The University of Missouri had an immense impact on the rest of the NCAA this week. This came about because The University ignored the voices of graduate students, minorities, women, political groups and athletes, for months. Had the University shown some propensity to change this would have never happened, but it did and it changed college athletics for the better. What I am talking about has everything to do with the players strike and nothing to do with the issues. Without getting into the details of their cause, the Mizzou football team proved that college athletes have power. The team is only 4-5 and is not likely to make a bowl, but with the threat of them sitting out a game, The University of Missouri system’s president was forced to resign.Now Mizzou is not a small school, but they are by no means a huge collegiate athletic brand. Schools like the University of Alabama, Ohio State University, the University of Texas, and the University of Tennessee, among others, operate under a much larger athletic budget. In comparison, Ohio State University would risk the revenue associated with the Big 10 Championship and the College Football Playoff if they were to forfeit a game. The University of Missouri only risked the pay outs of 3 regular season games – in which attendance would be low, due to their poor performance. While all these numbers are in the millions, the University could realistically live without it. The money associated with a winning team would be exponentially larger.
The defining moment in all of this is that they gave in to the players. Students and faculty members have been voicing their grievances and protesting for months, but the university made no change. Within 48 hours of the football team threatening to sit out, both the President and Chancellor resigned; I hope all athletes and universities took notice. Today marked another step towards the empowerment of athletes, which scares a lot of athletic directors around the country. Today the little, powerless, uncompensated, degree-less athlete asserted his/her dominance.
If D1 College Football and Basketball is going to create as much profit as it already does, then athletes will continue to have a voice. Athletes around the country saw that they can stand up and speak their mind, as a group. Now university administrations will have to work with their athletic departments. They cannot risk ruining that relationship, because as soon as they do, it will be them that is removed. Not the football team.
The president is paid millions of dollars and is in charge of the University, but the football team funds the athletic department that alumni and fans love so much. Presidents come and go, but try telling LSU or Oklahoma football fans that there will not be any football for a season. See which causes more strife among the masses.
As the old adage goes, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Of course football teams could abuse their power, but for the sake of the little man, this is a good thing. Soon athletes will realize that they have the power here. The ridiculous, annually renewed, scholarship is probably the next to go. That means schools will begin to guarantee their scholarships over the 4-5 year span of an athlete’s education, which I assure you does not hurt the school nearly as much as it helps the athletes. It is all leading to the inevitable. Forgive me if you have heard me say this before, but collegiate athletes are about to get paid.
I hope this new world does not scare you, it is the employee in a billion dollar industry exercising his/her power, as any adult would. In a way, for all the bad publicity that Mizzou is getting for its many issues, it is worth it. The world of college athletics will be better for it. Beware dismissive AD or disrespectful University President, you could be next. Do not be surprised if you see certain universities start to pamper their athletes a little more than before. In the end, it does not really matter whether Mizzou did the right thing or not. All universities will pay more attention to their student-body’s requests, because they cannot risk the catastrophe that almost took place in Columbia.