TIME College football

University of Illinois Fires Coach Tim Beckman Over Allegations of Player Mistreatment

illinois football coach tim beckman
Joe Robbins—Getty Images Illinois University football head coach Tim Beckman looks on during the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes on November 1, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio.

Beckman is accused of player mistreatment and inappropriate behavior

(CHAMPAIGN, Ill.) — Illinois fired coach Tim Beckman one week before the start of the season Friday, saying preliminary results of an investigation found some truth to allegations of player mistreatment and inappropriate behavior.

Athletic director Mike Thomas said the timing is unfortunate, but “it was in the best interests of student-athletes to act now.” Thomas said the final report would not be publicly released until during the season.

The Illini face Kent State at home Sept. 4 to start the season. Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has been named interim coach.

Thomas said during a preliminary briefing from the external reviewers handling the investigation, he learned of efforts to deter injury reporting and influence medical decisions that pressured players to avoid or postpone medical treatment and continue playing despite injuries. Thomas also said in some instances student-athletes were treated inappropriately with respect to whether they could remain on scholarship during the spring semester of their senior year if they weren’t on the team.

Former starting lineman Simon Cvijanovic complained first on Twitter on May 9 and in numerous interviews that Beckman and his staff had tried to shame him into playing hurt misled him about medical procedures following a knee injury.

“All I can say right now is I think it’s a step in the right direction,” he told The Associated Press by phone after learning Beckman had been fired. “It seems like there’s more than just Beckman that needs to be held accountable.”

Beckman was 12-25 at Illinois, improving the team’s record each season. The Illini went 6-7 last year.

___

AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.

TIME Sports

Watch This Freshman Win Free Tuition With an Amazing Half-Court Shot

That throw was money. Literally

An incoming freshman won free tuition in the best way possible: sinking a half-court free throw in front of a crowd of his peers.

Ball State University knows how to put on a pep rally. To inspire support for the school’s teams, for the past three years administrators has offered a free semester of tuition to the first student who sinks a half-court shot at Worthen Arena. This semester, the lucky student who won’t get a bill is Lem Turner of Illinois. Watch the amazing throw that led to a free ride.

TIME College Sports

Here’s the Road Ahead for College Athletes After Union Setback

College Athletes Union northwestern
Jeffrey Phelps—AP Northwestern football players gesture during practice at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside campus on Aug. 17, 2015, in Kenosha, Wi.

Anti-trust case are now the clearest path to reform

Back in April of 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in D.C. granted Northwestern University’s request to review what seemed like a landmark decision in college athletics.

A regional NLRB director ruled that Northwestern football players were indeed employees under federal labor law, and thus had a right to unionize and fight for better health protections, compensation and other benefits at the collective bargaining table.

For a good 16 months now, all stakeholders in college athletics, from players to school and NCAA administrators, to coaches and students and alumni, waited for the NLRB to make a call on Northwestern.

Many labor scholars expected a win for college athletes. They figured that the five-member panel in D.C. would uphold the decision in Chicago, which seemed entirely logical: since Northwestern players dedicated some 50 to 60 hours of their weeks to football, an activity entirely separate from studying in class, sports is indeed a full-time job.

What almost nobody expected: the NLRB spending 16 months to decide not to make a decision.

But that’s exactly what the agency did. Call it a punt, call it an abdication of responsibilities, call it cowardly. On Monday, the NLRB declined to assert jurisdiction in the Northwestern case, simultaneously refusing to address the central question — are big-time college athletes, who in many cases generate millions of dollars for their schools, employees? — squashing the Northwestern union effort, and explicitly leaving the door for other union challenges down the road.

“No legal scholars I’ve talked to over all these months predicted this outcome,” says Warren Zola, sports law expert at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. “It took them over 500 days to reach a conclusion they could have reached in hours. It seemed like they shirked their duties.”

Definitely call it a setback for college athletes, and a strange one at that. The NLRB concluded that making a decision in this case would “not serve to promote stability in labor relations.” But doesn’t the NLRB exist because labor relations are inherently unstable, since employers and employees have such competing interests?

The NLRB decided to pass on this case in large part because of the structure of college athletics. Northwestern University may be a private institution — and thus under NLRB jurisdiction, which oversees the private sector. But all of Northwestern’s “primary competitors” in the Big 10 conference are public institutions, and thus subject to state law.

