I miss Frank Remington, who always looked out for student athletes.
Remington, a longtime law professor at the University of Wisconsin, set the standard for integrity in intercollegiate athletics. As chair of the NCAA’s infractions committee, he never played favorites. He was chair of that committee when it imposed the "death penalty" on Southern Methodist University, forcing it to give up football for the 1987 season as a penalty for major infractions. He had one rule above all: honesty at all times from schools, athletes and coaches.
And Frank had another rule. All of the participants in the proceedings before his committee had to keep in mind that the duty of the NCAA is to promote and protect the student athletes.
If Frank were alive today, he would be shocked by the salaries paid to the coaches in the so-called national championship. Ohio State's Urban Meyer makes more than $4 million a year, and Oregon's Mark Helfrich is paid $2 million. That's absurd, and it doesn't even count bonuses for winning championships.
As Mike Lupica noted in the New York Daily News, "the only ones who don’t get paid are the ones everybody wants to watch": the players. "And if you think room and board is enough of a compensation for producing this kind of spectacle," writes Lupica, "then you have rocks in your head. Thoroughbred racehorses get room and board, too."
As for their education, the Ohio State quarterback told the truth a couple years ago in a tweet that he quickly deleted: The players go to Ohio State to play football, not to go to class. But Frank knew only a few would go on to get big National Football League contracts. Frank was always our conscience — education, education, education.
The college football championship game was a made-for-TV extravaganza. I hope it was the first and last one. The TV station, the NCAA and the colleges raked in millions — generated by the student athletes. Frank would have said put the money into scholarships or pay the players. Do something for the kids.
As I've noted before, there is precious little discussion about the rights of athletes and the proper role of sports on campus. The ballyhooed football championship is just one more reminder that major college sports are out of control.