The Business in College Sports

By: Rafael Manzano
August 08, 2017

The recruitment of student-athletes from one college to another is becoming an awful trend. The move has become very popular especially between two major leagues in the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) where schools from one league, mostly the UAAP, lure and recruit players from the NCAA. 

For two years already, this has become an issue for both -- where the national pool of players is mostly inherited. While we continuously crave for the growth of our country’s athletic reputation, we might be blinded by what seems to be a form of business. 

Just like in the business world; labor, investments, and profit are three important things needed for a company to succeed. And it is very much the same for schools that spend time persuading student-athletes to play for them. 

Schools recruit players by offering them a better opportunity in terms of better playing time and exposure. The NCAA, for the longest time of its existence, is viewed as ‘inferior’ to the UAAP; that’s why playing in the latter league is a big break for some athletes who found it unlikely in the NCAA. However, if a player shifts leagues, he still needs to pay a tax of residency – a non-playing year -- which would somehow affect his entire collegiate career. Each player has a maximum of five playing years but if he sits for one year due to his transfer, a whole season is wasted which could already be a platform for him to showcase his talents. This is often overlooked. Instead of players making the most of their stints, they found themselves watching from the sidelines while also adjusting to a brand new system. 

Another reason why schools can easily recruit players and why student-athletes easily agree is that compensations are so hard to resist. Schools offer better scholarships, allowances, and other modes of compensation that would aid players’ financial needs. 

In return, the school who recruits is investing on that player to lead them into greater heights; specifically to win more games or turn a meltdown season around. The players are the assets in this business, which could result in future benefits leading to the biggest profit: a championship. This is the case for then-Perpetual Help import Bright Akhuetie who transferred to University of the Philippines; for Aldin Ayo, who is not even a player, transferred his coaching talents to La Salle for three years’ worth 9 million pesos, and a few more to add. 

Loyalty is the biggest issue though. Players who played years for one team then suddenly shifts can receive the most dreadful criticism. The best example, again, is Ayo -- who is not even a player. The famous transfer in 2015 just after he led his alma mater Letran to the title ensue a wide array of negative sentiments from fans, sports experts, and alumni. This is the hardest part, though, because the money talk looked like as if you were bought. 

At the end of the day, however, we cannot really blame these student-athletes for taking the opportunities offered to them. Every athlete has his own set of goals and values. As a player, you would always think what is good for you; either career-wise or financially. We must remember that collegiate players eye the pro-league in the future; mainly because it’s their dream, yes, but also the path that would suffice their needs in the long-run. 

What schools must do is develop both individual skills and moral standards, especially if the institution is of pure and strong religious principles. Yes, business in collegiate sports is rising but this is also the time for schools, especially from the NCAA, to value and take good care of its student-athletes even more. Just like in business, maximize your capital and use it to your 

(First published at The LANCE's July issue)