Selling Stolen Player Nillies on a Black Market — Why Mizzou Must Pay Its Football and Basketball Social Influencers, Part II

In my previous Part I post, I established that the NCAA’s first standard for determining whether a pay or benefit received by a player is permitted is its AIWWSII rule: if some NCAA vote allowed it, any pay or benefit is just fine. (A Sept. 26 post, Mizzou Now Pays Student Social Influencers — but Not Student-Athlete Social Influencers?, explained why players are Social Influencers, who must be paid for that work.)

Rule #2: Any Benefit is Fine, if Some Sub-Group of Students on the Local Campus Also Gets It

But a second rule, largely ignored, also applies: if some sub-group students’ on the local campus gets the pay or benefit, then so must the player.

Many reformers argue that big-time college football and basketball players (and their NIL rights) ought be treated the same as all other, hypothetically average, non-athletes students across the U.S. Bylaw 16 shows that they are part right, part wrong.

The bylaw 16 test is much, much easier to satisfy: the player doesn’t have to show that all U.S. students get the pay or benefit. Instead, the player need only show that some ‘sub-group’ of students on that local campus gets the pay or benefit

Which is why the NY Times report is significant: a sub-set of Mizzou students gets paid for “social influencing”? – then so must, under bylaw 16, football and basketball players also get paid for the valuable social influencing they’ve been doing for so long.

(A more thorough explanation, with a good bit of legal-mumbo jumbo, is below. Don’t read it. It’s boring – unless you don’t believe what I’ve said above.)

And, to understand why every school does not comply with these NCAA rules, look for Part III: Selling Stolen Player Nillies on a Black Market: Why Mizzou Must Pay Its Football and Basketball Social Influencers.


Rule #2: Any Benefit is Fine, if a Student group on the Local Campus Also Gets It

Bylaw 16.02.3 also says that “the receipt of a benefit by student-athletes or their family members or friends is not a violation, if it is demonstrated that the same benefit is generally available to the institution’s students or their family members or friends, or to a particular segment of the student body (e.g., international students, minority students) determined on a basis unrelated to athletics ability.” 

Benefits Will Vary by Campus Allows Each School to Independently Define Benefits Tethered to Education

Unlike the AWWSII rule, this purely Home Rule provision requires no passage of NCAA legislation, and gives each member its own ” ample latitude” to permit any player benefit which is “generally available” to students, or some sub-segment of students, on the local campus. The provision is broadly permissive. Rather than, for example, mandating that every school compare any player benefit to one received by some hypothetical average group, or sub-group, of students across the entire U.S., it directs each school to benchmark against some student sub-groups drawn from the local campus, with no specified limitation upon the choice of such a benchmark. (The “International” and “minority” student sub-groups mentioned in the bylaw are merely illustrative.) Aa result, almost any imaginable sub-group of the student body can be used as a benchmark for testing any player benefit.

And, because so many D-1 schools now have 30,000 or more students, almost every such larger schools can likely make a long list of potential student sub-groups which might be used for a benchmark, including, for example, some sub-set of students which are either: 1) undergraduate or graduate; 2) full-time or part-time; or 3) unpaid, or receive paid in an employment arrangement. Students on scholarship; those who work for pay, in the school library or cafeteria, or ushering at football games. Paid interns. Teaching assistants. Work-study students. Students on music scholarships, who play for-pay gigs, on or off campus – and sell their recordings online. Those on fellowship. Students paid to participate in ROTC. Those who work part-time or full-time, on or off-campus, as waiters or bartenders. Inventor-students, who receive income from their inventions.i Medical residents, whose pay, 75 years ago, was $120 per month, but now averages $61,000 annually.

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Selling Stolen Player Nillies on a Black Market: Why Mizzou Must Pay Its Football and Basketball Social Influencers. Part I

Two days ago I wrote about the interesting, if not startling, New York Times news that the University of Missouri had, this summer, begun paying some student “Social Influencers,” to push elements of a useful Covid-Safety campaign on campus. (See post “Mizzou Now Pays Student Social Influencers — But Not Student-Athlete Social Influencers?”

Yett Mizzou has long failed to pay its Student-Athlete ‘Social Influencers,’ whose ‘influence’ generates fantastic income for Mizzou.

How could this happen? This requires understanding two things most people never really get, about NCAA rules.

Amateurism is Whatever We Say It Is (AIWWSII)

First, amateurism is whatever some bunch of knuckleheaded NCAA members happen to vote that it should be. That’s all. They could vote to allow each player to be deeded 100 acres of useless woodland in Washington County Maine. Or a lifetime supply of Viagra. Amateurism is just a stupid thing, to be manipulated by NCAA meatheads (none of whom have any insight as to the history or operation of amateurism), for their own self-interest. Which is why the current NCAA sprint to the U.S. Congress, to get NIL legislation, is such bad-faith phoniness: the NCAA could vote, tomorrow, to insure that big-time players can be paid, just like the Mizzou ‘Ordinary Student,’ for all the commercial ‘influencing’ which those players perform — or to direct any other imaginable kind of NIL payment be made to the player

Below is the explanation of the NCAA’s AIWWSII Doctrine, based upon NCAA rules. It’s boring. Ignore it, if you trust my above explanation. It’s too much legal mumbo-jumbo. You do not need to read it, unless you do not trust my AIWWSII explanation above.

