Careful what you wish for: the costs of deregulation

NORTHWESTERN COMMAND – As rapper Warren G once mused, we must regulate.

I imagine even most staunch free market proponents appreciate that the jet airliners they fly on, the food they buy at supermarkets, is regulated for quality. While a lot of factors went into the Great Recession, the lack of regulation in the housing market was a key aspect.

And, no, I’m not Paul Krugman’s brother.

Paul Krugman and his cat think the NCAA’s deregulation is a bad idea

You might have read in today’s Post & Courier, or elsewhere, about the upcoming deregulation in college football recruiting set to effect in Aug. 1.

To summarize a long story, NCAA officials and college presidents have essentially thrown their arms into the air and said ‘we give up trying to enforce this telephone book of bylaws.’ They believe they can no longer effectively enforce its ever increasing rulebook, so they are tearing out half of its pages. I get it. Reform was needed. But what they’ve chose to repeal is curious, and too many coaches, troublesome.

Programs will now be allowed to have non-coaches involved in the recruiting and evaluation of prospects, meaning personnel departments will be created. In fact Alabama, as you might suspect, has already jumped on this and has hired Kevin Steele as its “personnel director,” a title straight out of the NFL.

Coaches will also be allowed unlimited communication with prospects. And there will also be unlimited mailings of material to recruits, meaning custom made posters will be mailed every day, media guides will expand. It’s going to be silly, really.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney wonders if facilities might also be deregulated, meaning athletics-only dorms, probably looking like 5-star hotels, could also be in the future.

In short, athletic departments will be spending millions more every year on their football programs.

I thought we were trying to save money? So did Swinney.

Perhaps Clemson recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott said it best: “Ten years from now, we’re going to look back and say, ‘What have we done?’”

Yes, certain rules needed to be removed, like whether cream cheese on a bagel counted as an improper benefit. Common sense, really. And as for the lifting of communication limits, that doesn’t bother me so much as it’s nearly impossible to enforce and if a recruiter thinks he can gain an advantage by texting a prospect 25 times a day, so be it. (More likely he comes off as a stalker).

But the lifting of these personnel and mailings restrictions — and perhaps facilities down the road – is going to create the arms race of arms races and create greater separation between the Haves and Have Nots.

But even the Haves are worried.

“What’s going to happen is these major programs are going to create personnel departments because everyone in your building can recruit,” Swinney said. “You are going to have programs that already have enormous support staffs, now those guys are going to be able to recruit. Everybody is evaluating, recruiting, calling, texting.

“There’s no limits.”

It’s about to get crazy, as Swinney said, and crazy expensive.

Check out this article send to me by reader Bret McCormick:

Unlike the Big Ten’s objections, Georgia’s seem to come from its athletic director Greg McGarity, who saw his coaches eyeing the new rules like sharks before a feeding frenzy:

“It was an immediate red flag,” he said. “We now have about 35 items on the list of what the coaches would love to do. Think about if we gave them a few months to come up with things.”


On the wish list were 200-page, four-color brochures. Fathead posters made in the likenesses of recruits and stuffed inside media guides. Videos of a recruit in a Georgia uniform. Four or five extra staff members devoted to recruiting.




“Some school is going to want to get on the high dive with this and go all in and spend and spend,” McGarity said. “It is going to start a round of competition among schools that is going to be limitless.”

No one, no business, wants to be over-regulated, sure.

But there’s smart regulation and deregulation and it seems like the NCAA will begin an arms race of new spending on Aug. 1. An arms race that no one yet understands the full scope of quite yet. As much as everyone likes to bash the NCAA, it’s easy to criticize a governing body when you’re not governing. And NCAA restrictions did curb spending. Now some are being repealed.

Pandora opened a box.

The NCAA deregulated.




4 thoughts on “Careful what you wish for: the costs of deregulation

  1. At least 5 star hotel type dorms would be for the players. It’s also the cost aspect that gets me. There’s some economics justifying coach salaries. As much as I dislike the guy, Saban probably increases the value of the Alabama program far more than he’s paid. But while I disagree with how a player’s worth is calculated to the program similar to the NFL since facilities costs, equipment, and yes, even non-revenue sports costs need to be removed before looking at it from a revenue standpoint, the athletes deserve at least equivilent grants to what I got for working in the lab and volunteering as a tutor. A couple grand a semester would be huge. That’s where all this additional personnel money should go.

    • Coaches are overvalued to a degree, since the labor is not really part of the marketplace. That said, in any system, Saban deserves to be well compensated because I think Alabama’s football revenues have jumped some 25 percent during his tenure.

      I agree players typically get a raw deal. (Remember, I’m the guy who wrote about how much C.J. Spiller was really worth in 2009 — $4.2 million to Clemson.) And I think players again get a raw deal again as more resources are simply pumped into more staff and mailings and cell phone data packages in deregulation.

  2. The most popular sport in the US, the NFL, has, at least, a salary cap for players that governs how much a team can spend on free agents. They have a draft, which makes the acquisition of talent equitable. Do they have that same cap for staff and facilities? No, but talent is the driver in creating wins, not staff and facilities.

    In college football, with this deregulation, the acquisition-of-talent piece is even more slanted in the direction of the traditional powers. Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Michigan and USC (the real one) stand to benefit significantly from this and create an even bigger gap between the elites and the second tier.

    I get it that college football has always been this way, that the powerhouses are always in the conversation for winning the MNC, but the second tier always had a chance if there were a few breaks. You really could believe that if you’re West Virginia, Clemson, Michigan State or Oregon State, that you had a shot at getting there. Now, the conditions look more like the MLB model, where the big spenders can force their way in and the KC Royals of the world have zero chance in being competitive.

    Is this the best decision for the health of the game and its appeal to fans overall? Just look at the MLB’s ratings and you have your answer.

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