Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

It looks like a bunch of confused former college athletes signed an NCAA brief supporting the opposite of their beliefs on paying current college athletes

The Big House.
The Big House.
Image: Getty Images

Hilariously, some former college athletes decided to chime in to say that current college athletes shouldn’t get paid, but also apparently didn’t really know what they were signing. In a “friend-of-the-court” brief filed last month to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the ongoing saga of NCAA amateurism, 18 former college athletes expressed their support in not paying college athletes.

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According to Sportico, in making their case, the pro-NCAA filing states that the athletes’ interest “lies in ensuring the proper adherence to the revered tradition of amateurism and the continued availability of intercollegiate athletics.”

It seems, however, that some of those former college athletes that signed the brief weren’t too sure on what they were signing. It feels ever-so-slightly like a bad Dwight Schrute plan that actually kinda worked.

Two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up and former NFL running back Darren McFadden, who attended Arkansas, seemed to be more in line with the side of college athletes than the side that he signed for.

“Once you are an adult, you want to make sure you can take care of your family. You don’t really get that opportunity to help your family out [while in college],” McFadden told Sportico, later adding that he supported college athletes getting an additional stipend to their scholarship. In the same conversation, when asked about what personal experiences had informed his perspective on the subject of college athlete compensation, McFadden spoke about being an SEC football star who was unable to afford paying a $50 parking ticket.

So, McFadden thinks college athletes need more money. OK, cool. Well maybe he was the only one that was confused, right?

Walter Bond, a former college basketball player at Minnesota who went on to play four years in the NBA, told Sportico that college athletes are employees of the universities they play for, which is pretty much directly opposed to the arguments being made by the NCAA of their “student-athletes.” He later said “I think I must have misunderstood,” and acknowledged that it was possible he didn’t actually agree with the NCAA’s position.

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I mean, it’s not really possible that others would sign off on a brief without understanding why they’re doing so, or without having any altier motives, right?

Wrong. Former college basketball player Tre’ Kelley apparently told Sportico “I’m actually doing a favor for a good buddy of mine who works for the firm” that filed the brief. That, my dear reader, is sketchy as hell.

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The NCAA wants us all to cling to an outdated and romanticized version of college athletics, where century-old charm and competitive nature are the only values that seem to matter while have you ignore the billion-dollar TV deals, corporate sponsorships and luxury boxes.

“Starting with the 1852 Harvard-Yale regatta held on New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee,” the brief states, “student-athletes have demonstrated their passion for sports while representing their respective schools, student bodies, and alumni.” What a resplendently antiquated view on athletics.

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Things were ever-so-slightly different 169 years ago, including a noticeable lack of television and multi-billion dollar advertising contracts built on the displays put forth by college athletes. So, it’s safe to assume that the ol’ Ivy League rowing clubs weren’t exactly a source of bountiful income for the universities that they represented, unlike today.

The fact that out of the limited number of former athletes the firm representing the NCAA was able to drum up for this brief included multiple cases of confusion (or what I will respectfully label as “adjacent motives”) speaks to the frail case the NCAA is attempting to put together. Maybe, for once in the history of your organization, give just an ounce of care to the needs and the thoughts of the players that you profit from. Stop fighting it, embrace the fact that this is no longer the Ivy League Good Ol’ Boys club, and reward the efforts and success of your athletes by giving them a slice of the pie.