Crowded backfield a welcome change for Hoosiers

It could feel crowded inside Indiana’s backfield this season.

With five promising players set to compete for carries in fall camp, the Hoosiers will be navigating a new level of depth at running back. For IU’s coaching staff, that could mean a delicate balancing act this fall.

How do the Hoosiers ensure all those players are happy and satisfied? Right now, it’s not a major consideration for head coach Tom Allen, who believes fostering daily competition will reward Indiana with a versatile assortment of rushing options.

“Keeping everybody happy is probably not the objective,” Allen said. “I think the objective is that we’re successful as a team. When you establish a culture of LEO, which when you talk about loving each other you say you don’t care who gets the credit, because it’s not about me. That’s what I want. Selfishness is what will kill your football team.”

Allen is looking forward to putting his “Love Each Other” mantra to the test in the backfield, where the Hoosiers shouldn’t hurt for bodies.

Headlining the stable of backs is sophomore Stevie Scott, who set IU true freshman records in 2018 with 1,137 yards, 228 attempts, 10 touchdowns and six 100-yard games. Surrounding Scott are a pair of returners in sophomore Ronnie Walker and redshirt junior Cole Gest, along with a couple incoming freshmen in Sampson James and Ivory Winters.

Walker provided a nice change of pace to Scott’s battering style as last season unfolded, appearing in nine games while averaging 4.4 yards per carry with two touchdowns. Walker’s speedy, slashing style helped fill the role left by Gest, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury in IU’s first game. Gest is expected to be fully healthy and ready to challenge for snaps this fall.

Then there’s James, the crown jewel of IU’s 2019 signing class. The former Ohio State commit enrolled at Indiana for the spring semester after running for 3,451 yards on 573 attempts (6.0 average) with 38 rushing touchdowns during his high school career at Avon.

Winters, his classmate, left a similarly impressive mark at the high school level, rushing for 59 touchdowns and 2,700 yards as a senior in Hayti, Mo.

This year, there appears to be more raw talent in IU’s backfield than at any point in recent memory. Keeping the running backs focused on managing their roles will be the top objective for position coach Mike Hart in the months to come.

“That’s the challenge of our coaching staff, to lead and motivate,” Allen said. “As we develop depth on our team and we develop more position competition, which we’re seeing more and more all the time, that’s going to be a rising issue. But at the same time, that’s what we have to have. That’s what we need to be able to do. That excites me.

“It’s definitely a challenge. Coach Hart has to be able to do a great job of helping the guys understand that if you want to have opportunities to touch the football, you better do all the little things right. And if you don’t? Somebody’s going to take your place.”

At the same time, Allen says the potential for a shared workload should excite his running backs. By splitting the duties, the Hoosiers hope to have a few more sets of fresh legs in the second half. It’s a philosophy that not only can help IU on the field, but in recruiting, too.

“The days of the guy carrying the ball 30 times a game, it really doesn’t happen,” Allen said. “I think even programs are understanding that to help guys for their future, to be able to finish their college career and have good mileage left on them when they go pro. At the same time, we want to make sure we create an unselfish football team that wants to do what’s best for the team and helps this team be successful.”


  1. Very tough to predict how the load share may go. I’d assume Stevie Scott will get his carries after last year’s breakout but there are certainly a lot of mouths to feed. Cole Gest is a bit of a wild card to me. If he could just run with a little more patience, I think he could be a very productive back. As of right now, I think James and Winters will likely redshirt (still see time in their four allowed games). It’ll be interesting to see if Ronnie Walker takes the next step and earns more carries this year.

    1. spin, I’m with you about CG. I think he holds an intangible for the IU offense we have not seen gotten to view enough to evaluate. He has it all-burst, wriggle, strength in a powerful package, good hands, flat out raw speed and he’ll block. I saw a hint in his limited play before injury last year of the patience you focused on above. I’m high on Gest showcasing his positives skills this season for Allen, DeBoer and us.
      Everybody has an opinion about the top RB’s of all time. Of course I think Jim Brown is hard to beat and everyone of you offered good additions. But I would also add these ground gainers, Marcus Allen, Curtis Martin, Jerome Bettis and for his short (troubled) career Duane. Thomas was exceptional.

      1. Cole Gest needs to watch some Le’Veon Bell game tapes. Bell plays with a unique running style that is as patient of a style that I can remember(Bell basically tippy toeing behind a lineman until the hole opens up and then take off). Gest has enough burst to play with Bell’s style but he hasn’t shown much patience at all. Gest just punches the gas pedal as soon as he gets the rock and doesn’t let the blocks develop.

  2. It is good to see a lot of talent in the QB room and coach DeBoer will find ways and different positions to use their talent. It will be nice to see two in the backfield this year to create issues for defense because one could motion to a slot or WR position while staying in the backfield to be a blocker or fake action to get the ball to the other RB.

  3. If you’re a running back, here are the keys to maximizing your playing time and contribution to the team.
    1. Run hard on every touch, when you’re going to be tackled, deliver the blow and punish the defenders
    2. Don’t fumble
    3. Be a great blocker – take every opportunity to punish the defenders
    4. Catch passes – learn how to run routes, catch passes and be a good receiver

    If you need examples of these essential skills, watch tapes of Walter Payton. IMO, Walter Payton was the best football player EVER!

  4. No Jim Brown is the best football player but anyway if Alabama can find a way to play 3 or 4 RBs then surely IU can find a way too

  5. Po, you and BB are both wrong. Gayle Sayers is the best player ever be on the field. Too bad career shortened.

  6. I think guys are aware of the short shelf life of running backs. You can only carry the rock so many times in a career and people are beginning to be more cognizant of that.

    1. Chet, that should be one of the selling points to top RBs as more and more are admitting lots of runs in college aren’t good for RB futures in the NFL.

  7. And Barry Sanders is the best RB of all time. He did most of his damage with mannequins attempting to block for him. Jim Brown is a close second (way ahead of his time).

  8. Best part about the whole article is at this point IU has enough rb’s to even have this discussion.

    1. This is so true. Too bad in this current state of college football everyone wants to transfer when they don’t get playing time.

      1. Biggest problem is these kids buy into all the hype at the top programs only to find they are one among many. No better example IUFB could use than the Tommy Stevens saga.

  9. think, it’s not a new phenomenon! Decades ago I was involved in IU Football’s recruiting process for a short time. We attempted to apply the same logic back then. “Come to IU (great school, great campus, etc.) where you’re more likely to play/be a starter, develop and showcase your talent against great competition. If you go to that powerhouse program, you’ll be in line behind five or six guys who are older and just as good or better than you are, and you’ll get beat up for two or three years before ever getting a chance to play in a game.” I was amazed that so many of those kids and their parents had stars in their eyes, having been been convinced they’d be All-Americans by their Junior seasons. I kept records of the guys I interacted with and tracked where they went to school, if they ever played, became starters, etc. Given the guys IU’s coaching staff were targeting back then (using today’s vernacular, most of them would be rated as three-star players with significant upside potential, but there were 4-star players too) IU would have been a great choice for many of them. I was saddened that so many of the guys who signed with more prominent football schools never played a minute in a real game. Talk about “survival of the fittest,” they got fed into meat grinders and their talent and potential was wasted at schools they were not good enough to play for.

    1. Po,
      What you say is sad but true. I wonder through, if you kept records decades ago when it was not technologically that easy, if an enterprising entity began doing that on a grand scale how useful it might be. Plug in the recruits statistics against the competitor school and their likelihood of seeing field in a meaningful way. Track the historical stats on similar talent playing for said school, coach, etc . . . Just wondering with today’s kids how effective it would be?

      1. Betting on a kid when he is probably 16 when you pull the trigger and offer is such a crapshoot. They are children at 16. Maybe big ones but children.

        Then you figure in…is this kid playing before tiny crowds with little coverage?

        We had this tall, skinny kid who was about our 3rd best defensive player. After a camp, to our amazement, Notre Dame offered.

        By his junior year he was a starter. Go figure.

