College Name-Image-Likeness (NIL)

SoxJox

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I don’t think alumni wealth as a whole matters as much as alumni - and other people who want to be associated with a school, which is often relevant for state universities - who are willing to donate to boost the school’s sports, and NIL isn't really going to change who wants to pay money to attract talent. Stanford today already could get a bigger time coach and nicer facilities to recruit more aggressively with its alumni contributions, but my sense is that its alums don’t care as much about that.
I'm not sure how the number of alumni translates into donations. I'm sure some/many alumni do donate. So, here are the top 15 alumni associations:

Interesting the B1G holds 7 of the top 15 spots.


  1. Penn State: 673,845
  2. Indiana: 650,000+
  3. Michigan: 575,000
  4. Ohio State: 550,000
  5. UCLA: 530,000
  6. UC Berkeley: 500,000
  7. Texs: 500,000+
  8. Rutgers: 486,000
  9. Purdue: 479,000
  10. NYU: 470,000
  11. Texas A&M: 436,000
  12. Wisconsin: 435,000
  13. Illinois: 425,000
  14. Florida: 413,000
  15. Arizona State: 400,000+
Yet, here are the top 10 schools in terms of %age of alumni that donate (2-year average for 2017-2018 and 2018-2019):
  1. Princeton: 55%
  2. Williams College: 50%
  3. Bowdoin: 47%
  4. Alice Lloyd College: 46%
  5. Amherst: 45%
  6. Carleton: 45%
  7. Thomas Aquinas: 45%
  8. Holy Cross: 44%
  9. Dartmouth: 44%
  10. Wellesley: 44%
Those are some pretty heavy giving rates when you consider that giving rate averages for National Universities and National Liberal Arts, and Regional Universities and Regional Colleges are 3% for each group.

Using that as a test average, if 3% of Penn State's 673,845 donates, and let's assume they donated an average $1,000 *(pulled out of posterior orifice), that would be donations totaling $20,215,350. Not a negligible number, but there is no way of telling how much of that makes it to the Athletics Department.

I think more schools hope that the very wealthiest of alumni will donate. Folks like these (I've left off donors to non-US universities or where the donation was for a specific purpose):

1. Michael Bloomberg's donation of $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins University.
T-3. Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and his wife, Betty, donated $600 million over 10 years to the California Institute of Technology in 2001.
T-7**. Philip Knight donated $500 million to Oregon University in 2016, the largest donation to a public flagship university in US history.T-7. Helen Diller, wife of real estate billionaire Sanford Diller, donated $500 million to the University of California-San Francisco last year.T-13. Holocaust survivors Howard and Lottie Marcus donated $400 million to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel in 2016.
T-13. Television mogul John W. Kluge donated $400 million to Columbia University in 2007.
T-13. Hedge-fund manager John A. Paulson donated $400 million to Harvard University in 2015.
T-13. The Hewlett Foundation donated $400 million to Stanford University in 2001, at the time the single largest gift to an American college or university.
T-13**. Nike co-founder and billionaire Philip Knight donated $400 million to Stanford University in 2016.
14. An anonymous donor gave $360 million to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2001.
15. Chuck Feeney, who helped pioneer duty-free shopping, donated $350 million to Cornell University in 2011.

**In addition to these donations, Knight donated $500 million to Oregon Health & Science University to fund cancer research, bringing his total donations to $1.4 billion, just shy of Bloomberg's eye-popping $1.8B. Alas, Johns Hopkins is competitive only win men's lacrosse, as far as I know, although they have been VERY good at it for a long time...winning the second most national championships (9 to Syracuse's 10).
 

SumnerH

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I'm not sure how the number of alumni translates into donations. I'm sure some/many alumni do donate. So, here are the top 15 alumni associations:

Interesting the B1G holds 7 of the top 15 spots.