But there is also an important, second element to the NCAA rules, which exposes that NCAA rules not only allow, but require, that Mizzou pay its football and basketball Social Influencers, for all the ‘influencing’ they’ve been doing, for years. I’ll post that in Part II of “Selling Stolen Player Nillies on a Black Market: Why Mizzou Must Pay Its Football and Basketball Social Influencers.


The Amateurism-is-Whatever-We-Say-It-Is” Doctrine [AWWSII]

Any pay or benefit is allowed, if approved by NCAA legislation. And bylaw 12.02.10 declares that “pay is the receipt of funds, awards or benefits not permitted by the governing legislation;” bylaw 12.02.9 defines the “professional athlete” as “one who receives any kind of payment, directly or indirectly, for athletics participation except as permitted by the governing legislation of the Association.” And bylaw 16.02.3 declares that an “extra benefit” is “any special arrangement by an institutional employee or representative of the institution’s athletics interests to provide a student-athlete or the student-athlete family member or friend a benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation.i The key phrases here — “except as permitted by the governing legislation of the Association,” and “not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation,” together reflect the NCAA’s de facto LOD: any player pay or benefit approved by NCAA legislation is just fine.

And, starting with the NCAA’s 1956 vote to allow Athletic-Pay, the list of payments or benefits permitted by these provisions is long. Tennis players are permitted up to $10,000 in annual prize earnings, and can receive additional money, as long as it does not exceed their expenses for the event. Olympic medal-winners can receive USOC payment-awards, and the USOC can pay for an athlete’s training, equipment, apparel, travel and even health insurance costs. Two-sport athletes have long been allowed to be paid professionals in one sport, while competing in another, like Kyler Murray, whose receipt of a $4.7 million signing bonus from baseball’s Oakland Athletics did not bar him from playing quarterback for Oklahoma. Football bowl game participants are allowed to receive swag gifts, valued at no more than $550, from bowl sponsors. Most schools now maintain Student Assistance Funds or Academic Enhancement Funds, to reimburse players for unique expenses, which can even include new suits worn by players or, sometimes, travel costs associated with family-member attendance at Final-Four and College Football Playoff events.ii In Alston, in fact, the District Court’s Judge Wilken cited seventeen examples of such NCAA-sanctioned player pay.iii Player benefits and pay are, under this NCAA formulation, limited only by the imaginations of NCAA members who, unencumbered by logic or, even, any tradition of amateurism, can vote to allow any pay, fund, benefit, or arrangement. The latitude which the NCAA seizes with this framework is, in fact, not just ample: it is unfettered, and these provisions articulate the NCAA’s de facto cardinal rule concerning player pay or benefits: Amateurism-is-Whatever-We-Say-It-Isiv

i AIWWSII Authorizations, by Staff Waiver

Sometimes authorizing legislation is not required. And some ‘special arrangement’ exceptions are granted without NCAA membership vote. In 2015, for example, the NCAA told the College Football Playoff system that each parent or guardian of a bowl player from Ohio State or Oregon could receive $1,250 in reimbursement money from the CFP, and each family could receive up to $3,000 reimbursement in travel expenses. “I was shocked,” Ohio State AD Gene Smith said, when told that NCAA staff had approved the payments. “They were responding to the needs and the cries of an institution that was crying for help. I don’t know where they found the interpretation,” Smith continued,“ [which] is back from the 1960’s, I’m sure.” As another example, in 2018 the NCAA allowed Notre Dame basketball hero Arike Ogunbowale, whose game-winning last-second shot brought the school its national championship, to appear on the TV show ‘Dancing with the Stars,” even though such appearances had previously been proscribed by NCAA rules barring player profit from NIL rights. In these and similar circumstances, a vote to add new player benefits is apparently not necessary, and the amount and nature of any ‘extra’ player benefits is limited only by the imaginations of NCAA staffers.

“A review of the bylaws,” Judge Wilkin concluded in Alston, “ shows that many forms of payment, often in unrestricted cash, from schools and other sources, are allowed by the NCAA as ”not pay,’ and this is not inconsistent with amateurism.”

There are instances, apparently where even a vote by NCAA membership is not required, because NCAA staffers take it upon themselves to act without one. The NCAA’s March 2003 deal with Pontiac, to run a March Madness-based “Pontiac Game-Changing Performance” feature of best player performances on its televised broadcasts, was undertaken with no membership vote, even though it involved player promotion of commercial products.

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Mizzou Now Pays Student Social Influencers — but Not Student-Athlete Social Influencers?

Starting this summer, the New York Times reports, the University of Missouri began employing some Missouri students, as “Social Influencers,” to generate online postings encouraging other students to engage in Covid-safe behaviors.

The school is paying those ‘Influencer’ students to use their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) rights, for the school’s benefit.

Contrast this with the school’s policies regarding football and basketball players. Rather than paying those players for the school’s repeated use of the player’s (extraordinarily-valuable) NIL rights — in TV broadcasts, and advertising-related activity for Nike and others — the school requires that players surrender those rights, without pay, by signing them over to the school, with a form waiver-document drafted by the school (or conference). The school and conference arbitrarily seize the player’s NIL rights.

Missouri Football Players All Have a Job: Social Influencers for Outside Businesses

The irony is that, for years, every Missouri football player has operated as a Social Influencer, on a grand scale, but without pay. Those players may think that they are playing just to win, or excel. But Nike, and TV advertisers like Geico, State Farm, Tostitos (the list is endless) annually pay Missouri millions, to get the school to use players as Social Influencers — to “influence” live and TV viewers to purchase commercial products.

(And imagine, for a moment, if Missouri paid starting quarterback Shawn Robinson, or the entire starting 22 offensive and defensive players, as Social Influencers, to promote Covid-safe student behavior: do you think that might have some thumping state-wide impact?)

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April Madness 2.0: A Proposal for a Simulated, Nationally Streamed and Televised Substitute March Madness Tournament

April Madness 2.0: A Proposal for a Simulated March Madness Tournament — Televised and Streamed


NCAA President Mark Emmert

Imagine this fast-tracked Pilot Project, to generate a simulated March Madness Tournament, called April Madness 2.0:

1. The NCAA designates the 68 teams which qualified for the March Madness tournament. (This might require a random drawing, if the conference champ has not been played-out).

2. The 900 players from the 68 teams meet and vote online, to choose a Player Rep, (which might be someone like NCPA’s Ramogi Huma, Economist Andy Schwarz, Jay Bilas, Prof. Richard Southall, Drake Group head and Ohio U professor David Ridpath, Player attorney Rick Johnson – or some combination).

3. The NCAA, its broadcast partners, EA Sports, and the Players’ Rep meet to discuss working agreements, based upon the following concepts:

4. EA Sports, CBS and other broadcast partners, and the NCAA fund the development and production of a template, simulated April Madness 2.0 game, and schedule of such games, which will mimic the format and “three-weekend” timing of the real tournament, suitable for broadcast/streaming.

5. The players will receive fair market value payment, to be negotiated by the Player Rep, for the use of their NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) rights. The player rep will also get appropriate sign-offs from each player.

6. The parties will agree upon a percentage of gross revenues to be dedicated to a Corona Virus national charity, designated by Dr. Anthony Fausci.

6. Game development will be fast-tracked by NCAA and EA Sports staff, in concert with (if necessary) selected, paid top tech/digital students from the 68 schools involved (or, even crowd-sourced smart-guys). The format of the simulated Games will mimic the old EA Sports game which disappeared after the O’Bannon decision.

7. April Madness 2.0 games will be streamed and broadcast on networks, over a three-week period, on a pay-per-view basis, and/or based upon existing contractual obligations which the NCAA has with broadcasters, with the first games to be aired on April 1.

Why Has the NCAA Not Already Produced a April Madness 2.0 Tournament?: It’s the NIL, Stupid

The only reason the NCAA hasn’t done this yet is that does not want to pay NIL rights to the player. (When the O’Bannon court told the NCAA that it had to pay former players like Ed O’Bannon for use of their likeness, the NCAA shut down the EA Sports simulated game.)

Does the Sports Consumer Really ‘Revere’ the Game Because it is ‘Made-by-the-Unpaid’?

The NCAA has long forsworn such NIL payments, because it claims it needs to protect its “Revered Tradition of Amateurism.” This thinking is founded upon some faulty, outdated logic from the old 1984 Regents decision, where Justice Stevens guessed, out of legal thin air, that the TV sports consumer “revered” the NCAA’s TV sports product, because it was ‘Made-by-the-Unpaid.’ (My term, not Stevens’). Even assuming its accuracy in 1984, that notion now has little basis in reality, as is reflected in the pending or recently-passed bills in some 25 states, meant to require that players be allowed such NIL payments, and the fact that the NCAA’s own NIL “Working Group” will, at some point, issue new rules which will, presumably expand player access to NIL payments.

It’s a Perfect Storm for April Madness 2.0, as a Player NIL Experiment

All the pieces are in place for April Madness 2.0, as a perfect petri-dish experiment for testing the consumer-public’s alleged ‘reverence’ for a Made-by-the-Unpaid sports product. After all, the NCAA is now desperate for cash; in fact, the organization’s financial floor has fallen through. The March Madness cancellation left the NCAA without the $1 billion in revenue which three-week ritual generates each year. And NCAA schools which do not participate in the tournament are also now dreading the big cash shortfalls caused by the disappearance of NCAA payouts from that $1 billion March Madness pot. In this context, who – anywhere in the U.S. – would not buy a simulated, streamed, or televised April Madness 2.0 tournament?

