THE COUCH SLOUCH

Fair pay to play act for college athletes might be the right thing, but at what cost?

Getty Images

In the rush to celebrate California Gov. Gavin Newsom signing the Fair Pay to Play Act into law – allowing college athletes in the state to finally get compensated for endorsements and the like, starting in 2023 – most pundits are failing to realize this is not as wonderful as it seems.

Everybody is treating this broadside against the hypocritical, dictatorial NCAA as the greatest thing since sliced bread.

(To be honest, I never understood why sliced bread was considered that big of a breakthrough. What's so hard about buying a loaf of bread and then slicing it at home? Heck, the knife was a big deal, and, frankly, the spork – half spoon, half fork – was ingenius.)*

(* It's amazing how often I get off track, among the many reasons I am not ever taken seriously for Pulitzer, Peabody or Nobel award consideration.)

Sure, it's always a good day when the big, bad NCAA is leveled. What do we know about the NCAA? It acts as if it's the fourth branch of government, accountable to no one except its accountants, and it has really, really nice offices in Indianapolis near Interstate 70.

The NCAA, naturally, strongly opposed this new law; it was also opposed to indoor plumbing and freeway exits.

The NCAA position on this California development – college athletes will be able to endorse products, host sports camps, sign memorabilia or autographs for money, attach their names to video games, et al – is best reflected by the response of the Pac-12 conference: "This legislation will lead to the professionalization of college sports."

Oh, please. Everything about Division 1 football and men's basketball is professional, with the sole exception that its labor force is unpaid and Dick Vitale never stops shouting.

Indeed, I would sum up the NCAA's modus operandi as the following:

The rich get richer and everyone else eats ramen.

Technically, the Fair Pay to Play Act is progress. In the old days, a school might sell a prospect on the quality of its football program, the quality of its education, the quality of the region, etc. Now, a school might woo a prospect with all of that plus the possibility of, say, a local Chevy dealer who is willing to pay a lot for a business relationship with the starting quarterback.

Yes, this is the free market at work. But it's not as free-and-simple as that.

California often is a punch line and often is a pacesetter. In this case, it's both.

Is it possible to take a step in the right direction and the wrong direction at the same time?

(Note: I ask myself that every time I walk down the matrimonial aisle.)

We are casting an erroneous wide net in seeking to solve our college athletics problem.

By the way – and I promise this is the last tangential interruption – why are Newsom and the California state legislature even treading in these waters? I can think of 400, maybe 405 more pressing issues at the moment in the sometimes not-so-Golden State in which I live.

So, why wouldn't colleges align themselves with companies and local retailers who can assure large payments for the best athletes? Why wouldn't third parties – boosters – engage in licit and illicit behavior to pave the yellow brick road for the home team? Wouldn't some high schools start down this path to bring in better athletic talent?

A student-athlete certainly should have the right to assess his or her best deal financially, but I again return to a basic premise:

Why are institutions of higher education trafficking in these areas?

As always, I lean on former University of Chicago president Robert Maynard Hutchins for wisdom: "A student can win twelve letters at a university without learning to write one."

Besides the fact that we are creating another level of potential impropriety and corruption, where exactly in the mission statement for most universities is the part about running sporting events for profit?

This entire unholy business stands as a complete incongruity to a university's raison d'être. What, you don't comprehend raison d'être? That's because you went to a school that prioritized basketball over books and you've spent every autumn Saturday since 1993 watching "College GameDay."

Let me wrap it up this week with my favorite antiquated, oldie-but-goodie sentiment:

Build more libraries, not stadiums.

Ask The Slouch

Q. When somebody tells somebody else "you can't hold my jockstrap," what does that mean? (Nathan Margolis; Albany, N.Y.)

A. I guess you've never tried to hold somebody else's jockstrap.

Q. New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis wears a "Man of God" headband. What would your headband read? (Brian Coffman; Gaithersburg, Md.)

A. "Best by 12-17-96."

Q. I do not understand the crux of this NBA-China dustup. Do you? (Scott Ayres; Houston)

A. I don't either, but I love the word "crux."

Q. Is Dan Snyder the Peter Angelos of the NFL or is Peter Angelos the Dan Snyder of MLB? (Mary Lafsky; Great Falls, Va.)

A. Pay the lady, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!



Ask The Slouch

Q. When somebody tells somebody else "you can't hold my jockstrap," what does that mean? (Nathan Margolis; Albany, N.Y.)

A. I guess you've never tried to hold somebody else's jockstrap.

Q. New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis wears a "Man of God" headband. What would your headband read? (Brian Coffman; Gaithersburg, Md.)

A. "Best by 12-17-96."

Q. I do not understand the crux of this NBA-China dustup. Do you? (Scott Ayres; Houston)

A. I don't either, but I love the word "crux."

Q. Is Dan Snyder the Peter Angelos of the NFL or is Peter Angelos the Dan Snyder of MLB? (Mary Lafsky; Great Falls, Va.)

A. Pay the lady, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

The final dress rehearsal before conference play begins for all college basketball teams.