  1. Penn State: 673,845
  2. Indiana: 650,000+
  3. Michigan: 575,000
  4. Ohio State: 550,000
  5. UCLA: 530,000
  6. UC Berkeley: 500,000
  7. Texs: 500,000+
  8. Rutgers: 486,000
  9. Purdue: 479,000
  10. NYU: 470,000
  11. Texas A&M: 436,000
  12. Wisconsin: 435,000
  13. Illinois: 425,000
  14. Florida: 413,000
  15. Arizona State: 400,000+
Yet, here are the top 10 schools in terms of %age of alumni that donate (2-year average for 2017-2018 and 2018-2019):
  1. Princeton: 55%
  2. Williams College: 50%
  3. Bowdoin: 47%
  4. Alice Lloyd College: 46%
  5. Amherst: 45%
  6. Carleton: 45%
  7. Thomas Aquinas: 45%
  8. Holy Cross: 44%
  9. Dartmouth: 44%
  10. Wellesley: 44%
Those are some pretty heavy giving rates when you consider that giving rate averages for National Universities and National Liberal Arts, and Regional Universities and Regional Colleges are 3% for each group.

Using that as a test average, if 3% of Penn State's 673,845 donates, and let's assume they donated an average $1,000 *(pulled out of posterior orifice), that would be donations totaling $20,215,350. Not a negligible number, but there is no way of telling how much of that makes it to the Athletics Department.

I think more schools hope that the very wealthiest of alumni will donate. Folks like these (I've left off donors to non-US universities or where the donation was for a specific purpose):

1. Michael Bloomberg's donation of $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins University.
T-3. Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and his wife, Betty, donated $600 million over 10 years to the California Institute of Technology in 2001.
T-7**. Philip Knight donated $500 million to Oregon University in 2016, the largest donation to a public flagship university in US history.T-7. Helen Diller, wife of real estate billionaire Sanford Diller, donated $500 million to the University of California-San Francisco last year.T-13. Holocaust survivors Howard and Lottie Marcus donated $400 million to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel in 2016.
T-13. Television mogul John W. Kluge donated $400 million to Columbia University in 2007.
T-13. Hedge-fund manager John A. Paulson donated $400 million to Harvard University in 2015.
T-13. The Hewlett Foundation donated $400 million to Stanford University in 2001, at the time the single largest gift to an American college or university.
T-13**. Nike co-founder and billionaire Philip Knight donated $400 million to Stanford University in 2016.
14. An anonymous donor gave $360 million to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2001.
15. Chuck Feeney, who helped pioneer duty-free shopping, donated $350 million to Cornell University in 2011.

**In addition to these donations, Knight donated $500 million to Oregon Health & Science University to fund cancer research, bringing his total donations to $1.4 billion, just shy of Bloomberg's eye-popping $1.8B. Alas, Johns Hopkins is competitive only win men's lacrosse, as far as I know, although they have been VERY good at it for a long time...winning the second most national championships (9 to Syracuse's 10).
Having grown up in Brunswick (home of Bowdoin) with a dad who was the radio announcer for Hopkins lacrosse in the 60s, this hits close to home. I thought Druckenmiller's donation to Bowdoin might make the list-it was the 3rd largest to a liberal arts school at the time- but it was only $30 million (albeit in 1997) and has been dwarfed many times in more recent years.

Hopkins often tops the list of biggest recipients of research funding (over $3 billion in 2020; #2 Michigan sat just shy of $1.7 billion- surprisingly, more research money at Hopkins went to physics than medicine), but that's a somewhat different kettle of fish. At least there's an argument that those funds are related to what people think of as a university's core mandate, though obviously the details are often fraught.

https://universitybusiness.com/the-top-100-colleges-and-universities-that-spent-on-rd-in-2020/#:~:text=Far and away the biggest,Physics Lab ($1.9 billion).
 

