NCAA loosening grip on players to fatten their wallets

By Ed Peak

What is the NCAA doing? Deciding to allow players to make financial deals. Advertising spokespersons. Pitchmen and women. You name it. Not what college athletics needs. But if something doesn’t change, the cheating and coverups by schools will only continue to get worse.

How do the NCAA schools monitor this? Do they know what they’re getting into? What if Bill Collins auto dealership wants to have University of Louisville receiver Tutu Atwell  to peddle automobiles as its spokesman. No problem.

What if AllSouth Applicance Showrooms in Birmingham wants Malik Cunningham to be its spokesperson in Alabama and outbids Chenoweth Appliances in Jeffersontown for his services. Don’t be surprised if the athlete leaves UofL for the Crimson Tide.

When my nephew was in eighth grade, a friend had a birthday party at his home. His father was friends with Louisville wide receiver Josh Tinch and quarterback Stefan LeFlors. Tinch and LeFlors showed up at the party for a few minutes. Signed autographs. Took pictures and left. They might have had ice cream and cake. Or just did it as a favor.

The players dedicate a lot of time, energy and hard work to be Division I athletes. Is the price of an education, free books and tutoring, three square meals, the best medical treatment and nicest living quarters not enough? Add on attendance stipends and all kinds of gear.

The agents, advisors and greedy relatives are the ones will rob these players of what they should be getting in full. What you do with your money is your business. Only a small number advance to the professional level.

There is not an athlete at the University of Louisville or any other school  that hasn’t had a favor granted in the form of a job after using up his or her eligibility. People have contacts in other cities and help former players.

School presidents, athletic directors, head and assistant coaches. All make salaries way out of line. The players do most all the work. The coaches have a heavy influence on these athletes in training for the next level. Pro sports uses the college game as their minor league feeder system. No problems there.

There are two things that have helped cause this. The federal investigation into college basketballs scandal a couple years ago. And the G League where players now can jump directly to the NBA out of high school. The NCAA is admitting, in essence, that it has lost control.

The NCAA is, in essence, opening the floodgates to allow players to barter for money. Not what the schools, teams and fans need. Fans are already taxed with absorbent ticket prices, seat licenses and donations.

The rich will only get richer at a time when many programs are struggling to get over the negative economic impact of the corona virus. Competition between schools is only going to become even more fierce. No longer any pretense of amateurism. 

Couple of bolstering days for Louisville athletics

Two bolstering days in a row for University of Louisville fans. Treasure them, hope for a few more.

Anyone think it was a coincidence that there was a construction crane emblazoned with name PADGETT in all caps in front of the towering stadium expansion in the north end zone? Or that there was not one video replays during a 60-minute football game?

A crowd of 47,826 against Murray State is solid turnout on a good day for UofL fans.

A day after David Padgett becomes the basketball coach, the football team was taking care of business with a 55-10 thrashing of Murray State at Cardinal Stadium on Saturday. The basketball team getting a standing ovation, the football team getting almost everybody on the roster into the game.

UofL fans needing to get together, reaffirming their loyalty, enjoying some tailgating, supporting each other after a tumultuous week that some would say shook the foundations of the athletic department. The feelers were out but there no signs of any doubting Thomases, no one losing faith or disrespecting the University this day. Not here, not ever.

Louisville has been through almost as many ups as downs over several decades in football and basketball. Cardinal fans are a hardy lot, enduring the slings and arrows of the media, especially the local newspaper, but growing, expanding and winning in spite of the obstacles. They rarely waver when it comes to their UofL teams.

A crowd of 47,826 turning out for a predictable trouncing of a lower level opponent on a perfect autumn day, temperatures in the upper sixties in the shade, seventies in the sun.

Fans rewarded with another impressive performance from Lamar Jackson, their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown while passing for 249 yards and three other touchdowns. That’s in one half, mind you.

Backup quarterback Jawon Pass playing the entire second half, passing for one touchdown and scoring another himself. Hope for the future.

Trevon Young and Stacy Thomas on defense turning in five and four tackles, respectively, that side of the UofL line holding Murray State to only 61 yards passing and 19 yards rushing. That’s with plenty of young second and third stringers playing during the second half, gaining experience, building depth for the tough haul ahead.

Needed a couple of days like that, thanks.

Rerun: Fan loyalties in Louisville

Louisvillians are often subjected to the idea that the fan allegiance of local residents is equally divided between the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky, even among those who should know better.

Rick Pitino, for example.

Do your research, coach. It’s not true.

Not even close, according to the most recent Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll, which was conducted in 2005. The poll should have settled the issue once and for all. But UK fans and some media types, who missed or ignored the front page story, tend to be research-challenged , or who count on the forgetfulness of the general public, persist in advancing the misconception.

That’s why the observer keeps a copy of the results, hopeful that the facts will make their way to the misinformed or blissfully ignorant. The poll indicated:

  • Fans of Louisville Cardinals basketball outnumbered Kentucky Wildcat fans by 53.7% to 33.3% in the Louisville area.
  • Fans of Louisville football weighed in at 61.3%, as compared to 20.8% for Kentucky football.

Courier-Journal columnist Eric Crawford, who was deeply involved in the poll and wrote the CJ story about the results, told Card Game:

“The project used one of the largest samples of any of the Bluegrass State polls, owing to the diversity of the population that follows sports. It was far larger a sample, for instance, than a gubernatorial or presidential poll we would have taken in the state. It also came at an opportune time: Both UK and U of L were doing exceptionally well in basketball. U of L was on its way to a Final Four, while UK was within an eyelash of getting there, too.”

The results reinforced the results of the  Yankelovich study the Courier-Journal conducted a decade or so ago, showing Louisville with a similar lead in both sports.

Neither of polls took into consideration the bandwagon factor, people who switch favorites depending on how well one or the other is doing. Some will apparently jump from a loser to a winner in a heartbeat. Also, football teams going in different directions might affect the numbers slightly. And, as we’ve seen, a new hire in basketball will definitely raise the decibel levels.

But for the most part, fan loyalties tend to be deeply entrenched. Doubtful that the ratios have changed much. Or that the mistaken pronouncements about the fan ratios, intentional or unintentional, will fade away any time soon.

Go West Big East

If it’s true that the Big East is in conversations with some of the betrayed members of the Big 12 Conference, there are some exciting times ahead for University of Louisville fans.

One can easily identify with playing schools like Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State on a regular basis. Why not go ahead and go after Utah and Brigham Young while we’re at it. All of these options are good to great, all competitive in football and basketball, and probably in the non-revenue sports as well.

Go ahead and let Rutgers and Syracuse go wherever. Good riddance to the unfaithful, the starry-eyed wannabes, the annointed prima donnas.

Dump the basketball-only schools. They should be happy with the singular focus on what the college sports world has deemed to be a secondary sport. Football is king. Long live the king.

Add East Carolina and Memphis, or Southern Miss. Let them join the big boys. They will contribute.

What one would have would be a great collection of schools happy to be together, ready to build toward a collective future.

Do it.