Academics have called the NCAA a cartel for quite some time now. That is, the NCAA behaves like a cartel (yes, just like the drug cartels). They cooperate in controlling the supply of a product (college sports), and even have self-enforced rules and regulations that if broken by any members, can lead to punishment (such as reduction of scholarships, postseason play ban, etc). This model of examining the NCAA is widely accepted, and their are several research papers discussing the NCAA cartel.
Illinois congressman Bobby Rush has different thoughts of the NCAA, especially in regards to how they control the lives of student-athletes. Today he compared the NCAA to the Mafia. Enter Congressman Rush:
“I think they’re just one of the most vicious, most ruthless organizations ever created by mankind. I think you would compare the NCAA to Al Capone and to the Mafia.”
Mr. Rush said this at a congressional forum on college sports, and coming from the state of Illinois, it is rather interesting to see Rush compare the NCAA to Chicago’s most notorious gangster, Al Capone. Rush went even further stating that in college sports there were:
“back-room deals, payoffs and scandals”
This came after Mr. Rush and others heard testimony from several student-athletes, parents of student-athletes, and even a few former college stars. Of note was one family who were refused a waiver by Oklahoma University for their son (Kyle Hardrick) to transfer to a junior college after he had been hurt. The athlete’s coach even had written a letter saying that this was a hardship case and it should be granted, but OU refused, saying they would only settle with the family if they signed forms that would prevent them from filing a lawsuit against the university. Said the family:
“The University of Oklahoma refused to pay for Kyle’s surgery, his rehab, and his medication. The university actions also allowed Kyle to be released without appropriate medical treatment before consulting his original surgeon.”
That really got Mr. Rush fired up, but there was more to come, this time from Shane Battier (former Duke basketball star, and current NBA player). Battier said the new changes by the NCAA in regards to the optional $2,000 more for full scholarship student-athletes was a good start to fixing some of the problems. Battier noted:
“Is that a game-changer? No. What is a game-changer? A game-changer is guaranteeing 4-year scholarships. That’s a game-changer. A game-changer is, ‘If you commit to our school, and you graduate, we will pay for any graduate degree that you would like to pursue.”
Still not sure if you could really compare the NCAA to the mafia, but many of these behaviors we have witnessed point towards the cartel nature of the organization.
H/T to Tommy R. and Yajur P.