The New York Times takes a look at Ohio State’s new program to monitor spending by its athletes, which attacks precisely the wrong end of the big-time athletics money conundrum:
Ohio State, as part of this compliance makeover, “strongly encourages” athletes, especially football and men’s and women’s basketball players, to open checking accounts. University officials, including assistants, help those athletes open the accounts, set budgets and set up direct deposit. They also monitor spending, as first reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education, although not on a line-by-line basis.
The university described this policy as financial education, a level beyond what the NCAA requires but in a positive, trailblazer sense. Those who study college sports said that although portions of the policy made them uncomfortable, it could provide a blueprint for future compliance efforts at other universities. Critics saw this as a violation of privacy, a way for Ohio State to protect the big business of football under the guise of education.
I’m pretty sure it’s nobody’s business how Braxton Miller spends his money (or what little money the NCAA allows Braxton Miller to have) – least of all a university that makes millions of dollars off of his athletic ability.
An Ohio State faculty member sums it up nicely:
“Part of me says you do what you’ve got to do when you’re a big-time college athletics program,” said David Ridpath, an assistant professor in sports administration at Ohio University and a member of the Drake Group, a network of professors who lobby for academic integrity in college sports. “The flip side is it’s pathetic that we have to do this. I don’t like the Big Brother aspect of this. Do we have to monitor everything?
“I guess it’s the next logical, unfortunate step.”
Of course, logical steps are not always necessary or appropriate.
It is telling that this is being done at Ohio State, where Maurice Clarett says he has taken a pay cut from his time in Columbus. Not to mention tattoos for jerseys.
Ohio State defends it thusly:
“This is about education,” Smith said. “It’s not about Big Brother. It’s about helping young people become managers of their assets. It’s a financial literacy program.”
Smith stressed that Ohio State would not ask players to “show me your grocery list and go over every line.” But where he saw this as educational, others saw more oversight, a way to protect the Buckeyes from rule violations, which tarnish the reputation of universities and lead to millions of dollars in lost revenue. Players who do not budget properly, Smith said, “would be more likely to look for opportunities to solve their financial problems.”
If they were honest, Ohio State administrators would admit that they are seeking to head off the problems that are keeping the Buckeyes from playing Notre Dame for the national championship next month – at a cost of millions and millions of dollars to the university.
A penny that Braxton Miller and Co. will never see in their checkbooks.