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NCAA’s Mark Emmert slams minor league sports. Minor League Baseball slams back.

Jun 23, 2014, 11:36 AM EDT

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 11.36.02 AM AP

The NCAA’s Mark Emmert would be a jackwagon if, for no other reason, than that he leads the NCAA and apparently believes all of the hypocritical crap that he and the NCAA’s water carriers spew about amateurism and student-athletes while they make billions off their unpaid labor. Or, worse, that he doesn’t believe it and spews it anyway. Really, the NCAA is the worst and Emmert is its leader, ergo: Jackwagon.

But during his testimony in the Ed O’Bannon trial last week, he took it a step further:

“To convert college sports into professional sports would be tantamount to converting it into minor league sports. And we know that in the U.S. minor league sports aren’t very successful either for fan support or for the fan experience.”

Just on the surface that is dumb, in that Minor League Baseball — though it has experienced ups and downs in its history — has been in a pretty damn sustained upswing for a couple of decades now. An upswing any way you slice it, really. Revenues. Profits. Attendance. New ballparks. Merchandise sales. And I bet if you polled fans of various sports and various levels and leagues of sports, you would find that minor league fans are among the most satisfied with that which they patronize than anyone. It’s affordable, it’s family friendly and it’s fun. When was the last time you heard anyone complaining about going to a minor league game?

Pat O’Connor, the president and CEO of Minor League Baseball took Emmert to task for this over the weekend. After schooling Emmert on just how wrong he was, O’Connor offers and invitation:

So, Dr. Emmert, there’s no denying that minor league sports are in fact immensely successful in regard to fan support and fan experience. And Minor League Baseball is thriving as an alternative to other more costly entertainment options. We have the thrills of a theme park, the emotions of a good movie, the element of surprise at a concert and the cuisine of your favorite restaurant, all wrapped up in one event and taking place in 70 ballparks on any given summer night. 

Please accept this as an open invitation, Dr. Emmert, join the American people and attend a Minor League Baseball game this summer. See for yourself just how much fan support we have and how the fan experience is like none other in the sports world. There’s something special going on at Minor League Baseball parks across this country and there’s never been a better time to be a part of it.

I assume Emmert won’t go. Mostly because it would likely pain him so to see athletes being paid, even if it’s just a little bit, to play sports.

  1. andreweac - Jun 23, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    WTF? I hate the NCAA. Despicable.

  2. amaninwhite - Jun 23, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    Leave it to the NCAA to make minor league baseball look generous to its players.

  3. renaado - Jun 23, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    First time I’m only sayin this…

    This guy is a total ASS, clearly this guy have no idea on what he’s talkin about… Just, so wrong on many levels.

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:45 PM

      Mark Emmert left TWO schools/states in shambles on his way to somehow becoming the President of the NCAA… he purposely hid budget overruns for facilities being built under his tenure at UConn from the board of directors… over $100 million… he also poured MILLIONS of taxpayer dollars into the University of Washington’s football stadium and program without public referendum.

      He also oversaw academic fraud by Nick Saban at Louisiana State University!

  4. 18thstreet - Jun 23, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    Good grief. Minor league baseball is the greatest. I agree with everything Craig said. Family-friendly. Affordable. No commercial breaks or unneeded timeouts for commercial breaks. The food is cheaper. The parking is free.

    Is the quality of play as good as professional sports? No — but no one promises that it will be!

    • blabidibla - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      The quality of play is easily as good as professional sports, being that it IS professional sports.

      • 18thstreet - Jun 23, 2014 at 6:40 PM

        Good point. I could have said something like “Is it at he highest level?”

        One of the things that baffles me about college sports is that it’s worse than professional sports. The history is better, the rivalries are better. The quality of play is WAY worse. WAY WORSE.

  5. ravensgrl - Jun 23, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    He looks like Newt Gingrich…. apparently his opinions are as popular as Newt’s too.

    • genericcommenter - Jun 23, 2014 at 1:53 PM

      Did he also propose that college athletes be given janitorial jobs to learn the value of hard work?

    • yahmule - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      I honestly can’t believe it took five posts until someone mentioned this. I’m so creeped out that there’s more of them.

  6. zzalapski - Jun 23, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    His Ph.D. stands for Phucking Douchebag.

    The portrait on his Wikipedia page shows him with a face that you’d want to punch with your non-dominant hand.

  7. protectthishouse54 - Jun 23, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    Please. Everyone knows he’s not talking about baseball.

    • Cris E - Jun 23, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      People are having trouble with his remarks because it’s a confusing message: the NCAA is already the NFL’s minor league.

      • hoopmatch - Jun 23, 2014 at 12:29 PM

        One might also point out that to be a major league baseball player it is necessary, for most players, to spend at least a couple years in minor leagues; even if they went to college first. That’s a good indication that baseball is a harder game to play than football, basketball and hockey.