SoxJox

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Hopkins often tops the list of biggest recipients of research funding (over $3 billion in 2020; #2 Michigan sat just shy of $1.7 billion- surprisingly, more research money at Hopkins went to physics than medicine), but that's a somewhat different kettle of fish. At least there's an argument that those funds are related to what people think of as a university's core mandate, though obviously the details are often fraught.

https://universitybusiness.com/the-top-100-colleges-and-universities-that-spent-on-rd-in-2020/#:~:text=Far and away the biggest,Physics Lab ($1.9 billion).
When I was in the Pentagon heading up the Surface Warfare Division's Antisubmarine Sensors and Weapons Department, I made quite a few trips to J. Hopkins' science and engineering departments. After all, they were spending several 10s of millions in dollars that my office had directed to them. :)
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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My understanding of how this NIL thing works is that having lots of alums giving small amounts of money isn't going to matter. You need wealthy alums with some sort of business who sign the advertising deals with the players that the school wants to buy. The colleges can't do this directly, although presumably they can coordinate with the boosters to make sure they're targeting the players the coach wants.
 

singaporesoxfan

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My understanding of how this NIL thing works is that having lots of alums giving small amounts of money isn't going to matter. You need wealthy alums with some sort of business who sign the advertising deals with the players that the school wants to buy. The colleges can't do this directly, although presumably they can coordinate with the boosters to make sure they're targeting the players the coach wants.
Alums and other donors are grouping together in collectives, so that addresses the need to have a specific sort of business, but yes, as with all aspects of life it does help to be wealthy. From https://www.on3.com/nil/news/nil-collectives-a-big-deal-now-are-they-sustainable/

Over the past few months, more than 30 school-specific collectives have launched nationwide. Founded by alums, boosters and/or former school administrators, they pool funds from donors to help create NIL deals for a school’s athletes, typically through autograph signings, meet-and-greets or endorsement deals. All Power 5 schools are expected to be associated with at least one collective, which operate independently of the school, by the end of the year.

But Cavale is among those who believe this new dynamic has created and exacerbated a sense of “FOMO” (fear of missing out) among some athletic directors.

Industry sources say a Power 5 school’s affiliated collective will need to amass a minimum of $5 million annually if it hopes to keep pace with rivals. And the most ambitious collectives, those seeking seek to carve out more substantial recruiting advantages, are aiming to raise annual totals upward of $25 million. That’s big money. And if this model succeeds in attracting top recruits in this “Show Me the Money” NIL recruiting age, the onus will be on the well-heeled boosters to not only maintain that level of support but at times increase it. Is that level of financial support sustainable?
I just don't see why this should necessarily precipitate any shift towards Stanford or USC against Clemson or Oklahoma. Oklahoma has plenty of car dealership owners and other top 0.1% earners in society who would be willing to donate to a collective in return for some token advertising deal (the player shows up at the opening of a new dealership, does a local TV ad, that sort of thing), plus Oklahoma - like many state schools that are football brand names - likely has a whole group of rich Oklahomans who didn't even go to the university but donate to the team because they love the team as an expression of state/geographical identity. My suspicion is that a place like Oklahoma or Texas or Clemson will have more alums and others willing to donate to a collective for the sake of making the football team great, much more so than a place like Stanford.
 

SoxJox

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Rock > SoxJox < Hard Place
But the question is, and I don't know how donation distribution decisions are made, how do those donations make their way into the athletic departments? I mean, I'm sure some donors specify the intended or target department, but I would think most do not.
 

AlNipper49

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Plus private universities like Stanford are making orders of magnitude more on endowments than any of the athletic stuff. They’d be fiscally silly to divert their resources elsewhere.
 

steveluck7

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But the question is, and I don't know how donation distribution decisions are made, how do those donations make their way into the athletic departments? I mean, I'm sure some donors specify the intended or target department, but I would think most do not.
Most actually do. Many schools who rely on fundraising are struggling in some areas because of the decrease in unrestricted donations (aka The Annual Fund, aaka “where it’s needed most”)
While overall giving numbers are up for many institutions, most is being very specifically designated, especially towards athletics.
 

cgori

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But the question is, and I don't know how donation distribution decisions are made, how do those donations make their way into the athletic departments? I mean, I'm sure some donors specify the intended or target department, but I would think most do not.
From https://giving.stanford.edu/endowment/ (because Nip's post made me curious so I was looking at some other stats on it):

