I wasn’t there, but I have it on good authority that at a recent triangle area symposium on the future of college athletics, featuring the athletic directors of area schools, Duke’s AD Kevin White managed a doozy.
In a discussion of whether athletes should be paid beyond the current grant-in-aid, White said that if schools increased the grants the students received, then many of them would be less dependent on Pell Grants, the government program that provides need-based aid to low income students.
So far, so good, you might think. But not according to the esteemed AD of one of the country’s elite universities. According to White, this was a problem – I’m told he was quite indignant about this – because it would mean, in effect, that Duke would be subsidizing the federal government. To repeat, if the athletes under his charge were better compensated, they would be less dependent on a federal program for low-income students. And as far as Kevin White is concerned, that is a *bad* thing an unfair burden on Duke university.
By White’s logic, we can draw any number of conclusions. It is widely known that many Wal-Mart employees are dependent on government programs of various kinds, including Medicaid, because of the inadequate compensation they receive from Wal-Mart. If therefore, Wal-Mart were to increase its wages, making its employees less likely to draw government support, this would be wrong because – per White – it would be an effective subsidy by Wal-Mart to the government.
But we needn’t pick on Wal-Mart here. If Duke were to fire Kevin White, or any other employee tomorrow, they would likely be eligible for unemployment insurance. Duke would then no longer be on the hook for Kevin White’s well-being. Therefore, the fact that Duke is supporting Kevin White, rather than the government, means that Duke is effectively subsidizing the government. Indeed, any employer compensating its workers is doing that which, according to White, the government should be doing instead – supporting those workers.
This kind of nonsense is right out of the Mark Emmert playbook. Recall that, by Emmert’s own impeccable logic, any player suiting up for a school in a state that does not allow state workers to unionize would be a “scab,” were players to be allowed to unionize. That is because, apparently, Mark Emmert does not know what the definition of a “scab” is. Likewise, Emmert has argued that if college athletes are workers, then they would no longer be eligible for health insurance, only worker’s compensation. Because, you know, employees like Emmert himself don’t get health insurance as a condition of employment.
The degree of entitlement, insularity and self-righteousness among high-ranking college sports officials is bracing. And it leads otherwise presumably intelligent men to say mind-numbingly stupid things.