May 3rd, 2021 |
20: Pay for Play (Part IV): The “Collegiate Model” cont.
After the 2003 hearings in the House and Senate that raised antitrust concerns relating to big-time football’s monopoly over post-season bowl money, pressure mounted for the NCAA and big-time football interests to justify their market behavior. In his 2004 state of the association speech, Myles Brand debuts the collegiate model in broad strokes to respond to criticism from external regulators. At the same time, Congress investigated the NCAA’s infractions and enforcement process as inconsistent with principles of due process and fundamental fairness. In December 2005, Congress held another hearing on the BCS bowl structure that was obedient to big-time football interests. That hearing demonstrated the potential political might of the Power 5 (independent of the NCAA). It previewed the aggregated post-conference realignment power and influence of big-time football in congressional decision-making in 2020-2021. In his January 2006 state of the association speech, Myles Brand offered a refined and specific explication of the collegiate model, emphasizing the underlying financial structure of big-time college sports. Under Brand’s provocative formulation of the collegiate model, universities must maximize revenue from football and men’s basketball to enhance “participation opportunities” for non-revenue sports and athletes. Brand argues that “massive redistribution” of revenues is an essential part of university finance and that athletics departments operate no differently than the rest of the university. This is a fundamental departure from Brand’s 2001 speech at the National Press Club when—in his capacity as president of Indiana University—he proclaimed that universities had an obligation to reduce revenues from football and men’s basketball to align those professionalized products with the values of higher education. In his 2006 speech, Brand boldly stated that “amateur defines the participant, not the enterprise.” A month later, a group of athletes sued the NCAA, claiming its scholarship cap below the full cost of attending college violated federal antitrust laws. That suit—White v NCAA—was the first in a trilogy of California cases (followed by O’Bannon and Alston) that challenged NCAA compensation limits as applied to athletes and added federal courts to the list of potential external regulators of college sports. On October 2, 2006, the House Ways and Means Committee chairman sent the NCAA a detailed letter and request for information. The Committee challenged the NCAA’s tax-exempt status because of its professionalized football and men’s basketball. On October 30, 2006, Brand appeared again at the National Press Club to make a speech that responds to the mounting pressure from external regulators. The events of 2004-2006 mark the initial contours of the NCAA’s and Power 5’s strategy to eliminate all external regulators. That strategy came to fruition in 2019 as state legislatures became external threats with California’s passage of the Fair Pay to Play Act on name, image, and likeness compensation. Under the guise of promoting NIL “compensation” for athletes, the NCAA/Power 5 launched their audacious campaign in the Senate and in Alston to eliminate in one fell swoop all external threats to their financial empire.