NCAA retreat doesn't solve problem
The NCAA isn't happy when its grossly inconsistent behavior is put on public display.
Many people have grown used to the hypocrisy that surrounds big-time college sports, particularly as it relates to money.
The NCAA routinely signs business deals, particularly with respect to radio and television broadcasting, that generate many millions of dollars in revenue while barring the athletes who perform on the field from profiting in any way. That stance has generated derision and litigation, the most prominent of which is the pending lawsuit of Ed O'Bannon vs. the NCAA, which involves the NCAA's claimed right to use student-athletes' likenesses on TV broadcasts and video games without any compensation for those same athletes.
For the most part, the NCAA has been impervious to criticism, defending the status quo without reservation.
But last week, the NCAA's hypocrisy was highlighted in such a grotesque way that even the NCAA, most probably for public relations reasons, couldn't stand it.
Lawyer, former college basketball player and current sportscaster Jay Bilas pointed out that the NCAA bars players from profiting on their public personas while at the same time it sells jerseys with players' names on them at its online store, ShopNCAASports.com.
An embarrassed NCAA President Mark Emmert moved quickly to acknowledge that the organization's action was a "mistake" and promise that the NCAA will "exit that kind of business immediately."
Unfortunately, Emmert's action doesn't solve the problem; it merely highlights the problem of how to treat college basketball and football players who generate so much revenue for their schools.
Although the NCAA is withdrawing from the business of selling jerseys with players' names on them, individual schools still will continue to do so. It's that sort of inconsistent action that invites litigation and judge-determined and enforced solutions to the kind of inequitable circumstances on display.