Sunday, December 10, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Good step for wealthy conferences in NCAA

The National Collegiate Athletic Association finally has acknowledged the obvious: The five wealthiest athletic conferences are in a league of their own in money, facilities and national exposure. The NCAA Division 1 board of directors voted last week to give those five power conferences more autonomy, all but giving up the ghost of the amateur student-athlete. While there are potential hazards, this is a gradual step that should benefit athletes attending universities in those major conferences — including the University of Florida, Florida State University and the University of Miami.

The plan is aimed at giving some independence to five conferences that include 65 universities: The Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pacific 12, the Southeastern Conference and Notre Dame. Among the likely benefits for athletes in those conferences are a modest stipend to cover expenses not covered now by athletic scholarships, better medical coverage and expanded counseling for both academics and potential careers. Those are all reasonable proposals that would benefit those students while they are in school, protect their earnings potential and better prepare them for life after college, regardless of whether that life includes a professional sports career.

The changes come as the NCAA has been under siege, with its very future in question as the money rolls in from rich television contracts and the gap grows between the superpower conferences and everyone else. There are legitimate arguments that college athletes should share some of the wealth, with a federal lawsuit contesting NCAA rules, a settlement with former football and basketball players for using their images on video games and an upcoming decision from the National Labor Relations Board on whether Northwestern University football players can form a union. The deal to give some independence to the "Power Five" conferences is an attempt quell the unrest from within.

This compromise wisely stops short of paying college athletes salaries. Instead, it enables the schools in these richest conferences to pay athletes stipends of a few thousand dollars to cover expenses not covered by their scholarships. Given the hours team members spend practicing and preparing for games, the situation is really no different from other students working part-time jobs on campus or receiving small paychecks at college newspapers.

There are potential downsides. The biggest conferences will have to ensure that the changes do not erode their commitment to nonrevenue sports and Title IX protections for female athletes. Their teams could wind up dominating football bowl games and championship playoffs in other sports even more than they do now. Universities that are not in these conferences could have a more difficult time recruiting athletes and paying for facilities. What happens to the big time sports aspirations at the University of South Florida and the University of Central Florida, which have recently built or refurbished major athletic facilities but aren't in one of the top five conferences?

The NCAA could change its mind on the new approach, but that is considered unlikely. Clinging to the status quo now only would result in more drastic changes later. This is a logical step forward that recognizes the vast amount of money flowing into the richest conferences and that their student-athletes should get greater benefit from all that cash they help generate.

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Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trump’s risky move

President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampa’s MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampa’s MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough County’s Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Voters in Temple Terrace, Plant City and Thonotosassa have an easy choice in the Dec. 19 special election to replace state Rep. Dan Raulerson, who resigned for health reasons. Republican Lawrence McClure is the only credible candidate.McClure, 30, ow...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

It has been 1,979 days since all heck broke loose in the flood insurance industry. Apparently, that just wasn’t enough time for Washington to react. So with the National Flood Insurance Program set to expire on Friday, it’s looking increasingly likel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17

Editorial: St. Petersburg should raise rates for reclaimed water

Raising rates on reclaimed water in St. Petersburg is an equitable way to spread the pain of paying for millions in fixes to the city’s dilapidated sewer system. The city has no choice but to start charging utility customers more as the sewer bills c...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17