Unverified Voracity Cut Half The Team! Comment Count

Brian April 25th, 2018 at 2:31 PM

download (1)

yes, i am available to give your Blue Ribbon Committee a sheen of respectability

I mean it wasn't going to be any different. The NCAA's Look We Hired Condi Rice Again commission has delivered their deliverable, a 52-page report about "putting the 'college' back in college basketball." As with all these things it's more of a CYA activity than a genuine attempt to address the problems inherent in a system that prohibits compensation for people who other folks would really like to compensate. Some major takeaways include "end one and done"—which the NCAA has no control over—and "enforce rules better"—good luck.

But! Even in this document there are some grudging concessions:

Rice expressed tacit approval for providing athletes with a cut of the commercial use of their names, images and likenesses, which is currently before courts.

“Most commissioners believe that the rules on name, image and likeness should be taken up as soon as the legal framework is established,” she said. “It is hard for the public, and frankly for me, to understand what can be allowed with the college model — for the life of me I don’t understand the difference between Olympic payments and participation in ‘Dancing With the Stars’ — and what can’t be allowed without opening the door to professionalizing college basketball.”

Unfortunately, the "professionalizing college basketball" has already happened in every meaningful way. TV now dictates game times. Revenue is ruthlessly maximized. Players get more or less cut annually. The only way in which college basketball has not professionalized is in the literal paying of their workers, so we get all the downsides of it without even the compensation of thinking "well, at least it's sort of fair now."

The NCAA will not meaningfully change in the near future unless Jeffrey Kessler's lawsuit is an end-of-Cretaceous event.

"These are great, and no one is holding a gun to my head." The National Association of Basketball Coaches has issued walking orders for the rank and file:

Under the heading “A Message to NCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches," the document signed by NABC executive director Jim Haney and deputy director Reggie Minton declares, “In short, it is imperative that the Commission’s recommendations be met with unequivocal support from each of us.”

The NABC even listed a series of “Key Talking Points” for members to follow.

— “Change was necessary, and we knew that change was coming. As coaches on the front lines, we are uniquely positioned to offer valuable insight as the Commission’s recommendations progress through the legislative process.”
— “As coaches, we are committed to working with the NCAA in evaluating the recommendations and will provide appropriate input as legislation is drafted.”
— “We are appreciative of the Commission’s efforts to address necessary change, and for welcoming the input of the NABC.

The commission doesn't actually advocate any meaningful change. Coaches are currently the main beneficiaries of amateurism and must support a document that waves hands at everyone around the sport without actually affecting their bottom lines. But they have to make it look like they are supporting Change, Which Is Good.

The stick and ball games are doing fairly well. Softball is currently on a 14-game winning streak, which isn't that unusual. Freshman pitcher Meghan Beaubien is crushing the competition:

Beaubien, who leads the nation in wins, improved to 27-2 and lowered her ERA to 0.74, which is sixth in the NCAA. She threw a one-hitter against Maryland on Friday, striking out seven in seven innings in a 6-0 win.

One thing that is unusual: there's a Big Ten team within shouting distance. Softball takes on Indiana in a critical three game series this weekend; the Hoosiers are just a half-game back.

Another thing that's unusual: that's not the longest winning streak on south campus in late April. Baseball is up to 20 straight, largely because Eric Bakich pulled off an unprecedented recruiting class:

ANN ARBOR -- The 2017 recruiting class for Michigan's baseball team was the highest ranked ever for a Big Ten team.

Its 10th overall ranking by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper created high expectations for the 13 incoming freshmen and two junior college transfers.

With the Wolverines coming off a 42-win season, their first 40-win season since 2008, many of the newcomers would be counted on to fill key roles after the team lost 15 players from last season, including a program-record 11 MLB Draft picks.

Although some of them struggled to start the season when the team lost 11 of its first 15 games, the freshmen, most notably pitchers Ben Dragani, Jeff Criswell and Angelo Smith, along with first baseman Jesse Franklin and outfielder Jordan Nwogu, have been key contributors during the Wolverines' 20-game win streak, the program's longest since 1987.

The pressure is still on because of that rough start. Baseball bracketologists usually have Michigan in the field but as one of the last four teams.

Another transfer pass. Sophomore SG Austin Reaves is leaving Wichita State and has mentioned Michigan amongst 22 schools in contact, leading to the usual "!?!??" articles and message board threads about the possibility of adding him. Folks, Reaves is Just A Shooter who must sit a year before playing two.

Does Michigan need a 6'5" JAS shooting guard? Not really. Would he be better than Adrien Nunez? Maybe, maybe not. Would Reaves occupy a 2019 scholarship in a class that's looking like 2 or 3 tops? Yes.

This one is better than the sit-one-play-two guy with a 102 ORTG in the NEC, at least. Reaves is still not a fit unless Michigan wants to stop swinging at the top 50 guys in the 2019 class they seem to have a lot of traction with.

Quite a disconnect. Most Michigan fans high fived themselves when they saw next year's single plays

Home: Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue
Away: Illinois, Iowa, Rutgers
Home/Away: Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Penn State, Wisconsin

…and so did the MGoSlack. Skipping road games against two of the four tourney teams from last year and one of the two NIT teams seems pretty good. But not so much, says Bart Torvik:

Best guess at the discrepancy: Michigan misses three of the easiest games in league play. From a tourney resume perspective that's good; from a league title perspective not so much. At least this year the 20 game schedule means the schedule gap is significantly smaller than it was a year ago, when MSU was handed a dubious banner.

Again, small hockey schools can pound sand. Niagara fired its hockey coach and replaced him. His first act? Cutting eight guys. Eight! Niagara says they'll honor scholarship commitments, largely because they have to say that, but chances are these guys are headed elsewhere. It's one thing to have to squeeze out another year of junior for a player because of college hockey's crazy recruiting environment. Cutting eight guys is entirely another. This only happens in college hockey because you can import a bunch of 21-year-old freshman-type substances, another small-school innovation.

This is not an isolated incident. When UMass-Amherst cut ~nine guys last year. When you hear people complaining about Michigan flipping recruits, tell 'em to get stuffed! Get stuffed, I say!

Etc.: Don't click here. Intact coaching staff? Wagner scouted. Economist makes the case that the sports EMU is cutting are actually profitable for the school because it is not full on students. Maybe it's okay the USMNT didn't make the World Cup! /sits weeping in corner



April 25th, 2018 at 2:51 PM ^

I've said this before concerning paying athletes, but how much more do you pay them? With current room and board rates, an athlete that does not live in campus housing collects $14,816 per semester from the university. Minus living expenses (~$700 rent, ~$200 utilities, ~$300-400 food), you could walk away with a Michigan degree and north of $50,000 in your pocket, more if you require a fifth year to complete your degree. 


April 25th, 2018 at 4:47 PM ^

I think this gets to the heart of the problem.  There isn't a free market for the compensation.  The scholarship + costs model doesn't represent the market value of the student athlete's participation on the team.  Coaches can make millions but students are stuck with scholarships, and superb athletes that create more value can't capitalize on it.  

Feels unfair when the coaches and schools make out with millions.


April 26th, 2018 at 8:05 AM ^

They aren't.

They are only required to do so if they choose to play a sport in the NCAA.


They don't have to play a sport.

They have other options than college if they wish to.


Basketball players can play professionally - either in the G League or overseas if they feel their market value is more than playing in the NCAA.

Football players can play professionally - either in the CFL or numerous semi-pro leagues if they feel their market value is more than playing in the NCAA.



April 26th, 2018 at 1:26 PM ^

Alright, but why should they pay for other student athletes?  The market value for the non-revenue sports is by definition zero, so why carry them in the first place?  There are a few arguments that people have raised to this:

1) Current non-revenue athletes lose their scholarships

This is pretty easy to deal with; just phase out non-revenue sports on an 5+ year timeline so no one currently in the system loses out. 

2) Future non-revenue athletes don't get scholarships

We should just forget about these athletes. In the first place, it's strange to be offering academic opportunities for non-academic skills.  It makes no sense for someone to want to improve athletically in the present to improve academically in the future, so we should be getting rid of perverse incentives like that.  America is the only place that offers scholarships for running around a field.  Get rid of that.

For example, Caltech has 0 revenue sports and therefore they have 0 athletic scholarships.  They don't give special admissions to athletes, because they are supposed to be students, not whatever that cancerous designation "student-athlete" means.

On the other hand, most 5-star basketball players are athletes, not students.  So they shouldn't be admitted as students, but as athletes, and receive treatment appropriate as athletes.  Whatever "student-athletes" are, they are not that.  This follows for a lot of the football players on our team, too.

3) Title IX

I think when most people bring this up, they are being disingeniuous because they probably don't actually care about gender equality.  I don't know the legal details, but there's also a racial inequality component to not letting (usually black) football/basketball athletes profit but letting (usually white) student entrepreneurs profit.  I'm sure that the courts could work this out.

Athletes are athletes, and students are students.  Consider them separately and a lot of the problems would be fixed.


April 26th, 2018 at 8:03 AM ^

My concern about payment and compensation for images is that schools will find a way to have recruits images plastered everywhere to up the ante for them.  There will be no controlling the cheating schools if money is allowed, as evidenced by their lack of control when it is illegal.  Cheaters gonna cheat.

Section 1.8

April 25th, 2018 at 10:51 PM ^

I do not understand what obligation NCAA schools have, to serve as any sort of farm league for the NBA.

It doesn't really matter to me; I'm no longer a baskteball season ticket holder.  It's just a big turnoff for me.  I'm not interested, in watching collegians come and go after a year or two.  It's all such a phony exercise in NBA-prep.  I'll be increasingly unlikely to buy tickets, to support the program, or even to watch.



April 25th, 2018 at 3:46 PM ^

when it comes to paying athletes. They are compensated for playing a sport. You also add in the amount of apparel they receive, plus plenty of training table meals on top of their food stipen. They do just fine.  Leave paying athletes to the professional level.

If a kid finds it to tough then stop playing the sport and go to school like a regular college student who probably works a job or is getting buried in dept. 


April 25th, 2018 at 3:54 PM ^

scholarship is enough to cover what they had to work on. They work more than 40 hours of their time to perfect their craft in sports, 20 hours of school work. They're underpaid compared to what they're getting in return which is what you said above. Most of them are poor and can't afford to go to school.


April 25th, 2018 at 4:43 PM ^

I watched the Amazon documentary and was struck by all the freebies.  On top of the scholarship, the trip to Rome, I assume was paid for (by a donor if I remember right).  Lots of apparel, including those $200 sneaks that aren't in my budget.  I was even surprised to see that the players seemed to have some sort of private cafeteria to dine at.  1:1 personal academic tutors if needed.  Outings and team dinners at the bowl game.  Athletic trainers/medical care.  Amazon thought it was cute that Coach JMFH brought his daughter in to see the trainer for an infection from her new ear piercing.  It was cute, but that's a cool benefit and I bet it's open to any of the players as well.  

I don't hold any of this against them - they work harder than I probably ever will, but it's not really reasonable to say they aren't compensated.  All of these things listed landed in my student loans balance after my 2 degrees.

I'd think that the total of all the benefits a scholarship football player receives in 4 years at UM are probably worth $300-400k, and possibly more if they stretch to 5 years and earn a master's degree on top of the bachelors.

I still sense the system is unfair but it's not that they are getting nothing.


April 25th, 2018 at 6:18 PM ^

As someone pointed out, but yeah, they get decent living stipends.

I lived with a walk-on when I was a student and he said that a lot of players lived in Ypsi for like $200/mo and then used the $500/mo savings compared to an AA apartment to lease cars.  That's how a lot of them drove Escalades, Explorers, etc. 

Of course, if they didn't spend that on "transportation" and lived as thrifty as possible, I don't know if they're allowed to save it. Maybe they have to submit receipts for "qualified" room, board and transportation but I doubt it (I don't recall that ever coming up with my roommate).  Probably not a lot of college athletes with the discipline to save their stipend checks anyway, but maybe some do/could.


April 25th, 2018 at 7:31 PM ^

I'm sure they can save some, but from some articles I've read the room + board + miscellaneous part of a scholarship is around $12k a year. Which is good money and certainly a benefit for the players, but unless you were super frugal it would be hard to save a lot of that.

