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NCAA president fails large sports programs

The NCAA is a business. We are constantly reminded of this when annual talks of a college football playoff system come up. When the intelligence of a play-in game for the NCAA basketball tournament is questioned every March, it is a financially-motivated decision. If the NCAA is a business, the name Myles Brand should send investors running for the hills.

Since he became president of the NCAA in 2003, he has been a constant nuisance for Bowl Champion Series conference Division I athletics programs. He has stressed the importance of academics in the lives of student-athletes, but considering the NCAA’s past role in that area, he is both extremely noble and phenomenally hypocritical.

Brand has become so jaded in his mission of equality for all NCAA schools, he has lost sight of rule No. 1 – the NCAA is a business.

The fact is, the only collegiate sport that routinely makes money is college football, and at certain schools, men’s basketball. So to work around the lack of football teams at smaller schools like Wagner College, a Division I school in New York with 2,000 students, the powers had to get clever.

The NCAA makes it work by depending on the BCS schools to cover the difference by profit sharing. Right now, the system works.

The question is, what happens when members of the BCS decide they don’t want to share the money anymore? They realize the political entity that creates the recruiting rules isn’t worth much without their money? They get really bold and decide that without sharing their profits with the Wagners of the world, they can pay recruits and truly make collegiate athletics a business.

Brand is slowly forcing the BCS schools to think about these questions. The answer may be abandoning the NCAA and forming something new that will make the “business” of the depleted NCAA look miniscule in comparison.

And the hard-nosed stance on education that Brand became known for?

Bye-bye Kevin Durant. See ya Greg Oden, O.J. Mayo and Michael Beasley. Maybe one more year, but a degree? Maybe they’ll get around to it between their seventh and eighth years in the pros.

So what we have left is a league where the financial heavyweights like Texas and Ohio State are being treated like second-class citizens. The lightweights hold the power and the president spouts off well-meaning rhetoric that would be unrealistic in an all-but-perfect world. It sounds like a business that has forgotten its mission.

Brand and the have-nots of the NCAA can’t have it both ways. Do small programs want to keep their athletics programs running thanks to money from the big schools, or do they want education to be the premier facet of their league?

The small schools are happy to take the money, as it keeps their teams on the field.

As for Brand’s opinion, just ask him tonight at 7 p.m. in Ed Landreth, where there will be a symposium about the state of the NCAA, football and college athletics.

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