Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

The NCAA Cartel

The debate over the place of college sports in American culture began well before the Penn State child sex abuse scandal. As TIME's Sean Gregory has pointed out, big-time college teams are essentially professional franchises housed on college campuses, and calls for change have been growing. In August 2011, a former University of Miami football booster came clean to Yahoo! Sports about the eight years he spent providing players with booze, meals, prostitutes and entertainment. Then, in October, Pulitzer-prize winning author and civil rights historian Taylor Branch published a scathing indictment of the NCAA in Atlantic magazine titled, "The Shame of College Sports." Calling the NCAA a cartel, Branch made the case that college sports' governing body, while proclaiming amateurism its highest ideal, exploits athletes to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. If nothing else, perhaps the Penn State scandal — the largest, and some believe the biggest, in college sports — will change our values; it's certainly changed the conversation.