While everyone wants to debate whether or not student athletes should be paid for their services, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney wants no part of it. Instead Delaney is in favor of ending the debate once and for all by giving student athletes the choice of which path they want to go down.
For Delaney it’s simple: if a student athlete chooses to hone his or her skills in college, they should understand that they’ll only be paid in scholarships and money for room and board. On the flip side if they’re good enough to make money on the professional level, they should be afforded the opportunity to skip college and do just that.
The problem is that the NBA and NFL seem to have no interest in putting together the infrastructure of the likes of Major League Baseball. Sure the NBA has the NBADL, but an athlete still must attend college before wasting away on one of those teams.
To remedy this, Delaney lays out a pretty decent argument of why this should happen and how this can happen.
“Maybe in football and basketball, it would work better if more kids had a chance to go directly into the professional ranks,” Delany said. “If they’re not comfortable and want to monetize, let the minor leagues flourish. Train at IMG, get agents to invest in your body, get agents to invest in your likeness and establish it on your own. But don’t come here and say, ‘We want to be paid $25,000 or $50,000.’ Go to the D-League and get it, go to the NBA and get it, go to the NFL and get it. Don’t ask us what we’ve been doing.
“If an athlete wants to professionalize themselves, professionalize themselves. We’ve been training kids for professional sports. I argue it’s the color, I argue it’s the institution. If you think it’s about you, then talk to John Havlicek about that, you’ve got to talk to Michael Jordan about that. These brands have been built over 100 years.”
“You don’t have to play for the Redskins or the Bears at 17, but you could develop IMG,” Delany said. “My gosh, there are lots of trainers out there. There are quarterback coaches teaching passing skills, guys lifting weights, guys training and running. They can get as strong and as fast in that environment as they can in this environment. Plus, they don’t have to go to school. Plus, they can sell their likeness and do whatever they want to do. We don’t want to do that. What we want to do is do what we’ve been doing for 100 years.”
“I think we ought to work awful hard with the NFL and the NBA to create an opportunity for those folks. We have it in baseball, we have it in golf, works pretty good, we have it in golf, we have it in hockey. Why don’t we have it in football, basketball? Why is it our job to be minor leagues for professional sports?”
All great points by Delaney, but I really doubt he’s this selfless. The moment that the best players stop going to college, the moment his conference looks worse than it already is. And that’s the moment he starts screaming bloody murder about the professional ranks stealing his bread and butter.