In fact, of the roughly 125 institutions that compete in top-tier Division 1 football, all but 17 are public schools. Since the NRLB can’t regulate all schools, it won’t regulate Northwestern.

William Gould, emeritus professor at Stanford Law School who chaired the NLRB from 1994 to 1998, isn’t buying this conclusion. “The point about collective bargaining is that it enhances stability,” says Gould. “This decision assumes immaturity on the part of all parties.”

So where do college athletes go from here? While Ramogi Huma, president of the College Athletes Players Association–which organized the Northwestern union efforts–remains surprised and disappointed in the NLRB decision, he doesn’t plan to stop fighting. “There’s no reason to give up,” he insists. “This decision does not set a precedent. We still have an opportunity to unionize college sports.”

Huma won’t specify where and when his next unionization push will take place, because he fears that coaches and administrators will urge players not to organize; Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald, for example, publicly said it wasn’t in his players’ interest to unionize. “Anything we telegraph will be crushed,” Huma says.

The NLRB non-decision will make private university unions more difficult for athletes, but not impossible. The NLRB, for example, noted that “in all our cases involving professional sports, the Board was able to regulate all, or at least most, of the teams in the relevant league or association.” So athletes from an entire conference of private schools within the NLRB’s jurisdiction — say, men’s basketball players from the Big East, which includes strong revenue-producing programs like Georgetown and Villanova — would seem to have a stronger case.

Also, some states laws offer potential openings for public school unions. In fact, Huma might want to visit UCLA, his alma mater, where he played football in the 1990s. In California, the student employee test asks if the services rendered are related to the student’s educational objectives. Since scholarship football players aren’t spending those 50 extra hours studying, athletes at UCLA and other California state schools could lay claim to employee status.

Still, states like Ohio and Michigan have already preemptively struck down college athlete unions in the wake of Northwestern’s effort, by passing statutes specifying that scholarship athletes are not employees. Other states limit, or prohibit, public employees from unionizing altogether: college athletes at the University of Alabama, for example, have no constitutional or statutory right to collectively bargain. So a mass push to unionize athletes at public schools isn’t entirely practical.

Another avenue for athletes is Congress. Federal lawmakers can lift the compensation and benefits restrictions that the NCAA places on its member schools. But Congress is unlikely to rewrite NCAA regulations anytime soon, especially after six Republican lawmakers who help oversee the National Labor Relations Board submitted a brief in the Northwestern case knocking the regional director’s decision.

“Scholarship football players are not and should not be treated … as employees,” wrote the lawmakers, which included Rep. John Kine (Minn.), chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

So the best bet for athletes are the courts. “The action is going to shift to anti-trust,” says Gould, the law professor. Players have already achieved a victory in the O’Bannon case, which permits schools to cover the full cost of attendance for men’s basketball and football players and to set aside deferred payments, capped at no less than $5,000 per year per player. The NCAA is appealing that case.

Even more promising for college athletes — and scary for schools invested in the status quo — is a class-action anti-trust claim, brought forward by famed sports labor attorney Jeffrey Kessler, that seeks to lift all NCAA restrictions on compensation.

“The NLRB decision in the Northwestern case just underscores how important the anti-trust cases are for the players in basketball and football in Division 1,” Kessler says. “Because the anti-trust laws apply fully to all the schools, whether or not they are public institutions. The anti-trust cases are really at the moment the only legal road that players have to try to vindicate their rights. If our case is successful, it will let a market develop where schools or the conferences themselves decide how they want to do this. And we think they’ll make good decisions.”

A hearing for class certification in Kessler’s case is set for October 1. He hopes the case is ready to go to trial by the end of 2016.

“The Northwestern decision is a major setback for college athletes,” says Gould. “But this is just the beginning of this sort of litigation.” College sports is still shifting. Despite the labor board’s pass.

 

TIME College Sports

Labor Board Dismisses Ruling That Would Allow College Athletes to Unionize

College Athletes Union - Northwestern
Jim Young—Reuters Officials from the National Labor Relations Board leave the Northwestern University campus in Evanston, Illinois, April 25, 2014.

Unionization could throw off the "competitive balance" between teams by setting different standards for practice, pay and other conditions, the ruling says

(CHICAGO) — The National Labor Relations Board on Monday threw out a historic ruling that gave Northwestern University football players the go-ahead to form the nation’s first college athletes’ union, saying the prospect of union and nonunion teams could throw off the competitive balance in college football.