College basketball report Week 8: Conference play looms

TCU/Facebook


TEXAS LONGHORNS (10-2)

Last week (1-0): W-HPU 89-58

This week: Saturday vs. Baylor

The Texas Longhorns came away victorious in an 89-58 win over the High Point Panthers, Monday night, inside the Frank C. Erwin Jr. Center in Austin. Junior guard Jase Febres scored a game-high 16 points, as sophomore guard Andrew Jones added in 13 points and four assists in his first start following a battle with leukemia.

Winners of six of their last seven, the Longhorns will open their Big-12 schedule with a Texas Showdown against the Baylor Bears.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (6-5)

Last week (1-0): W - Texas Southern 58-55

This week: Saturday vs. Arkansas

In a surprisingly competitive contest, the Texas A&M Aggies outlasted the Texas Southern Tigers in a three-point victory, Monday night, inside the Reed Arena in College Station. While recording 10 points, senior forward Josh Nebo was a dominant force in the middle for A&M as he tallied 15 rebounds and four blocks in the win.

After losing four straight, the Texas A&M Aggies will enter the SEC conference play riding a three-game winning streak ahead of their match against Arkansas on Saturday.

Houston Cougars (10-3)

Last week (1-0): W - Washington 75-71

This week: Friday vs. UCF

The Houston Cougars closed out the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic with a Christmas Day victory over No. 21 Washington Huskies Wednesday night. It was a come from behind win for the Cougars, as Houston trailed by 14 points early in the 1st half.

Behind a 19-point performance from both Caleb Mills and Fabian White Jr., UH went on to outscore the Huskies 44-35 in the second half to complete the comeback win.

With the upset over Washington, the Cougars won the mid-season Hawaiian tournament with White taking home Most Outstanding Player honors after averaging 14.6 points and 5.6 rebounds during the three-game tournament.

As they head back to Houston riding a four-game winning streak, the Cougars will open their American Athletic Conference play with a showdown against UCF on Friday.

RICE OWLS (8-5)

Last week (0-1): L - Sam Houston 75-61

This week: Thursday vs. Marshall, Saturday Western KY

The Rice Owls closed their non-conference schedule with a 75-61 loss to the Sam Houston State BearKats, Sunday afternoon inside the Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston. The Owls struggled out of the gate on the offensive end, and had no answer on the defensive end giving up 27 points (11-17 FG & 13 Rebs) to Kai Mitchell, Sam Houston's senior big man who scored a game-high in the win.

Following the loss, the Rice Owls will open their conference play against Marshall on Thursday, inside the Cam Henderson Center in West Virginia.

BAYLOR BEARS (10-1)

Last week (1-0): W - Jackson State 83-57

This week: Saturday vs. Texas

The sizzling No. 6 Baylor Bears continued their early-season success with an 83-57 win over the Jackson State Tigers, Monday night, in Waco. After coming out of the gates missing their first six shots, Baylor closed out the first half on a 32-6 run to take a 48-24 by halftime.

Four players scored in double figures for the Bears, as Jared Butler recorded 18 points while MaCio Teague finished the night with 16 points and Davion Mitchell had 14. Closing out their non-conference schedule on a nine-game win streak, the Baylor Bears will host the Texas Longhorns on Saturday to begin their conference play.

TCU HORNED FROGS (9-3)

Last week (1-0): W - George Mason 87-53

This week: Saturday vs Iowa

Desmond Bane proved to be too much for the George Mason Patriots to handle, as the senior guard scored a season-high 30 points in an 87-53 win for the TCU Horned Frogs. It was a wire-to-wire victory for TCU with Bane scoring 21 points in the first half shooting 5-for-7 from behind the arc.

Following the win, the Horned Frogs will open their Big-12 schedule on Saturday against Iowa State inside the Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth.

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (9-3)

Last week: (1-0) W - CSU Bakersfield 73-58

This week: Saturday vs. Oklahoma State

The Texans Tech Red Raiders won their fourth consecutive game in a convincing 73-58 victory over the California State Roadrunners on Sunday. As a whole, the Red Raiders stayed hot throughout the game, as Texas Tech shot 49.0% from the field, and a blazing 53% from behind the arc. Both Jahmi'us Ramsey and Kyler Edwards registered 20 points apiece, as the only players to score in double digits for Texas Tech.

Following the win, The Red Raiders will open their Big-12 Conference play against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Saturday, inside the United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, TX.

SMU MUSTANGS (9-2)

Last week (0-0): No Games Scheduled

This week: Wednesday vs USF, Saturday Vanderbilt

With no games on the schedule, SMU will return to the floor on Wednesday, January 1st, for a New Year showdown against the University of South Florida Bulls.

LSU TIGERS (8-4)

Last week (1-0): W - Liberty 74-54

This week: Saturday vs Tennessee

Following back-to-back losses to East Tennessee and USC, the LSU Tigers closed out their none-conference games with a 74-57 win over the Liberty Flames on Sunday. Behind a 14-point performance from Darius Day shooting 54% from the floor, and a dozen coming from Skylar Mays, the Tigers handed Liberty their first loss of the season.

LSU will prepare to open the SEC play on Saturday in a match against the Tennessee Volunteers inside the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome