USA Today sports columnist Ian O’Connor hit the ball out of the park in a column this week about the rank hypocrisy that surrounds the National Collegiate Athletics Associations policies that screw players at every opportunity for doing what other students — and even coaches — routinely are able to do without penalty.
The specific complaint that O’Connor had was the set of circumstances that kept USC wide receiver Mike Wiliams from playing in Tuesday’s Orange Bowl.
After Maurice Clarrett won a preliminary legal victory allowing him to enter the NFL despite that league’s rule that players had to be at least three years out of high school, Williams also declared his intention to go pro. When Clarrett lost his legal efforts to enter the NFL, O’Connor writes,
. . . Williams moved to de-professionalize himself by losing his agent, returning gifts and endorsement income and enrolling in summer school.
The NCAA could have cared less — it stripped him of all of his collegiate eligibility. So Williams was left unable to play football either professionally or at the collegiate level this year.
But, as O’Connor notes, there are no such restrictions on coaches and the other shameless hypocrites who exploit collegiate athletes,
If [freshment players Adrian] Peterson and [Dwayne] Jarrett want to turn pro this spring rather than risk injury on the room, board and books plan, they should be free to turn pro. Just as free as NFL GMs to use their first-round picks on other prospects. Instead the freshmen remain tethered to the goals of college administrators who want to protect their lucrative product, and NFL owners who are more interested in preserving a free farm system than they are in saving some 19-year-old from a Ray Lewis blitz.
But that’s how the game is played at the major college level. While coaches can shamelessly break contracts and promises and conferences can shamelessly steal schools from each other, the players are held to a higher stander. Urban Meyer won’t have to sit out a year at Florida; no, he gets to earn his $14 million right away. Any Ute who wants to follow Meyer to Gainseville, or any Cowboy who wants to follow Les Miles to LSU, had better be prepared to spend some quality time — in streeth clothes — on the bench.
Coaches don’t need a release from their national letters of intent. Dennis Franchione lied to everyone before bolting Alabama for Texas A&M two years back, and he’s already up for a raise on his $1.7 million deal. . . .
. . .
. . . in football, the players are told to stay put. You transfer, you sit. You try to turn pro before we want you to, we give you a healthy dose of the BCS, minus the C.
Too bad coaches aren’t held to same standards as players. Ian O’Connor, USA Today, January 4, 2005.