Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Blame Game

Once again we’re sitting here waiting on the season to start, crossing our fingers that the kids stay out of trouble. Wouldn’t it be nice to get through one offseason without having players suspended or dismissed. I have and will always be a huge believer in personal responsibility, meaning that I solely put the blame square on the young men. We were all that age once and made bad decisions (I still make plenty as an adult) but I can’t excuse what some of these guys are doing.

Having said all that, why don’t we seriously hire more freaking people to watch them. I mean, it’s not like we don’t have the money. Let’s admit that as long as we have the same number of people trying to keep up with these guys, this problem isn’t going away. Educating them on the consequences doesn’t seem to work and I don’t see that getting better.

My proposal is to start a new department between Compliance and the Coaches (wherever it needs to be to fit on the books between NCAA guidelines and school administration) called Player Management. Hire a Director making $100K and a team of 10-15 staff. Schools already have a Compliance staff of a handful of people (depending on school size) that help the athletes with setting up class schedules, staying on the graduation track, study hall, and other academic responsibilities. They need more.

These are the people that help in all sports, including tennis and swimming teams, not just football. They get very little credit for helping the kids stay on track (if a team does well academically, the coach may get a big bonus for that, even though they have very little to do with it) but get most of the blame when a guy becomes academically ineligible. It doesn’t matter that the player probably lies about school work or that the coaches were warned that said player was missing class or falling behind. I’ll leave the rest of my rant in regards to this area for another day.

So if schools are serious about addressing these increasing off-field issues, then I suggest investing $500K into staff to keep track of these guys. Maybe it’s time to stop being reactive and start being proactive. The staff can help in a lot of other areas too but focus on keeping the players in line. They may act just a little different if they know another set of eyes is on them.


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