And for guys in the revenue sports, they have some many other time commitments and restrictions on jobs they could get that you sorta have to provide some additional compensation to cover, say, lost potential wages. And as we saw with Mo Hurst driving for Lyft, the NCAA will surely cut off any such new revenue streams as soon as possible.


April 26th, 2018 at 12:19 AM ^

I doubted they have to show how much they actually spend (but didn't want to say for sure because I wasn't 100% positive).

Lost wages for time spent is certainly not an argument for paying them more than 7k per semester.  That's a lot of money for a full-time student to make in any other job.  Playing football for 14k per school year most definitely does not represent an opportunity cost vs other employment options (other than playing their sport professionally which is restricted not by the NCAA but by the pro leagues).

The legitiamte argument for paying them more is that as athletes they bring millions of dollars to the university. The market value of what they're doing is much higher than they're allowed to receive (but really only for the top guys in the revenue sports).


April 25th, 2018 at 10:21 PM ^

Yes, you are correct. That is for 2 semesters. My major point still stands though, that these athletes can live pretty comfortably and still pocket a pretty decent amount of cash after graduation. My analysis was just a quick look. I bet if you dove into the numbers a bit, you'd find that I grossly over estimated cost of living.


April 25th, 2018 at 2:56 PM ^

Part of the reason for the Torvik disconnect:

His 2019 projections currently have Michigan State as #6, Wisconsin as #18 and Maryland at #19 (Michigan is at #20). That means in his model's eyes we play Home and Home's with the top 3 teams, all ranked above us, so that's 30% of our schedule right there.

His model also currently has Iowa (road only) at #29, Indiana (Home and Home) at #31, and Northwestern (Home and Home) at #35. Meanwhile Nebraska, OSU and Purdue (all single home plays) are #34, #37 and #39 respectively.

So currently in his model's eyes we only have single games against two of worst teams (Rutgers, Illinois) but have 6 games against the top 3 teams (which are all better than us) as well as another 5 against teams in the top 35, 3 of which are on the road. For the #20 ranked team, that's a tough schedule. Then our home single plays are against 7th, 9th and 10th ranked B1G teams to his model so we don't get a favorable schedule there.

That being said I think his projections right now are way off. I don't see Wisconsin as a top 20 team even though they will be better. Iowa, Indiana and Northwestern seem laughably high while Nebraska and Purdue, although moreso Nebraska, seem incredibly low.

The disconnect seems to mainly be his model disagreein with human consensus on which B1G teams are good and which are bad.


April 25th, 2018 at 5:23 PM ^

which are a bit of a question mark at this point. BUT...

I would bet that his projections are far better than all these knee jerk reactions to a schedule for which people are judging the difficulty based on previous years results, which isn't how you judge a future schedule.

I've argued as soon as they were released that we project to have a more difficult than average schedule because 1) we don't get those gimmes at home against Illinois and Rutgers, 2) Purdue and OSU are probably going to be a lot worse next year than they were this past year and 3) the toughest teams (in my mind other than Michigan) should be MSU and Maryland with Wisconsin probably the most improved team.  We play all three of them twice. 

I think his model is off a bit (Wisconsin and Iowa should be good but not that good) but look how much more difficult our schedule is projected to be compared to even the third toughest schedule.  Huge difference. Strong evidence that our schedule is probably on the tough side rather than the easy side.


April 25th, 2018 at 5:54 PM ^

I agree generally with what you're saying. Our schedule is not as easy as people think and judging it based on last years schedule is a mistake. Teams like OSU and Purdue will be worse while a team like Maryland should be a lot better.

