CHEAP SEATS WITH STEVE CAMERON: NCAA needs to rethink this rule


The NCAA groans and whines.

After sitting around and doing nothing for too long, the organization is now concerned that college athletics — and the money spent on them — cannot be controlled.

The boosters and agents basically told the NCAA and its member schools…

“Try to stop the flow of money, and we will sue you.”

There is reason to be afraid.

Writing his concurring opinion on an antitrust case last summer (NCAA v. Alston), Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh said: “The NCAA’s business model would be downright illegal in nearly every other industry in America.

This statement was not legally binding, but you can see where this is all heading.

Let’s say Joe Billionaire, who owns a chain of pizza places across the South, wants to help the Auburn football team.

So he lets it be known that if Auburn gives him a list of their top 10 recruiting targets, Joe will offer each of them a million dollars – simply for wearing shirts promoting his pizzas.

NOW, FOR THE record, Joe and his pepperoni empire are fictionalized in this tale – but all over college athletics, many of those wins come true.

Not so long ago, this sort of arrangement would have been considered outrageous — and would have violated all sorts of NCAA rules and regulations.

If those players took the money, Auburn would be on probation forever.

Theoretically, at least.

But the NCAA has been afraid of lawsuits for some time, and now that NIL (name, image and likeness) has officially become legal, that fear has turned into sheer terror.

The combination of money available for recruitment and business deals—along with the one-time transfer rule that removed the need for an athlete to take time off a year after changing schools—transformed “monetary sports” ( football and men’s basketball) into something like a free-for-all Wild West.

Let’s take an example that happened closer to home.

Washington State Hoops coach Kyle Smith is trying to rebuild his 22-win team, even though only one player (Michael Flowers) was no longer eligible after last season.

The other four starters – Mouhamed Gueye, Efe Abogidi, Tyrell Roberts and Noah Williams – have all reached the transfer gate.

Williams has already landed in Washington and Roberts is still looking.

Gueye and Abogidi are going through the NBA draft process, but likely won’t be drafted. However, it’s almost certain that neither will return to Pullman.

Why?

They are not unhappy.

In fact, Gueye’s progress in the Coug program led him to recommend WSU to another big man from Senegal, and 7-footer Adrame Diongue will join the program this year.

Assuming Gueye and Abogidi don’t turn professional, they’ll seek more profitable college landing spots.

There is simply more NIL money available at other schools.

“They have more options in free agency, if you want,” Smith conceded.

“It’s just that the pecking order changed with NIL.”

There was no end to the twists at the NCAA, and committees were formed (of course) to suggest courses of action.

In fact, there is a path open to universities and the dithering body that is supposed to govern athletics.

But first…

The NCAA, its members and all the committees can forget to turn off the spigot of money pouring in on students and rookies.

Judge Kavanaugh’s opinion made that clear – and many officers are ready to test their position in court.

“The moment they come in and try to interfere with one of my clients’ deals – the next day is when they get hit with an antitrust lawsuit,” attorney Mike Caspino, who represents several soccer rookies who dropped out at six and seven. -figure deals with school-specific recall collectives, The Athletic told.

“They say there is a whole category of people (boosters) who cannot participate in the NIL athlete rights market.

“That would be like saying people with red hair can’t buy meat. It’s antitrust.

I am NOT a lawyer, but I can read…

Kavanaugh’s opinion, for example.

Despite this threat, the NCAA has authority over student-athlete eligibility, a power voluntarily provided by its members.

So if Billionaire Pizza King Joe wants to give a kid a fortune to choose a particular school, well, I think that train has left the station.

On the other hand, this crazy business of coaches recruiting players from other schools – John Calipari of Kentucky almost announced that he was doing it – really needs to stop.

Or slow down.

The NCAA needs to rescind this transfer-at-will rule.

Having student-athletes spend a year at a new school would throw molasses into the transfer portal.

Among other things, transfers must join the social and academic communities of a new university.

I mean, these kids are in school – with, like, classes and homework, you know?

Sitting down a year after a transfer was ALWAYS a good idea.

Let’s get back to it.

Email: [email protected]

Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns appear in The Press on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He also writes Zags Tracker, a commentary on Gonzaga basketball that is published monthly during the offseason.

Steve invites you to take his advice in the spirit of a song by Jimmy Buffett: “Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On”.

Lee J. Murillo