Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA
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“How can the NCAA blithely wreck careers without regard to due process or common fairness? How can it act so ruthlessly to enforce rules that are so petty? Why won’t anybody stand up to these outrageous violations of American values and American justice?”
In the four years since Joe Nocera asked those questions in a controversial New York Times column, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has come under fire. Fans have begun to realize that the athletes involved in the two biggest college sports, men’s basketball and football, are little more than indentured servants. Millions of teenagers accept scholarships to chase their dreams of fame and fortune—at the price of absolute submission to the whims of an organization that puts their interests dead last.
For about 5 percent of top-division players, college ends with a golden ticket to the NFL or the NBA. But what about the overwhelming majority who never turn pro? They don’t earn a dime from the estimated $13 billion generated annually by college sports—an ocean of cash that enriches schools, conferences, coaches, TV networks, and apparel companies . . . everyone except those who give their blood and sweat to entertain the fans.
Indentured tells the dramatic story of a loose-knit group of rebels who decided to fight the hypocrisy of the NCAA, which blathers endlessly about the purity of its “student-athletes” while exploiting many of them: The ones who get injured and drop out because their scholarships have been revoked. The ones who will neither graduate nor go pro. The ones who live in terror of accidentally violating some obscure rule in the four-hundred-page NCAA rulebook.
Joe Nocera and Ben Strauss take us into the inner circle of the NCAA’s fiercest enemies. You’ll meet, among others . . .
·Sonny Vaccaro, the charismatic sports marketer who convinced Nike to sign Michael Jordan. Disgusted by how the NCAA treated athletes, Vaccaro used his intimate knowledge of its secrets to blow the whistle in a major legal case.
·Ed O’Bannon, the former UCLA basketball star who realized, years after leaving college, that the NCAA was profiting from a video game using his image. His lawsuit led to an unprecedented antitrust ruling.
·Ramogi Huma, the founder of the National College Players Association, who dared to think that college players should have the same collective bargaining rights as other Americans.
·Andy Schwarz, the controversial economist who looked behind the façade of the NCAA and saw it for what it is: a cartel that violates our core values of free enterprise.
Indentured reveals how these and other renegades, working sometimes in concert and sometimes alone, are fighting for justice in the bare-knuckles world of college sports.
individual scholarships of equal dollar value. It does mean that the total amount of scholarship aid made available to men and women must be substantially proportionate to their participation rates.* So, in theory, if there are more women than men on campus (which is the norm),* the participation prong of Title IX requires that more women than men participate in intercollegiate sports. It does not require that the women’s programs as a whole spend as much or more as men’s programs, nor does
285; as critic of NCAA, 33–35, 44, 50, 208–9; criticisms of, 235; Delany and, 234–35; and differences between rules and laws, 155–56; Duke University speech of, 154–56; Hausfeld and, 157, 158, 208, 210, 236; and high school athletes, 34, 35–36, 37, 46, 47; Huma and, 77, 164, 248; influence of The Insiders movie on, 208; Jennings and, 154; King and, 158–59, 161, 210, 234; and King-Hausfeld lawsuit, 234; and names and images issues, 158–59, 160–61; and NBA age restrictions, 153; NCAA relationship
because these schools’ revenues are lower than most of the core Pac-10 schools, but scholarship costs are more comparable because of the NCAA agreement to limit compensation. * Again, Title IX could result in as much as half of this, or $65,000, being diverted to increased women’s financial aid. * The annual television revenues are estimated to increase from a reported $59.5 million to $250 million, which equates to a $15.8 million increase for each of the conference’s twelve
sources. These were all useful reforms. But the commission’s two most important recommendations were that NCAA enforcement hearings should be held in public instead of behind closed doors, and that retired federal judges, completely independent of the NCAA, should replace the Committee on Infractions. These, however, the NCAA declined to implement. To this day, Committee on Infractions hearings are held in secret, and the committee members are too close to the enforcement staff. As for
Bienen adds, “Northwestern was interested in more revenues and Jim was a great negotiator.” Delany found a partner in News Corp.–owned Fox, which was hungry for college sports programming, and had recently outbid ESPN for the BCS. (The network began to broadcast the games in 2006.) Delany’s tenure and record of financial success also appealed to the president of Fox Sports, Bob Thompson. “Jim was always at the forefront and that’s one of the reasons we wanted to work with the Big Ten,”