The Barometer always enjoys it when the experts offer their solutions, post-scandal. To fix the too-big-to-fail problem, we passed legislation that has resulted in even bigger banks. To punish auditors for their complicity in Enron, WorldCom, etc., we doubled down on audit requirements, for the financials AND a separate auditor for internal controls. The result was, of course, even more work for auditors, the very folks we determined messed things up in the first place.
Now comes a Sports Illustrated writer with a way to prevent basketball’s black market (shoe companies now alleged to have funneled cash to recruits’ families): Let agents sign and recruit high school seniors. Brilliant! That will stop the payments, eh?
The premise of Jeremy Woo’s argument (“The Case for Lowering the NBA Minimum Wage”) is the “failure to pay . . . student-athletes what they are worth.” Sports illustrated, October 18, 2017, p. 24. Let’s think about that for just a minute. There was a time when we understood that a free ride for a degree was a pretty good deal. Ask any of the graduates struggling to repay what they borrowed for an education and you would get an earful on what a degree is worth. Then take a look at the stats on the lifetime earnings of college graduate vs. high school graduate, earnings that are not at risk of an ACL injury.
Then, let’s think about the wisdom of signing an 18-year-old to a multi-million contract. Thomas Sowell once said that he was grateful that he had no real financial success until he was 50 because he had the wisdom to understand what to do with the money and the humility to accept it without pride or flash. Surely the adults can see the ethical obligation to offer some guardrails from the follies of youth and some advice on education and skills that are not subject to the high risks of a sport and the treachery of too much cash too quickly. Ironically, the FBI has had to step in as the adult because of the failures of coaches, colleges and universities, and the shoe folks to play by the rules already in place.
College basketball issues are not the result of too little cash. They are the result of misplaced values. The adults used to know that, including the parents of the players.