Joe Nocera’s recent feature article in the New York Times Magazine titled, “Let’s Start Paying College Athletes,” along with his related New York Times op-ed piece, “The College Sports Cartel” represent some of the best thinking to date on how to fix college sports. Nocera’s plan would make college sports more honest and fair. We certainly could use a lot more of that.

Nocera is a SportsWorld outsider. As an Op-Ed columnist for the Times and a long-time business reporter and editor, he brings a fresh perspective to the mess that is big-time college sports. When Nocera started to dig into college sports he was amazed at just how ugly major Division I college sports is, in particular football and men’s basketball.

“The hypocrisy that permeates big-money college sports takes your breath away … It’s a system that enables misconduct to flourish” wrote Nocera in the NY Times Magazine piece.

But unlike many exposes on college sports that are heavy on analysis of the problem but woefully short on solutions, Nocera has laid out a well-conceived proposal. A short summary won’t do his plan justice. You need to read the article. However, the plan centers around facing the reality that big-time (read: BCS) football and men’s basketball are of a different breed then men’s lacrosse or women’s tennis. Football and men’s basketball are huge commercial entertainment entities. Lacrosse and tennis are, for the most part, still part of the educational mission of a university or college.

It’s past time to stop denying that basic truth and instead deal with it forthrightly and honestly.

Nocera does a good job of that.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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