I’ve always been a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to college football…I still oppose a substantial change to the BCS system, and up to recently opposed changing the amateur-status rules that govern paying college athletes.
But interviews like this one have basically turned me around on the latter issue:
After demonstrating how agents already advance money to college athletes—albeit under the table—you make an interesting and novel suggestion in your book: allow agents to legally loan money to players. Why is that a good idea?
First and foremost, being able to receive loans is a basic right that other Americans have. The only reason we think it is wrong with college athletes is that the NCAA has worked really hard to convince us that it’s evil. But is it? If you’re 18 years old, you can enlist in the armed forces, fight for this country and die. You are mature and mentally developed enough to make that decision. But you can’t be trusted with a couple of bucks to buy yourself dinner? That makes no sense. It is only corrupt because the NCAA forbids it.
Moreover, college athletes currently are allowed to get loans to pay premiums on disability insurance, based on their future pro value. Why does the NCAA allow this? Self-interest. It gives schools one more argument to make that players should come back for their senior years. If you can get a loan for that, why can’t you get a loan to better quality of living, help family back home, for anything?
I know a lot of players that came out of school early solely because they needed the money. This would help them stay in school longer. From the standpoint of self-interest, that would give the NCAA a better product to sell to the television networks. It also would take the heat off of the NCAA a little bit, quiet down the groundswell to [pay players].
I don’t have answers for all the problems in all of college football. But as far as scandals involving agents and/or illegal benefits go, I think this could relieve a lot those. Take the situation at USC. Reggie Bush [accepted improper benefits] and has moved on to the next level, while the players there now are left holding the bag, not able to go to postseason games. How frustrated are alumni and the universities suffering these sanctions? Allow loans, and none of this is necessary.
The article is worth reading in its entirety if you’re at all interested in the subject – the guy they’re interviewing is an agent that used to subvert the rules, and is now an advocate for change.