  10. think, I don’t want to give you the impression that I was a fanatic about my record keeping or in following up on the players that I had tried to help recruit. I wasn’t. But I noted which schools the guys enrolled in and for many of them I tried to determine whether they remained on the team’s roster. And the impression I developed was that the bigger the reach those guys made, the less likely they were to stay on the roster or to stay at that school. I did have one guy who told me, after he announced his choice, that he accepted a football scholarship to another school simply because it was the only way he could get admitted to that school. Playing football was a secondary consideration for him and sure enough, he quit the team after his freshman season but stayed at that school and graduated. College recruiting is far more sophisticated these days, but a lot of HS kids still have stars in their eyes, and their delusion leads them to turn down opportunities from schools where they have a better chance of getting significant playing time.

  11. A lot of people complain about kids transferring but it’s probably the best opportunity for IU to balance their talent disparity. Those kids with stars in their eyes were stuck riding the bench at the power schools. Now that 4 or 5 star kid gets a chance to re-evaluate and transfer to a school like IU for playing time. The same process allows kids like an Austin King or Nick Tronti to transfer away from IU freeing-up scholarships. There is very little downside to the new transfer rules for a school like IU. Grad transfers are another story as IU does not make exceptions for athletes to their grad programs. So grad transfers have to first qualify on their academic merits before they can be considered for the football team. I think that rule is good as long as all Big Ten schools have to live by that same standard.

    1. I never have a problem with guys transferring. It’s their life, their decision, their opportunities.

      None of my business.

      1. Chet,
        In general I don’t have a problem with the new transfer rules. The only concern I have is the new rules making roster management a nightmare. If the rules are tightened, I think this will be the reason why. Where the appropriate balance point is at, will be the real question.

    1. It is bad news but we have seen IU players get back and do well after surgery and recovery. I hope he uses the time off productively.

  12. I totally support the transfer rules. Not only is it good for schools like IU, but it’s really good for these young people. Freedom is always good, and given the risks to their health, the fact that playing a varsity sport makes it harder to get a solid education, and the money these athletes generate for their schools, their coaches and the NCAA, it’s the least the NCAA can do for these young men. And I don’t give a rip about coaching staffs whining about roster management. D-1 college football and basketball coaching staffs get paid a lot of money and have access to the resources that allow them to manage their roster. And as I think we’re witnessing with T.A., if you recruit the right kids, treat them well and create a positive culture that kids want to remain a part of, transfers will be manageable. For coaching staffs that don’t do those things (i.e., Rich Rod’s Arizona teams), their programs will continue to have a very active revolving door.

    1. Po,
      From that perspective I agree with the less restrictive transfer rules. However, unless the ncaa does a better job of enforcement or sets up a way for athletes to be paid, then the opportunities for corruption are just as viable as we have seen on the BB side, if not more.

  13. What makes you think paying players in any sport beside what is in place now via scholarships etc wouldn’t be even greater opportunities for corruption? And don’t come up with guidelines, rules and enforcement because that is played over and over again. As twenty years down the road in a rear view mirror then questions would be ask similar to questions being ask now about different kinds of corruption…How to fix the corruption in paying college athletes beyond their typical scholarships? By then it would be another solution or idea to solve that one.

    1. Well t, it is like this,
      The professional leagues have come with a way to enforce. Took them many years to develop, but they got it done. It may be because the actual dollars paid to players now is so great, but somehow they got it done.

  14. I’m an advocate for increasing the value of scholarships so that they cover the FULL cost of attending college and some additional benefits to the athletes’ families (like free tickets and reimbursement for reasonable transportation costs for the immediate members of underprivileged families). But I’m against paying athletes a salary. That just opens a can of worms. The best fb and bb players have to understand that their school is teaching and helping them prepare for a very lucrative professional career, and that without that help, most of them would have little chance of earning the kind of money that top basketball and football players can make. I mean look at it, they get personal instruction in strength and conditioning, they get tutors to help with academics, they learn about proper nutrition, they get medical care, and they get taught how to play football or basketball, not to mention all the soft sociological benefits of being a college athlete. And if you’re not a top prospect who has a future in professional sports, you get your college education. In football, if you’re real good, you’re free to go pro after three years. In basketball, it’s one year (and should be right out of High School). With just a modest increase in financial support, they’ll have nothing to complain about.

