Editorial: College football follies are fault of Supreme Court

Published 8:54 am Friday, September 23, 2011

The problem with the top level of college football is that there is too much money and greed and no single entity is in charge.

We place the blame on a misguided 1985 Supreme Court ruling that removed the NCAA from governing TV rights of the games. The NCAA had attempted to spread TV attention and, thus, the money around. Some schools didn’t like that and sued. The ruling left the conferences and schools in control. And that explains why university presidents seem to talk out both sides of their mouths.

On one hand, they expound the importance of integrity, honesty and academics, but stab their fellow presidents in the back by abandoning conferences or by courting schools from other conferences.

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The ruling also explains why college football cannot seem to solve any of its problems regarding a sensible way to determine a national championship. And it explains why the NCAA has a hard time getting top football programs to obey the rules.

If the 1985 ruling had been in favor of the NCAA, it would have left a single entity in charge of intercollegiate athletics and most likely kept conferences and programs in check. After all, President Teddy Roosevelt urged the formation of the NCAA in 1906 to protect student-athletes from exploitation, which back then was about football injuries, paid ringers and a need for a consistent set of rules for the game.

Alas, today’s exploitative situation — students playing for scholarships (or merely NFL attention) while schools make millions — appears to lack any viable solution. It is doubtful that conferences and colleges are going to turn over power concerning TV rights of college football to the NCAA.

With no solution in sight, it seems college football will continue to hurdle toward megaconferences without a sense of geography and fan interest.

We can’t help but wonder — facetiously, of course — if a solution will come about by all the conferences someday merging into one giant conference. Then we will have a single governing entity like the NCAA was before 1985.

Ha ha. Like that would happen. College football just will remain a joke, getting worse and worse every year.

Thanks, U.S. Supreme Court.

American collegiate sports sure could use another Teddy Roosevelt.