Saturday, December 31, 2011

College Collusion

Joe Nocera, writing in the New York Times, talks about the obvious but rarely mentioned:

Twice a year in Vienna, the members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries gather to decide on the short-term direction of oil prices ..

Indeed, collusion and price-fixing are the main reasons cartels exist — and why they are illegal in America.


Yet, in Indianapolis a few weeks from now, a home-grown cartel will hold its annual meeting, where it, too, will be working to collude and fix prices. This cartel is the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The N.C.A.A. would have you believe that it is the great protector of amateur athletics, preventing college athletes from being tainted by the river of money pouring over college sports.

In fact, the N.C.A.A.’s real role is to oversee the collusion of university athletic departments, whose goal is to maximize revenue and suppress the wages of its captive labor force, a k a the players. Rarely, however, will the cartel nature of the N.C.A.A. be so nakedly on display as at this year’s convention.

The worst sin a college athlete can commit is to attempt to collect some portion of his fair market value for his performance as an athlete, and the NCAA exist almost entirely to preserve that "moral" code.

I would love to see the courts find the NCAA in restraint of trade and fine their asses off, but it's not likely to happen in the age of our corporate crony loving Supremes.

Nocera thinks that some sort of half measures involving paying college athletes can work, but I'm far more absolutist. Abolish the NCAA.