    1. Po,
      There’s a significant challenge to your argument, to these kids it looks like the colleges are getting rich on their efforts. Divide the reported 50 mil in tv revenues per B1G school by the number on the combined FB and men’s BB rosters and you will understand why they would think everything you just mentioned to be mere trinkets. The revenue sharing percentages for both the nfl and nba are at the 50% range. When you do the math, the revenue sharing being offered by the schools doesn’t even come close.

      I could see where the athletes might even view the numbers as downright insulting, and yes I know I omitted the other sports in favor of only the 2 true revenue producing programs. The athletes involved know they are in the only 2 revenue producing programs too. The risk for these athletes is far too high for them to not receive more for their efforts. Look at what Romeo’s damaged thumb is likely to cost him.

  15. Agree. There is a threshold that has to be maintained or contained without going down the road that where does it all end. Yes think, give every athlete a million bucks (add it to tuition costs from other students) and that should solve the problem. Then what after that becomes “not enough?”

  16. Damn the world just got smaller. I agree with t and Po. The NCAA and the schools can’t monitor all the corners and cracks now. Start giving young folks cash, some who can manage $, most won’t have the ability or inclination to and the fat in the fire will be self sustaining. A quagmire in the making. I offer th

  17. I offer this instead of a weekly or monthly payment. Set up the same accounts for each student/athlete. At the time they leave school write them a check. Any player leaving early for the pros forfeits their share to injured unabled to play players get a check.

  18. Makes sense. What about walk ons- do they earn anything? What if they end up as starters? Also what about 5 or 6 year players because of injuries? Do they earn more? There will also be unintended consequences. Some kids are going to take loans against those future payments and spend the money before it is ever received.

    1. I just advanced another big picture. It’s about an 1/8″ better than regularly handing out $ to kids. The details to implement are common sense. Don’t know how much of that the NCAA possesses. If they don’t try and over think it they’ll have a better chance.

      1. Some sort of ‘profit sharing’ in which a player becomes partially ‘vested’ after a couple years probably has merit.

        It couldn’t be specific to a university or everyone would sign with Alabama. There would have to be a single pool of money.

        Worth a thought.

        So many facets, though. Non revenue sports? Title IX? The devil is usually in the details.

        My kids simplified the process by not getting financial aid worth a damn.

        1. My boys graduated with no loan debt liability. Now the Bride and and I paid 1/2 the college expenses and they were on the hook for the other half on the due dates. That kept them broke, employment bound, focused and damn humble. Unlike your younuns Chet they did not carry the burden of an athletic obligation. That maybe would have changed the paradigm, but maybe not. Upon their earning degrees the Bride and I gave them a check for a fair amount of $ for carrying GPA above 2.8 with the stipulation it would not be used to buy a car. That satisfied the string I tied to them. It turned out good for them and us cause we kept it simple. May not work for all.

          1. My kids ended up with good jobs and they all live quite simply. They will be paying for a while but it hasn’t thrust them into poverty. My son in law has the biggest burden (Georgetown law) so he is locked into working in the Alaskan tundra with the native folks (which means my daughter is their doctor) for the next 10 years in order to get partial loan forgiveness. No roads. Accessible only by airplane. You know, ‘entitled millennials’.

            College costs are obscene. When I was at IU I worked at the College Mall Shell car was until I got a job at the hospital. I graduated with no debt.

            Unless you find a part time job paying $60,000/year you can’t do that anymore.

          2. Feel for your daughter and son-in-law but they sound to be determined and flexible. Everybody takes a different road cause they carry a different load. Best wishes to all your brood.

          3. Thanks. Back atcha.

            They are a good bunch. Daughter and son in law have totally embraced their environment. Son in law had never been camping until my daughter took him. Now, the guy is hunting moose and putting up smoked salmon. He is the assistant DA for about 100 some native villages. It’s all tundra.

            Quite the adventure.

          4. Yup, truth always stranger than fiction. He sounds to be a bit of a free spirited character. I’ve smoked lots of Canadian walleye. It’s a snap to do. Just don’t brine it to long as it picks up salt flavor fast. Never thought about salmon. Thanks for the thought.

          5. Okay.

            I just realized how self important that sounds and I am more than a little embarrassed.


  19. Any money made on college sports per the athletes and athletic department from sports related and advertising media, products, manufacturing etc and those who listen and watch them (fans) should be used after all expenses that include, scholarships, facilities, running the college sports programs and…any other revenue if there is any includes the arts and all college programs…should be used to lower the cost of tuition and housing (basically lower the cost of going to college) for every student even if it’s just a penny, period. You, think corruption is bad now? Paying college athletes will lead to corruption not even thought about or invented yet. I agree with PO’s flexibility of increasing the value of scholarships that include things he mentions. However, 100% against putting college athletes on payroll. This is a symptom of just how there is no perspective in pro sports that has impacted college sports thinking. And of course there is the issues of college women athletes, the band members, drama department, ROTC, cheerleaders, red steppers, choir, etc etc etc, lawsuits, equal pay, raises, forming unions, agents, lawyers, corruption corruption corruption, percentages for this and that, and increases in costs of going to college rise at accelerated rates even more, govt requested bail outs, just down right more cheating and theft as looking in rear view mirror 20 years down the road and wondering how all this happened? Running a tight ship is very much needed. However, even though some leaders claim they run a tight ship in reality they have no idea of the concept.

  20. And the argument that coaches etc make all this money…chop their salaries as well (mainly the ones that are most successful like K, Saban etc). Distribute money to lower cost of going to college.

  21. Not a bad idea, HC.

    For anyone who has a sense of irony, they have to recognize that paying cash to college football and basketball players has the potential to “kill the golden goose.” Do American college sports fans want college football and basketball to more closely resemble the NFL and NBA with less skilled athletes? Do we want college sports influenced by players unions? If college sports starts paying fb and bb players, there’s a strong possibility those sports will become less attractive and that revenues, based on TV ratings, will begin to decline.

    And what about Title IX and all the college athletes involved with non-revenue-generating sports? Do they get paid too? If so, how much? Yes, football and men’s basketball generate a lot of revenue for Universities, but that revenue pays for the non-revenue-generating sports programs! If schools have less money to fund non-revenue-generating programs because they’re paying football and basketball players, would universities start shutting down non-revenue producing sports?

    We have to be careful not to let perfect become the enemy of good. With a few adjustments, the NCAA can avoid paying college athletes.

    1. Po,
      I posted early this morning and you have brought about the only astute comment to the table, even though you and the rest missed the big picture item. Yes, Title IX will be a major problem, but get ready, the players may well form unions because they see the money involved. I told everyone to do the math, but no one saw fit to follow through.

      Here it is, B1G schools are on track to receive 51 million per year, which comes from two sources, FB and men’s basketball. In those 2 programs you have a combined 98 scholarships. Divide the 51 million by 98 scholarships and you have the amount of $520,000 per year per scholarship. If you extend out to walk on players, you are at approximately between 350k and 400k per year per player. Truth of the matter is, we all know full well walk on players contribute very little to the tv marketability of B1G schools, it would be disingenuous to say otherwise.

      Now look at the latest figures for the cost of a full ride at IU, it is about 25k per year for instate students and about 50k for out of state students. Gang, IU is making 500k per year per scholarship athlete and the value of what the players are getting is at the most 100k wildly overestimating the so called intangible benefits of being a scholarship player. Remember the nba and nfl players unions have commanded nearly 50% of all revenue to be paid to the players. That calculates to 250k if college players received equal percentages.

      If anyone doesn’t see a problem coming, it is because you don’t want to see the problem coming. It is only a matter of time. The players are taking all the physical risks but at best, are only getting 20% of the revenue. Didn’t have this issue before the advent of the massive tv contracts for the conferences, but we do now. The legal establishment is already starting the drum beat, it is only a matter of time. Too much money at stake. It is an unfortunate fact, but everything from the band to the cheerleaders to all the other sports do not subsidize the rest of the athletic department from their efforts, only the FB and men’s basketball do so.

