Thoughts on Reform in College Sports

I’m a college professor and former high school basketball coach who has taught many college athletes over the past decade. I’ve recently listened to two books that I highly recommend, books that have got me thinking a lot about what reforms might be needed when it comes to men’s college basketball and football or any other sport that generates significant revenue for its university.

college sports, pay for play, NCAA, college basketball, football, Indentured, Joe Nocera, Jeff Benedict, Ben Strauss, Armen Keteyian

The Professional Minor Leagues Give Athletes a Choice Other Than College

Three Ideas for Reform

  1. Negotiated Player Contracts: These contracts could be anything ranging from partial one-year scholarships to full rides with monthly stipends in the thousands of dollars. These contracts could include the sort of healthcare provided or scholarships that are honored even after professional careers have ended. For many schools and most athletes, nothing would change. There’s nothing about being a student that means you can’t earn money. That some football and basketball players would get paid wouldn’t disrupt parity. There’s already nothing equal or level about the college football programs at places such as the University of Texas compared to Bowling Green. Title IX? Check out Alabama’s football coach’s salary versus whatever the volleyball or softball coach makes. The main problem here is that billions of dollars are being made on the hard work of and talents of 18-22 year olds while they get very little in return. If all the sudden the University of Kentucky basketball players were earning $1,000 a month stipends, I don’t think this would make their fans any less enthusiastic.
  2. Freshman Sit Out Their First Year of College: While I’m all for the athletes who bring billions of dollars to their respective conferences earning some of that money, I also think they ought to be students. I don’t think players have any business coming through school for a couple of months before not even finishing their second semester in college to turn pro. I don’t blame today’s current players. They are doing the best they can within the current system. For those students who are going to represent their colleges on the playing field or court, they ought to be students at those institutions. For athletes who really want to be students too, that first year will be an important step to getting off to a strong academic start. The requirement would also discourage those players who aren’t interested in being students from ever showing up to college in the first place.
  3. Continued Development of Professional Minor Leagues: I don’t think potential professional athletes should have to wait a year after high school to turn pro. I don’t think young people who are only interested in playing a sport should be pushed hard into going to college. I’m excited for young basketball players to have something such as the NBA Developmental League where they can continue to develop much in the same way young baseball players have for decades.

I hope this post can be the start of a thoughtful conversation in this digital space about what might work best when it comes to NCAA sports, revenue, and the working conditions of college athletes. Thanks for taking the time to read this post, and I hope you’ll be willing to contribute to the conversation.


Miles 76 to 92: French Broad River Movie Progress Report

We parked behind Southern Rafting on Riverside Drive and put in the river about mile 76. We portaged around the dam on the left. There is a grassy embankment just past the “Danger” signs that hang across the river. We felt nervous about going under the warning signs and getting that close to the dam.

We knew portage was possible because of the explanation in the River Keeper’s Guide to the French Broad. We’d also heard two people, Yukon and Bean, say that they had done this at a talk they gave at the Asheville REI store. Those two rafted the French Broad and camped at night rather than go home every night like we are. We are considering a night of camping before we finish up the river.

We were fortunate that the water in the river was barely moving, more like a still lake than a river. On other days, the current was stronger.

Once out of the river, we had to carry our raft up a pretty steep hill, walk along the railroad tracks for approximately 15 yards, and then we carried our raft back down to the water.

The first mile or so down the river was very difficult because of all the rocks. We spent a lot of time out of the boat trying to get over and around the rocks.

Since we started at the headwaters in Rosman, NC, these were the first significant rapids we saw. We got stuck on a rock in a rapid called Poop Shoot for a bit, and we went over some ledges several feet high.

We intended to take out of the river at Rollins Access. Upon arriving to the general area, we couldn’t figure out where it was. We parked our van at a business with big trucks that seemed to have a lot of extra parking. It was Sunday, and so we weren’t too concerned much would be happening there. We then drove back to the put in to do our trip.

It turned out we were mistaken about where we thought the access was and we took our raft out of the river in someone’s yard. The set up was that peoples’ houses were on one side of the road and they owned the land along the river. We didn’t actually encounter the home owners but a nice man told us where the park was. I don’t think the access area gets much traffic.

We should have kept driving past the business just a little bit further. Rollins Access is recognizable for its metal picnic tables and a small pavilion. You couldn’t get a boat in here. The yard we used to get our raft out was easier where we took out than this access would have been.

Salvage Station, Asheville, French Broad River, things to do, outdoor seating

Awesome: we stopped by the Salvage Station on our way home.

Got questions, comments or ideas for our project?

Love to hear from you!

Click here to find the Facebook page for our movie.

Please consider sharing this post via email or social media platforms.

Thanks for being interested in what we are up to at Torg Stories!

Life in Asheville: Mountains to Sea Trail Run

The Mountains-to-Sea hiking trail runs from Clingmans Dome in Tennessee/North Carolina to the Outer Banks. Not yet completed, it is 530 miles long AND runs right past my neighborhood. For my run today, I ran a little portion of it along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Mountains-to-Sea Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, trail run, French Broad River

the view from the bridge on my Blue Ridge Parkway run


Mountains-to-Sea Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, trail run, French Broad River

the side rail I wouldn’t mind being a little higher when I’m on foot


Mountains-to-Sea Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, trail run, French Broad River

a narrow spot on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail; my wife hates it when the grass brushes her legs 


Mountains-to-Sea Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, trail run, French Broad River

Bridge #2 on today’s run; The French Broad River from the Blue Ridge Parkway


We hope to get out on the French Broad River soon!