparatus, you're only adding to the players' case that some other mechanism might be necessary to prompt the changes you say you favor. Like mandated bargaining. Only if you are incapable of conceiving of the players as adults with minimally valid rights would you believe that there are only two possible choices -- 1) either wait for the NCAA to spend years at a time ruminating over issues like "full cost of attendance" 2) or DESTROY THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT.
3) Not surprisingly, Emmert's least coherent comments came when he tried to address all of the horrible things that would happen if unionization were to come to pass. He claimed that universities would no longer cover health insurance because that would be covered by workmen's compensation. Totally, Mark. No employers in the United States cover health care. I am sure that you, for example, as an employee of the NCAA must rely solely on workers' comp to cover your own medical bills.
(Not making that up. He actually said that).
Dr. Emmert also said that such a decision would "completely" change the relationship between coach and player, because he would no longer be "a coach, a teacher or a mentor." Exactly, just like there are no coaches in the NFL or NBA.
But my favorite one, which has gotten less attention in the Twitterverse than it should is that since they don't allow "public unions in parts of the South" he "guessed" they'd be "scab labor." Absolutely. Every single public employee in the southern United States, including yours truly, is a scab, because state laws prevent us from collectively bargaining. Again, not making that up. He actually said that.
The whole interview was an embarrassment, from his insistence that recent changes have nothing to do with the unionization effort, to his pathetic claim that many universities would just go to Division III sports if unions became a reality -- you wanna bet, Mark, that schools are not going to walk away from these gargantuan television contracts? -- to his idiotic statements about scabs and health insurance.
This is what happens when you try to defend the indefensible.
Check out my musings on ESPN and other sports media here.