You won't believe who just set the NCAA back 25 years. The NCAA!
Last week it did the single dumbest thing to college sports
since Chris Webber took math. It's going to allow athletes to
take jobs during the school year that are set up by team
Whoo-eeee, this is going to be rich.
Seven-foot-six student-athlete: "Uh, I'm here about the job?"
Insanely rich booster: "Well, that's fine, son. Your job is to
shovel my walk and driveway twice a week."
Seven-foot-six student-athlete: "Uh, well, ain't we in
Insanely rich booster: "Well, hell, son, that's why it don't pay
but $72.50 an hour!"
Welcome to the era of the $10,000 Domino's tip. The NCAA spent a
thousand years trying to keep boosters from players, and now,
with the go-ahead last week from the Division I board of
directors--15 apparently brain-dead college presidents--the
boosters are permitted to pay players!
HELP WANTED: Doorstop operator. No experience necessary. No
references necessary. No work necessary. 4.3 speed in the 40
"This thing is so chockful of problems, it'll never work," says
Colorado football coach Rick Neuheisel. "We just lost the
Southwest Conference to boosters, and now we're bringing
boosters right back in."
The new rule is known as Proposition 62, the coaches detest it,
and it starts on Aug. 1. Athletes can earn as much as $2,000
during a school year by working in jobs arranged through the
athletic department, coaches or "athletic interests." Your basic
athletic interest is a fat guy who wears Georgia underwear, has
a doorbell that plays the Georgia fight song and owns the
Dawg-Gone Good Lincoln-Buick-Isuzu dealership in Athens.
Son, get this car washed and have it back by next summer.
"I can see it coming," says Texas A&M football coach R.C.
Slocum. "Some of these recruits, first thing they're going to
ask: 'How good a job you going to get me? How much does it pay?
And how little work do I got to do?'"
Guaran-damn-tee you, not much. One summer Washington football
players made $400 a week working for a booster's real-estate
company, and the hardest part was driving to the office to pick
up their checks. Another summer a Florida State tackle got $100
to wash a booster's Jeep.
What did these presidents have their watches set to--1952? Did
they think Coach Wilkinson would get the boys paper routes? Did
they think, in this day and age, Peyton Manning was going to
stand there in a blue smock going, "Hi, and welcome to Wal-Mart!"?
Where do the presidents think athletes are going to find time to
work during the season? Have you ever seen a college hoops
star's schedule? Classes until 2, watch some game video,
practice at 3, finish at 5:30, shower, eat dinner, watch more
game tape until 7, maybe a team meeting until 8, then study
table until 10. What's he going to do after that? Sweep up at
the general store? Uh, Mr. Drucker, I need Friday off. I'm on
So what some athletes will do is take bogus work with some
plaid-stricken booster, a job that requires being on 24-hour
call in case of attack by Guam.
Work during the season? These guys do work during the season.
They're making their colleges millions and getting bupkus in
return. Even the off-season is a joke. In 1952 the players might
not have had mandatory weight room, mandatory conditioning and
mandatory study table in the off-season, but they do now. Summer
Athletes deserve money, but getting it from boosters is dumber
than a cement bikini. This thing invites every cheat, influence
peddler and game fixer right in the front door. Hey, Stretch,
you know that little bonus I got you? Well, I might not tell
them ol' boys at the N-C-Double-A if you'd see clear to miss a
couple free throws tonight.
There's a way to pay the players without sending them over to
Sneaky Stan's House of Stolen Appliances. Give every scholarship
athlete $200 a month to see a movie, buy a pair of jeans and
call home once in a while. The money would come from the
bijillions the NCAA could make from January Madness, an exciting
and lucrative four-week football playoff that would finally make
crowning a national champion fair and save us forever from the
Poulan/Weed Eater Carquest Bowl presented by Nissan.
Write them. Fax them. E-mail them. Tell the presidents to 86 62.
than a cement bikini.