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College Athletics. And the Amateur Ideal. Amateurism & the Olympic Ideal. Ancient Olympics Even central myth hypocritical Winners well rewarded by home cities Modern Olympics & Pierre de Coubertin Anglophile miffed over Franco Prussian War Sought solution in British “public” school

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College athletics l.jpg

College Athletics

And the Amateur Ideal


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Amateurism & the Olympic Ideal

  • Ancient Olympics

    • Even central myth hypocritical

    • Winners well rewarded by home cities

  • Modern Olympics & Pierre de Coubertin

    • Anglophile miffed over Franco Prussian War

    • Sought solution in British “public” school

      • “Mens sana in corpore sano”

    • Amateurism reflects class snobbery

      • Laborers not considered amateurs


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American Scene

  • More combative than British

  • Commercialism & Corruption always present

    • 1st competition: 1852 Harvard v. Yale in crew

      • Sponsored at resort by railroad

    • 2nd competition brought first eligibility scandal

      • Harvard’s coxswain had already graduated!

  • Second sport: Football

    • Rutgers v. Princeton: first academic scandal

      • 4 Rutgers players were flunking math


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    NCAA as “Incidental Cartel”

    • Restricts movement

      • Prevents “tramp athletes”

        • Students – not hired guns

      • Monopsony power

        • Players have little mobility

        • Drives down pay

    • Stars worth more than tuition

      • In football >$500k/yr

      • In basketball >$800k/yr


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    Athletic Scholarships

    • Now source of great excitement

      • Not always the case

    • NCAA forbade them until 1956

      • NCAA rules often ignored

      • At center of “Seven Sinners”

    • Hoped to to regulate by legalizing

      • Analogous to drugs or prostitution

    • “Student-athlete”: a legal term

      • Scholarships created “pay for play” relationship

      • Prevented workman’s compensation claims


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    The Value of an Education

    • Cannot equate benefits with tuition

      • Scholarship is value of input – not output

        • Do private schools give more benefits than public?

    • Do athletes get an education?

      • Graduation rates on average the same

      • Rates vary widely

        • Across Schools

        • Across Programs


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    Graduation Rates Vary by Sport and Quality

    • Money sports worse

      • Especially football & men’s basketball

    • Consider 2004 Sweet 16

      • 5 schools had <33% graduation rates

        • But Duke’s grad rate 25 points below all men

      • 12 schools graduated < 50%

      • Three had grad rates >40 points below avg.

        • UConn, GATech, Wake Forest


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    Women do Better

    • 9 of Sweet 16 better than best men

      • Stanford & Vanderbilt > 90%

      • Only Purdue <50%

    • Head-to-head with men:

      • Duke: 87% v. 67%

      • Vanderbilt: 92% v. 62%

      • UTexas: 88% v. 38%

      • UConn: 67% v. 27%

  • Comparable to Women as a Whole


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    Blacks do Worse

    • Top 5 football programs

      • Grad rates average 43.2%

        • Student body 56.8%

      • For Black players: 39%

        • All blacks 41.4%

    • Data for basketball now suppressed

      • In past has been worst for men’s b’ball


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    Why do Some Sports do Worse?

    • Some athletes less prepared

      • SATs, HS rank, HS gpa lower

        • True for basketball & - especially – football

        • Not so for softball or golf

    • Is dropping out a rational investment?

      • Go to Florida State to get to NFL?

      • Go to Harvard to become a physicist?


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    Academic Standards

    • Preserve academic integrity

      • Don’t recruit students who cannot read

    • Creates Barrier to entry

      • Established powers keep out new entrants

      • Competitors cannot pay athletes more

      • Now cannot take weaker students either


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    History of Standards

    • Nothing uniform until 1965

      • 1.600 Rule

        • To play needed projected 1.600 gpa

          • Based on complex formula

    • 1973: Replaced 1.600 with 2.00 rule

      • Ostensibly higher standards

      • Actually just needed C+ in any courses

      • Worst abuses came under this rule

        • The sad case of Chris Washburn


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    Proposition 48

    • Provisions

      • Needed SAT=700 & GPA=2.00 in 11 core courses

      • If not: no scholarship in 1st year & cannot play

    • Was Prop 48 Racist?

      • Disproportionately affected black athletes

        • SATs for blacks average 200 points lower

        • Are SATs a valid instrument?

      • Still – graduation rates rose

    • A concession: Partial Qualifiers

      • Can receive aid if pass one criterion


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    Proposition 42

    • Meant to eliminate partial qualifiers

    • Again accused of racist impact

    • Loophole restored – and then some

      • Under Prop 48 scholarship “counted”

      • Under 42 doesn’t count against limit


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    Proposition 16

    • Created sliding scale

    • Clearinghouse evaluated individual courses

      • Understaffing caused embarrassing errors

    • Allows partial qualifiers to practice

    • Challenged in court

      • Students claimed disparate racial impact

        • Won initial case

      • Verdict overturned on technicality

        • NCAA does not disburse federal funds


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    Latest Revision

    • Eases initial restrictions

      • 14 core courses (up from 13)

      • Sliding scale

        • 2.0 core GPA requires 1010 SAT

        • 3.55 core GPA requires 400 SAT

      • No Partial Qualifier status

    • Stiffens progress requirements

      • Need 40% of degree requirement by 3rd year

      • Need 60% of degree requirement by 4th year

      • Need 80 % of degree requirement by 5th year


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    Fear and Loathing of New Rules

    • Coaches fear

      • Players become ineligible in midstream

    • Faculty fear

      • Greater pressure to pass

      • Proliferation of garbage classes


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    Are Athletics Profitable?

    • Most men’s sports are not

      • Only football and basketball make money

      • Only for Division I & IA

    • Almost all women’s sports are not

      • 90% of women’s basketball programs lose $

      • & They are most profitable


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    How Profitable? Consider the NCAA Tournament

    • NCAA has 11-year, $6 billion contract w/CBS

    • Tourney revenue now $425 million/year

      • $389 M in TV rights

      • $35 M from ticket sales, etc.

      • Was only $1.4 million in 1970

    • ~60% goes to Division I conferences & schools


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    Splitting the Pot

    • $105.3 M distributed according to program size

      • Number of sports offered

      • Number of athletes on scholarship.

    • $105.3 distributed according to performance

      • Conference gets 1 "unit" per member game

      • Finals don’t count

      • Each unit worth ~$152,000.

      • Temple did very well this year despite a bad season

    • Payments made six years

      • Each unit will pay ~$912,000 overall


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    Uneven Allocation

    • ~60% of the performance distributions in 2003

      • Went to 6 major conferences

        • ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-10, & SEC

      • Big Ten got most: $12.3 million

    • 9 small conferences each got $784,182.

    • Most conferences divide revenue evenly

    • Reformers want to change disbursement criteria

      • Base on graduation rates


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    But Colleges Don’t Make Money

    • If Michigan cannot profit – who can?

      • Projected $2.05 million deficit in 2000-01

      • Minnesota & Wisconsin hemorrhaging $$

    • Miscounting

      • Benefits understated

        • Increased enrollments - the “Doug Flutie Effect”

      • Costs overstated

        • Opportunity Costs – what does a scholarship cost?

        • Endogenous Expenditure and Bureaucratic Behavior