Monday, September 04, 2006

Is It Time to Abolish the NCAA?

The latest entry on the blog of New Yorker magazine writer Malcolm Gladwell is an intriguing read. Gladwell cites the case of Clemson cornerback Ramon McElrathbey in introducing an argument to abolish the NCAA, then transitions to a presidential address given at the Western Social Science Association meeting at Phoenix. The address was given by Jim Peach, a professor at New Mexico State, and Gladwell obtained a copy from David Berri, author of "Wages of Wins." Now although the NCAA's mission is to insure competitive balance, Peach contends it has failed miserably. And he has the data to back it up. In the past 50 years, five teams account for a quarter of all top-eight finishes in football, 12 teams account for more than half of all top-eight appearances and 22 teams account for three-quarters of all top-eight finishes. There's more, but we don't want to spoil it for you. Gladwell also has an entry on Rhett Bomar you might want to read.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Peach's analysis is seriously flawed. Peach fails to account for the year-to-year dependence between rankings, which can significantly overestimate the consistency in finishes. For example, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Texas are consensus top 3 teams because they return critical players from BCS bowl teams last season.
Yes, the programs that were powers years ago are still powers, but others have entered the mix, and some are not as dominant. For example, Miami (FL) and Florida were not competitive prior to NCAA recruiting rules. Notre Dame, despite recent optimism among AP voters, has been in a near 20 year slump.
Many schools that were, and remain, powers in college football have done so because of natural advantages, such as being the most recognized educational institution in their state (Michigan, Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, LSU, Nebraska). Others have had an excellent coaching staff for a number of years, increasing their attractiveness to potential recruits (e.g., Penn State, Florida State).
The point of the NCAA isn't to "equate" teams, merely to provide "equity" to the competition. It seems to me that Gladwell and Peach are confusing equity with equality.