  22. thinkaboutit, good points but I have a question on your math – did you include the cost of the programs IE recruiting, meals before games, etc. TV has added a lot of money to FB and BB programs and with more money brings more problems along with fixing some problems.

    The biggest money question I see is the money about using likeness of the players whether using it for video games, jerseys, etc.; this is more about what each player can do that is not allowed now. There are many issues with paying the players to be fair based on the amount of money the teams and players bring in.

    The thing about using money from athletics to lower college price [which is too high], until we get so much money out of the loans the colleges will keep adding programs that don’t help students have an education that leads to good paying incomes. The colleges right now are acting like the federal gov’t thinking the money will always coming in.

    1. V13,
      I did consider your points, if the nfl and nba can survive with 50% of the revenue to cover their burden and overhead costs, so can college. That is, unless it is being horribly mismanaged, which is certainly not out of the question. The only caveat this thinking does realize both the nfl and nba do play more games, so volume does play into this to a certain degree. However, even with this in consideration, look at the percentage of the revenues those placing their bodies at risk get versus the value of what they receive.

      I overestimated the value to 100k per year, and that is still only 20% of revenue. I know a lot of business models out there who could only dream of their payroll costs being at 20%. I know a lot of folks will buck at the idea of thinking of it in these terms, but rest assured, the athletes are more and more looking at this in such terms. It is kind of like the old cliche’ with the athletes, “it’s not personal, it’s business.” With the amount of tv dollars getting so large that are going to the schools, the players are looking at all this in a much different light.

  23. Government involvement = student grants and loans = colleges and universities licking their chops = very little incentive to lower or try to maintain costs for students. Maintaining costs now is to late after they have been out of control for several decades. Tuition is just one cost. You also have housing and other expenses. = college leaders and government programs realizing since there is so much money available let’s just stick it to college students who want to enroll in higher education. It is legal criminalization of the higher education system with no end in sight.

    1. t,
      I don’t disagree with you on this one at all. Every year it continues to get worse.

  24. think, even with all the money you referenced, it’s really not a simple math issue. A large portion of the sports revenue coming into Universities from football and basketball is used to pay the expenses associated with a lot of things a lot of other people not immediately attached to the football or basketball teams. There’s a lot of overhead associated with running college athletics. Coaching staffs, lawyers, administrators, academic advisors, marketing people, compliance people, travel coordinators, trainers, security personnel, healthcare providers, etc. And then their are things like facilities maintenance, utilities (imagine the electricity Assembly Hall uses per month) and insurance. And whether it is fair or not fair, if you start taking money from one budget to start paying players, cutbacks will be made. What gets cut?

    And back to the key question: Do you pay all varsity athletes, even if their sports do not generate revenue? Do all college athletes in the same sport get paid the same or do football players at OSU get paid more than football players at IU? As for the risk of injury, college athletes get injured playing baseball, soccer, volleyball, tennis, diving, track & field, cross country, crew, gymnastics, golf, softball, wrestling, etc. So all athletes are at risk of suffering injuries and would have the same justification for getting paid as do football players. See, if you address one question of fairness, you open a can of worms and create many other issues.

    Lastly, no one is holding a gun to the heads of these young men and women and making them play college sports. They sign a contract that basically states, I play sports and you pay for my education and room and board. And as far as unionizing, the student athletes don’t really have leverage. They’re only on campus for four or five years. If push came to shove, that union could be broken very quickly. Oh, you joined a union? O.K., you lose your scholarship and you’re no longer a student at this university. Back home to Mom & Dad’s house they go. You see, the flaw in your logic is that most college athletes don’t expect to get paid to play sports. Most are reasonably content (it could be better) with the arrangement they agreed to. And if they’re not, they’re free to transfer or quit.

    Maybe I’m in denial because I’d hate to see college athletes form a union. I think the key grievances can be addressed without agreeing to pay athletes cash above and beyond the FULL cost of attending college. If the NCAA makes some minor adjustments (i.e., increase the value of the scholarship), the threat of chaos can be averted.

