Jealousy of Jim Harbaugh May Take Down the NCAA

Once the curtain is pulled back, the illusion is gone forever.

Republicans know. Since the election of President Obama, their primary objective was to object his every move. For seven years, the façade remained. No, they weren’t against Obama – just his policies. They were merely fighting for middle class America. It was bullshit, but it worked.

Then Justice Antonin Scalia passed away and before the body was even in the ground, Republican Senators were denying President Obama’s future Supreme Court nominee.

At this moment, Republicans pulled back the curtain and revealed itself as obstructionists. Things got no better when Obama nominated Merrick Garland, essentially an American law hero from his work following the Oklahoma City bombing and far more moderate than whoever Hillary Clinton will nominate in 2017.

As the public overwhelmingly disagrees with Republican refusal to not even meet with Garland, it is remarkable how pointless the exercise has been. Republicans, through basic rules of government procedure, could have dragged their feet for months. Instead, the GOP will be lucky to survive 2016.

jim harbaugh camp
The NCAA is about to learn. Jim Harbaugh and his seemingly unending plot to destroy the Southeastern Conference dominated this offseason and the last. So it came as little surprise the SEC would oppose Harbaugh’s use of satellite camps. Similarly, it was no surprise the SEC brought a motion to end satellite camps.

However, it was very much a surprise the ban on satellite camps was approved, and it has set in motion what could be the end of the NCAA in its current form. The U.S. Department of Justice – aka, the entity that finally took down FIFA – has reportedly set its sights on the NCAA.

For everyone who wants to see student-athletes treated fairly and receive their fair share, this is the best piece of news in decades.

The NCAA has consistently hid behind the welfare of student-athletes as why they opposed so many initiatives that the general public supported. Why couldn’t we have a college football playoff? The kids need to be in class. Why can’t they get paid? The kids are amateurs. Why can’t they transfer immediately? The kids need to graduate.

Just as the GOP spun its obstruction to Obama, the NCAA and conference commissioners spun its decisions as a way to support student-athletes. While we knew it was bullshit, there was a kernel of truth that kept the illusion alive.

But the satellite camp vote changed everything.

It was very clear, from the very beginning, that satellite camps benefit the student-athlete. It gives them more opportunities to perform in front of more coaches. The vast majority of these athletes aren’t being recruited by Michigan or Alabama – they are looking for a place to play anywhere, on the FBS, FCS or lower level. The only aggrieved party from satellite camps were a select few Power Five football coaches and programs.

To compound the issues of banning camps, the votes revealed how decisions are being made without any inclination to think about student-athletes. In fact, almost every party involved – save the SEC – was voting against its best interests.

This was made painfully, and publicly, clear when Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said that 11 of 12 Pac-12 schools were against the ban. Except UCLA AD Dan Guerrero, the Pac-12’s representative, voted for the ban. Since the Power Conference votes count as double – hmm, that sounds like a cartel – Guerrero’s vote clinched the ban.

While the SEC was leading the charge, the ACC was right there with them. It was another curious move since less than half of the ACC would benefit from a ban. How is it good for Pittsburgh, Syracuse or Boston College to ban camps? Louisville has been mining Florida for talent for years – they would vote to ban an access point to that talent? Why would Wake Forest or Duke care?

Even more head-scratching was the decision by the Sun Belt to vote in favor of the ban. You could argue that no conference benefited more than the Sun Belt, whose teams are located in recruit-rich areas but are not competing with the SEC for talent. A Michigan satellite camp in the South is a boon to Sun Belt schools. Rumors of the SEC threatening to stop scheduling Sun Belt teams, and withholding those million-dollar checks, began flying immediately.

I hope the DOJ starts digging because it’s about time the government got its hands dirty with the NCAA. There is arguably no bigger racket in American sports. The NCAA had the audacity to sign another billion-dollar deal for the NCAA Tournament, proudly state that the money will be funneled to student-athletes and then immediately ban an initiative that thousands of student-athletes use to get scholarships.

The beauty is how truly pointless the entire satellite camp debate was to begin with. Who cares? If they continued, would anything in college football change?

Instead, they won’t continue and there’s the very real possibility that everything changes.

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