Nearly 80 percent of the Stanford endowment is restricted or designated for specific uses.
The endowment actually includes more than 7,300 different funds established by donors. Most of these are designated for specific purposes, such as supporting first-generation college students or advancing a particular field of study. Stanford has a legal and fiduciary obligation to use these funds as intended.
I think this is different than one-time/annual-pledge-drive donations - the letters you get for those are typically for the "general fund" / have no restrictions.
 

wibi

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NIL is the whole reason Drew Timme returned to Gonzaga for one more year. His draft stock was dropping and he is a legend in Spokane. He has upwards of $1M in NIL deals for next year already
 

Bergs

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When I was in the Pentagon heading up the Surface Warfare Division's Antisubmarine Sensors and Weapons Department, I made quite a few trips to J. Hopkins' science and engineering departments. After all, they were spending several 10s of millions in dollars that my office had directed to them. :)
This is one of the better humblebrags in SoSH history.
 

InstaFace

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With the legal decisions in the books and the industry just finding its feet, I thought we could use a thread (edit: now merged with the original that I couldn't find) to track significant developments in the NIL world. Nobody really knows the potential here, particularly to deter well-earning athletes from going pro, and it's a brave new world.

Here's a 13-minute explainer by a VC fund on what's going on. A lot of unexplored business territory there.
 
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Ale Xander

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List of top 10 NIL earners
https://www.outkick.com/10-most-valuable-nil-athletes-bryce-young-livvy-dunne-bronny-james/

Top 2 are HS basketball players.

LSU has athletes that lead in NIL for both gymnastics (this is total earnings) and for college basketball (women AND men) (but this is for deals and maybe not for total earnings)
https://justwomenssports.com/reads/angel-reese-lsu-womens-basketball-nil-ncaa-tournament-2023/#:~:text=Angel Reese leads men's and women's college basketball in NIL deals,-Kate Yanchulis&text=Angel Reese is cashing in,and Hanna Cavinder with 16.
 

BaseballJones

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It's unreal what some of these athletes are making - almost no need to go pro and they'll still be making a fortune. Good for them.

I'm surprised Paige Bueckers isn't higher on those lists. She's currently worth around $5 million.
 

OCST

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Yeah, I agree. I'm saying that separating athletics to a true pro minor league could be done in a way that makes the process 1) more transparent, and 2) more equitably for the players.

And this is coming from a person who thinks NIL is actually a step in the right direction -- before it was only the institution that was making millions or tens of millions annually from football.
I’ve been saying for years: spin the revenue sports programs off as fully for-profit businesses that pay the schools (a lot) to license the school colors and logos. Players may receive scholarships to the school as part of their compensation but it is not required; a player can be just that (and only that), no scholar-athlete fiction necessary.

The players get to play. It’s less exploitative than the current arrangement imo as the fig leaf of hypocrisy isn’t there anymore and the schools can’t pretend that they’re educating these kids. The people of the state of Alabama [insert state here] get the competitive program they demand . The school, snd by extension the state, gets a lot of money. The TV networks get the best quality product possible.
 

InstaFace

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Yeah, the sponsoring school can offer players who have exceeded their sporting eligibility a free ride education down the road once their playing days are done.

Or do we even need to keep up the fiction of it being an under-23 competition anymore? Can we let it be fully professional with full careers spent playing for Ohio State instead of the NFL? Or does it have to be a young adults thing to preserve the suspension of disbelief?
 

InstaFace

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I'm not familiar with this fiction? There's no age restrictions in the NCAA.
The 5 years of eligibility, making it functionally U23 for 99%+ of players who participate in revenue sports. Yes I know it's not explicitly age-related, but if you prefer: imagine whether such an arrangement would continue to limit players to 5 years of participation, or whether it would want its stars to "ride again" in future years, once fully untethered from any connection to the notion of getting a university degree.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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I’ve been saying for years: spin the revenue sports programs off as fully for-profit businesses that pay the schools (a lot) to license the school colors and logos. Players may receive scholarships to the school as part of their compensation but it is not required; a player can be just that (and only that), no scholar-athlete fiction necessary.

