Why “Third Party Relationships” are NOT the NCAA’s Biggest Issue

First: I am big fan of John “Bylaw” Infante, he of the Bylaw Blog, formerly of the NCAA Blog.  He knows his stuff. He’s down to earth, accessible, and doesn’t — by all appearances — take himself too seriously.

But he’s young guy. He’s not jaded enough. He was born into this whole NCAA labyrinth, and appears to believe it’s something we just all have to wrestle with. It’s not. It’s just some club — like the Eastport, Maine Library Ladies’ Auxiliary Club — which has a bunch of rules they just thought up, and added to, from time to time, and put ’em into some leather-bound book. And kept adding-on a bunch of new rules.

These NCAA bylaws are not laws. And here’s why they’re no longer like the Eastport Ladies’ Auxiliary Club bylaws:  the Ladies never stumbled, over the course of 30 years, onto BILLIONS OF DOLLARS of gross revenue.

But both the NCAA and the Eastport, Maine Ladies’ Auxiliary Club still retain their respective not-for-profit tax designations. The Ladies? They’re still dubbing around in non-profit purgatory, for all I know.

The NCAA? I defy anyone to take the position that this is anything other than a for-profit collection of franchisees who pay millions on millions of dollars to desperately maintain the fiction that the whole thing is anything other than a thumping, raging money-making machine.

And the NCAA — in the vast majority of situations — has no problem whatsoever with “Third Party Relationships.” In fact, I’ll venture to guess that one big-time football operation — if you could ever get an accurate account of all the agreements and contracts it entered into — has, at any one time, more than five hundred “Third Party Relationships.”

So what’s most accurate to state is that the NCAA, in the majority of circumstances, has no problem at all with Third Party Relationships. The only ones they have a problem with are the ones which create any risk of interfering with the NCAA’s nouveau avalanche of billions of dollars of gross income.

I’m all in favor of “Third-parties” for college players, and high school athletes. Mainly because every single part of the for-profit athletics/entertainment complex which is college sports has “third parties” doing work by contract. (Ask, for example, if Urban Meyer, or Jim Tressel, hired those dastardly “third-parties” to negotiate their own contracts.) College athletes need “Third Party Relationships.”

About brewonsouthu

lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
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