Title IX, SCOTUS and the imperfect business model of the NCAA


The Mailbag Hotline typically publishes on Fridays, with one exception this week. Send your questions to [email protected] or contact me on Twitter: @WilnerHotline. Due to the volume – and in some cases the need for research – not all questions will be answered on the week of submission. Thank you for your understanding.

Note: Some questions have been edited for clarity or brevity.

Title IX was intended to provide women with equal opportunities to participate in varsity athletics. An admirable objective, no doubt. But hasn’t the goal of equality disappeared with the determination to include football scholarships in the calculation? – Jon Joseph

Two things are also true: Title IX made varsity athletics a better place; and the inclusion of football in law enforcement greatly complicates the situation.

On the football piece, we find a divergence between the letter of the law and the reality on the ground.

According to the NCAA website:

“Title IX does not require reduced opportunities for male student-athletes. One of the goals is to create the same opportunity and quality of treatment for female and male student athletes. The elimination of men’s sports programs is not the intention of Title IX. The intention of Title IX is to bring the treatment of disadvantaged sex to the level of the advantaged group. “

But by including a men’s sport with 85 purses – and no female equivalents – in the overall calculation, that could naturally serve as a limiting factor for other men’s sports.

Title IX essentially creates a zero-sum game, which doesn’t make it a bad law or even an imperfect law. But without exception for football, legislation can create tension in the allocation of resources for sports departments that organize football programs.

Title IX is also one of many examples of the absolute, inescapable conundrum facing major college sports – a conundrum that recently took center stage with the Supreme Court ruling in the Alston case. .

At the end of June, SCOTUS unanimously ruled that the NCAA could not prevent universities from offering athletes benefits (i.e. money) related to educational opportunities.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the following:

“Nowhere else in America can companies agree to not paying their workers at the fair market rate on the assumption that their product is defined by not paying their workers at the fair market rate. And under ordinary antitrust law principles, it’s not clear why college sport should be any different. The NCAA is not above the law.

This is true, but it is also the case: nowhere else in America would a company support 18 to 20 subsidiaries. who lose money.

Because this is exactly the illogical pattern found through the Power Five – a pattern that is rooted, in part but not entirely, in the very requirements of Title IX.

In most sports departments, only two subsidiaries generate profits: football and men’s basketball. Everyone else, so-called Olympic sports, men and women, are losing money.

(Example: The 2019 Oregon women’s basketball team – which included Sabrina Ionescu, spent the entire season in the top five and reached the Final Four – lost $ 2.7 million.)

If college sports were run like every other business in Kavanaugh’s America, these money losers wouldn’t exist.

The only athletic model that could comply with Title IX and reflecting standard business practices would include football, men’s basketball and enough women’s sports to reach 98 purses.

It’s not realistic, of course. But the economic framework is not at the heart of college sport either.

We can debate and assess the details from now until Mark Emmert runs off into the dark – whether it’s the Alston case or the Title IX application or the NIL rights or whatever – but the essential is the following:

The decades-old model for universities playing major college football rests on incompatible and unsustainable pillars.

Frankly, it’s amazing that the industry has come this far.

Which teams are best positioned to take advantage of the NIL in the future? How is this changing the recruiting landscape in P12? – @MaverickUW

I’m not dodging your question, but it’s just too early to know how the name, image, and likeness will play out throughout the conference.

At the end of June, we published a cheat sheet on the basics of the NIL and included the opinion of an expert in the field: Casey Schwab, CEO of Altius Sports Partners, who helps sports departments navigate the NIL.

We asked Schwab the following question: Does the NIL benefit universities located in college towns, where there is a deep affinity and recognition of athlete fans, or in larger cities, where there are more companies? and richer?

His full answer can be found here, but that’s the crux:

“Really, it depends on how schools tap into their local resources and culture… The key is to make sure that athletes understand the extent of opportunities available in person and through social media and how well schools take advantage of the local approach. It is not a unique situation.

The hotline will continue to monitor NIL developments and report any trends impacting recruitment or performance.

