The latest Thayer Evans piece has plopped onto the interwebs. Give it a read if you missed your daily frisson of rage – as with every way Evans has been involved in the Cam saga, it’s completely stupid.
The point he’s trying to make regards the precedent set by this decision, about which “many” head coaches are “fuming.” He seems to have found two anonymous head coaches willing to take an anonymous, nebulous stand:
We’ve got to take a stand or we’re not going to be able to close these floodgates. Now, the kid and all the people associated with him just have to say, ‘He didn’t know.’ And with that, he’s set free. That’s not fair to us or the kid.
And, the other :
What they’re saying is as long as the kid has nothing to do with the solicitation then you’re OK. It’s a joke, man. This blows everything wide open. Now, it really becomes the haves and the have-nots. It’ll be everybody doing the SEC money thing, but all across the country. Here we go. Get ready.
For the moment, forget that the head coaches neither make nor interpret NCAA bylaws – they only follow them. Or don’t. Also, forget that the “SEC money thing” ought to be properly termed the “college football money thing.” These guys are mad, sure, but they aren’t taking the time to check which end of the cart the horse is at.
I want to address this idea that this ruling sets some kind of dangerous precedent, that floodgates have been opened through which pours the black tide of agents, money-grubbing parents and the accelerated death of amateurism. Consider it an addendum to the previous piece which predicted this outcome.
First of all, let’s put the thing right on the table: the NCAA’s ruling on Cam Newton makes it de facto legal to ask how much your kid’s LOI is worth. And yes, that’s immoral. And yes, now all those families who want to ask how much their children are worth at one school, take no money, and send their kid to another school have been given the green light to do so. However, it remains to be seen why it is important to college football that kids be punished for the sins of their fathers.
Because that’s what we’re talking about here, right? The actions taken by parents having consequences for the unknowing kid.
At their basic level, NCAA bylaws (concerning this situation) should exist to prevent a kid from committing to a school because of money, whether they know they are doing so or not. There are two ways this could happen: the kid makes the decision based on the cash, or his family steers him to a school because of money they receive without his knowledge. In order to prevent these from happening, the NCAA must strictly enforce the ethical character of the student-athlete, and must prevent a black market of talent.
Regarding the former task: even if parents are de facto allowed to ask what their kid is worth, if the kids don’t know, then no harm is done to the student-athlete’s ethical character. If he doesn’t know what his parents are doing or have done, then he has neither participated in the ethical violation, nor could he have prevented it, i.e. he has neither aided nor abetted the crime. These anonymous coaches seem to think it’s unfair to the kid if he is not held accountable for actions he neither took nor could have prevented… that it’s somehow wrong that a person of upstanding moral character is not punished for the transgressions of their relatives.
Secondly, the illegal economy of talent is nonexistent without exchange of money for goods. It’s silly to claim that, with this “dangerous” precedent set, every kid’s dad is going to demand a price for the young buck’s playing time. After all, it’s still illegal to enter into an agreement to receive payment. This vast, seething tide of solicitous parents is going to be pretty frustrated when they find out that they still can’t get any money legally. What exactly are these coaches bemoaning? That now, every parent will ask for some cash, and they’ll just have to say “No”? Weren’t they doing that already? What exactly changes here, from a practical standpoint? Pay for play is still thoroughly illegal.
So this ruling, really, doesn’t change anything.
John has been going to Auburn games since before he was born. He was in –Legion Field- utero when Bo went over the top. Some mothers play Mozart to their developing progeny. John was raised on the roars of the Tiger faithful. You can chart his growth with his fantastic column, God, Girl, Grill, Gridiron, and write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.