Stans: College Athletics Illness –

March 26, 2022; Wichita, KS, USA; The Floor logo is centered on the center court before the game between the Tennessee Lady Vols and Louisville Cardinals in the Wichita Regional Semifinals at the NCAA Women’s College Basketball Tournament at INTRUST Bank Arena. Mandatory credit: William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Total athletics sick.

They are not sick in the literal sense or sick in the colloquial sense of being quiet. They are not sick in the sense that they harm anyone.

No, college athletes get sick the same way a guy who eats McDonald’s at every meal and then never works out or gets his yearly physique gets sick. He was shocked to learn that his cholesterol or blood pressure was high when he finally went to the doctor.

These things alone won’t kill our hypothetical, unhealthy guy, but if left alone long enough they can lead to something irreversible.

College athletics have spent years ditching McDonald’s, refusing to go to the gym, and heading toward a heart attack that could destroy them forever.

This is not an indictment regarding the name, photo, example or even the transfer portal. Players deserve the right to profit from their platform. Players deserve the freedom to move forward if they think there is a better situation for them.

Like a lot of people, I moved once when I was in college.

It was the best decision I made and it changed my life. That is why here I am able to write this column now.

No, this has nothing to do with the players or any of the new rights granted to them in recent years.

It’s more about the complete void of leadership in college athletics as a whole. College athletics ailments are the product of a group at the top who take the health of being and the things that make it great for granted.

This isn’t another column to dip into Mark Emmert either.

Emmett and many of his failures were the product of his superiors’ unwillingness to change with the times. Not only were they unwilling, but they were also dragged kicked and screamed into this new age by the United States Supreme Court.

The result of that tantrum was the NCAA kicking the pack on the road and shrugging its shoulders. Like a college basketball coach once said while telling my teammates and I that we had to buy our own breakfast during our Christmas holiday trip to Washington…

“You guys are on your own.”

The “you’re on your own, guys” mindset has been taken to an extreme by the true leaders in team money, men’s soccer and basketball, conference commissioners, and television executives.

These people are more interested in securing their own bags, even if it comes at the expense of others or college athletes as a whole.

Who cares what happens to the Big 12 or the Pac-12 or the Mountain West or the American Athletic Conference if the SEC and the Big Ten are strong, right?


College athletics has never been great because of any one conference, no matter how much ESPN tries to convince people otherwise.

This dumb and silly pastime was so adorable because of the passion and celebration that everyone across the country required to hook up with their own piece of pie.

It’s just as cool because of the crowded stadium in Ames, Iowa as it is because of the crowded stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. It’s totally cool because of the bustling gym in Spokane, Washington. As it is because in a crowded gym in Lawrence, it was.

College athletics is great because of the relationship that everyone across the country can find in their specific corner of the industry.

We’re crisscrossing huge swaths of the country with the current track of athletics, and that’s not good for anyone’s health in that field.

Leadership in college athletics takes its fans for granted at a time when entertainment options have never been more plentiful. There are countless other things people can spend their time and hard earned money on.

Ask the average college athletics fan if they think they’ll be as interested in college sports in 10 years as they are now. I promise you you won’t like most of the answers you hear.

The impulses of college athletics fans have been set by the connections I’ve had in the nearly 10 years of doing so. People haven’t tuned in, but I don’t think we’re very far from that being a very real possibility because we continue with a man for himself mentality that alienates parts of the norm that makes the industry so powerful.

That’s the thing that really frustrated me when I read quotes like the one I saw from Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self on Wednesday about the NIL and college basketball transfer portal.

Self told Mark Berman of FOX 26: “We haven’t put our arms around it yet. Everyone interprets it their own way and it’s totally allowed and legal within the rules. I changed the playing field to maybe where it’s not quite as good as it could be. But I All with kids and their families who benefit from this, there’s nothing wrong with that.But then again, a kid shouldn’t move because he can get an extra $50,000, or he’s told he can get an extra $50,000 somewhere else, and this place has already done A very good job helping to develop it.”

Self-recognition of things harmful to sport is nothing new. There are plenty of people making similar statements, and I’m willing to bet these things played an important role in a guy like former Villanova coach Jay Wright who walked away from it all.

Wright is a canary in the coal mine.

The frustrating thing about the Self quote is that anyone with half a brain knows that despite admitting they’re bad at college basketball, they’ll turn around and play that exact game to their advantage.

I don’t specifically blame Self for that, because anyone in their position would be foolish not to use their advantage to help themselves and their program.

Again, it’s every man for themselves without any regard for anything or anyone else.

Self-quoting is like someone saying, “Man, can you believe what is happening to the environment? It is horrible that we are destroying the earth, then throwing a whole bag of garbage on the floor and walking away.”

People like Self, a two-time national champion head coach and one of the faces of college basketball, are the people we’re supposed to look to for leadership in college athletics in turbulent times. They are meant to be the voices of reason that help us get back on the right track to keep being strong.

We don’t have a lot of these guys anymore. Wright, Coach K and Roy Williams rode until sunset, and I can’t blame them at all at this point.

They definitely saw the writing on the wall that this thing was heading towards being something completely unrecognizable which fell in love with these ardent fans.

People are not forever passionate about something just because they are passionate. They are excited as long as the thing still looks like the thing they always loved.

And we’ll start losing those people after a long time.

Reversing any of the negatives or putting this thing back on the rails toward a long and prosperous future for college athletics will require someone to step up to lead in a way that looks out for everyone rather than just worrying about what’s going on in their own corner of a country.

Those corners of the country don’t seem attractive to people looking to spend their money when everything around them is burned to the ground.

College athletics gets sick, and it will be until someone steps in and forces a few people to eat a salad and go for a run. There must be someone who is willing to fight for the greater good rather than looking to stuff their pockets as thickly as possible.

Until then, you guys are on your own.

Jared Stansbury

View articles by Jared Stansbury


A native of Clarinda, Iowa, Jared started as a coach for the Cyclone Fanatic in August 2013 and primarily worked as a videographer until he started winning women’s basketball prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon receiving his BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa in May 2016, Jared was hired as a full-time writer for the site, taking on the position of daily primary reporter for men’s football and men’s basketball. Promoted to Managing Editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor to 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and appears regularly as a guest on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeni with his four-year-old, Lulu.