Is there any indication the NCAA actually took action prior to the football season on the Arizona state dumpster fire? – @BbliotcrioDavid

If we were forced to choose, we would place an ever so small bet on the NCAA that didn’t act until the start of the season. But there are reasons to believe that a resolution might come sooner than expected:

– Availability of information

The NCAA has received a file that allegedly contains evidence of wrongdoing, so its overworked investigators may be able to act quickly.

– Availability of leverage

The NCAA can withhold eligibility in front of players who have first-hand knowledge or information about ASU recruiting practices: be honest, or you’re out this season.

(In this regard, the situation is significantly different from the basketball scandal, where the NCAA’s inability to get Christian Dawkins to speak hampered his investigation.)

If penalties are forthcoming for ASU, there are only three possible avenues: 1) NCAA rules before (or during) the season; 2) the university imposes penalties before (or during) the season, or; 3) everything takes place after the season.

We should be assuming No. 3 at this point, with the possibility that a program steeped in a recruiting scandal will play for the conference championship on December 3 in Las Vegas.

With the state of Arizona facing sanctions and USC coached by the same former, what are the games you shouldn’t miss when it comes to determining the South? – @ElonMUSS

At this point you could make an equally strong case for the Sun Devils, Utes or Trojans to win the South – the race should be a lot of fun.

Two months ago, the Hotline published our ranking of the biggest games of the conference in 2021, but the duels naturally stand out:

October 9: Utah at USC
October 16: State of Arizona in Utah
November 6: USC in Arizona State

There is one more element of the Southern Calculation that is worth mentioning: the games that does not exist against suspected heavyweights in northern Oregon and Washington.

Arizona state misses Oregon; Utah does not play in Washington; and USC misses both the Ducks and the Huskies.

The transversal program could very well shape the South race.

Why is the Pac-12 network not available on YouTube TV when all other Power Five conferencing networks are? And will that change soon? Request a friend – @Greg_Tolmie

The Pac-12 network has deals with three streaming services (fubo, Sling, and Vidgo) and would love to be available on YouTube (or Hulu), but more than one is needed for over-the-top tango.

YouTube is apparently not interested in a deal with the Pac-12 networks, at least not at the current asking price.

The Big Ten, ACC, and SEC have all partnered with major media companies on their networks, creating leverage in their dealings with top streaming platforms.

We don’t see the situation changing this fall, unfortunately. As with so many other aspects of the Pac-12 media landscape, the status quo is likely until the 2023 football season.

Has the Pac-12 requested early negotiations with its current media partners for a new contract? If so, have ESPN and FOX turned down their request for early trading? – @flugempire

The answer is not as simple as you might think, as the Pac-12 has held several rounds of discussions with current and potential partners.

If you remember…

– In the spring of 2019, the Sports Business Journal reported ESPN’s offer to partner with the Pac-12 network conference in exchange for a long-term Tier 1 broadcast deal.

– Also in spring 2019, the conference engaged the Raine group to explore equity investors and / or strategic partners from the financial and media world.

– And in late 2019, a report surfaced that the Pac-12 had spoken to Apple about a partnership.

In other words, the conference has consistently engaged with media companies, including ESPN, prior to the pandemic.

Could these discussions be characterized as early negotiations on agreements that expire in spring 2024? Or were they just laying the groundwork for the next round of contracts?

This is where it gets blurry; the details of the discussions are, of course, kept private.

But this is clear: the conference considered revising its pre-COVID distribution agreements but did not believe that any offer (formal or otherwise) was worth pursuing.

Equally clear: the new Commissioner George Kliavkoff should consider all avenues for a short and long term media strategy. (If the conference decides to tear up the current deals, they can only negotiate with ESPN and Fox. They have the exclusive right.)

Finally, it’s also evident that Pac-12 Networks’ failed business model has forced the conference to spend a pretty penny on media consultants over the years.

Why are you so bad at predicting basketball rank? – @ BoilerCat54

Predictions are only horrible when I’m skeptical of your team. In all other cases, they are more than brilliant.

Do you know any Arizona basketball players? – @ GoCats27727181

Does Steve Kerr count?

Have you ever heard of Azuolas Tubelis? – @ MichaelL112275

Sure. He is the brother of Tautvilas Tubelis.

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