Don Yee, who is Tom Brady’s agent, hasn’t been heard from on the subject of his client’s contract with the Patriots, but this week he spoke out on the topic of another group of athletes getting paid: college football players.
In an editorial that was published by the Miami Herald and Washington Post, among other news outlets, Yee makes the case that college football should be privatized.
Yee takes aim at the NCAA, saying its idea of amateurism “lacks intellectual integrity and is terribly unnecessary.”
He points to two events: the recent shuffling of athletic conferences, which he says were less about athletics and more about a money grab. The Pac-10 getting larger, Yee argues, will lead to bigger television contracts, which will lead to bigger contracts for coaches, better facilities for sports teams (usually football programs) and nicer travel arrangements. And Southern California’s punishment for Reggie Bush accepting improper gifts while a student-athlete for the Trojans has led to the NCAA punishing the program’s current athletes, all of whom were not around when Bush was playing for the Trojans.
“What needs to change is the entire attitude toward college football,” Yee writes. “This is the perfect time to implement an honest approach to the combination of big-time football and higher education, an approach that eliminates the NCAA’s notion of amateurism. College football generates huge revenues, and there is plenty of money to create a win-win business model for players, coaches and universities. A big business deserves market-driven reform, absent of hypocrisy.”
Yee lists 10 steps to accomplish NCAA reform, among them:
* All major football-playing universities should lease the rights to operate a commercial football program on behalf of the university to an independent, outside company — i.e., Southern Cal would become USC Football Inc. The leases would be open for bidding, and the company and university would share net profits from all revenue streams.
* Each football “corporation” could create leagues with other corporations; Yee argues that this already exists in one form with the BCS and its exclusion of some schools.
* All players would be paid a salary, “as much as the market would bear,” Yee believes, and no longer receive scholarships. Players would pay income taxes, 401(k) plans could be established, corporations would pay Social Security taxes.
* The football corporations could offer a range of educational opportunities, eliminating the pretense that all of them attend classes but allowing those who are strong students to take classes they’d prefer or others to pursue vocational training.
* The NCAA could be eliminated as it relates to football.
It is an intriguing argument Yee makes. Yes, it would end any discussion and investigation into whether players are being played because they would be. But does it go too far?