Posts Tagged ‘NCAA’

Social (Media) Butterflies: Fans Taking to Twitter to Lure Penn State Players

It’s open season in State College, Pa. In the fallout from the NCAA’s staggering penalties against Penn State, a new wave of recruiting is occurring in college football as 96 players hit the open market.

When NCAA President Mark Emmert announced the sanctions against Penn State, he also announced that current Nittany Lion players were allowed to transfer without having to sit out a year like most transfers. Considering the school is now banished from postseason play for four years and the talent level is expected to drop off dramatically, it stands to reason many players would seek greener pastures.

On Wednesday, roughly 25 Penn State players showed their commitment to the school they originally signed with and staged an impromptu announcement, declaring they would not transfer.

The players staying have already been praised for their loyalty to the school, and you can bet Penn State will use these players as marketing as it attempts to clean its image.

For other players considering leaving, the scene in State College resembles wild predators stalking their prey. It was reported that coaches from other schools, most notably Illinois, traveled to Penn State to meet with players and try to lure them away. On one instance, the Illinois coaches ran into Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien on campus.

By far the biggest name on the recruiting trail is running back Silas Redd. Last season the sophomore led the Nittany Lions with 1,241 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, and helped drive the offensive attack. Early reports indicated Redd was considering USC as a potential transfer destination.

And that’s when things got ugly. Like most college students, Redd has a Twitter (MomentOfSilas25) that he uses frequently. Awful Announcing did a fantastic job in detailing the Twitter recruitment of Redd.

As you might expect, there were plenty of Penn State fans and alumni pleading him to stay. But there were also quite a few Nittany Lion  fans who didn’t take kindly to the USC rumors, using choice words and labeling him a #sellout.

And then there were the other schools. USC, Tennessee, Oregon, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, LSU, Florida State, Purdue, Louisville, Georgia and Temple were all mentioned by people who tweeted at Redd.

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised by any of this. College football has been known for its shoddy recruiting practices that turn teenage kids into heroes and villains at the same time. But in the wake of all that has happened at Penn State, one would hope people could keep things in perspective and let the players make their own decisions.


Guilty By Association: Penn State Non-Revenue Sports May Struggle Following NCAA’s Football Punishment

NCAA President Mark Emmert stepped to the podium Monday morning and delivered what many believe to be the strictest punishment in collegiate sports history.

As a result of the Jerry Sandusky scandal cover-up and shocking details of the Freeh Report, the NCAA chose to hand out the following penalties against Penn State and its football program:

  • A $60 million sanction — equivalent to one year’s gross revenue of the football program — with funds going to support victims of child sexual abuse and programs intended to prevent such acts from occurring
  • A four-year ban on bowl games and postseason play
  • A reduction in football scholarships ranging from 25 to 15 for four years
  • The removal of all football wins (111) from 1998 to 2011
  • A five year probation period for the entire athletic department

Reaction to the punishment has been mixed. Some call the NCAA’s decision fair, while others find it over the top. What’s clear is that Penn State’s football team will be in rebuilding mode for quite some time.

And so too might the remainder of Penn State’s athletic programs. In 2011 Penn State’s football team made $53 million in profits, by far the biggest moneymaker program at the school. This money is spread around and used to help support non-revenue sports, such as fencing, gymnastics, and swimming & diving among others.

If Penn State football struggles as it is expected to, these sports may be in trouble financially. Though the program has weathered through unremarkable seasons before, it looks as though it will be entirely dependent on donations, especially without the aid of money sharing from the Big Ten or from bowl games. It is not a stretch to say other programs could be cut as an unintended result of the NCAA’s ruling.

The problems extend outside Penn State’s campus. Local businesses in State College, Pa. could suffer an estimated $50 million in losses per year. Much like the school itself, Central Pennsylvania has thrived off Nittany Lion football. That financial vehicle has suddenly been derailed.

Time will tell how long Penn State football suffers. It may be a shorter time before the remainder of Penn State’s teams learn their connected fate.

Robbing the Cradle: The Big, Bad Business of College Recruiting

I was assigned by the Boston Globe to cover a National Signing Day ceremony for four local high school athletes choosing their college destinations. Wednesday was the first day in which prospective college football players could sign a National Letter of Intent to play for a particular school. In recent years the date has become one college football fans circle on their calendars to see how their school fared in signing the best recruits.

Signing day has become an event upon itself

College football is, of course, big business. Kristi Dosh, who started, reveals just how big this business is. In December she posted a list of the top 50 most profitable college football and basketball programs in 2010-11. The University of Texas, which finished 5-7 and did not qualify for a bowl game, made over $71 million in profit. Imagine what the Longhorns could have pulled in had they won nine or 10 games?

With so much money at stake the race to woo the best high school players in the country has taken an ugly turn. Urban Meyer, the new head coach at Ohio State, was accused by other coaches of illegal recruiting practices that violate NCAA law. Meyer is one of many college coaches who hounds high school athletes in hopes of convincing the 17 or 18-year-old that their school is the best. In-home visits, emails, phone calls, text messages and other gestures are all part of the game.

The University of Notre Dame spent over $2 million on recruiting expenses in 2010-11, $1 million of which went to football alone. With average football recruiting classes numbering between 20 and 30 athletes, that breaks down to $33,000 to $50,000 devoted to each athlete who signs.

Sadly, what this has created is a high-stakes poker game with high school athletes as the chips in the middle of the table. It’s not so much helping the student find the best school for him, it is about finding the athlete who will help the school make money.

As I spoke with the athletes after they signed their letters of intent, one called the recruiting process “an awful thing to go through” that puts “pressure, not only on the player but the family.” It’s sad that what should be an exciting achievement in a young person’s life has to come with such a catch-22, but as they say, “that’s business.”