The players get to play. It’s less exploitative than the current arrangement imo as the fig leaf of hypocrisy isn’t there anymore and the schools can’t pretend that they’re educating these kids. The people of the state of Alabama [insert state here] get the competitive program they demand . The school, snd by extension the state, gets a lot of money. The TV networks get the best quality product possible.
The downside for the colleges here (other than the obvious loss of the exploitative system they currently enjoy) is that this would make a lot of the revenues the sports program generate taxable. The for profit sports entity would certainly owe taxes on its profits and I would guess the licensing arrangements for name, colors, etc... would also be taxable income for the college since it could no longer be argued that those revenues are somehow related to the school's charitable activity.

Also, who would own the for profit entity?
 

Humphrey

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I'm not familiar with this fiction? There's no age restrictions in the NCAA.
Jeff Timberlake, a kid from Braintree, is being courted (by KU among others) as a grad student basketball player w/one year of eligibility left. Given he played 4 years of high school, one year of post grad at Kimball Union; and 5 years at Towson (got a medical redshirt and the Covid year to make 6 years), he's gotta be 25 or 26 during the 23-24 season.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
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These ideas are awful. If you think big time college sports are exploitative and should be killed, just say that.
Running it like the business it is - I don't see how that's awful. I do think it's exploitative, so let's dispense with the fiction and just pay everyone.

Status quo is not going to last much longer - the strains in the system are already showing. NIL, the portal etc. are showing that the players have a lot of power that they will continue to leverage into greater monetization and freedom of movement. Conference realignment has destroyed a lot of the "tradition" that supposedly animates the whole enterprise; the new alignments are so unwieldly that they can't last. Either of UCLA and Rutgers in the Big Ten is a travesty; both is an abomination. Even on its own terms, ie something that is indefensible as furtherance of the student-athlete model, makes a mockery of tradition, makes travel impossible - even if you're just evaluating it as a naked cash grab, it's stupid and will fail. Shuffling around existing conference ties in search of incremental gains in TV conference contracts is only going to go so far. Sooner or later the most powerful schools or the most powerful players or both will gravitate to an NCAA alternative, the European Super League or LIV Tour of college sports, which will deplete the second tier of money, ratings, attention, playing and coaching talent etc. My guess is that big time college sports is pulling an orobouros and won't exist in its current form in ten years.

If the alternatives are: true student-athlete model; the current system, with a fig leaf of amateurism that IMO is unsustainable as per the above; and just running it as a business, then run it as a business.


The downside for the colleges here (other than the obvious loss of the exploitative system they currently enjoy) is that this would make a lot of the revenues the sports program generate taxable. The for profit sports entity would certainly owe taxes on its profits and I would guess the licensing arrangements for name, colors, etc... would also be taxable income for the college since it could no longer be argued that those revenues are somehow related to the school's charitable activity.

Also, who would own the for profit entity?
Good questions. I don't have the answers, other than: 1) legislation could make these gains non-taxable; 2) I think there's at least a colorable argument that the licensing of the school's IP raises revenue for the school and therefore helps it further its mission; 3) there is a shit-ton of money to be made, even if it's taxable. The NFL is taxable.
 

Awesome Fossum

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"Let's dispense with the fiction" by setting up a pro sports league that licenses the names of the schools and then passing legislation to make this pro sports revenue non taxable?
 

RedOctober3829

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Syracuse, N.Y. — Syracuse University’s most high-profile athletics booster says he is out of the game.


Adam Weitsman told syracuse.com on Tuesday that he will no longer provide name, image and likeness deals to SU athletes or bring celebrities to Syracuse University athletic events.


Weitsman cited Syracuse University chancellor Kent Syverud as the reason for stepping away. While he has never met Syverud, Weitsman got the impression the chancellor did not want him involved in supporting SU athletics.