Not Staging an April Madness 2.0 is a Finger-in-the-Eye to Fans

We are a nation in crisis; a ‘shut-in’ crisis. We can’t mix with others. We can’t go to work. People are lonely, bored, and anxious. Ordinary life has shut down, and citizens need access to sports. At present, we can’t, while we shelter-in-place, have access to a March Madness tournament which hundreds of millions of us, and millions around the world, have come to love. All because of some highly-subjective, highly-suspect notion, residing in the heads of NCAA managers, that March Madness fans would never possibly buy an April Madness 2.0 online product, for which they are desperate, because no such fan would ever countenance player receipt of NIL payments.

Such an April Madness 2.0 ‘substitute’ tournament could easily already have be generated, were it not for the priggish selfishness of NCAA executives. The NCAA’s Mark Emmert is happy in his Indiana home, drawing a secure $3 million paycheck, every week. NCAA Counsel Remy is happy in his Porsche, drawing his steady $2 million paycheck. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby is happy in his home, drawing his $4 million paycheck. These are the sports-manager-fat cats who have done nothing to satisfy their primary duty at this critical juncture: to help the public.

The NCAA has a duty, within this extraordinary social, athletic, political, medical, and financial norm-smashing crisis, to take extraordinary, smash-all-norms, emergency steps, to help the hundreds of millions of fans whose lives are in ‘time-out.’

It’s time to do an April Madness 2.0 NCAA streamed and televised tournament.

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UnderArmour Has Donated Zero to the Jordan McNair Foundation


Almost two years ago, lineman Jordan McNair died as a result of sprints which he was forced to run at the very first day of University of Maryland football practice on May 30, 2018.

This death was entirely the result of a failure of the University of Maryland to satisfy its duty of care to McNair. It starts with one standard: a good business, like, for example, any involved in construction, will require a ‘tag-out’ process, which is the thorough inspection of every work-station, before workers are even allowed on the site. Maryland AD Anderson, and the rest of the Maryland operation, had no idea what a ‘tag-out’ review even involved, and never ‘tagged-out’ one thing. That failure, along with others, meant that Maryland had no ice bath available when Jordan collapsed. (Cost of ice bath, total? — maybe $25?) Twenty five dollars could have saved Jordan McNair’s life.

Maryland football has long been UnderArmour’s ‘flagship’ operation, since UA is a Maryland business. But Nike’s nomenclature for its workers is useful in comprehending the role of players like Jordan McNair, in relation to UnderArmour.  Nike calls the overseas factories which make its shoes and apparel “Manufacturing Partners.”

The NCAA players, at each school which enters into a contract with a shoe/apparel supplier like Nike or UnderArmour, are also most accurately labeled as  “Advertising Partners.”  None of the suppliers want to admit it, but,  UnderArmour (for example) “hires” each Maryland football player as a human ‘billboard,’ to advertise its logo on his uniform.

And UnderArmour doesn’t enter into these kinds of big-dollar contracts with Maryland for the fun of it, or out of the goodness of their hearts: they do it because it makes them money.  BIG money.

Jordan McNair died while he was functioning as an UnderArmour “Advertising Partner.”  Jordan got zero money for doing the advertising.

That was almost two years ago. Jordan McNair’s parents, out of the goodness of their hearts, and their desperation to think that perhaps their son did not die in vain, have set  up the Jordan McNair Foundation, with a simple, easy goal: promote the use and  availability of Ice Baths on collegiate sports fields.

UnderArmour: do you care? Do you feel any sense of obligation at all?  Might you throw some spare change at this foundation, meant to remember and recognize the death of one of your Advertising Partners?

UnderArmour? Hello?  Do you recall you Advertising Partner, Jordan McNair?

UnderArmour (and other members of the public) here is the website where you can make contributions, in the memory of Jordan McNair:




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My Report of NCAA Booster Violations, at Oregon, UNLV, and Arizona, Based Upon Avenatti Trial Testimony

February 3, 2020

Rob Mullens

University of Oregon Athletics Director

Eugene Oregon
Dave Meeke

University of Arizona Athletics Director
Tucson Arizona

Desiree Don Reed-Francois

UNLV Athletics Director
Las Vegas, NV
NCAA Enforcement
Indianapolis, Indiana
Re: Report concerning potential violations of NCAA ‘Booster’ bylaws by Nike

Dear AD Mullens, AD Meeke, and AD Reed-Francois, and NCAA:

This letter is to report that January 2020 testimony in the Avenatti trial, including, but not limited to, the testimony of Nike attorney Scott Wilson, suggests that Nike made payments to recruits (Bol Bol, Brandon McCoy, and Deandre Ayton), in violation of NCAA bylaws, in order to induce such players to enroll at schools with which Nike maintained ongoing product-supply-and-promotion contracts. See this article by Adam Zagoria, from the Raleigh News & Observer: ““Nike consultant testifies players were paid; shoe company lawyer doesn’t deny it.”

With respect to Oregon, UNLV, and Arizona:

1. Each such school has long been a ‘Nike’ school, bound by multi-million dollar contracts with Nike which supplied product, and mandated that the school and its players engage in product promotion.

