Columnist Ron Hart talks 'Bama and Obama, who has spoken in favor of a college football playoff system:
Obama's Justice Department has kicked around many legal strategies on how to gain the control of the NCAA football system that the federal government currently does not have. DOJ is well-versed in the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution, since that is its justification for the individual mandate provision of Obamacare.
Maybe now it could say the University of Alabama, in recruiting Flint, Michigan's Heisman Trophy-winning running back Mark Ingram, violated laws against kidnapping, smuggling or transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of commerce. We have so many laws in this country; there has to be one the Department of Justice can contort into fitting its goal.
If Obama had his way with "equity" in college football, he could work toward his dream of "fairness" so that every team in the country would have a record of 6 and 6. He would love that, because then he would get to decide the national champion. In Obama's view, since he is granted the right under our Constitution to dismiss the head of General Motors, Inc., he should certainly have the right to fire the offensive coordinator at LSU.
As a long-suffering college fan who graduated from three schools (Rutgers, Temple, SUNY-Buffalo) that have historically sucked at football (despite one of them, Rutgers, winning the very first collegiate game and then losing every other one until a few years ago), I have no opinion on how the NCAA should do things.
I like college sports a lot (esp. football and basketball), but as a taxpayer and a Ph.D. with many faculty friends, I think there is something tremendously sickening with the massive amounts of subsidies that go into college sports. There is simply no question that sports do not serve any conceivable educational mission and they definitely drain resources from the sorts of research and teaching that colleges supposedly exist to produce and support. The ultimate resource on this matter is USA Today's database of how much college athletic departments are subsidized, especially by mandatory student fees.
While schools such as LSU and Alabama don't rake off student fees to cover sports programs, most Division I schools do. For instance, in the 2009-2010 academic year, Rutgers spent $8.4 million a year in student fees on sports teams, while the school kicked in another $18.4 million in "direct institutional support." Then there's about $9 million in scholarships and another $11.2 million in coaches' compensation.
Especially because the college sports system is built upon the worst sort of cartelization, labor practices, and exploitation. It's essentially impossible for players in basketball and football (the only two sports that throw off cash) to route around the college system due to collusion by the NCAA and the pro leagues. Spin the college sports teams off already and let schools focus on research and teaching; allow pro sports leagues to figure out what to pay junior players in junior leagues; let voluntarily funded clubs and associations cover the costs of other sports.