The NCAA:College Athletics' Past or It's Future?

I have in the past been somewhat rightly accused of having a pipe dream when it comes to my disdain of the NCAA continuing to exist in it's current form. I decided to do some in-depth homework and find out just exactly what the NCAA's intent has been and is today as to it's administration of collegiate athletics. The information that I have found is not only interesting, but it raises some serious questions as to whether or not the NCAA is still a viable entity. I will present the facts, you decide.

The NCAA was formed in 1906 at the behest of one of my favorite Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt. I love T.R. for one reason and one reason only. He was the ultimate sportsman as President. He was a fan of athletics of all kinds. The man never met a sport he didnt like. In the early 1900's collegiate athletics were the rage, since Professional leagues were only in their infancy. Football was king, 30-40K fans would gather for a collegiate football game. And in those days players were dropping like flies.....deaths, injuries,and negativity from fans threatened to destroy collegiate athletics altogether. Roosevelt's own son Ted,was injured playing football for that most hallowed of institutions, Harvard. Roosevelt oversaw the creation of the IAAUS in 1906 (the first name of the NCAA) and off they went.

Starting out as a think-tank of sorts, with the sole purpose of making athletics safe for all participants, the group spent the next 15 years making rules and recommendations of a safety nature. In 1921 the first NCAA championship was held, in Track and Field. It drew thousands of fans and interest from all over the civilized world. Rivaling the olympics in popularity, the NCAA learned that it had something the world wanted, a product. A few years later, Hitler's rise to power in the Nazi Party in Germany made international competition once again the spotlight, and things were constant and steady for the next decade or two. After the second World War, everything changed.

The Sanity Code was adopted in 1948. This was intended to be the end all of end all's in determining collegiate athletics' scholarships, financial aid, and recruiting. It lasted 3 years. In 1951 it was recinded and no new guidelines were developed for 6 years. In 1957, the bulk of what is now the NCAA's policy concerning scholarships, financial aid, and recruting guidelines were developed. Coincidentally, at this same annual meeting the foundation was laid for the control of live television performances.

Guidelines were adopted in 1952 that are the basis for how all TV contracts, Bowl games, and the newly formed Association's Council. This is now the group that hands down decrees from the NCAA concerning violations of most types.This is particularly important for one reason. This group is the NCAA. For good or bad the Association's Council controls the majority of the decision making process for the NCAA as it exists today. It has had other names as years went by and is now known as the Management Council.

Things were mostly quiet for the next two decades , if you do not count the point shaving scandals of college basketball and the like. Each incident brought more and more of the absolute power of the NCAA to bear. This continued until 1981. About that time there was this little-bitty cable network in Connecticut that had this silly idea about broadcasting nothing but sports 24-7. This changed everything. A lawsuit brought by the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Georgia  put the NCAA in court having to defend it's anti-trust status. Georgia and Oklahoma, being two of the powerhouse colleges that were responsible for the majority of the funding that the NCAA was getting at the time, decided that the NCAA was violating the Sherman Anti-trust Act. Turns out they were right. The NCAA had their TV contract at the time struck down by the courts due to what they cited as "price-fixing, output restraints,boycotts and monopolizing". All of these things are violations of that act.

More and more power has been given to the NCAA over time by, believe it or not, the schools it oversees. University Presidents, AD's, and athletics advisors make up the balance of its committees and representatives. The Board of Directors is exclusively made up of Presidents from member colleges.

So now that we know the history, how does all of that effect the future? It should be noted that from 1951-1988 the NCAA's version of a dictator was Walter Byers. He ran the NCAA with an iron hand, and if you didn't like his rules, you were free to find another sandbox to play in. ( Mike Francesa called him OZ) Problem is, there is no other sandbox. If anything, since Byers left in 1988 the situation has gotten even less tenable than it was when he was at the helm.

The NCAA is now in complete control, (in spite of the lawsuit in 1981) and there are no member institutions willing to re-enter the field of battle for fear of losing those extremely lucrative TV deals they now have.

We have a 10000lb pink elephant in the room folks. We look at it, notice it is there, even walk around it occasionally, but no one wants to talk about it. It is time the NCAA took a hard look at itself and asked the question, "Who do we represent?" Mr.Brand, you made a point to remove Bobby Knight when you were President of Indiana University, in an attempt to do "what was in the best interests of the school,and the student-athletes attending". It is time you did the same thing for the NCAA. Make an attempt to take a long hard look at the elephant, I think you will find that pink is not your color.


Feel free to blast away at the author. A side note though, on my attempts to verify or validate the information I found on this article, I tried every link from the NCAA's website concerning their history. All of them were broken. Maybe that is an indication of a larger problem.

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