By Ken Reed
A report this week said Stanford was fighting for the purity of amateurism in college athletics during Pac-12 discussions about the possibility of football returning this fall.
Well Stanford, that is simply precious.
According to the article:
“Stanford is vehemently committed to student-athletes retaining their amateur status. Stanford’s Jacquish & Kenninger Director of Athletics Bernard Muir in the past has threatened to take Stanford athletics in a different direction if the University’s athletes went beyond amateurism, including moving the school to another NCAA division. Muir told Congress in 2018 that if Stanford student athletes were allowed to unionize, the school ‘might opt not to compete at the level we are competing in.’”
The reality is Stanford — and other big-time college sports programs — love amateurism when it’s profitable. When certain sports aren’t profitable they don’t really care about them — or the athletes that compete in them. (Ask the athletes on Iowa’s swimming, gymnastics and tennis teams, sports that were recently chopped by Iowa’s athletic department.)
Stanford, which supposedly cares deeply about the purity of amateurism, and amateur athletes, cut 11 “minor” sports earlier this year. Stanford claimed they just couldn’t afford to sponsor the 11 sports they cut any longer despite having a $28 billion endowment.
Of course, cutting the profitable sports of football and men’s basketball wasn’t a consideration. The reason is that unlike field hockey and wrestling, two of the sports cut by Stanford, Stanford football is very profitable, and thus, is an “amateur” sport that Stanford administrators really care about.
An op-ed in the September 6, 2017 Stanford Daily nailed the situation perfectly:
In the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2016, the Stanford football program generated revenues of $43,744,639, according to disclosures provided to the Department of Education. The team’s expenses were $23.7 million, meaning that each of the program’s 85 scholarship football players generated $235,532.14 in profit for the athletics department. Stanford’s Office of Financial Aid calculated the school’s 2017-18 full cost of attendance to be $69,109, meaning that scholarship Cardinal players receive, in in-kind (non-cash) benefits, less than 29 percent of what they generate for the University. For young men who risk their long-term health to act, essentially, as marketers for the University, there is little room to categorize this exchange as fair.
Hey Stanford, if you’re really true believers in amateurism, quit offering athletic scholarships and go to the Division III level of college athletics, where scholarships are awarded for academic ability, not athletic ability.
I’m not holding my breath. I think the folks on The Farm enjoy the money and cheap marketing the “amateur” football players provide the university.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. He previously covered the Los Angeles Dodgers for The Athletic. His new book is titled “How to Beat a Broken Game: The Rise of the Dodgers in a League on the Brink.” We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
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Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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