    1. Yes Po, you are in denial, and no t, it is not 100% greed. What you’re both witnessing are market forces at work. Not saying they ain’t skewed market forces at work, but this is what you are seeing. Po, as for your argument about all the cost associated with running a college program, guess what? The professional leagues have all those same costs and maybe more.

      We talk often about how hard it is for athletes to adjust to the speed of the game at the next level of competition. Well, speed of the game is not always relegated to just what happens on the field. The speed of change off of the field is sometimes hard to adjust to as well, and it is changing rapidly. Not saying I like what is going on at all, but it is happening, and there is no better example that the affect the nba is having on college basketball.

      You said no one is forcing these athletes to play college ball and that is correct, but don’t think for a moment the alternatives to college ball are not growing rapidly as we are witnessing around the world. We see top level prospects signing to play basketball in New Zealand of all places. Recently a top level baseball recruit opted to play ball in Japan. The global professional market is beginning to affect the amateur market here and everywhere else there might be potential world class athletes available.

      Football at the moment, is an anomaly in that the US and Canada are the only two primary markets at the point. If the competition for athletes should break out into a place where HS prospects have the possibility to play professionally in developmental leagues, they will do it just like the basketball players. If your college game begins to diminish, so will the revenues, and if the collegiate administrators don’t understand this, they may well unwittingly kill their golden egg laying geese.

  25. Greed. It works for most for a period of time (maybe not a 100%). However, after a while (some amount of time) most (maybe not a 100%) want a raise.

  26. I just want to put a minority opinion out there. I would not support a college athletic program that does not fully fund and embrace full programs for women and the “non-revenue” (but international and Olympic) sports! I will just watch the Pros for football and basketball. Every college scholarship football and basketball player should have 100% of their reasonable personal, academic, etc. expenses plus some reasonable accommodations for family to watch them play. Anything more will destroy the “college” component of college athletics!

    1. BP,
      I don’t disagree with the idea of keeping the “college” component, that’s not the problem. The problem is the marketplace is shifting. The athletes in the revenue generating sports are beginning to be unhappy with their percentage of a very large pie based upon “their” risks of injury. Not saying the non-revenue sports do not run the risk of injury to the athletes, just saying there’s no dollars there to be in question. For the athletes in the only 2 revenue producing sports in college athletics, it is as I quoted the old cliche’ before, “It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.”

      1. Think, I do understand your point, but your facts are wrong. At the top 10 football programs maybe there are 20 players with a true market value, maybe 4-5 at places like IU. At the top 20 basketball programs maybe 50 total players. Let them all go to the football and basketball G Leagues. Let them sample the harsh world of “business”. Some will do well. Some will not. That will be their decision. Then reopen college sports to them for a minimum 3-4 year commitment. The few football and basketball athletes are not entitled to any %! But the scholarships should be increased to cover everything that is reasonable!

  27. Just recruit division 2 athletes to play division 1 sports. Get use to quality of athlete. After a few years everything and everyone will adapt. Send the now division 1 athlete to pasture and same goes for coaches and administrators. Plus all media, products, manufacturing, advertising, pro sports including all networks. Then, with what’s left if you (the fan/s) don’t have anything else to do on let’s say a typical Saturday afternoon go take in a game. Put it all into perspective.

    1. t,
      It would seem like a simple enough solution except it won’t work. The sports world is driven by marketing now, and there are now growing markets for d1 athletes in basketball elsewhere. The problem is your product, i.e. putting the d1 athletes out to pasture and replacing with d2. If there was a tv market for d2, the tv networks would be doing 51 mil per year per school contracts with them. Remember several years ago when the nfl tried to use replacement players for the striking union. The tv ratings went into the dumpster and the strike got settled.

