Sports commentary: Source of pain

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Outsourcing's effect on college football is not a good one

By Mike Forster

  There’s a situation developing in the great state of Oregon which merits discussion.

The University of Oregon Ducks have found themselves under the scrutiny of the NCAA; never something to be taken lightly.

Seems there are allegations that the Ducks sent some money to a fellow (or fellows) to perform some scouting-related duties for them.

In exchange for $25,000 the Ducks ostensibly received in-depth scouting information on a number of players.  This is the type of data that Oregon used  to get on its own.

What is being looked at is the possibility that the information Oregon received was of no value.  Instead, the 25 grand went toward getting a single prized recruit on the team.

In other words, the concern is that the Ducks paid money to what may be a type of agent for the player.

I’m not going to weigh in on whether or not something wrong was done here.  That’s for someone much closer to the situation (and someone who knows how to investigate such things) to determine.

Nor will I go on a rant about filthy money changing hands in a game we all like to envision as snow-white pure.

But I will weigh in on the outsourcing aspect of this situation.

You see, Oregon readily admits that it pays for “scouting services.”  It seems payments for such services has become quite commonplace.

In other words, parties that are not formally associated with a particular school gather info on players and sell it to the schools.  According to an article by Aaron Fentress, of the Daily Oregonian, third parties “help procure game video, transcripts, grade-point averages, test scores, accurate height and weight, addresses and phone numbers.”

One of the justifications for engaging third-party scouting services is that it allows college football staff to focus its efforts on what it does best.  It also saves time and money.

These are the same arguments that you hear from corporate America when it comes to outsourcing its work.

I worked for many years for a couple of very large companies.  I recall when one of these companies decided to outsource its janitorial services.  Instead of having fellow employees cleaning up after our slovenly selves, we now had people from another company doing so.

The justification was that a) it would save money and b) our company was not in the janitorial services business.

Fair enough.  That is, until the third-party contract took effect.  Oddly enough, we soon had folks that didn’t speak English tending to our buildings.

I’m not saying these people were in this country illegally.  If they were, however, and they were caught, my company would be off the hook.  Joe  Schmedlap’s Janitorial Services, LLC would be the one in Dutch.

Similarly, if these workers were exposed to dangerous conditions, our company was shielded.  Plus, it was saving money.  Ingenious, no?

There is no difference between that scenario and the one in which college football has effectively outsourced part of its scouting activities.

It adds a layer of murkiness and obfuscation.  Give a third party a bucket of coin, asking only for results.  If said third party does something untoward, well, the university has clean hands.

Outsourcing can be a sneaky way of doing things in the business world.  I saw that first-hand.

It’s just as sneaky a way of doing business in the world of college football.

Hopefully, Oregon comes out of this investigation with its reputation intact.

The larger hope, however, is that the NCAA wakes up and realizes that there is no place for this third-party nonsense.


Here’s to a speedy recovery

We extend warm wishes to JF Cross Country Coach Jerome Loy as he recovers from surgery.

Always good for a great quote, Loy is the kind of coach with whom a newspaper guy really likes to work.

See you out on the course soon, Coach!