A Shakeup Due In College Football

There were two news items last week that on the surface were unrelated, but a deeper look reveals they may be very much connected.

First, the report that some players from Georgia, Georgia Tech and Northwestern wore on their gear either the phrase All Players United or the acronym APU. The players were expressing solidarity with players suing the NCAA for using their likenesses without permission and to encourage the NCAA to institute reforms.

Second, the NCAA announced a decision to restore five of the 10 scholarships it had stripped from Penn State as part of the severe sanctions it imposed on the school in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal. Most thought the sanctions too severe, and the NCAA is feeling tremendous pressure to effect changes in its rules and procedures.

On Monday, while speaking to more than 100 Division I faculty athletic representatives, NCAA president Mark Emmert said, “I think the board anticipates a lot of change. They’re going into their October and January meetings expecting to look at a whole different governance model for Division I. So it will be significantly different.”

The organization has taken a couple of very black eyes in the last year with the University of Miami investigation riddled with improper actions by NCAA personnel and then humiliated by the Johnny Football fiasco, when Texas A&M quarterback Jonny Manziel could not be penalized more than half a game for allegedly signing autographs and memorabilia for five-figure payments because of a lack of hard proof. There was plenty of circumstantial evidence that had every football writer and the general public deciding that the NCAA was no longer the lion that roared, but rather the most ineffectual kind of paper tiger.

Change is certainly coming, and institutions can only guess how these changes will affect their school.

* The recent decision by UH athletic director Ben Jay to turn down the Colorado offer to play a game Oct. 19 was a sign that Jay is a practical man. While there were concerns about player safety and missed class time, those might have been overcome if the financially strapped UH athletic program could have secured a big payday. Colorado’s offer of $600,000 was not the windfall it appeared, given that UH would pay premium prices for airline tickets within a month of kickoff.

Those who criticized Jay for not making a swifter decision clearly misapprehended the negotiation. The urgency was all on Colorado’s side. If CU had included a chartered flight for UH plus the $600,000, the game would likely have happened. It tells you a little something when CU balked at one charter flight – imagine how they’d feel about picking up the tab for all their visiting opponents travel as UH does in the MWC?

The injuries suffered by UH in the Nevada game undoubtedly sealed the deal. A road trip to the altitude in Boulder didn’t make a victory likely, and that Oct. 19 date represents Hawaii’s only bye the rest of the season. While it was undoubtedly painful for former Ohio State finance administrator Jay to pass up any money at all, in this case it seemed like the right decision.