Joe Santoro | NCAA allowing universities to become like pro franchises | SierraSun.com

Joe Santoro | NCAA allowing universities to become like pro franchises

Joe Santoro
Sports Fodder for a Friday morning

The Big Ten is considering a proposal to pay the living expenses of student athletes. They say that $2,000-$5,000 is needed to cover clothing and transportation costs. Clothing? Is it really the responsibility of universities to clothe its students? Transportation? Where are they going? Who, exactly, is going to pay that $2,000-$5,000 per athlete? Will it come out of the inflated coaching salaries? Is the university president going to take a pay cut? Of course not. You just know it will be the non-student athletes who will pay it with increased tuition costs. An athletic scholarship is more than enough pay for student athletes.

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The NCAA has allowed its member universities to become professional sports franchises. It used to be that athletics merely supplemented the academic experience on campus. Now, it seems, the only reason universities offer academic classes is to simply lure prospective fans to campus and give the athletes somebody to cheat off of in class. We now have millionaire coaches, universities playing their athletic events at ridiculous days and times solely to grab a bigger piece of the television pie and schools are bouncing from conference to conference and destroying old rivalries just to maximize their revenue. And now they want to outfit their athletes and buy their gasoline?

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Did Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson make the right decision by leaving the Nevada Wolf Pack for the NBA last spring? What, exactly, did they gain by leaving early? Not much. Neither one of them played much for the Portland Trail Blazers this year. If they would have stayed at Nevada another year, they likely would have carried the Pack to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. And the two former Pack stars would likely be drafted at about the same spot this year that they were picked last year. Actually, Babbitt and Johnson might even be picked higher than they were in 2010 since they would have been stronger and more experienced. When Bismack Biyombo, Jonas Valanciunas, Enes Kanter, Jan Vesely and Donatas Motiejunas are considered lottery picks, it can’t be that deep of a draft, right?

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The Cleveland Cavaliers’ run of bad luck continues. Yes, the Cavs were all smiles this week after they got the No. 1 pick in this June’s draft. But is that really a good thing? The Cavs now have the No. 1 and No. 4 pick in this thin draft. All that means is that they will have to overpay for two guys who will likely be no better than solid-but-not-great players in the NBA. There’s no LeBron James in this draft. Maybe that’s why they were smiling. The No.1 and No. 4 picks this year probably won’t take their talents to South Beach in six or seven years.

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Attendance at Reno Aces games this year is down about 300 fans per game after 20 dates as compared to the first 20 dates in 2010. The Aces are averaging 5,938 fans a game and the actual body count in the seats is much less than that. But don’t worry. Northern Nevada hasn’t gotten bored with Triple-A baseball. The weather has been horrible. Kids are still in school. While the excitement surrounding the team has clearly decreased from the first two seasons, that is to be expected. The downtown ballpark will still be busy this summer.

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The Chicago Bulls just aren’t ready to compete for a NBA title. You can’t win a title with a point guard who shoots 35 percent on most nights as your top offensive weapon. The Heat should win this series in, at most, six games. The Dallas Mavericks, though, will likely give the Heat more trouble in the Finals because the Mavericks, a vastly improved defensive team this year, have plenty of options on offense.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is telling anyone that will listen that he is upset with the Los Angeles Lakers because the Lakers have yet to put a statue of him outside Staples Center. Abdul-Jabbar says he feels slighted by the Lakers and taken for granted. Jabbar has a point. Magic Johnson, Chick Hearn and Jerry West all have statues. So does former Los Angeles King Wayne Gretzky and, for some reason, boxer Oscar de la Hoya. The very first statue the Lakers should have unveiled outside Staples Center should have been of No. 33.

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Is it time the Nevada Wolf Pack starts placing statues of its great athletes and coaches outside Lawlor Events Center, Mackay Stadium and Peccole Park? The first statue outside Lawlor should be of Nick Fazekas. The first statue outside Mackay should be of Chris Ault and the first outside of Peccole Park should be of Gary Powers. Fazekas is the greatest Pack basketball player in history, and there would be no Mackay Stadium or Peccole Park (certainly not in their current state) without Ault and Powers.