The decision dismissed a March 2014 decision by a regional NLRB director in Chicago who said that the football players are effectively school employees and entitled to organize. Monday’s decision did not directly address the question of whether the players are employees.

“Although we do not decide the issue here, we acknowledge that whether such individuals meet the board’s test for employee status is a question that does not have an obvious answer,” the NLRB said.

The labor dispute goes to the heart of American college sports, where universities and conferences reap billions of dollars, mostly through broadcast contracts, by relying on amateurs who are not paid. In other countries, college sports are small-time club affairs, while elite youth athletes often turn pro as teens.

The unanimous ruling by the five-member National Labor Relations Board concludes that letting Northwestern football players unionize could lead to different standards at different schools — from the amount of money players receive to the amount of time they can practice. That would, it says, create the competitive imbalances.

The ruling applies to private schools like Northwestern, which is a member of the powerful Big Ten Conference. Public universities do not fall under the agency’s jurisdiction, though union activists have said they hope Northwestern’s example inspires unionization campaigns by athletes at state schools.

Northwestern became the focal point of the labor fight in January 2014, when a handful of football players called the NCAA a “dictatorship” and announced plans to form the first U.S. labor union for college athletes. Quarterback Kain Colter detailed the College Athletes Players Association at a news conference, flanked by leaders of the United Steelworkers union that has lent its organizing expertise and presumably will help bankroll the court fight.

Regional NLRB Director Peter Sung Ohr issued a stunning decision three months later, saying Northwestern football players who receive scholarships fit the definition of employees under federal law and therefore should be able to unionize. A month later, football players cast secret ballots on whether to unionize. Those ballots were sealed during the appeal and will now be destroyed.

Former Northwestern receiver Kyle Prater said he voted against the union proposal, saying that he and his teammates were well treated during their college years.

But, Prater, who now plays for the New Orleans Saints, said he still feels there are “some things as far as the NCAA that need to be more structured. And I think by what we did, our voice out there really helped get things going forward.”

He spoke Saturday from the team’s training camp in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Monday’s seven-page ruling cites federal law and contends that unionized football players at Northwestern would not promote the “uniformity” and “stability” between workers and management that it says is the goal of U.S. labor relations law.

While NLRB decisions are sometimes split, the three Democrats and two Republicans on the board all agreed.

Under U.S. law, an employee is regarded as someone who, among other things, receives compensation for a service and is under the direct control of managers. In Northwestern’s case, Ohr concluded coaches are equivalent to business managers and scholarships are a form of pay.

The ruling was welcome news for the NCAA, the dominant umbrella organization for U.S. college athletics. The NCAA has been under increasing scrutiny over its amateurism rules and has been in court fighting lawsuits from former athletes over everything from head injuries to revenue earned based on the use of their likenesses in video games.

The NCAA recently cleared the way for the five biggest conferences, including the Big Ten, to add player stipends to help athletes defray some of their expenses. Southeastern Conference schools, for example, will give some athletes $3,000 to $5,500 each on top of a scholarship that pays for tuition, room, board and books.

Northwestern, the Big Ten and the NCAA all argued against the unionization effort, saying that lumping college athletes into the same category as factory workers would transform amateur athletics for the worse. At one point, Northwestern administrators sent a document to players outlining potential pitfalls, noting that player strikes could lead to the spectacle of replacement players.

The specific goals of the players association, or CAPA, include guaranteeing coverage of sports-related medical expenses for current and former players, reducing head injuries.

TIME College Sports

Meet the First Openly Transgender Swimmer to Compete in the NCAA

transgender harvard swimmer Schuyler Bailer
Marvin Joseph—The Washington Post/Getty Images Schuyler Bailer is the first openly transgender collegiate athlete.

Incoming Harvard freshman Schuyler Bailar will compete on the men's team after coming out as transgender

An incoming Harvard University freshman will become what is believed to be the first openly transgender student to compete as a swimmer in the NCAA.

Schuyler Bailar was initially recruited for the women’s team but was torn about his participation after coming out as a transgender man this year—until Bailar’s coach coordinated an offer from the university to join either the men’s team or the women’s team.

