The competition for the greatest demonstration of “antiracist” wokism in our society is intense, what with media outlets, Hollywood, tech monopolies, teachers unions and plenty of others all vying to show the purest forms of virtue. But really, nobody can top the universities. These are the places where the ideas of “systemic racism” and Critical Race Theory were hatched, and from which come the demands that all the rest of us get in line with the official “antiracist” orthodoxy.
Which is all you need to know to deduce that these institutions must themselves be the very worst and most overt practitioners of racism. In a post back in February titled “The Worst Racists Are The Left-Wing Academics” I quoted one elite university spokesperson after another falling all over themselves to confess their racism. (E.g., Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber, September 2020: “Racism and the damage it does to people of color nevertheless persist at Princeton. . . . Racist assumptions from the past also remain embedded in structures of the University itself.”; the President and Trustees of Dartmouth, July 2020: “We know there are no easy solutions to eradicate the oppression and racism Black and other students, faculty, and staff of color experience on our campus. . . .”).
And then there is the NCAA. The NCAA isn’t some kind of difficult-to-analyze deeply-embedded “structural” thing that incidentally disadvantages blacks. Rather, it is a bold and overt anti-trust price-fixing conspiracy mainly directed to disadvantage black sports stars. Essentially all colleges and universities in the U.S. with sports programs of any significance belong to it and are active participants in the overt anti-black anti-trust conspiracy. In a post back in March 2018 titled “The Real Scandal In The NCAA,” I had this to say about the seemingly brilliant and virtuous academics’ total failure to recognize the real racism in their midst:
On the one hand, there is constant protest and anger [at major universities] over underrepresentation of blacks in the student body and faculty, even though almost all of the schools engage in dramatic discrimination in favor of blacks in student admissions and faculty recruitment. On the other hand, there is a naked antitrust conspiracy to prevent the black sports stars from getting paid anything for their work, and everybody is just fine with that.
To get an idea of just how much the NCAA’s compensation restrictions are directed at disadvantaging black sports stars, we can look at statistics on what percentage of the college players in the major sports are black. First, recognize that of the big four sports (football, basketball, baseball and hockey), the two that are dominated by black athletes (football and basketball) have no significant professional minor leagues. Thus those are the two big-money college sports. A guy named Shaun Harper of something called the USC Race and Equity Center has compiled a series of reports with the title “Black Male Student-Athletes and Racial Inequities in NCAA Division I College Sports.” The latest one I can find is from 2018. That Report focuses on statistics from what are sometimes called the Power 5 leagues in the NCAA — the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12, and the Southeastern Conference. Figures are given for the percentage of black athletes for the combined football and basketball programs at each of the 65 schools in these leagues, and for the 2016-17 school year.
At every school, the over representation of blacks as athletes in these programs is quite dramatic compared to their representation in the population as a whole (13%). Many universities had more than 70% black athletes in their combined football and basketball programs, including University of Alabama at 72.5%, University of Georgia at 72.6%, University of South Carolina at 73.1%, University of Louisville at 75.6%, Auburn at 77.5%, Louisiana State at 77.6%, and Mississippi State at 83.2%. Forty-six of the 65 schools had more than one-half of their football and basketball players black, and no school had fewer than 29.5% (Northwestern University). You would think it would be impossible to miss the racial impact of an anti-trust conspiracy to reduce or eliminate the pay of these athletes.
On Monday, a little spotlight got shown on the NCAA situation when the Supreme Court decided a case called NCAA v. Alston. The case was brought in Federal court in California by a group of current and former “student-athletes” at NCAA schools, and explicitly challenged the restrictions on compensation of athletes imposed by the NCAA. As often happens, the case took some odd turns before it reached the Supreme Court. After holding a trial, the District Court somehow held that the NCAA’s restrictions on cash payments to athletes were OK, but that other restrictions on things called “non-cash education-related benefits” (e.g., post-eligibility scholarships and fellowships) violated the law.
An injunction was entered against the NCAA enforcing its restrictions on those benefits. The Ninth Circuit affirmed. After that affirmance, only the defendant NCAA, and not the student-athlete plaintiffs, sought review in the Supreme Court. I cannot explain why the plaintiffs did not seek review of the issue of the legality of the NCAA restricting cash compensation to the athletes. But their failure to do so meant that the legality under the anti-trust laws of the “non-cash education-related benefits” was at issue, but the legality of the restrictions on cash payments was not.
For that reason, the Supreme Court’s decision is oddly narrow. Nevertheless, the Court unanimously upheld the District Court’s injunction, thus holding the NCAA’s conduct illegal on the issue presented. To my mind Justice Gorsuch’s Opinion for the Court is mostly interesting for some of the statistics he provides as to total revenue from these sports (billion dollar plus TV contracts) and salaries of various head coaches and athletic program administrators (in the millions annually), compared to the paltry stipends permitted to the athletes (a few thousand dollars at most):
The NCAA’s current broadcast contract for the March Madness basketball tournament is worth $1.1 billion annually. . . . Its television deal for the FBS conference’s College Football Playoff is worth approximately $470 million per year. . . . Commissioners of the top conferences take home between $2 to $5 million. . . . College athletic directors average more than $1 million annually. . . . And annual salaries for top Division I college football coaches approach $11 million, with some of their assistants making more than $2.5 million. . . . [T]he cash awards allowed [to be paid to athletes] for athletic achievement [are] currently $5,980 annually. . . .
Justice Kavanaugh filed a concurring opinion that makes the obvious point that the entire NCAA business model is on shaky anti-trust ground. Excerpt:
[T]here are serious questions whether the NCAA’s remaining compensation rules can pass muster under ordinary rule of reason scrutiny. Under the rule of reason, the NCAA must supply a legally valid procompetitive justification for its remaining compensation rules. As I see it, however, the NCAA may lack such a justification. . . . The NCAA’s business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America. . . . Price-fixing labor is price-fixing labor.
The bottom line is that the NCAA and its member colleges are suppressing the pay of student athletes who collectively generate billions of dollars in revenues for colleges every year. Those enormous sums of money flow to seemingly everyone except the student athletes. College presidents, athletic directors, coaches, conference commissioners, and NCAA executives take in six- and seven-figure salaries. Colleges build lavish new facilities. But the student athletes who generate the revenues, many of whom are African American and from lower-income backgrounds, end up with little or nothing.
That last line is the one brief mention of the racial aspect in the whole Supreme Court decision. It’s like Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh are just too gentlemanly to point out the overt racism of these holier-than-thou universities. I can’t think of why. The universities and all of their professors would certainly not hesitate for one second to accuse the Justices of racism if they could think of a basis, or even if they couldn’t.
UPDATE, June 23:
Melissa MacKenzie has a piece at the American Spectator on the subject of Rhode Island Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and his all-white beach club. Here is a great quote that would be equally relevant to the situation of the universities and the NCAA:
The same folks who enjoy their beach time exclusively with white people will wear a mask to a Black Lives Matter rally, take a knee, and beg forgiveness for their sins. . . . This empty moral preening would be a minor annoyance if these racist elitists didn’t insist that everyone play along with their charade. But since all of America is in the grip of critical race theory, the 1619 Project, Black Lives Matter violence, and corruption in district attorney’s offices, and a two-tiered system of justice created by the DoJ, Americans must pay attention. White liberals are ruining America and infecting the polity with their racism and their racist solutions to their own racism.