2. Nike was a “booster,” pursuant to the terms of NCAA bylaw 13, because Nike “participated in . . .promoting the university’s athletics programs.”

3. Nike’s payments to recruits who eventually attended your schools materially violated NCAA bylaws, but also the Nike-School contract, which mandates that Nike comply with all NCAA bylaws.

4. Prima facie evidence from January 2020 Avenatti trial suggests that Nike engaged in recruiting activities, on behalf of your respective schools, in order to induce player attendance at each such school, in violation of NCAA bylaws.

5. That evidence also suggests that Nike must be ‘disassociated’ from each of your respective schools, because, as a booster, it has engaged activities which violate NCAA bylaws. It also suggests that the NCAA should utilize its plenary power to significantly sanction each such school, for gaining competitive advantage in violation of NCAA bylaws.

Thank you for your attention to this.
Wm Wilson Esq

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NFLPA Should Take a Tip from Aussie Rugby, by Pressing for Roster Expansion to Accommodate Schedule Expansion and Concussions


The Australian New South Wales Rugby League now has plans to add an additional, 18th man to the league’s squads, as “concussion substitutes.” (New South Wales is the southeastern Australia province, within which Sydney, Australia’s largest city, is located). The league will also mandate a 14-day sit-out period for players who have been removed for concussions.

The NFL Players’ Association should, in its upcoming CBA negotiations with the NFL, press for a similar roster expansion, in response to the league’s desire to expand the number of games per season, from 16 to 17, but also to generate the kind of roster flexibility which will decrease pressures to re-insert into the line-up players who have had significant head-trauma or contact. Such additional players will allow the NFL and NFLPA to more firmly commit to a “When In Doubt, Sit ‘Em Out” policy to be applied to players suffering apparent significant head contact or trauma.

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P5 Football and Basketball Players: Make Your School, Knight Fdtn, and LEAD1 Donate to the National College Player Association

You are a big time college basketball or football player. You have a big-time political problem. But you probably don’t know it. You also have a big economic problem, and you probably don’t recognize it.

Right now the NCAA is undertaking a full.-court-press, by lobbying on the U.S. Congress, to push their point of view – not yours – with respect to your big-time political and economic problems. And, by the way, your interests directly conflict with those of the NCAA.

So what are these players’ big problems?

Part of it is that the NCAA does not want you to get, or wants to severely limit, your name, image, and likeness rights — the kind of asset which every other citizen owns, to use – and even sell – to generate public attention, for himself or others.

But it’s broader than that; the NCAA, I’m guessing, has a more fundamental goal: they want to preserve their unlimited control over college sports. In legal language, that means they want an antitrust exemption: they want Congress to tell the courts to lay off, and let the NCAA continue to operate as some separate, foreign entity, not subject to U.S. Laws.

In fact, the NCAA is now quite cranky about the federal judges who recently (in the O’Bannon and Alston decisions) have been telling the NCAA that it has been violating those anti-competitive antitrust laws, and does not have the right to exercise autocratic control over all of college sports.

But the issue is even more profound: if it weren’t for the NCAA’s disinformation over the 63 years since 1956, when it began allowing players to get pay-for-play (with what are euphemistically called “athletic scholarships”), almost every P5 player would now be categorized under state statutes as employees. The NCAA knows that, and the federal legislation they are now lobbying for will, I am estimating, help insure that NCAA players cannot get that employee status.

And one more thing: the NCAA likes a rigged game.

So what do you need to do, as a big-time college basketball or football player? Two things:

#1 Email your athletic director, to demand he donate to NCPA, for Political Purposes — and demand that LEAD1 donate to NCPA, for Political Purposes

Why? Get a load of this. Within the last 3 years, the 129 P5 athletics directors have,formed their own “trade group,” called LEAD1. (Yes, their own trade group: these are million dollar-per-year people, who somehow think they need a trade group.) But LEAD1 is just a lobbying front. They hired as their executive director ex-Congressman Tom McMillen, who lives near D.C., and is an old Trump buddy. They’ll tell you their mission is educational: don’t believe it, they are a lobbying group. And McMillen  even explicitly — and preposterously — claims that he and his LEAD1 represent the interests of players. They don’t. 

And here are the kickers about LEAD1:

a) this private club consists of highly-paid executives who do not even have the decency to pay their own fees for membership — they make their school-employer pay! But get this: this happens because most, if not all of its athletics-director members, have huge conflicts-of-interests, as they sign the checks, with their school’s name at the top, to fund their very own trade group! These people are shameless.

b) but it’s worse than that: McMillen and LEAD1 pretend to represent the players’ interests – without ever asking the players! An example: ask ED McMillen what happened with LEAD1’s expensive, large study of the cost and efficacy of potential group disability insurance for players. If LEAD1 works for players, why did every Revenue player not get a copy of that study, and why has that report – on an issue so fundamental to the player’s interests – been kept private? Or, with respect to current ‘hot’ issues, having to do with player NIL rights, did McMillen or LEAD1 ever canvass all players? (That would’ve been easy: one email to all players.) No, they didn’t.  LEAD1 is scamming both Congress, and the D1 players. In fact, if public school athletic directors constitute about 70% of LEAD1’s membership, why is anything which LEAD1 does also not in plain view, for inspection by every player? It’s because LEAD1 protects the private, narrow interests of athletics directors (and, most likely, the school and NCAA). If this is not true, fine: LEAD1 should immediately open up their entire operation to public view. What say you, Tom McMillen, who, 30 years ago, was a champion of player rights?

