By BOB SHRALUKA
Getting excited about IU playing Rutgers in hoops? Bet they're jumping up and down out in Iowa in expectation of hosting Maryland in football in a few years. And surely the folks in Columbus are already painting their faces and putting their bucknuts around their necks in anticipation of Rutgers' football team coming to town down the road.
You say Rutgers and Maryland in the Big 10 (or 12 or 15 or 21 or whatever it is now) — makes no sense to you? Of course not; not, that is, if you're thinking tradition and that cozy Midwest proximity.
Forget such nonsense. There are two reasons the Big 10 — ooops, the Big1G — is taking in Rutgers and Maryland: 1. M-O-N-E-Y. 2. B-I-G M-O-N-E-Y.
Big money in terms of television market. The Big 10 has been playing footsie with Rutgers and, reportedly, some other schools for a couple of years because it wants to get its Big Ten Network — now branded as BTN — into the eastern television markets. Stretching into new markets means more TV revenue to feed the ravenous, monolithic monster that is big-time college sports.
Maryland adds more frosting to the money cake.
BTN reportedly paid each of its member schools something like $24 to $28 milllion last year. That's each school. So there's no secret to what's going on here. Adding Rutgers and Maryland means the conference will divvy up the pie by two more members, but those members open up new TV wastelands and bring in bunches of more money.
Okay, so all you free-market folks are saying, "What's wrong with making money?" Nothing. Unless you're making it off the backs of lots of young people from whom you've taken away most of their rights.
It's an old story, one that's been slammed and jammed here in the past. Everyone in college athletics is making big bucks, everyone except the athletes whom the customers are paying to see.
Some football players sell some trinkets the school gave them, stuff they now own, and exchange some others for free tatoos. Violation of the rules. The players are suspended for doing what everyone else in college athletics is doing: making money. How could they ever stoop so low, be so greedy?
(NOTE: There is no attempt here to defend the coach's coverup attempts.)
Or take the case of the two IU basketball players, incoming freshmen.
Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea received nine-game suspensions because the NCAA ruled that they received impermissible benefits from A-HOPE, a nonprofit organization that supports athletes from other countries as they pursue educational and athletic endeavors in the U.S.
The organization — remember, non-profit — was founded by Mark Adams. He's something of an evil being in the eyes of the NCAA because 20 to 26 years ago he gave $185 to the IU Varsity Club. That makes him forever and all time a "booster," and under NCAA rules athletes can't accept gifts from a booster.
Nasty guy, that Adams! Nasty young guys, those two basketball players!
Oh, that's right, the players are getting free educations. Yep, and some of them even graduate. Of course, that free education doesn't feed and house them over the summer, when they're required to remain on campus to hone their skills.
One of these days, Jurkin and Mosquera-Perea will be playing for IU and the Big Ten will be using them as marketing tools to enhance its wealth through new TV martkets out East. And then there will continue to be peace in the valley.
A final thought: Can you imagine Daniel Craig making "Skyfall," being paid only a small stipend and having all sorts of rights taken from him? While everyone else involved in the production is raking in the bucks!