That being said I still think Torvik's projections are pretty bad. Wisconsin went 15-18 last year and 7-11 in conference yet is somehow projected to be a top 20 team next year? They had some injuries with D'Mitrik Trice and Kobe King but that team was bad last year. It was Ethan Happ and a team full of chuckers who couldn't create their own shot. Of guys who played 15%+ of available minutes last year the only ones with ORTGs above 107 were Brevin Prtizl and Aleem Ford, and they had USGs of 15.4 and 12.7 respectively which were Isaiah Livers/Eli Brooks level. Happ had a 35.6% usage rate and a 105.1 ORTG (which doesn't do him justice as a player since his defense is so good). The only layers on Wisconsin's team with above average ORTGs had Brooks/Livers level USGs. Sure they get Trice and King back, but King has played 10 games and Trice to this point is another inefficient chucker. They also have the 12th best recruiting class in the B1G. Do I think they're a tourney team next year? Probably. A top 20 team? Not a chance.

Then there's Iowa. Iowa was 14-19 and 4-14 in conference. They return most of their roster and have a 4 star, top 60 SG coming in. But they were putrid on defense and have a mediocre at best coach in McCafferey. That's a solid foundation and that team will improve, but to call them a preseason top 30 team defies logic.

Same with Indiana. Solid recruiting class coming in but only one top 100 guy. They only return 6 guys and only one who played more than 60% of minutes last year (granted DeRon Davis was injured). Now they're a top 30 team instead of a .500 level one? More plausible than Iowa, but still questionable.

Northwestern the same. Mediocre team last year, below .500, losing 3 starters and 2 of their best 4 players from last year. Bring in a good grad transfer and a decent recruiting class with one top 100 player, yet all of a sudden they're top 35?

I also get a team like Purdue will drop losing 4/5 starters. But they bring back probably the best player in the conference in Carsen Edwards and bring in a good transfer player like NW. But they drop to 39.

I agree our schedule isn't as easy as people think. I personally like the tougher schedule, helps the team but also means better games and a better home schedule which is nice as a fan. I like the schedule for that reason. But I also think Torvik's predictions fail to pass the common sense test right now. Which is probably due in large part to inability to model incoming freshman and the impact of good coaching properly. The model will also probably hit on one or two the teams I listed above. But to say going into next year that Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, and NW are all better than Purdue or a team like Nebraska seems bad to me.


April 25th, 2018 at 6:54 PM ^

They won 5 of their last 8 games with wins over Purdue and Maryland and their only losses to Michigan and MSU (twice). Torvik had them as the 27th best team in the last month of the season.  They were really young and banged up and started terribly but they improved a lot over the course of the season.

It is not difficult to see how they could have climbed to be a top 30 team and with everyone back, they could improve on that.  Again, I think top 20 is a little generous but I think they could be the 4th best team in the B1G and should have about a 12-8 or 11-9 record and make the tourney.  That's only a 3-4 game improvement in conference as it is.

Iowa is a little irrelevant to our SOS since we only play them once and are actually hurt by that fact in Torvik's projections.  They get all their pieces back, they have some talent, 29th is probably high but top 40 is very reasonable to expect of them. McCaffrey had top 30 kenpom teams in each of the four seasons from 2013-2016.  He's not a great coach but he's had teams like this one playing at that level.

IU loses a bunch of guys but almost no one that was any good.  None of their Sr starters has Ortgs higher than 101.  If they get back Morgan and Davis is healthy, it's not hard to see how they can improve because the guys replacing the departed almost can't be worse.  Second year under Miller and they should have any learning curve out of the way.  Agree that top 30 is way too high but they're prob top 50.

Agree about Northwestern.  Seems like they're due to take a big step back, but it also seems like that took that step back unexpectedly last year already.

I would agree, again, that his model is better than most human projections for a couple of reasons.  Interestingly, 538 just put out an article about how bad "experts" are at projecting NFL future SOS when the NFL schedule came out recently (link).

One of the reasons is that people don't factor in how luck affected a W-L or even SOS.  So Wisconsin went 15-18 and you think they're bad, but you're not considering how they trended, how young they were, etc.

I also would bet that Torvik is factoring in coaching in a sense.  A lot of these projections (that are meant to minimize error when applied to past seasons) apply a 5-year moving average as one of the factors.  This essentially captures some coaching because good coaches with completely different players will tend to have a good five year average even if they had an unlucky previous season.  That might be coming in to play for Gard who had two good seasons before this one, McCaffrey who I mentioned above, and Chris Collins who had a good season at Northwestern before this weird one.