More to the point, for D1 players: demand that your school pay the very same amount it annually pays to LEAD1, to  NCPA, to protect the players’ interests. NCPA has very little money, particularly when you stack it up against the billions which fund the NCAA, schools, and LEAD1, all of whom can get a sit-down with a congressman or senator, with just a phone call. (The NCAA and schools are way out ahead on these issues, already spending significant time and resources lobbying Congress)

Every player should write an email to his athletic director, to demand that the school donate to NCPA (a trade group) the exact same amount which it annually donates to LEAD1 (a trade group). Your athletic director has no good reason to refuse to do so.

NCPA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and donations are tax deductible. Donate at this website:; twitter is @ncpanow. Or mail to NCPA, PO Box 6917, Norco, CA 92860]  I have zero connection with NCPA.

Every player should also email LEAD1, to demand that the organization, funded entirely by the schools which employ players to make them money, generate a substantial contribution to NCPA.

LEAD1’s link is

#2 Email the Knight Foundation, to Demand that they donate to NCPA, for Political Purposes

The Knight Foundation has, for years, used its big pot of non-profit endowment to purport to move for change in college athletics. And since its founding in 1991, P5 school annual revenues have exploded from about $1/2 billion to $12 billion – yet Knight has buried its economic head in the sand, to the detriment of (primarily black) revenue players, to instead obsessively focus upon ‘educational’ issues.

Knight’s leadership is lost at sea.  They purport to have noble goals, but their operations are still plagued by what former Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer called “Random Agenda-Making.” Their ED Amy Perko, and their all-star board member, Arne Duncan, are lost at sea when trying to prioritize their spending and focus.

Here’s a quick, corrective primer for Knight:

1) Safety First: Knight should be obsessed with player safety. Why? Because EVERY other real American business is obsessed about safety. But not the NCAA, and not Knight.  This is a breach of Knight’s non-profit fiduciary duty.

2) Stamp out economic exploitation of workers: 

Within the last month, Knight has done a 180 turn, abandoning their prior focus upon purely educational issues, to declare that they, suddenly, now support the NCAA’s heavy-handed ‘need’ to get federal legislation. But neither Perko or Duncan have deighned ot tell the public – or players — exactly what their position will be, when they jump in with the NCAA to press for federal legislation. They are not, apparently, sure if their big-money will be spent to lobby for a ‘school’ bill, or a ‘player’ bill. Incredibly, Knight may choose to spend their annual pot of cash to lobby for the schools and NCAA – entities with billion-dollar budgets which can hardly be seen by any reasonable person as requiring a nickel of donation, from Knight, or other sources. (Recall: if the NCAA and CFP today split annual revenues with Revenue players, 50-50, as the pro leagues do, the players’ share of such income would approximate $5 billion.) Knight is rudderless now and, if I could guess, it looks to me as though they are in the pocket of Mark Emmert and the NCAA.

Players should go on the Knight website, to email to demand that Knight contribute to NCPA.  [Knight Foundation’s website is ; twitter @KnightAthletics.]

SUMMARY:  Request that your athletics director contribute to NCPA the same amount it contributed to LEAD1, and request that LEAD1 and Knight Foundation donate to NCPA. This will allow NCPA to hire one or more big-foot lobbyists, who can go toe-to-toe with the NCAA’s Mark Emmert,  LEAD1’s McMillen, and the NCAA member-schools’ lobbyists. The Revenue player’s political and economic interests are not being protected — or lobbied-for, and it is time for players to use their email and other power to influence issues which affect their economic bottom line.

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The NCAA, Like Nurse Ratched, Likes a Rigged Game — and So, Apparently, do Arne Duncan and His Knight Commission


You really have to watch Mark Emmert, and the other blow-dry guys who run his NCAA — out of Porsches and ‘first cabin’ quarters — very closely. And, just one layer below, you need to keep your eye on the Knight Commission, which has, for a quarter- century, purported to be a force for good in college sports, while functioning as a solid, dependable force for the status quo. Knight Commission’s CEO Amy Perko, and even its most prominent board member, Arne Duncan, continue to operate as if they were NCAA employees, “just helpin’ out.” And keep your eye on all the other gold-plated conference heads and athletics directors. All the cloth-napkin guys and girls.

All of them are now sprinting to the U.S. Congress, clutching their pearls, and tip-toe-ing through the roiling puddles of distasteful upset caused by the plebian swell which has now inundated state legislatures, derived from common-sense pressures to finally, somehow, someway, get a little NIL-related cash for the Promo-Tainment giants the NCAA euphemistically calls ‘Student-Athletes.

Why the need to keep an eye on them?