  28. think, I asked some questions in my last post, but I don’t think you answered them. Who gets paid and who does not get paid? And how equitable are the payments? Market forces are one thing, but Title IX is the law. There is no legal requirement to pay fb and bb players, but if you start paying those groups, you’re going to have to pay all student athletes. And if you can’t afford to pay all the varsity athletes, then schools are going to start cutting athletic programs that don’t generate revenue, thereby reducing the number of student athletes on scholarship. Varsity teams turn into club sports or intramural sports. The only group of varsity athletes that would have leverage would be male football and basketball players. And all the other varsity athletes would oppose male fb and bb players getting paid at the expense of losing their varsity sports programs. And the only leverage male fb and bb players would have is the threat of a “strike” or choosing not play. And a large percentage of fb and bb players in over 100 schools would have to agree to strike in unison, shutting down games. If that happens, college fb and bb’s popularity would suffer greatly in the eyes of American sports fans and revenue would begin to decline significantly.

    Two things the NCAA should do to proactively protect their member schools from the risk of student-athlete unions demanding pay for play. One, make sure that scholarships pay the full cost of attending college (plus some additional benefits for underprivileged families whose sons/daughters are varsity athletes), and two, modify the universal contract between the student athlete and the school such that if the athlete joins an athletic union while under scholarship, they lose their scholarship.

    1. Po,
      No disrespect, but I did not overlook the questions, I disregarded them. I think most here underestimate the effect of market forces on even settled law. Remember market forces are more than just what at first appears. All you have to do is look at the cultural changes occurring in society overturning long standing laws and paradigms. You have at least two streams at work currently. First, only on the basketball side at this point are emerging markets for the elite talent to go elsewhere. Second, you have a growing legal battle occurring in select federal jurisdictions. Not got to far yet, but don’t underestimate the power of the legal community where there is a buck to be made.

      This is not going to occur overnight but the momentum is shifting.

    1. Soccer is cool, as is baseball, wrestling, swimming and diving, cross country, track and field, you get my point. Personally I would not watch G League events if there were not Indiana players in them. If they go from high school, I will wait until they make it in the Pros. These athletes have no “power”! They have potential. Why do the B1G schools get paid $51 million each? Maybe 10-20% due to “Star” players, but 90-80% due to big, prosperous alumni groups, now including women!

      1. BP!!!
        Are the shareholders going to be happy with their tv stock paying out this kind of money just because there are big prosperous alumni groups???? They shell out the megabucks because there is a big audience which gives the ratings attracting big prosperous advertising. I would suggest a large percentage of the audience commanding these ever increasing tv contracts are neither prosperous nor alumni, but rather fans. Also, I would suspect a large percentage of IU basketball fans, never attended IU but grew up in Indiana following the Hoosiers.

        As for the non revenue producing sports which happens to include women’s sports, it is nothing against any of those sports. The non revenue sports just happen to not be producing any revenue to this point, and are being subsidized by the revenue producing sports. Your problem is the key ingredient to the revenue producing sports continuing to produce revenue, wants a bigger piece of the pie. Wasn’t a problem until the dollars got so big, and at least in men’s basketball, other options started becoming available.

          1. BP,
            When I say shareholder, I am not speaking some individual out there holding few hundred shares. I am speaking of the mutual funds managers holding in some cases, millions of shares. It is incorrect to assume their views are unimportant as they are driven by the returns on investment and control who sits on the boards of various business entities. Similarly, the advertisers are driven by the tv ratings of the programs which they support, and the boards those advertising decision makers report to are also likely controlled by those same mutual funds managers.

  29. I think the NCAA and Power-five conference administrators are monitoring student-athletes and public opinions regarding this argument. I’ll guess they’re aware of who the “agitators” are and are poised to implement changes that will render their demands moot, and therefore kill the union movement in its cradle.

    Consider this. The networks don’t want student athletes to form a union. The Universities don’t want them, and the viewing public don’t want them either. That’s a lot of power and money that would have to be overcome before unionization would take place. And it should be relatively easy to for the NCAA to address the current list of grievances.

  30. Mike Miller!

    Thanks for all you did for Hoosier Nation the last 7 years. Wishing you the best in St Louis and in your career. Heartfelt thanks for all the work you’ve put in during a really fascinating time in Indiana University Athletics.


  31. Think, Fox Sports, ESPN, etc. are not publicly traded. The mutual funds are not involved.

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