Here is possibly the worst article presented as a news item since Gutenberg. But as of 4:00 PM yesterday, it rated as an ESPN headline. As of this morning it had over 2300 comments.
I can’t believe I’m going to try to get to the bottom of what they’re trying to report because — really — I know this is troll bait. But I’ll dig in because:
- It introduces an NCAA conversation I’ve wanted to have, and;
- It’s just so bad.
Here’s the text of the article:
A member of a women’s golf team at a West Coast Conference school has been sanctioned by the NCAA for washing her car on campus, according to University of Portland basketball coach Eric Reveno.
Reveno tweeted about the violation Wednesday after he learned of it during conference meetings, culminating his message with the hashtag #stopinsanity.
“Just heard about two NCAA violations in WCC. 1) athlete using Univ. water to wash car, 2) coach text recruit ‘who is this?'” Reveno wrote.
The WCC school in question self-reported the extra benefits violation to the NCAA, Yahoo Sports! reported. Yahoo also reported the NCAA asked the golfer to pay the school $20, which they said was the value of the water and hose.
I’m no Scripps J-School alumnus and even I can see some problems here. What is the golfer’s name? Which WCC school does she play for? How did event come to be found a violation in need of sanction? Was there an NCAA g-man staking out a car wash? For $20 was there the interior vacuumed? Did she tip the towel guys? Where’s the link to the Yahoo Sports* story? Has Yahoo! changed the placement of their trademarked exclamation point? Where’s the link to the Reveno tweet? Is #stopinsanity a thing?
And the main question ESPN: when a basketball coach uses a #stopinsanity hashtag to tweet about a different school’s self-reporting of a golfer for a trivial NCAA violation… aren’t you being manipulated for a specifically anti-NCAA agenda?
Or is it your anti-NCAA agenda?
Meet Eric Reveno.
Meet Eric Reveno, self-promoting college basketball coach. When your twitter home page doubles as a resume you’ve crossed some sort of line and wandered beyond ‘savvy use of social media.’ Hey bro, that online seminar you attended about improving your brand? They really were talking about sprucing up your LinkedIn profile.
[UPDATE: I am informed by friends closer to the University of Portland program that Reveno is a decent guy.
Reveno is good guy. Like “so good that he’s going to get swallowed by his profession and eventually fired because he can’t compete with snake-oil salemen like Calipari” good. He’s an entertaining interview if you watch their games because he’s such an engineer (I think one of his degrees is in engineering, if I’m not mistaken) that he actually tries to answer those sideline reporter questions sincerely, and ends up answering before he fully forms his response. It’s tremendous to watch.
But he’s also definitely the opposite of self-promoting coach or one who would use those circumstances to promote his program. He seems like a guy who is actually wildly uncomfortable with all the non-coaching aspects of being a coach, so if he comes across as self-promoting, it’s just as likely because he’s awkward.
So I stand corrected there. Will leave original snarky post intact for consistency’s sake.]
In seven years at Portland he’s 96-126. No NCAA Tourney appearances. His teams have finished like this in conference:
- 2007: 7th /of 8
- 2008: 7th;
- 2009: 3rd;
- 2010: 3rd;
- 2011: 5th;
- 2012: 8th;
- 2013: 7th.
So the guy is probably feeling some pressure.
This isn’t too hard to figure out: would you rather spout meaningless hashtags to an eager mob or talk about that 18-45 win-lose record over the last two years.
Thus we find this bizarrely random, remarkably info-less tweet about someone else’s player at someone else’s school in someone else’s sport:
Like. Wha? What is this, what does this mean, what are you saying? Wait, I see ‘stopinsanity.’ That explains it. You’d have to be a jerk not to want to stop insanity.
But what actually happened and why are we getting this news from Eric Reveno? Regrettably, subsequent tweets offer even less info accompanied by a useless mission statement.
Since it appears Coach Reveno is still suffering English syntax jet-lag from his four years of pro hoop in Japan, let’s put him in the rearview mirror and talk some NCAA.
Lots of darkness-cursing; no candle-lighting.
The Reveno fuss is emblematic of the problems in the NCAA Student Athlete discussion:
All bitch, no solution.
Hey: did you realize that NCAA schools make money from television contracts and stadium revenues and apparel sales while the players are required to abide by rules designed to provide an amateur standing for athletes that can enforced equally for all NCAA schools?
Why yes, I did realize this. I think everyone does.
But the narrative is more commonly reported like this:
Hey, did you realize that NCAA schools make money from television contracts and stadium revenues and apparel sales while the players
are required to abide by rules designed to provide an amateur standing for athletes that can enforced equally for all NCAA schoolsget nothing?
Well that’s not quite true, is it? I’ve got two in college now and we’re north of $100K/year. I assure you, that’s not nothing. And not to get meta in a sports blog again, but there’s some benefit to having your first moving-away-from-home experience in a controlled environment and shared with other students undergoing similar life changes. This too is not nothing.
There is inequity. At some schools, some sports profit greatly. Of course much of those profits fund
less profitable unprofitable sports programs. (Sure some of those profits fund expensive coaches, but that’s circular since successful coaches yield exponentially greater profit.)
Yes. There is a problem when athletes’ performances drive revenue back to schools in sums vastly greater than the value of their scholarships.
NO ONE DENIES THIS.
So what do you propose for a solution? The Captain Obvious act is old and unhelpful. Just off the top of my head, here are some suggestions to address the inequity and you tell me if any of them are superior to the current system:
- Pay athletes. Breaks any facade that large schools and small schools should compete against each other. Alienates student athletes (even more) from regular students diminishing one of the benefits of going to college. Impacts non-revenue sports because the pie is the same size, athlete salaries are a new slice; the other sports will get less (or be cut altogether).
- Lighten up on the merchandising rules, let athletes profit. Same deal as above: rich schools get richer. The recruiting edge for successful schools grows and the idea of a level playing field among NCAA member schools is shot.
- Eliminate apparel contracts with member schools; all apparel contracts go into a pool distributed among member schools. I like this idea but good luck making this happen… there are no Wellington Maras on the horizon. The Nikes and UnderArmours and Adidases are as corrupting TV contracts (weird how ESPN doesn’t examine the impact their advertisers have on this dilemma isn’t it?). If NCAA wants to try for a semblance of parity among schools, revenue sharing of apparel contracts is a start.
- Bust up the NCAA altogether, let high schoolers go pro. This is the libertarian solution and in theory most fair. If you look at the NCAA as nothing but a farm system for the NFL and NBA and are ok leaving thousands of athletes to the tender mercies of Drew Rosenhaus, this is fine. But I don’t know about you, but I enjoy the hell out of college football, flawed though the system may be. And if exploitation of athletes is the problem we want to solve, I think this solution will make it worse.
I don’t think any of these make anything better than the current system. I’m open to hearing suggestions but I caution: the view from here is that paying athletes will create a lot more problems than it fixes..
Not saying I have an answer.
But I am saying that if you want to do some poor-exploited-athlete talk here, bring a proposal with you. Try to have a fix that doesn’t make things worse.
Reporting on an unsourced $20 car wash corner case does less than zero to address the issue.
* I can’t find a Yahoo! story on this. They’ve [wisely] spiked it. Props to Y!