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Publish date: Mar 31, 2011

Frontline has the facts wrong

Once again, Frontline has the facts wrong. On its website, Frontline posted the following information:

NCAA President Says He’s Ready To Explore Paying Athletes: Just 24 hours after the airing of a FRONTLINE documentary investigating the role and distribution of money in college basketball, NCAA President Mark Emmert is changing his position. In contrast to his insistence that it would “be utterly unacceptable ... to convert students into employees,” Emmert now says the idea of compensating student-athletes should be considered.

Emmert told USA Today that a conversation about the issue will likely happen at an April NCAA board meeting, at which he “‘will make clear ... that I want this to be a subject we explore.’” Changes in the rules might include small scholarship increases intended to help take care of normal college expenses and travel. The average scholarship falls about $3,000 short of covering these essential costs.

President Emmert has not changed his position at all. “Absolutely not,” he told reporters Thursday afternoon when asked about the erroneous posting during a press conference in Houston.

Emmert has been consistent and clear on his position. Frontline is ignoring the facts to mislead the public into believing its so-called reporting had some result. If Frontline can’t get facts readily available online and reported by established major media outlets right, what does that say about the credibility of the rest of its “reporting.”

Indeed, had Frontline searched the web, they would have found several articles where President Emmert is quoted saying he wants to explore the subject of what a college scholarship covers. 

Last October, during his first week in office as president, Emmert told the Seattle Times: “There is an ongoing conversation about the nature of the student grants-in-aid and the desirability in some people’s minds of having a full grant-in-aid that wouldn’t be pay or compensation, but would potentially expand the grant-in-aid a little bit. Look across all of Division I, for example, and most of the grants-in-aid are a couple of thousand dollars short of the full cost of attendance of the institution.”

In November, Emmert was quoted in the Wall Street Journal on this issue: “Mark Emmert, the new president of the NCAA, said he’d be open to increasing the value of athletic grants-in-aid by perhaps $2,000 to $4,000, in order to cover the full cost of attending school. Doing so could help combat the problem of agents giving illegal benefits to players. ‘It’s not paying players; it’s covering the full cost of attendance,’ he said in an interview. But he’s adamant about not paying players. ‘They’re not employees; they’re students,’ he said.”

Later that same month, USA Today reported that President Emmert “left no doubt where he stands: “ ‘Student-athletes will never be paid as long as I’m president of the NCAA.’ … Emmert has said he is not opposed to a discussion about making scholarships worth the cost of attendance, which would allow for some money above room, board, tuition, books and fees. But that issue has been talked about off and on for years and received little traction.”