Wednesday, December 8, 2021

'Student-Athlete' Has Always Been a Lie


written by STEVE ULRICH
your must-read briefing on what's driving the day in NCAA Division III
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1. 'Student-Athlete' Always Been a Lie

The Division III experience: Building a balance between student and athlete  - The Student Life
by Nathan Kalman-Lamb, Jay M. Smith, and Stephen T. Casper, Chronicle of Higher Education
Graphic by Megan Joyce, The Student Life

"Few phrases are intoned with more solemnity on American college campuses than “student-athlete.” Yet most students, parents, faculty, and staff have only the vaguest idea what the term means. Its historical origins in a cynical evasion of athletes’ rights are long forgotten. The fact that it is a linguistic abomination typically evades notice. Is it two nouns? An adjective and noun? A noun and an adjective? However you slice it, it’s a lie designed to sell the myth that the unpaid labor of college sport is a form of prestige and privilege.

In fact, the phrase “student-athlete” disguises and sustains a brutal system of indenture. In the exchange that occurs between athlete and university, the ivory tower makes off like a bandit. Athletes receive an often illusory prize: in-kind wages called scholarships and financial aid that quite obviously cost universities nothing — athletic scholarships, after all, are just the transfer of funds from one budget (athletic) to another (academic). For athletes, the exchange involves the surrender of the value produced by their talent, even as they take on enormous and undisclosed risk.

Nearly everyone who studies these issues — from college athlete advocates to Supreme Court justices to the National Labor Relations Board — condemns the NCAA’s and universities’ exploitation of these players. Given the enormous (and enormously overdue) public attention on these problems in recent months, it’s time to re-evaluate the ugly history of the phrase “student-athlete.”

>> Court Awareness: "Varying compensation practices and unseemly backbiting among colleges created the appearance of widespread corruption. In the mid-1950s, a series of scandals rocked the Pacific Coast Conference, eventually destroying it. Hoping to avoid further PR disasters, the NCAA sought in 1956 to standardize the compensation to which athletes would be entitled. Executive Director Walter Byers instituted the new practice of awarding scholarships “for athletic talent and without regard for need” — and threw in $15 per week in “laundry money” to boot. The goal was finally to end the scandalous competition for recruits that had so sullied make-believe amateurism."

>> Why It Matters: "At the same time, the NCAA concocted the term student-athlete and imposed it as what Byers called a “mandated substitute” for words like “players” and “athletes” in the college sports lexicon. With this rhetorical sleight-of-hand, Byers hoped to provide the system with a more effective “academics first” disguise. In his searing retrospective, Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Exploiting College Athletes, Byers admitted to this evasion. He had coined the phrase “student-athlete,” he wrote, in order to dodge a worker’s compensation claim for the death of a college football player."

>> What's Next: "In the draft of its new constitution, the NCAA uses the term “student-athlete” over 40 times. It cites as its renewed foundational principles “The Primacy of the Academic Experience” and “The Collegiate Student-Athlete Model.” That is, despite all the hullabaloo around name, image, and likeness liberalization — not to mention the exhortations of Congress, the Supreme Court, and basic common sense — the governing body of college sport has doubled down. The final ratification vote occurs in January."

>> Continue Reading


2. New Constitutional Draft Shared


The NCAA Constitution Committee on Tuesday released the latest draft of a proposed new constitution for review by NCAA member schools and conferences. The latest draft addresses several items noted at the Special Convention, responses from delegate surveys and additional feedback from across the Association.

Based on membership feedback, the committee made several revisions to the draft constitution, including:

  • When referencing name, image and likeness opportunities for student-athletes, broader language allows for evolution while still prohibiting pay for play.  
  • A clarification that the Board of Governors will approve Association contracts regarding media rights and revenue-producing agreements in consultation as appropriate with divisional bodies.
  • Highlighting the board's consultation with divisional bodies regarding agenda items with a commitment to transparency on anticipated action items.
  • Changing the process for amendments to constitutional amendments to require a two-thirds vote, not majority, consistent with other procedures to change the constitution.
  • Establishing an Association-wide definition of a national collegiate championship.
  • Clarifying that each division must determine how multidivisional sport classification should be managed.

Members can offer feedback on the latest draft constitution through Saturday. The Constitution Committee will make its final recommendations to the Board of Governors by Dec. 15. 

>> Read More
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3.  Hope Marches On

Hope extended its winning streak to 52 games with a 78-51 victory against Aquinas. The Flying Dutch have appeared in every women's basketball poll except one since the start of the 2005-06 season.
  1. Hope (25), 7-0
  2. Whitman, 6-0
  3. UW-Eau Claire, 8-0
  4. John Carroll, 5-0
  5. Wartburg, 6-0
  6. Amherst, 7-0
  7. Trine, 7-1
  8. UW-Whitewater, 8-0
  9. Christopher Newport, 9-0
  10. DePauw, 7-0

>> Making a MoveUW-Eau Claire jumped nine spots into the top 10, while Hope remained the unanimous No. 1.

>> StreakingAmherst has the longest active streak of appearances in the poll at 189. The Mammoths have been a fixture in the rankings since January 2008. Tufts (121) and Hope (118) are second and third.
  • In: Gettysburg, St. John Fisher
  • Out: Rhodes, Catholic
>> Coming Up on Saturday: No. 5 Wartburg at No. 12 Simpson

>> Complete Poll

4.   Yeshiva On Top

Over the men's basketball poll's 20-year history, 33 programs have reached the top spot at least once. Yeshiva becomes No. 34.

  1. Yeshiva (13), 10-0
  2. Randolph-Macon (8), 8-1
  3. Illinois Wesleyan (3), 7-0
  4. UW-Platteville (1), 9-0
  5. St. Joseph's, Conn., 6-0
  6. UW-Oshkosh, 8-1
  7. Elmhurst, 7-1
  8. Wheaton, Ill., 7-1
  9. Mary Hardin-Baylor, 4-0
  10. Marietta, 4-2

>> Making Their Move: UW-Oshkosh jumped four spots to No. 6 after its 56-53 win at UW-La Crosse, handing the Titans their first loss.

>> Power Conference: The CCIW has three teams in the top 10 - Illinois Wesleyan (3), Elmhurst (7), and Wheaton (8).
  • In: Williams
  • Out: Wesleyan, Conn.
>> Coming Up
  • Saturday: No. 3 Illinois Wesleyan at No. 8 Wheaton, Ill.; No. 13 UW-La Crosse at No. 16 Trine

>> Complete Poll

    5.  Comings and Goings
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