“It’s half terrifying and half exciting,” Bailar told the Associated Press. “I’m just kind of embracing it with open arms.”

Harvard men’s swimming coach Kevin Tyrrell said the rest of the team was immediately in favor of extending an invite to Bailar.

“Through high school I grew my hair out, I conformed, I dressed in the high heels to prom — and I was miserable,” Bailar said. “I did succeed in swimming because that was really my only outlet.”

[AP]

TIME Education

Why Student Athletes Continue To Fail

sports-trophies-books-shelves
Getty Images

Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

The problem’s not the NCAA. It’s players’ expectations of their peers

Seventy-four college underclassmen have been declared eligible for the NFL’s upcoming draft, but Ohio State’s quarterback Cardale Jones won’t be among them. A few days after winning the national championship game in January, Jones shocked fans and football analysts by saying he wasn’t ready to go pro, that it was important for him to graduate from college first. What made the announcement all the more surprising, beyond the fact that Jones may never again be as desirable an NFL prospect as he is the year he won a national championship, was that his previous claim to fame was a notorious tweet posted two years ago in which he complained about the “college” part of being a college football player. He wrote that he’d gone to Ohio State to play football, not “to play school,” and that classes were pointless.

Jones now regrets and disavows that tweet. Earlier this month, he was tweeting that nothing is more important than education, under the hashtag “StudentBeforeAthlete.” It’s hard to know how sincere his attitude adjustment has been, or how sincere his initial dismissal of academics was. What is clear is that Jones and his conversion represent a messaging coup for his university and for the NCAA, which has maintained for decades that its primary goal is to help scholar-athletes receive an education that would prepare them for life beyond sports.

Despite the NCAA’s insistence that it is concerned about student athletes’ academic growth, it often feels as though “student” plays second fiddle to “athlete.” Indeed, on a typical day, a visitor to the NCAA homepage will be overwhelmed by the articles (and videos) about athletics but will not find a single article (or video) about the academic achievements of the athletes.

This also seems to hold true for many of the NCAA’s member schools. The University of North Carolina and Syracuse are just two of the most recent universities to be under the spotlight for academic scandals involving student athletes. UNC offered a “no show” class for student athletes (where students received grades for phantom classes that they didn’t attend), and Syracuse allowed academically ineligible athletes to compete. And while these cases are the ones currently grabbing headlines, they are hardly unique; The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting that 20 additional schools are being investigated for academic fraud.

And what about the student athletes themselves? Student-athletes tend to take easier classes and get lower grades than non-athletes. This is not only true for schools from power conferences in big-money sports, it has been observed in Division III liberal arts colleges and Ivy League schools, neither of which even offer athletic scholarships.

It’s tempting to believe that student athletes care only about their sport, and not about their schoolwork, as many popular commentators have suggested – and as Ohio State’s Jones once tweeted — except that in the dozen years that I’ve been teaching in university settings, that hasn’t been my experience at all. I’ve taught hundreds of Division 1 student athletes at several different schools, and they have been among the hardest working students I’ve encountered. The student athletes I’ve worked with have viewed their sport as a complement to, not a replacement for, their studies.

My observations were hardly unique. One of my students, Josh Levine, ran a youth hockey clinic and was upset by the widespread perception that the students he worked with did not care about school. After several conversations about the issue, we decided that the only way to find out the truth was to run a study. And so we did, surveying 147 student athletes (including some still in high school) involved in various team sports from football and basketball to lacrosse and golf about how much both they and their teammates cared about sports and academics.”

Here’s what we found: When student athletes were asked how much they care about athletics, they rated their interest a healthy 8.5 on average, on a scale of 1 to 10. But when asked the value they place on academics, the result was higher than 9 on average. If anything, the average student athlete cares more about his studies than his sport. #StudentBeforeAthlete indeed.

So why do they underperform in their classes?

One possible and intriguing reason suggested by our study is that student athletes don’t think their teammates take academics as seriously as they do. When asked to assess how much their teammates cared about athletics, the athletes were close, guessing 8.8. However, when asked to evaluate how much their teammates cared about academics, those same athletes guessed only 7.8 – far below the 9+ average.

Why is this important? Because when an athlete thinks that the rest of the team doesn’t care about academics, that athlete tries to fit in by pretending not to care either. In a perverse form of peer pressure, Cardale Jones’s tweet about classes being worthless may be what student athletes tell each other in an effort to fit in, based on the mistaken belief that if they care about academics, they are in an uncool minority.