      • asimonetti88 - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:53 PM

        I don’t necessarily think that it means it is harder, they are all very hard to play at a high level. It just means players are developed differently. In football there are very rarely anyone in the pros under the age of 21 but even the younger players between about 20-25 are rarely among the best in the league. In basketball, the guys around 19-23/24 are playing at the major league level, but most don’t develop until their mid-20s similar to baseball. I don’t know enough about hockey to speak to it.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:59 PM

        Actually Hoop, a lot of hockey players, once they graduate from the Canadian Juniors or NCAA, still need a year or two in the minor leagues before they make it to the NHL, if they do. And hockey is not easy. Try playing baseball on skates.

  8. [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 23, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    One of the best synopses of Emmert’s testimony:

    The NCAA thinks name, image, and likeness rights are worth zero. However, they do everything in their power to secure the name, image, and likeness rights of all the “student-athletes”…

  9. cur68 - Jun 23, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    When ever I can, I go to minor league games. I grew up going to Edmonton Trapper games, in fact. I learned to love baseball and all thing baseball related from minor league games. Its easy to do that, because they’re a lot of fun. Football Jerk doesn’t understand that about minor league ball? Well, what else is new?

  10. dondada10 - Jun 23, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    While an undergrad at Syracuse, I used to frequently make the hour trip to see the Binghamton B’s, AA affiliate of the Mets. That’s on top of the dozen or so Skychief games I saw (Toronto AAA). Back in New York, I go see the Cyclones at least once a summer. Minor league baseball is fantastic. IDK what this guy is talking about.

    • paperlions - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:56 PM

      This guy got his PhD from Syracuse…..sooooo…..

  11. tribefan1199 - Jun 23, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    The Lake County Captains, a Class A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, have already scheduled their Mark Emmert Fan Appreciation Night. Some of their plans are great.

    • sportsdrenched - Jun 23, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      This is the perfect example of why MiLB is great. When I read the headline, and before reading the story I knew something like this would be coming.

    • rocketbutt - Jun 23, 2014 at 1:32 PM

      Love the hair on that mascot thingy.

      And if there’s a better way to spend a summer evening than at a minor league baseball game (San Jose Giants in my case), I haven’t figured it out yet. I just wish I’d win the bingo game, just once.

  12. karlton3 - Jun 23, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    The sad thing is that he has one of the top AAA experiences in Victory Field literally right across the street from his office.

  13. andreweac - Jun 23, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    This clown makes $1.6 million a year. He reminds me of Jefferson Davis.

  14. chill1184 - Jun 23, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    Screw him, going to minor league games are fun.

  15. raysfan1 - Jun 23, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    I’ll set aside the minor leagues comment as the nonsensical posturing that it is.

    As for the pay for play issue, there are only two sports that actually bring money into the D-1 level schools–football and basketball. However, the schools would likely have to pay all athletes or create a have-have not structure among the athletes. Smaller D-1 schools might feel pressure to move down in rank to avoid the pay outs since some of them actually do not profit even from the big 2 sports other than funding the rest of the athletic department (not necessarily a bad thing if it happens but it would be an unintended consequence).

    Personally, I think the NCAA should just ditch the rules against players being allowed to accept appearance fees, money from autographs and endorsements. Any athlete whose image is used for things like endorsements or video games should also obviously receive part of the proceeds. That would still create a have-have not system but one that occurs through market demands and not one administered by a university.

    There also has to be full coverage for any illness or injury incurred as part of playing the sport.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 23, 2014 at 1:34 PM

      This case isn’t about pay-for-play. It’s mainly about your 3rd paragraph. However, the NCAA feels that those rights are worth zero, even though they force players to sign a waiver releasing their name, image, and likeness rights away.

      One example was Tyrone Protho of the Univ of ‘Bama football team. He badly broke his leg in a game which ended his football career. He wanted to write a book, and use some images of himself from his playing days. He was told he’d have to pay for the pictures, of himself because he didn’t own the rights…of himself

      • raysfan1 - Jun 23, 2014 at 1:42 PM

        Yes, I know about the case, but the other things I addressed have been discussed also, particularly when the Northwestern football players’ consideration of unionizing became an issue (despite the fact that their main focus is health/injury coverage and full cost of education coverage as opposed to pay per se as well). To me they intertwine, so I addressed the pay issue also.

      • raysfan1 - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        One other thing that I did not address but which also plays into the big picture is the years-out-of-high-school rule the NFL (3 years) and NBA (1 year) each have. The rule serves no purpose really other than to prop up NCAA sports. The NBA at least has a D league. There is no NFL minor league–other than the NCAA of course. I think it’s inevitable that someone will eventually successfully argue a restraint of trade suit over that rule. Right now, athletes not only cannot get paid for their services to their school, cannot be compensated for use of their image and so on, they are also coerced into that system even if they are not interested in furthering their education.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        But no one is discussing pay for play. It’s only being used by media/NCAA members as a canard to get people on their side. Even if it becomes the model of college sports, it doesn’t mean each college has to do it. The Patriot League used to not offer athletic scholarships for football. It’s since changed to let the schools do it on an individual basis. They still have teams.

