Market Power

Musings by an academic economist on the power of markets and the power over markets.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Dadgummit, Please.... GO AWAY!

A little rest (or a little hair of the dog) will get rid of a hangover. There's lots of ways to get rid of a vampire. A silver bullet should do the trick if you find yourself face-to-face with a werewolf.

But the University of Missouri basketball program cannot rid itself of the riches of embarassment that continues to crop up regarding former point guard and Roots fan Ricky Clemons. The jailhouse tapes of phone conversations between Clemons, the wife of the MU president, and the wife of the assistant athletic director were embarassing enough. The probation that the MU basketball program is now on was supposed to be the capper to this sad saga.

But like an annoying girlfriend, or worse, a stalker, it won't go away.

A little history for the unitiated: in 2002, point guard Wesley Stokes (he of the flowing dredlocks) left MU to return to Southern California, leaving Mizzou without a starting point guard. Coach Quin Snyder was in a pickle, but found and recruited Ricky Clemons to come to MU to be his point guard.

The latest thing to pop up, like another zombie in those "Night of the Living Dead" movies, is that Clemon's coach at Barton County Community College in Kansas (BCCC), Ryan Wolf, has been indicted in a variety of things related to academic fraud. What did he allegedly do? "What didn't he allegedly do" is a more efficient question to ask. Among other things, Jeff Gordon gives this gem in this column:

" the allegation that Wolf paid for some of Clemons' classes with HIS PERSONAL CREDIT CARD.

"Even by Kansas JUCO standards, that's incredibly dumb. "

I bet Wolf's relatives are proud of him today.

One question that has always surrounded this fiasco about Clemons is this: he never graduated from high school. Similar to Barbara Streisand's character in What's Up Doc, he attended several high schools, but never graduated from any of them. After the 2002 basketball season at the College of Southern Idaho, Clemons left school - midway through the semester - with 24 credit hours to go for his degree. But he got into ol' Mizzou and was eligible to play basketball! How did he become eligible? He enrolled in BCCC and, as Jeff Gordon puts it:

"After bolting the College of Southern Idaho in mid-semester, he was nowhere near eligible to enroll at Missouri and play NCAA Division I basketball. Fortunately, he was able to "earn" 24 credit hours during one presumably busy summer at BCCC . "

But one woulda thunk that coach Snyder would have raised an eyebrow when he learned that a recruit who needed 24 credit hours to become eligible somehow got those hours in*ONE SUMMER*. According to this website for the College of Southern Idaho (CSI), from which Ricky was trying to obtain his degree, a student needs to have between 64 and 70 total credit hours completed to get an Associates Degree. So in two years, he would have completed between 40 and 46 credit hours, or between 10 and 11.5 credit hours per semester. He completed over twice that number of credits in one summer? I'm not saying it can't be done, but 6 hours is often considered to be a full load - and Clemon's prior academic history suggests he would have been one of the last students we'd expect to do this. According to this article from the Columbia Daily Tribune, Ricky had never picked up a book until he was thrown in jail after coming to Mizzou and his GPA for his first semester at CSI was 1.779. Bringing in Clemons was a huge risk and an incredibly dumb move, and now it's the gift that keeps on giving.

A primary reason why this garbage occurs in college is that many college players, especially those on football and men's basketball squads, generate much more revenue than they receive in compensation, generating substantial rent for those schools (economic rent is the difference between what a resource generates and what the resource receives in compensation). Because the rents are so high, there is tremendous competition between schools to recruit players. The policy makers at the NCAA realize this, so they have, over the years, put restrictions in place to control the way that athletes can be recruited and compensated. But this does not alter the revenue generating capability of the players, so resources are employed to find ways around the restrictions. The NCAA responds by putting more resources and restrictions in place in hopes of limiting the malfeasance. Then more resources get put into finding ways around the new restrictions, and on and on and on! It's a big, costly game. .