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NCAA's mishandling of Miami case reason for college athletes to get endorsement deals

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo Sports

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NCAA president Mark Emmert is having his enforcement division reviewed. (AP)

The NCAA announced Wednesday it "uncovered an issue of improper conduct within its enforcement program that occurred during the University of Miami investigation." While it's a startling specific admission, it isn't necessarily a surprise. This is, after all, just the latest enforcement gaffe.

So the Miami case is on hold while the NCAA, per order of president Mark Emmert, waits out an "external review of the enforcement program."

The NCAA should hire someone to perform an external review of its rulebook instead.

The core issue here isn't which policy or procedure was violated. It's that the NCAA keeps trying to enforce patently one-sided and illogical rules that are supposed to be able to stop the wheels of capitalism.

It doesn't work. It's never worked. It never will work.

Well, except for the NCAA, which conveniently enjoys a valuable tax dodge.

Boil down the Nevin Shapiro case and here's what happened: a wealthy fan of a university's athletic programs sent lots of money to the school – both to athletic administrators who all but beg for donations and to the athletes themselves, who in many cases did the same.

Either way, it's a one-way money flow, from Shapiro to Miami, only to two separate parties on campus.

[Related: NCAA drops ball in Miami investigation]

Yet in college athletics, one party (the school) not only claims it's perfectly cool for it to get paid, it celebrates the generosity by honoring the benefactors and naming student lounges and the like after them. Then, at the same time, school officials claim it's completely wrong and immoral for money to go directly to the other party (the players) and create a near federal case out of it that will destroy careers and cost millions of additional dollars they need other boosters to cover.

This is an exercise in recurring nonsense. And when it inevitably blows up, the NCAA thinks a review and some new policies will allow it to enforce such nonsense.

Again, it's never going to work.

Ever.

The simple solution is to allow boosters, businesses, alumni, fans – heck, anyone at all – to sponsor athletes. Let the free market play out. Let someone who loves Old State U tell a kid they'll give him $10,000, $20,000, $100,000 a year if they'll go there. Let a local business say they want to use a star player in advertisements. Let Nike or Under Armor sign them to endorsement deals.

Who cares? It isn't your money.

This is what the Olympics finally did, and that event not only survived the horrors of "professionalism," it thrived.

No one stops a person or a business from sponsoring regular college students, be they an actress, a clarinet player or a computer scientist. You want to give some kid $500 for his high school graduation, you do it. If you want to give him $20,000, you can do that too. It's on you.

Let it all take place out in the open. Let the players no longer be so desperate to get someone to buy them drinks at a nightclub or have a car or help their parents back home or buy a new set of headphones or whatever they want to spend money on. Let the coaches go back to coaching and spare themselves all the lying and deception that runs rampant through the major sports.

[Related: Will NCAA's gaffe help Frank Haith save his job?]

Let the market decide what each player, each team is worth. Will the fans of Michigan spend more money on their team than the fans of Eastern Michigan? Of course they will. But they already do. It's obvious in the facilities and the stadium and the salaries of the coaches.

There is no level playing field in college athletics, and there never will be. Some schools care more than others.

Administrators don't limit giving to equal levels when it comes to building new offices or being able to charter private planes or, ahem, pay their own massive salaries. They don't say they can't have a complimentary country club membership because some other school can't afford such a perk.

Nobody cares about a level playing field when they are getting the money.

Yet, they then stick it on the players. And then pretend that writing a rulebook and hiring some investigators will make it all work.

Let the public and business community pay the players. Not everyone will get the same amount, of course, but that's America.

Do all the employees in an athletic department get paid the same amount? Isn't the AD considered more important than the secretary and thus compensated accordingly, maybe the way the starting quarterback will get more than a benchwarmer? Isn't the AD at Michigan paid more than the AD at Eastern Michigan, the way their respective point guards likely would, too?

There are no Title IX concerns this way. If someone wants to sponsor a woman athlete, they can. In some places there will be money in women's or so-called Olympic sports, places where hockey or wrestling or women's soccer will bring in the money, sometimes in good numbers.

Whatever. At the end of the day it's a rich person sending money to a young – often poor – person. We are supposed to be outraged by this? This is how the country works, this is how the force of a capitalistic economy will always make it work. Only the NCAA thinks it can stop it.

The goal of the NCAA is to create the illusion of amateurism because it allows the NCAA to avoid paying taxes – billions and billions of dollars in taxes. Which means billions and billion in taxes have to come from somewhere else – like the rest of us.

The thing is, amateurism itself is a sham. You are only an amateur at things you aren't good enough at, or at least things that someone won't pay you to do.

Amateurism was invented as an athletic concept so rich people who had a lot of time on their hands to practice sports such as sailing could stop working people from being paid enough that they could quit their day jobs and also have time on their hands to practice. It began as a way of preventing a level playing field, not creating one.

The NCAA, among others, has completely corrupted that concept, spun it into something holy and just. That's the original lie.

[Also: Kentucky may not make the NCAA tournament]

NCAA administrators aren't interested in amateurism. They act like they are running a Pop Warner team, then pay and pamper themselves like they own the Dallas Cowboys.

They want to control the flow of money from people like Nevin Shapiro so it comes directly to them. Then they can spend and spend and spend, and then maybe let some trickle down to the players in the form of, say, a new weight room that wasn't really needed.

The NCAA should just drop the Miami case. After all these months and all these millions spent, in the end, nothing bad ever really happened there.

Unless the NCAA has hoodwinked you into believing a rich guy giving money directly to the players, rather than exclusively to wealthy administrators, is somehow a terrible sin.

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