“From what I understand, hearing it from sources at the university, he did not like the high-profile nature of the celebrities coming to games and the way I was going about NIL, discussing it with the media,” Weitsman told syracuse.com.



“He was not comfortable with that, but the only way I knew to go about doing NIL is to do it high-profile. We’re in Syracuse, New York. We have to bring attention to our area.
https://www.syracuse.com/orangebasketball/2023/04/adam-weitsman-i-will-no-longer-support-syracuse-athletics-with-nil-celebrity-appearances.html
 

Ale Xander

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I have it on good authority that Syverud is a Class A prick. I’m sworn to secrecy on the details but this is from personal sources at multiple locations (Vandy and Wash-U)

He did facilitate a fabulous sidewalk at Syracuse though
 

MetSox1

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Jeff Timberlake, a kid from Braintree, is being courted (by KU among others) as a grad student basketball player w/one year of eligibility left. Given he played 4 years of high school, one year of post grad at Kimball Union; and 5 years at Towson (got a medical redshirt and the Covid year to make 6 years), he's gotta be 25 or 26 during the 23-24 season.
Nick Timberlake - best known for giving the finger to fans in every league game he lost this year :)
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Maybe that’s true about Sverud, but Weitsman is pretty shady. It’s cool that he’s friends with Gronk, Brady, Trump, Jimmy Fallon and whatever but I can see why the school may not want to associate themselves with him; hell, I don’t believe he’s even an alum. What he actually did for the school and what kind of impact he made seems unclear to me; the team has been pretty mediocre since he’s been really involved, hasn’t it?
 

jsinger121

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Quinnipiac hockey said they lost a player to 100k NIL. If it’s the player I think it is then Wisconsin paid 50k per point.
 

The Filthy One

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Maybe that’s true about Sverud, but Weitsman is pretty shady. It’s cool that he’s friends with Gronk, Brady, Trump, Jimmy Fallon and whatever but I can see why the school may not want to associate themselves with him; hell, I don’t believe he’s even an alum. What he actually did for the school and what kind of impact he made seems unclear to me; the team has been pretty mediocre since he’s been really involved, hasn’t it?
He's not an alum. He is a convicted felon who spent time in jail for check kiting. He's also a billionaire who is obviously a big SU sports fan. I don't know, I mean, I want Syracuse to be competitive as much as anybody, but I can't blame the university for deciding that having a very public basketball daddy wasn't the way they wanted to go.

I'm in a fairly dark place, in terms of my college basketball fandom. It feels like the tournament is the only thing keeping the sport relevant. The players move around so much that it's hard to build continuity. Do I want to follow Syracuse if one of the things I have to be concerned about is whether the "ownership" of the team will spend money to compete? I'm not sure I do.
 

InstaFace

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These ideas are awful. If you think big time college sports are exploitative and should be killed, just say that.
You built a strawman with the 4 bolded words there.

These school sports programs are, effectively, clubs that have built a huge following. They are already de facto pro sports teams, with only the faintest fig leaf of a connection to their educational mission.

Sports clubs have gone from nonprofit to for-profit entities a million times over the last hundred years. That's how most of European football got its start. Pro baseball started as contests between teams fielded by aristocratic social clubs. But when you outgrow a membership-driven nonprofit model, you change it. There's no shame in that. The shame is in continuing the hypocrisy that takes advantage of underprivileged kids - dangling carrots in front of them, in the form of a decent education or a pro sports career, which few of them will ever grasp.

Edit: PJF's questions are interesting, but I think I've derailed the thread enough as it is.
 
