What is one thing you would do to fix college sports?
Ah, would that there were one single reform that would put intercollegiate athletics on a proper course. It won't fully right the ship, but here's one idea that might help.
The NCAA system as it stands imposes a severe market restraint. The fact that athletes cannot be remunerated beyond tuition, room, board and fees, but that they sometimes produce a value in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars, provides a direct and strong inducement to athletic directors, coaches and their staffs to cheat. At the same time, it impels large numbers of athletes to violate the panoply of arbitrary amateurism strictures from on high.
One way to break into this unvirtuous cycle is to make the coaches' penalty for cheating greater than the potential benefit from winning. The NCAA has been reluctant to impose death penalty sanctions on schools (e.g., no postseason play for next year), because this would penalize the school's athletes, not the officials who transgressed.
It is not uncommon for head coaches' these days to carry compensation packages worth $3 to $5 million annually, or more. They get paid the value their "amateur" athletes produce. Why not institute a structure of fines going from $1 to $5 million, depending on the severity of the infraction, that would be paid directly by the head coach?
This idea, along with many others, would push behavior in the right direction. The reason it has not been implemented, and will not be, however, is that the NCAA functions essentially as a trade association of ADs, coaches and conference commissioners. The NCAA will not legislate against itself. Any meaningful reform will require the ACE (national association of college presidents), the AGB (national association of college governing boards) or the U.S. Congress to promote and enforce. Don't count on the U.S. Congress.
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