All of this creates a distressing and self-perpetuating cycle. Tight-knit student athletes will seek ways of fitting into a culture that they perceive as neglecting academics (by defaulting into majors of dubious merit and spending less time doing homework), knowing that their habits are observed by teammates. When their teammates observe those habits, it reaffirms the (false) conviction that caring about academics is an unfortunate aberration, best suppressed.

One of my co-authors on this project, Sara Etchison, has described this process particularly well: “There are student athletes who want to excel in the classroom, but think their teammates would judge them for it, so they study a little less, or take an easier major. And it turns out, that’s how virtually everyone on the team feels, but there’s never an opportunity to realize, ‘Oh wait, all of us really care about what’s happening on the academic side.’”

This is a phenomenon that psychologists call “pluralistic ignorance” – when private preferences differ from perceptions of group norms. It leads people to engage in public behaviors that align more with the perceived norms than with their true preferences. The tragedy is that the norms are false – in reality, everybody would be happier if they just behaved in line with their true preferences.

Pluralistic ignorance has also been shown to underlie the phenomenon of binge-drinking on campuses. A study conducted at Princeton University revealed that a majority of students who drink excessively did so not because they wanted to, but because they felt that was what their friends wanted to do. Once they all had a more accurate assessment of what the group norm was, the amount of alcohol consumed declined.

This suggests that helping student athletes do better in the classroom may be as simple as letting them know that their teammates care as much about academics as they do. Many of them care deeply about the education they are receiving, and should care, because financial success in professional sports will elude the vast majority of them.

As the NCAA and the media focus more attention on athletes’ academic performance, one of the best ways to improve the education of student athletes is to give them license to pursue their academic goals by making it clear that their teammates, and society as a whole, support them in their academic endeavors. For this to happen, we will need many more stars like Cardale Jones speaking out about the importance of education, instead of tweeting about the pointlessness of going to class.

Daniel Oppenheimer is a professor of psychology and marketing at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA. He is the author of over 30 peer-reviewed journals, and several books, including Democracy Despite Itself: Why a System that Shouldn’t Work at All Works So Well. In addition to numerous awards for his teaching and research, he won the 2006 Ig Nobel science humor award. He wrote this for Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME portfolio

Meet America’s First Video Game Varsity Athletes

The newest route to college is through a video game

Correction appended, March 27, 2015

Parents who think that video games are an academic distraction, take heart: pounding on the controller can now help pay for college.

Last fall, Robert Morris University in Chicago became the first college in the US to make competitive gaming ­ or “e-sports” ­ a varsity sport, and offer athletic scholarships for players. “My parents were always telling me to get off the Xbox,” says Jonathan Lindahl, a freshman e-sports player at Robert Morris. “So I’m really rubbing it in their faces.”

At Robert Morris, video game scholarships can be worth up to half of tuition and housing, or $19,000. What’s more, since the NCAA doesn’t regulate e-sports, they’re not bound by the rules of amateurism. A couple of Robert Morris players, for example, recently played in a semi-pro tournament and each earned around $1,000. Want to get paid as a college athlete? Stay on the Xbox.

Robert Morris spent $100,000 ­and received help from video game sponsors ­ to retrofit a classroom into a full-fledged gaming hub with hi-tech monitors, headsets, and chairs. The players look a bit like fighter pilots, and play League of Legends, a five-on-five battle game popular among college students. The top Robert Morris team has qualified for Sweet 16 of the North American Collegiate Championship (NACC), which starts on March 28: traditional sports powers like Michigan, Georgia Tech, Texas A&M are also in the mix. The “Final Four” will be held in Los Angeles in early May. Each member of the winning team will receive $30,000 in scholarship money.

A sure sign that college video games are like traditional sports: one member of the Robert Morris squad, freshman Adrian Ma, 18. left the school in November to join a pro team. “The opportunity was too good to pass up,” says Ma. A second school, the University of Pikeville in Kentucky, will offer e-sports scholarships this fall. For gamers, March Madness has indeed arrived.

Read the full story, The Varsity Sport of the Virtual World, in the latest issue of TIME magazine and on TIME.com.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the name of the student in slide 9. His name is Zixing Jie.