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Awesome Fossum

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You'll have to explain to me what the strawman is, as it seems like my statement still tracks exactly with your post. Eliminating big time college football vs creating a fully professional league that licenses the college's names to teams with non-students is a distinction without a difference.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
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You'll have to explain to me what the strawman is, as it seems like my statement still tracks exactly with your post. Eliminating big time college football vs creating a fully professional league that licenses the college's names to teams with non-students is a distinction without a difference.
Seems like we’re stuck at looking at the same thing and calling it two different things, but if it’s Michigan playing Iowa at the Big House and the uniforms are the same then no one is going to care if the players are putting up the pretense of going to 20th Century American Literature or not.

the comparison upthread with the “amateur” status of players in American baseball and English football circa 1870-1890 and in the Ilympics up til the 1980s is so on point. The exalted ideal of the amateur “gentleman” club player, representing his community and the virtuous ideal of genteel competiton and healthy exercise, who didn’t sully his hands with filthy lucre, versus the amoral, mercenary “professional” player (who started out as a ringer surreptitiously added to Town X’s club so they could beat Town Y in the big club match, getting an envelope after the game, before moving to the next town and the next club). You can take any number of overheated op-Ed pieces from the barnstorming days of baseball’s growth on this topic, add 100 years, and change all the “amateur” references to “student-athlete.” Same ideals that are simultaneously held aloft and secretly undermined (for their own rosters) by every school out there.

The Olympics did just fine dropping the “amateur” pretense. It was getting ludicrous, not least because of how some countries supported their “amateurs.”

NIL may be eliminating the a problematic aspect of the whole thing- the schools may not have to pay the players directly anymore. As a matter of fact, a bunch of savvy high school athletes with big YT/TT followings could conceivably decide to start their own competitions (think Ice Cubes Big 3) and bypass college entirely.* So colleges may do well to take the “student athlete” concept off life support and let it die.

*It would probably be prohibitively difficult to scale this for football, due to the equipment costs and roster sizes, and the enormous existing money and mindshare advantage of big time college football. But you can’t tell me that if a decent number of the top 100 HS recruits nationally in boys or girls hoops with good YT/TT followings decided to form a competition they couldn’t get it off the ground with the proper management.
 

Awesome Fossum

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Seems like we’re stuck at looking at the same thing and calling it two different things, but if it’s Michigan playing Iowa at the Big House and the uniforms are the same then no one is going to care if the players are putting up the pretense of going to 20th Century American Literature or not.

the comparison upthread with the “amateur” status of players in American baseball and English football circa 1870-1890 and in the Ilympics up til the 1980s is so on point. The exalted ideal of the amateur “gentleman” club player, representing his community and the virtuous ideal of genteel competiton and healthy exercise, who didn’t sully his hands with filthy lucre, versus the amoral, mercenary “professional” player (who started out as a ringer surreptitiously added to Town X’s club so they could beat Town Y in the big club match, getting an envelope after the game, before moving to the next town and the next club). You can take any number of overheated op-Ed pieces from the barnstorming days of baseball’s growth on this topic, add 100 years, and change all the “amateur” references to “student-athlete.” Same ideals that are simultaneously held aloft and secretly undermined (for their own rosters) by every school out there.

The Olympics did just fine dropping the “amateur” pretense. It was getting ludicrous, not least because of how some countries supported their “amateurs.”

NIL may be eliminating the a problematic aspect of the whole thing- the schools may not have to pay the players directly anymore. As a matter of fact, a bunch of savvy high school athletes with big YT/TT followings could conceivably decide to start their own competitions (think Ice Cubes Big 3) and bypass college entirely.* So colleges may do well to take the “student athlete” concept off life support and let it die.

*It would probably be prohibitively difficult to scale this for football, due to the equipment costs and roster sizes, and the enormous existing money and mindshare advantage of big time college football. But you can’t tell me that if a decent number of the top 100 HS recruits nationally in boys or girls hoops with good YT/TT followings decided to form a competition they couldn’t get it off the ground with the proper management.

Sure. The Toronto Argonauts aren't a rowing club anymore. At some point, you stop being a rowing club and you start being football team. When the Michigan Wolverines become a professional football team, it's professional football, not college football. You say that's a necessary evolution; fine. Let's just not pretend otherwise.

And I don't think you, at least, are pretending -- "let it die" vs "should be killed" suggests we're basically on the same page here, other than our enthusiasm for it.

Side question, only because I'm curious and not because it undercuts your argument: @OCST , i'm inferring that you're not a college football fan and you are an English football fan. Is that correct/fair?
 