April 25th, 2018 at 2:57 PM ^

College basketball has some unique symptoms of trouble due to its nature as a sport. But you don't "fix" college basketball without addressing problems that are spread across all of the NCAA, particularly revenue sports. 

Once again, NIL rights are noticeable here. It's not just that it's right or good for the athletes; it is in the NCAA's best interest to allow athletes to make NIL money because it sharply reduces the emphasis on NCAA teams paying the players themselves, since the players are free to make money already.

It's simple. It removes the need for the NCAA to pretend to enforce wide swaths of the athlete's lives. It is irrelevant to Title IX and benefits women who play in higher-profile sports. 


April 25th, 2018 at 3:05 PM ^

I don't see, sparty 65% chance to win the conference next year?? And # 6 in Torvik's pre season poll?? Again, I don't see it. And if Ward goes G League or Transfer I doubt they even make the tourney. 


April 25th, 2018 at 3:06 PM ^

Excellent points about the allocation of fixed costs across the student body.

You can truly make the exact opposite conclusion depending on what outcome you prefer.


April 25th, 2018 at 3:27 PM ^

I've spent way too much time thinking about this...but here is the best solution I can come up with that really serves everybody's best interests.  First I am going to list the concerns I would have about paying and then my solution.

Concern #1 - the money obtained by the revenue sports pays for the non-revenue sports...so the University making money actually benefits the rest of the students AND student-athletes.  I know the coaches get paid significant sums of money in addition to other administrators, etc. so take this with a grain of salt, but if you start paying a lot of the players it will take away from other sports and activities that are currently funded by the revenues from football and basketball.

Concern #2 - School Revenue becomes a huge factor in the success of the team.  Despite this likely benefitting Michigan, the fun of college sports is the variability and relative parity of teams.  There will always be heavyweights that sit atop the standings for a decade or more, but eventually most programs have ups and downs, and even the smaller schools can compete at times (especially in basketball).  Paying players would effectively kill the parity in the sport because the small schools would not be able to compete on contracts with the larger schools...and it would create a Yankees/Red Sox and everybody else type feel.  Obviously there would still be players who were not highly recruited that end up being great athletes, but the statistics are that 5-stars will more likely pan out than 2-star or 3-star athletes.

Concern #3 - This is more of a personal issue I have as a UofM grad, but the athletes are basically dismissing the idea of an education/degree being worth anything.  They are receiving several hundred thousand dollars as "payment" in the form of a free education to a top institution.  Their lack of interest in the education does not diminish its value except in their own mind.  So let's stop saying they don't get compensated...


Let the pro leagues draft them anytime during their college careers (or prior to college for incoming freshmen) without any impact to their eligibility.  Let the players hire agents/advisors and the NCAA can certify them to ensure they aren't predatory.  Then let those pro leagues negotiate contracts with the players and provide them only 1 year to do so.  This would mean the pro league would need to offer something fair or the player could decide not to sign and wait until the next draft.  This also means that the player needs to weigh the risks associated with NOT reaching a mutually beneficial contract (i.e. they are offered $1M per year for 5 years after college and decline, then get hurt).  Draft rights would only be owned for one year so if that player held out and had a breakout year, he could improve his draft standing.  There would have to be guaranteed contracts so that pro leagues couldn't restrict the athlete's decision making about leaving early / keeping the player out of a bowl game so they avoid injury, etc.  

I believe there would be a lot of details to be ironed out, but this would allow players to get paid their ACTUAL value for their potential based on previous playing experience AND not really restrict which college they could/would sign with because there would no longer be money dangling to entice them to sign with one college over another.  

Additionally, if you wanted to address the fact that the colleges are making something off the players likenesses, you could ensure that NCAA universities would be required to relinquish XX% of those memorabilia/merchandising revenues to a fund that would set up equal trusts for ALL student athletes then you would be fulfilling some sort of revenue-sharing.  This is a tough one because any payment based on the amount of memorabilia sold could sway a prospect's decision making to a larger school or one with a better brand...which is partially what the current problems stemmed from (albeit a bit backwards).  

Just some initial thoughts...interested in seeing what others think of them.