Saturday, February 15, 2014

NCAA Mocks Due-Process: Problematic Procedures (2011)

NCAA logo

The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) is essentially a non for profit organization. However, the president of the NCAA, Mark Emmert, was credited with nearly $1.7 million in total compensation during the 2011 calendar year according to the associations new Federal Tax Return (USAToday). The NCAA's new tax return also provided an indication of the mounting legal pressure it has been facing. The association reported nearly $9.5 million in legal expenses during a fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, 2012 – more than what it reported for that spending category in its two previous fiscal years, combined. As a private, non-profit organization, the NCAA is not required to make public its employment contracts. The return showed two other executives with more than $500,000 in compensation in 2011 -- executive vice president Bernard Franklin and interim executive vice president Greg Shaheen, who received comparable amounts in 2010. Shaheen no longer works for the NCAA (USAToday).
For a nonprofit organization, the NCAA top executives bring home a pretty hefty salary. They also spend a substantial amount of money in legal expenses, so how does the NCAA get all this money? The answer is from all the colleges and universities that are NCAA members. In 2011, the NCAA revenues were about $845.9 million and staff salaries totaled about $30.6 million (Schlabach). So the label nonprofit organization does not mean that the staff of the organization work for free, in this case it’s quite the opposite. 

Dick Vitale tweet towards NCAA
The NCAA actually falls directly under the economic theory of Milton Friedman. Friedman’s theory states that, “The only goal of business is to profit, so the only obligation that the business person has is to maximize profit for the owner.” The NCAA does not have an owner but one could assume that President Mark Emmert—judging on his compensation salary— is in favor of the NCAA’s revenues. In order to maximize profit, the NCAA has been known to cut corners and not follow the correct procedure of due-process in its investigations that are focused on enforcing its questionable rules. Some people believe that the NCAA executives are only out to prevent its labor force, the athletes of top Division I programs from making any money (Nocera). This illustrates a clear example of Individualism in that NCAA executive’s wants to keep the revenue money in their own best interest rather than compensate the society of athletes that indirectly sell the tickets and merchandise in which the NCAA gains most of its revenues. As one may presume, the members of NCAA sanctioned athletic programs are very controversial on this topic.

In recent years, the NCAA has been accused of many unethical procedures, all of which go directly against the principles of Kantianism. The basic rules of Kantianism are as follows: 1) Don’t act inconsistently and consider yourself exempt from the law. 2) Allow and help people to make rational decisions. 3) Respect people in their autonomy and individual needs. 4) Be motivated by good will. An good example of NCAA using unethical investigation procedures is in the 2011 case involving University of Miami and booster Nevin Shapiro. A quick recap of the case: Nevin Shapiro is in prison for running a Ponzi scheme. He claims to have given Miami Athletes cash, prostitutes and jewelry. This is a highly unethical engagement as NCAA collegiate athletes are not to receive any type of compensation for playing. However, the NCAA investigators had their own ethical blunder; they engaged one of Shapiro’s bankruptcy lawyers, Maria Elena Perez. This is certainly a conflict of interest, but it gets worse. NCAA investigators used Perez’s ability to conduct depositions in the Shapiro case to obtain information they could not otherwise acquire. Though Perez insists she is not to blame and did nothing wrong, this type of behavior could cost a lawyer their license (Nocera). Richard G. Johnson, a lawyer who has clashed with the NCAA on many occasions says, “This is not unusual. This is part and parcel of how the NCAA does business.” These actions are clearly unruly and dubious but that is not the only ethical blunder the NCAA faced in this investigation. In early November of 2013, the enforcement staff sent out letters to numerous players who refused to cooperate, as is their right. The letters stated that if the players refused to talk within a reasonable amount of time—a few days—the NCAA would assume that they were guilty of rules violations and punish their alma mater (Nocera). Richard Johnson also commented on this aspect, “The N.C.A.A. thinks it is the 51st state, its investigators regularly solicit the assistance of law enforcement officials, acting as if they have some kind of equal standing. But they don’t. The N.C.A.A. is not a regulatory body.” By conducting these atrocious procedures the NCAA violated three rules of Kantianism. The first is, don’t act inconsistently or consider yourself exempt from the law, which the NCAA seems to do quite often. As previously stated by Richard Johnson, the NCAA is not a regulatory body and they do not have equality with law enforcement officials. Next, is allow and help people to make rational decisions. The NCAA did not allow the Perez or the former players to make rational decisions instead they tried to scare them into confessing information. The third, be motivated by good will. It is uncertain what motivates the NCAA enforcement staff, but one could assume that it’s the rather large compensation, not good will. No matter what the motives are, the investigation conducted was still unethical.
Mark Emmert, President of the NCAA
While the NCAA was violating many principles of Kantianism, Maria Elena Perez contradicted Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism states that happiness and pleasure are the only things of intrinsic value and one should bring happiness to all beings capable of feeling it. However, there are some things we should do even if it doesn’t produce overall happiness. So, while Perez was trying to please and cooperate with the NCAA, she still acted unethically in a way that could have cost her, her lawyers license. In other words the ends don’t justify the means and Perez should have been coherent of her actions instead of ignorant in saying that she believes she did nothing wrong (Nocera).

Virtue Theory In the future Perez and the NCAA enforcement staff should consider aspects of Virtue Theory. Virtue Theory emphasizes virtue or moral character in contrast to the approach which emphasizes duties or rules. The rules amount to a decision procedure for determining the right action. Clearly the NCAA procedures are not always the right action but more the action they see as right.


Nocera, Joe. "The N.C.A.A's Ethics Problem." The New York Times. N.p., 25 Jan. 2013. Web. 13 Feb. 2014.

Berkowitz, Steve. "Emmert Made $1.7 Million, According to NCAA Tax Return." USA Today. Gannett, 14 July 2013. Web. 14 Feb. 2014.

Mark Schlabach. "NCAA: Where Does the Money go?" ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, 12 July 2011. Web. 13 Feb. 2014.

1 comment: