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Commentary: NCAA keeps looking stupid

by on July 20, 2014 1:59 AM

Isn’t college football wonderful?

Within the next week or two, student-athletes from all over the country will be gathering on college campuses to prepare for another football season.

At least one of them will have a big, fat insurance policy paid for out of the Student Assistance Fund.

That’s the fund that schools use to help kids who might need money to fly home for a funeral or to visit a sick relative. You would think that an organization like the NCAA, which, until this year, actually had rules against giving football players cream cheese for their bagels, would have a big problem with that.

Texas A&M’s problem was that its all-everything offensive tackle, Cedric Ogbuehi, was thinking about declaring for the NFL draft after it was presumed he would be a first-round draft pick. How do you prevent a kid from signing up for the multi-million-dollar signing bonuses that No.1 picks get?

You insure him for a few million dollars against a career-ending injury. The associate AD for football, Justin Moore, told Bruce Feldman, of Fox Sports, that it’s a loophole in the NCAA rules. “I don’t think many schools know about it. It’s a game changer,” he said.

Keep in mind that it’s the NCAA and its member institutions of higher learning that recoil at any mention of paying athletes any more than tuition, room and board. How is giving a kid a $60,000 insurance policy any different from giving him $60,000 in cash?

There were a lot of coaches’ ears perking up when they heard that news. Expect lots of highly insured football players in the future and a lot more players sticking around for that extra year — not for anything related to academics, of course, but to enhance their draft status. 

The NCAA is a corrupt, bloated, obsolete, useless bureaucracy that needs to go away.

• As you watch Gregory Polanco come back to earth, keep in mind that Barry Bonds hit .223 his rookie year.

If Polanco ends up having a very ordinary rookie season, he might be kicking himself for not guaranteeing himself somewhere between $50 million and $75 million by taking the Pirates’ long-term offer.

• The All-Star concept has outlived it’s appeal if not it’s usefulness. A lot of people are making a lot of money on the all-star games of the four major sports, but there isn’t much reason to watch.

There sure isn’t much reason to stay up past 11 p.m. if they’re going to take the big stars out early. Go back and look at some old baseball all-star game box scores. Most of the big stars (you know, the ones people want to see) played the entire game.

Josh Harrison, of the Pirates, making the all-star team is a heartwarming story, but is it heartwarming enough for a guy in Cleveland to stay up past 11 p.m. to see him bat?

When the participants stopped caring about winning, the appeal was gone.

Call me crazy, but I can’t get interested in watching two teams that don’t really care if they lose play each other.

• CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus says he is going to allow his announcers to decide whether they use the name Redskins when calling one of Washington’s games.

What a copout.

The name is either offensive or it isn’t. If it’s offensive enough to allow announcers to refuse to say it, then it shouldn’t be said.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder needs to just give up and change the name. If for no other reason than to spare us all the stupidity surrounding it. The train is rolling down the track, and if he can’t see the inevitability of it, he’s either really stupid or amazingly stubborn.

• If I’m not mistaken, FIFA has Portugal ranked higher than the United States in the world soccer rankings. What’s the point in going on with our lives?

• Forbes Magazine has the Steelers ranked as the 27th most valuable sports franchise in the world, at $1.118 billion. Amazing what building a stadium on the backs of reluctant taxpayers will do for the bottom line of a sports team.

• This is the last weekend until January, except for the bye week, when the Steelers won’t be either practicing or playing football. Enjoy your summer. It ends Friday.

• If I were Derek Jeter playing in my last All-Star game, I would not consider it a favor if the opposing pitcher grooved one for me to get a cheap hit. I’d want to show that I can still hit his best stuff.

• I remember when the major league All-Star Game was only a fraction less important than the World Series.

• There were reports this week that Consol Energy Center is going to cost taxpayers millions of dollars more than was estimated. How’s that for a shock? Remember, the Penguins had a plan that would have built an arena with not one dollar of taxpayer money.

John Steigerwald's blog can be found at, and he is the author of "Just Watch The Game." His column appears each Saturday.
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