Ahead Of BCS Championship, Amateurism Considered As Oregon and Auburn play for the BCS championship Monday, a look at the state of amateurism in college football. What can be changed to prevent the types of scandals that have hit programs involved in some of the biggest games during this bowl season?
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Ahead Of BCS Championship, Amateurism Considered

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Ahead Of BCS Championship, Amateurism Considered

Ahead Of BCS Championship, Amateurism Considered

Ahead Of BCS Championship, Amateurism Considered

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/132812044/132814633" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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As Oregon and Auburn play for the BCS championship Monday, a look at the state of amateurism in college football. What can be changed to prevent the types of scandals that have hit programs involved in some of the biggest games during this bowl season?

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

And as NPR's Tom Goldman reports, that has stirred new rumblings about reform.

TOM GOLDMAN: The investigation reportedly continues, and there's still some suspicion rattling around that Newton knew what his dad was up to and shouldn't have been declared eligible for tonight's game.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

GOLDMAN: Should Cam Newton be able to play in this game?

BRIAN KING: I think he should. They don't have any concrete evidence on him and - but until they have concrete evidence, they can't stop him from playing.

GOLDMAN: Besides, said his buddy James Roberts, also from Selma, maybe we need to point that finger of suspicion elsewhere.

JAMES ROBERTS: And, you know, the NCAA, here, lately, it seems like they're making all the rules up anyway.

GOLDMAN: Roberts was referring to that equally controversial NCAA decision allowing several Ohio State players to play in last week's Sugar Bowl even though they'd been suspended for multiple games next season because of rules violations.

MARK EMMERT: I understand why that case causes people to scratch their head.

GOLDMAN: Law Professor Peter Goplerud advocated for change in a series of articles in the mid-1990s. Goplerud advocated for paying players. He says, all these years later, the need for reform is as great, if not greater, with so much money coming into schools from revenue-generating sports.

PETER GOPLERUD: The University of Texas, a year ago, being first school ever to pass the $10 million mark in annual revenues just from royalties from licensed products.

GOLDMAN: Mark Emmert says, we will not and should not ever pay athletes. Scholarships are sufficient, he says, and the NCAA offers emergency funds for when they're not. Besides, Emmert asserts this image of athletic departments awash in cash just isn't true. Last year, he says, only 14 schools in the country had athletic programs running in the black. All the more reason, says sports agent Donald Yee, to push reform even farther.

DONALD YEE: I think there are better business models out there, more innovative business models that can be more efficient economically.

GOLDMAN: Yee says the NCAA's tight reins on amateurism and player compensation prevent him even from offering bottled water to college athletes who visit his L.A. office. The business model he's promoting pays players. More dramatically, it has the university put out for bid the rights to operate the football program to a third party: a hedge fund, private equity company or wealthy alum. Yee uses the example of UCLA.

YEE: UCLA would negotiate within that agreement certain profit splits with that private third party, and the private third party would do all the work in operating the entire program.

GOLDMAN: To all this, the NCAA's Emmert says, basically, when pigs fly. But Yee says, it doesn't matter the NCAA won't budge. College sports are fluid. Look at, for instance, all the recent shifting of college conferences with money being the driving force. For now, college players like Cam Newton himself think about what it would mean to get a piece of the financial pie.

CAM NEWTON: Would I like players to get paid? You know, I'd be lying in saying that I wish we could get paid. But do we? No.

GOLDMAN: Tom Goldman, NPR News.

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