The NCAA Likes a Rigged Game

The NCAA, as Randall Patrick McMurphy said, about Nurse Ratched, in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, likes a “rigged game.”

Watch Emmert gesticulate, and ooze earnestness, as he explains the NCAA’s position at the December 17 ‘Future of College Sports: Government’s Role in Athlete Pay.“‘ forum. You’d know that Emmert is in the midst of boot-licking members of the U.S. Congress, to get federal legislation which is favorable to the NCAA, because he, more or less, admits it.  What you would not understand, from this presentation, is that Emmert is deceiving the public about the NCAA’s position. Emmert suggests that the NCAA supports the “tethered to education” benchmark laid down by Judge Bybee in the O’Bannon case, for determining appropriate ‘benefits’ which might flow to a player under NCAA “amateurism.” That’s just plain false.

First, they’ve appealed the recent Alston decision, which depended upon that “tethered” standard. They hate it. Second, look at NCAA bylaw 12, which fails to include it. The NCAA could’ve easily amended bylaw 12, after the original 2015 O’Bannon decision — it’s been four years, now — to fold into it that “tethered to education” standard. But they didn’t. They hate it: how dare, after all, the federal courts impinge upon the NCAA’s jurisdiction?

Emmert fails to tell the audience that the NCAA is pushing to preserve its “Amateurism-is-Whatever-We-Say-It-Is” Doctrine [AIWWSII], embodied in NCAA bylaw 12.

AIWWSII: Any Pay or Benefit is Fine, if Approved by NCAA Legislation

Under bylaw 12, any pay or benefit is allowed, if approved by NCAA legislation.  “Pay,” that bylaw says, “is the receipt of funds, awards or benefits not permitted by the governing legislation,” and bylaw 12.02.9 defines the “professional athlete” as “one who receives any kind of payment, directly or indirectly, for athletics participation except as permitted by the governing legislation of the Association.” Finally, bylaw 16.02.3 declares that an ‘extra benefit,’ is “any special arrangement by an institutional employee or representative of the institution’s athletics interests to provide a student-athlete or the student-athlete family member or friend a benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation.i The key phrases here — “except as permitted by the governing legislation of the Association,” and “not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation,” together reflect the de facto line of demarcation: any player pay or benefit approved by NCAA legislation is perfectly fine. This is the cardinal NCAA rule concerning player pay or benefits: Amateurism-is-Whatever-We-Say-It-Is.

And, starting with the NCAA’s 1956 vote to allow Athletic-Pay (labeled “scholarships”), the list of payments or benefits permitted by this provision is long. Tennis players are permitted up to $10,000 in annual prize earnings, and can receive additional money, as long as it does not exceed their expenses for the event. Olympic medal-winners can receive USOC payment-awards, and the USOC can pay for an athlete’s training, equipment, apparel, travel and even health insurance costs. Like Kyler Murray, whose receipt of a $4.7 million signing bonus from baseball’s Oakland Athletics did not bar him from playing quarterback for Oklahoma, two-sport athletes have long been allowed to be paid professionals in one sport, while competing in another. Football bowl game participants are allowed to receive ‘swag’ gifts from bowl sponsors, valued at no more than $550, and most schools now maintain Student Assistance Funds or Academic Enhancement Funds, to reimburse players for unique expenses, which can even include new suits worn by players or, sometimes, travel costs associated with family-member attendance at Final-Four and College Football Playoff events.ii In Alston, in fact, the District Court’s Judge Wilken cited seventeen examples of such NCAA-sanctioned player pay.iii Player benefits and pay are, according to this rule, limited only by the imaginations of NCAA members who, unencumbered by logic or, even, any tradition of amateurism, can vote to allow any pay, fund, benefit, or arrangement. The latitude which the NCAA seizes with this rule is not just ample: it is unfettered.

The NCAA Wants the Same Ole Thing: Continuing Unfettered Discretion

The reality is that NCAA is pressing Congress for no controls at all: continuing Unfettered Discretion. The NCAA wants to give nothing to the player. Nothing. Not even benefits which Judge Bybee called, “tethered to education.”

And take a quick look at Arne Duncan, and Amy Perko at Knight Commission. Major-league fail. They’ve decided — willy-nilly, within in a quick two-week turnaround in December (realizing that their entire organization was, well, just WAY off the curve) — to support going to get a Congressional bill!  Might they have first asked the NCAA a quick simple question?: ‘Hey, why have you not enacted the “tethered to education” standard which the federal courts told you to? What’s so bad about that?’

Knight Foundation’s Free Money is Always Spent on Big-Foot, Big-Dollar Schools

But no, both Duncan and Perko have round heels, and forgot their roots, which are what I call Free Money Roots.  Knight is one of those odd entities: operating costs (including those for an executive director’s salary) keep magically getting covered every single year! By a non-profit foundation! It’s ALL FREE MONEY!

Player’s Bill? NCAA Bill? — Knight Just Doesn’t Really Know

But Duncan and Perko — as Perko made plain at the December 17 conference — appear to still be debating as to whether they will support a “NCAA Bill” — or a “Player’s Bill”!

