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Analyzing the analysis of SI's story on Oklahoma State paying players

Posted by: Michael Rand under NCAA: football Updated: September 10, 2013 - 3:31 PM

SI posted a story today about Oklahoma State paying players in past seasons -- a piece that is part of a larger series that will be dropped in the coming days.

Much of the fallout has been predictable, particularly the reaction over at Deadspin -- which did a short critique of the piece under the headline "The Most Important Part of SI's Oklahoma State Shamestravaganza."

Deadspin's Tom Ley refers to violations of NCAA rules as "handwringing and pearl clutching," then decides that the most important thing, as alluded to in the headline because Deadspin knows all, is found at the very end of the story. Ley concludes:

After 3,000 words about wads of money being stuffed into envelopes and socks—after all that scandalous B-movie imagery—we are finally told the only thing that really matters about this story: All that money was going towards clothes and food for college kids who otherwise wouldn't have been able to afford either. Everything else is just useless muckraking on behalf of the exploiters at the NCAA.

If Ley really believes that, he's dangerously delusional -- and frankly, those of a similar ilk are hijacking the discussion by jumping to the conclusion that we should just pay all these guys because without the extra money what would they do!?!?

Let’s not sit and pretend there is nothing in it for the athlete or that these poor, poor souls are going hungry. They have meal plans. They have training tables. They eat far better than the average college student.

Let’s not pretend there is no value in a paid college education. Even if you are cynical about how much the NCAA cares about that education, it is available to an athlete – along with dedicated academic support staffers -- to make what there is to make of it. The value has grown form tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars as tuition costs have soared. Ask a recent college grad with six-figure debt what it would be like to be 23 and debt-free.

Bottom line is, the amount of money being made by the NCAA is sick. But you don’t fix that by fracturing the system even more and paying athletes in real dollars.

And if a rule is being broken, a rule is being broken. Good for SI for reporting on it.

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