      • raysfan1 - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:29 PM

        Let me rephrase, since I already acknowledge pay for play isn’t part of the O’Bannon case and not really part of the issue at Northwestern either…
        1) I think pay should be considered but can see where it would be problematic for the reasons I mention in my first comment. I brought it up because I personally see it as a valid and connected issue.
        2) I think athletes should be able to profit off their own image and receive compensation for appearances, autographs, etc. Not compensating them for use of their likeness for profit, as in the O’Bannon case, is outrageous. (Also, Prothro having to pay to use his own image is likewise absurd.)
        3) Not fully covering an athlete’s health care/injury care is unconscionable.
        4) Not allowing an athlete to turn pro when he/she wants to because of an arbitrary time out of high school rule and thus essentially forcing them into college athletics is a restraint of trade and makes the above issues worse.

      • protectthishouse54 - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        “One other thing that I did not address but which also plays into the big picture is the years-out-of-high-school rule the NFL (3 years) and NBA (1 year) each have. The rule serves no purpose really other than to prop up NCAA sports.”

        You don’t think the NFL profits from players going to college for 3 years? The NCAA provides a testing ground and a system for prospects to improve exponentially, at no cost to NFL teams. The NFL and NBA impose those rules, not the NCAA.

      • raysfan1 - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:32 PM

        No, of course it aids the NFL as they thus do not have to develop or fund a minor league or developmental league. The effect of that is it solidifies NCAA football as the NFL’s minor league, if you will. The NFL of course is not doing that to be generous, but it is still propping up the NCAA. (Ditto for the NBA and it’s rule for eligibility.)

        Perhaps I could have worded it better, but I was just trying to be brief.

  16. musketmaniac - Jun 23, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    If this is a tactic to improve or revive college baseball it’s a sad one. Maybe he’s looking at that joke the college world series and dreams of days where he doesn’t have to rely on leftover players using aluminum bats. Ill take independent ball over college ball. He should attack them first. He is way out of his league against minor league ball.

  17. gloccamorra - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:10 PM

    The guy’s histrionics may indicate the pressure the NCAA is under. I’m old enough to remember when the NCAA muscled aside the Amateur Athletic Union and became a cartel. The AAU did a far better job looking after the interests of amateur athletes, but muscle and money won out.

    The NCAA has since muscled the colleges it’s supposed to represent, giving the lie to the story that it was created by college presidents for the benefit of college athletics. It’s now a money making enterprise independent of its creators. I just wonder if RICO action is appropriate.

  18. misterschmo - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    Years ago I moved from a Major League city to a AA town and I snobbishly pouted about my loss of the “Big Leagues” until I attended a game. I fell in love with the always-busting-their-asses-on-every-play AA guys, small intimate parks, free parking, feeding two kids on 25 cent hotdog Tuesday nights, and getting in the game for less than 10 bucks. Fast forward to today, and the rumors of my current residence trying to get a AA or A team has me smiling.

  19. flamethrower101 - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    Dbag. Isn’t this the same guy that doesn’t like to answer questions about the NCAA?

  20. philliesblow - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    Brian Bosworth was right: National Communists Against Athletes

  21. mikhelb - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    While MiLB really has one of the most dedicated, loyal and satisfied fanbases, I find it odd that in México in two of the lowest levels of the mexican baseball leagues: the Mexican Northern League (located in the Northwesternmost states of Baja California and Sonora) and the Northern Sonoran League (located in Sonora), there are regularly (daily) attendances ranging from 4,000 to 7,000 people, which it seems are higher than most minor league circuits with a higher level in the US (those leagues would be kind of like A leagues at the most, while the highest levels in México: the Pacific League and the Mexican League, are between AAA and AAAA).

  22. nvl004 - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    i don’t like this guys, but in his defense, nowhere did he say that minor leage BASEBALL isn’t successful. He said minor league sports aren’t successful. Save for minor league baseball he has a bit of a point.

    • raysfan1 - Jun 23, 2014 at 4:07 PM

      Football’s minor league is the NCAA. The NBA developmental league would likely need to be larger if not for its use of the NCAA as a de facto minor league as well. I very much enjoy attending both minor league hockey and minor league soccer in addition to baseball. Even though he did not specify baseball, it does not matter. He’s wrong even in saying what he did about minor league sports in general.

  23. [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 23, 2014 at 5:09 PM


    Considering this is the cartel that forced anyone in the building for the NCAA bball championship to only use the sponsor’s cups (including throwing away anything non-sponsored), this thought is so amazing…

  24. musketmaniac - Jun 23, 2014 at 10:10 PM

    argumentative, is pro basketball the same game as college. I don’t think so.

  25. rlute - Jun 23, 2014 at 11:37 PM

    I LOVE minor league baseball! Wear a baseball hat and show up with your family and you’ve got a 60% chance of going on the field between innings to participate in some silly game. Bring your kids and you WILL get a visit from the teams mascot in the stands. If the stadium has a big screen you’re GUARANTEED to be on it at some point. Doesn’t even matter who the teams are. Eat a hot dog, have a drink and cheer for the players on the field! Fantastic fan experience for BASEBALL fans!

    I doubt Mark Emmert is a baseball fan.

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