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
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*It would probably be prohibitively difficult to scale this for football, due to the equipment costs and roster sizes, and the enormous existing money and mindshare advantage of big time college football. But you can’t tell me that if a decent number of the top 100 HS recruits nationally in boys or girls hoops with good YT/TT followings decided to form a competition they couldn’t get it off the ground with the proper management.
Even though I'm philosophically on the same side as you here, I think pragmatically this wouldn't happen, for a reason worth mentioning: the colleges currently have two very important and hard-to-acquire assets besides the players themselves:

(A) existing large fanbases who are used to getting emails, watching highlights, buying tickets and showing up
(B) marketing teams and event-management staff who build the interest and pull off all the little niggly things that make events go smoothly (not to mention sell the TV rights, collectively)
(C) existing stadium / fieldhouse infrastructure is close to a third - although it's a commodity to just have a performance space, fans do get used to going to a specific one for home games and having an emotional attachment to the good times they've had there

Starting a novel competition intended as a pre-professional league for, like, U-22s is fine, but it's basically what Overtime Elite is doing and what the NBA is doing itself with G-League Ignite. There's competition. And players who join aren't invested for the long haul, so they're not going to have an ownership mentality, it's transactional - what can you do for me, now, to get me into the NBA / WNBA? No incentive to build a business and a brand around the group enabling them to play, they want to build their personal brand and put up some video that gets them drafted.

I do think that eliminating the pretense that these revenue-sport athletes are "students" in any meaningful sense of the word would help all involved. If nobody is interested in my "spin-off revenue sports into for-profit entities" plan, the schools could instead at least agree that the revenue-sport teams will be composed of U24 players who after 2(?) years of service have a lifetime entitlement to a free (or discounted) education at that school. Not gonna go pro, because you're a benchwarmer for Iowa State? That's fine, go back and do college a little late, but this time with the understanding that you should be 100% focused on your own education. And during your service to the school's team, no more pretending that you're working hard at educating yourself at the same time as training full-time to compete for the school's team. Maybe football players can take spring-semester classes, but no expectation that they do so in the fall. Either way, the whole dance of "we have 20 full-time compliance staff, but we want them to work really hard not to see what's actually happening" is a farce that corrodes the whole experience for all involved.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
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You’re more right than not. The Premier League is my primary interest now. I like college football, I watch it and follow it but not very actively. Growing up in Connecticut in the 70s and 70s big time college football wasnt on the menu. I was a UConn hoops fan and still like college basketball but again don’t live and die with it.

So if the gist of your question is how emotionally invested am I in the current college football setup, I’d say not very, and if you’re going to say you love college football as is and I can go away, that’s fair. That’s an effect and not a cause of my argument though. I’m under no illusions about moral purity in any sport - the PL is almost uncompetitive to any except clubs owned by sportswashing sovereign wealth funds - but the way the schools capture billions and so little makes its way to the players, under the guise of the student-athlete model, bugs me and has made me less enthusiastic. I also think the way the powers that be have ripped apart the conferences is Bullshit and undercuts their credibility re being guardians of tradition which imo is the best thing about the college game. But you can bekieve that too and still think I should go pound sand, I suppose.

edit: responding to AF
 
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Awesome Fossum

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So if the gist of your question is how emotionally invested am I in the current college football setup, I’d say not very, and if you’re going to say you love college football as is and I can go away, that’s fair.
I don't think you should go pound sand. Like I said, whether or not you have soul in the game doesn't undercut the logic of your argument. However, I do sometimes wonder how would you feel if an NFL fan parachuted into an EPL conversation to explain why the Super League is the right way to set up the top level of the sport.
 

Awesome Fossum

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I do think that eliminating the pretense that these revenue-sport athletes are "students" in any meaningful sense of the word would help all involved.
See, I don't think this is fair. ~80% of FBS football players graduate. Maybe they aren't all committed scholars, but that's true of plenty of college students who are just there for the credential.