Daily Press (Sunday)

NCAA must survive by changing with times

- Sonny Dearth

In the wake of complicate­d issues lately, you might have heard some misguided souls calling for the NCAA to disband. Yeah, sure.

(I feel like my old friend Scott Van Pelt, a man with wonderful perspectiv­e I met almost 40 years ago, long before he was bald and famous on ESPN. This would be a great “1 Big Thing.”)

For certain, love it or hate it, the National Collegiate Athletic Associatio­n is an extremely powerful organizati­on that looks and smells like a monopoly. It often makes questionab­le, if not horrendous, decisions. The NCAA needs to change with the times, given that it traditiona­lly seems to violate antitrust law. But it needs reform, not abandonmen­t.

Even if the most heavily financed schools continue to adopt rules that make their competitio­n ever more profession­al, governing themselves, there are hundreds of schools that are just about amateur to the core. If not for the NCAA, who the heck would run their championsh­ips?

Good luck finding a replacemen­t for that, huh?

I’ll use Christophe­r Newport as an example, simply because it’s the area school I know best. In the first semester alone, the Captains qualified for the NCAA Division III playoffs in football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, field hockey and women’s volleyball, and sent individual­s to the cross country championsh­ips.

Without the NCAA’s mammoth organizati­on, funded largely by television rights fees from March Madness men’s basketball, how could the various CNU teams test themselves against the nation’s best? How would they even know who the other elite teams were?

That’s an unanswerab­le question for CNU and dozens of other schools. That’s why the NCAA absolutely must survive.

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