The NCAA likes a rigged game, and, like Nurse Ratched, is in a snit because the crazies in the asylum have gotten cranky. This — however degraded, if not perverse — does not come close to the Knight Commission’s failure: Duncan and Perko, of Knight Commission, actually think that their endless pot of Knight family money might reasonably be employed to support the behemoth schools — hundreds of them — with billions and billions of dollars of athletic and academic resources – rather than the, perhaps, 20,000 basketball and football ‘Revenue’ players who fund the raging athletic businesses at their schools.

Knight Commission Likes a Rigged Game

Duncan and Perko, and Knight need to take a closer look, to check whether they might be wasting their money on these issues. I’d expect Mark Emmert and the NCAA to like a rigged game. But Duncan and Perko: do you really want to prop up a rigged game? With your annually recurring — free money?

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Bowl Game Football Player? Keep Notes, File a Claim for Services Rendered


For any collegiate football players who plan to participate in one of the season’s many bowl games, consider the following:

1. in 1937, the Pitt football team voted not to go to the bowl game which the athletic department had scheduled for them. The team wanted advance payment (about $3,000, in today’s dollars), and the bowl and athletic department refused. So they didn’t go.

2. Doing that now is too complicated. (It should be done, it’s just too hard to get there.) But you have a simple remedy, especially if you are a senior, or ‘final-year’ player.

3. Keep precise track of all your hours invested, as a part of the bowl ‘trip’ and game. Include notes about travel time, whether on a plane, or travelling to sites around the bowl-area. Anything and everything you do. KEEP TRACK OF EVERY HOUR.

4. Download and keep all memos or written instructions, from the school’s athletic department, coaches, or the bowl, having anything to do with your expected duties, schedule, and arrangements.

Why bother?

Bowls Games are Cruise Ships, Only on Land

There are a number of reasons. Bowls games are Cruise Ships, only on land. And bowl game operators are like cruise ship owner/operators: they hire all the help and entertainment for the football-ship, and then they walk away with big bucks. And you, dear player, are the entertainment. The head of the College Football Bowl Association, apparently one of the greater fluffernutters in a so-called ‘industry’ of fluffernutters, makes more than $200,000 for doing very little. Many of the bowl game CEOs are paid more than $1 million. And, oftentimes, your school is killing it, too. And your labor, dear player, is funding all of this bloat.

And they line you players up for all kinds of duties. There is always a charity event which mandates that the players all show up with either poor kids, or disabled kids, with alot of photographers around. This is all just pandering to the press, to build the bowl game’s name and brand. ‘Appearances,’ they make you do. Some give you a trip to a mall. Treating you like pubescent summer campers, they all give you a little swag.

Here’s the rub: Let’s say you’re a senior or ‘final-year’ player. Maybe you’re someone who is planning to leave school in January (or has already finished.) So you’re no longer a student, and maybe weren’t a student when you played in the bowl game. Or maybe you plan to stay in school for a final, spring semester. Either way, your football career at the school, under the thumb of NCAA, is done. (Any player, senior or otherwise, can send this letter, and make this claim, for services rendered, it’s just that, if you are an underclassman who intends to return to play the following year, the NCAA and the coaches will start endlessly flogging your backside with that thick NCAA Manual.)

Send a Letter Which Contains a Claim for Services Rendered

Basically, when you’re at the bowl game, you’re just a guy, doing stuff — for hire — in a setting where everyone else gets paid for doing stuff, for hire.

So sometime after the game (it doesn’t have to be right away, but it can), file a written claim, in simple letter form. Summarize your services rendered (based upon your careful notes). If you want, attach the documents you’ve collected, which show all your bowl-related assignments. (You don’t have to, you can do it later.) Put it in the mail, certified mail, to the Bowl Game CEO.

What’s your claim? You don’t really need to know too much, and I’m not going to bore you too much. It’s Quantum Meruit or Unjust Enrichment. Both are, more or less, actions for the value of services rendered, and they vary by state. Services you rendered for the Bowl Game Cruise-Ship Operator. Quantum Meruit can be based upon a contract, and sometimes requires a (pre-performance) expectation of payment — so the Bowl guys will all say there never was any such expectation, no contract, whatever. Don’t worry about that — that’s down the road. Unjust Enrichment generally doesn’t require that expectation; you’re just saying that somebody got unjustly rich — because it sure wasn’t you, even though you did alot of work. Don’t worry about the details. Your letter doesn’t need any fancy words.

Just Say This: I am Demanding Reasonable Payment for My Services Rendered

Just say you want reasonable payment for services rendered, and here’s a list of what I did for services. And say that if you don’t hear back within 30 days, you’ll take other action. Don’t worry about the amount now, it might be hourly payment (based, for example, upon market-based standards set in the NFL or elsewhere.) Just say you want reasonable payment for services rendered.

It’ll rock ’em. And, believe me, these bowl game cruise ship guys are all just the kind of flim-flam artists who need a hard hit. A bowl game ain’t no amateurism: it’s a cruise ship.

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