Foundations are endowed by capitalists who had a lot of excess cash when they died and who, before they died, wanted to make sure that a good chunk of the cash they made off the labor of others might ‘pay forward’ to others, perhaps even the offspring of those whose labor built that capitalist’s fortune.
The Knight family wanted to do good when they endowed the Knight Foundation. And their money has done some good for college athletics. But KF has gotten co-opted. They actually think that the current operation and structure of the NCAA has merit.
Their vision is limited. They can’t tell that the current NCAA structure is a con. The Power 5 conferences basically pulled out, within the last couple years, and Knight didn’t even know it. Nor does Knight recognize why the Power 5 didn’t completely pull out of the NCAA – they could have easily – for two reasons: 1) they need the non-Power 5 conferences, but also all the non-D-1 teams, as a counterweight, as the Power 5 teams (the real-party-in-interest) litigate the O’Bannon, Alston, and many other cases which challenge the NC AA’s Shamateurism. They need those teams and divisions to allow the Power 5 fellows to claim that education and academics are, in fact, a central part of today’s college sports business model; and 2) they couldn’t walk away from that $1 billion windfall which is the NCAA March Madness tournament.
And the Knight people, Amy Perko, even Arne Duncan, they fall for all this. Duncan comes out with high-minded pronouncements about how it is mandatory that the college athlete be able to get earnest, legitimate education, as a part of the “scholarship” which he is paid for his work.
Sure, I suppose that Duncan wouldn’t have gotten this job as titular head of the Knight Commission, if he did not parrot this party line.
But Duncan, Knight, and Amy Perko are lost at sea. The major problem is not whether some black player who funds all of Division 1 football and basketball is getting good grades, and whether those grades are legit. That’s what they think the issue is. And white guys like Duncan, or Perko, and Sandy Barbour, or Tom McMillan, will debate this issue for the next decade, trying to fine-tune and constrain the un-constrainable and un-fine-tuneable: the freight-train of academic racketeering driven by the Bull of Triumph (and Profit) which now rules college athletics.
As these idealistic Knight-types debate, over the next decade, the academic purity and regulation of big-time college sports, there are many black Power 5 basketball and football players whose families – having sent their wildly talented sons off to the big business which is college sports – still struggle to pay the rent — not ten years from now, but next month.
So tomorrow, May 1st, 2017, we’ll see some high-minded posturing by white guys about the need for these black players to get a degree, which “is worth a million dollars, lifetime.”
Knight – Duncan, McMillan, Perko – ought to look at two things: 1) the Rule of Thumb for split of gross income in pro sports, which is 50-50, between owner and players; and 2) the gross revenue at Texas A&M, which was about $190 million. They would then recognize that the primary issue in college sports is not whether some poor black, fabulously talented running back is having his papers written for him, or whether he attends class. Those are really neato-keeno issues for those of us who have grown up in UChicago, or Harvard, or other bastions of academic idealism.
Those issues have nothing to do with the issue which the Knight Commission pretends does not exist: how does my poor black son get at that $95 million which he and other basketball and football players at, for example, Texas A&M, would get if they were employees?
While the white guys at Knight Commission fiddle and diddle, write position papers, and get it all perfectly figured out over the next decade, there is a mammoth Whoosh of Capital Accumulation which annually occurs at every Power 5 school, as one class of basketball and football recruits signs onto their NLI’s, collectively, and their assets are then immediately — and brutally — seized by the Power 5 schools. Each and every year. And this whoosh? — it’s sector-based, with the sector being defined by the thief who robs that sector: the NCAA. The sector is all the high school players who sign that NLI, at the same time, each year.
The Knight Foundation will say they have no dog in this fight, because their mission is educational. All the education, though, which the Knight Foundation purports to monitor, is funded by this NCAA and school Theft of Capital. Watch, though, tomorrow, at the Knight meeting on May 1. It will be civilized. It will be silk ties, smiles, smooth. No worries. Because none of them have any worries. The predominantly black Power 5 basketball and football player will not be there. Never has been, never will be.
The Knight Foundation is, right now, the sole potential source for sector-based voice for the athletes shut out of decision-making and voting authority for his sports. But Knight is AWOL.