TIME Baseball

Mo’ne Davis Says Student Dismissed for Tweet Deserves ‘Second Chance’

Mo'ne Davis, the first female pitcher to win a game in the Little League World Series and is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Good Morning America on March 10, 2015.
Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images Mo'ne Davis, the first female pitcher to win a game in the Little League World Series and is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, on 'Good Morning America' on March 10, 2015.

"Everyone makes mistakes"

Little League World Series star Mo’ne Davis asked Bloomsburg University to reinstate baseball player Joey Casselberry, who was dismissed from the team after writing an offensive tweet about the 13-year-old girl on Friday.

Davis and her coach, Alex Rice, emailed Bloomsburg president David L. Soltz to ask for Casselberry’s reinstatement, TMZ first reported. A spokesman from the school told BuzzFeed News that although it was impressed by Davis’ request, it was standing by its decision to dismiss Casselberry.

“Her request demonstrates the type of person she is, her level of maturity and the empathy that her family and coach teach her,” the spokesman said.

Davis also appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter to discuss the incident and her willingness to forgive Casselberry’s offenive remark.

“Everyone makes mistakes and everyone deserves a second chance,” Davis said. “I know he didn’t mean it in that type of way, and I know a lot of people get tired of seeing me on TV, but you kind of just gotta think about what you’re doing before you actually do it. I know right now, he’s really hurt and I know how hard he worked just to get to where he is right now. I was pretty hurt on my part, but I know he’s hurt even more.”

In the tweet, which was written on Friday and later deleted, Casselberry called Davis a disparaging name and also insulted the accomplishments of her team, Taney Youth Baseball Association of Philadelphia, in the 2014 Little League World Series.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

MONEY Sports

For College Football Championship, Ad Prices Soar While Ticket Prices Plummet

The NFC Wildcard Playoff Game between the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 4, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
Ronald Martinez—Getty Images AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, host of Monday's College Football Championship matchup of Ohio State versus Oregon.

Monday's Ohio State-Oregon college football championship is shaping up as a Super Bowl in terms of ad prices, hitting $1 million a pop. It's a different story, however, for ticket prices to the game.

With the price of 30-second spots in Monday night’s Ohio State-Oregon champion matchup on ESPN fetching up to $1 million, AdAge has begun wondering if the culmination of the first-ever college football playoffs amounts to a “New Super Bowl in the Making.”

Both of the playoff games that led to the championship—Ohio State vs. Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and Oregon vs. Florida State in the Rose Bowl—had better ratings than the 2011 BCS Championship game, which had held the record as the most-watched program on cable. Monday’s game is expected to trump them all. That’s why a recent Wall Street Journal story pointed out that, no matter which team is the eventual champion, ESPN is probably the biggest winner of all because it’s the network airing all of the playoff games.

“College football has always been in demand, but the playoffs have pushed it to another level,” the WSJ piece explained. Accordingly, ad prices for the game have soared to another level too. The asking price of 30-second commercials during Monday night’s game have ranged from $800,000 to a cool $1 million, 20% to 30% more than they were for the 2014 college football title game.

In terms of ad rates, the college football championship still has a ways to go to catch up with the Super Bowl, in which advertisers fork over $4 million (or more) for 30-second commercials. Prime-time ads during the March Madness NCAA Final Four basketball tournament can also be roughly 50% more than ads airing during this year’s college football championship.

But based on how much interest there’s been in the new playoff system thus far, and the way that Allstate’s series of ads airing during the games have been viewed as a huge win for the brand, college football is expected to close the gap in terms of ad prices. “I’m not sure if we’ll get to Super Bowl standards, but it will be similar to March Madness,” predicted Jim Andrews, senior vice president of the marketing consulting firm IEG, according to CNBC.

What’s somewhat surprising, however, is that soaring interest and ad prices for college football playoff games haven’t been matched with soaring prices to see the championship game in person. ScoreBig, an online marketplace for ticket sales, says that ticket prices for Monday’s game dropped 37% over a five-day span last week. Late last week, other ticket aggregators like TiqIQ were listing get-in prices to the game as low as $340.

Fans who waited until Monday can buy tickets to the game for less than half that price. As a Forbes post pointed out last week, the host venue for the championship, the Dallas-area AT&T Stadium—a.k.a., the Jerry Dome, home of the Cowboys—is designed to accommodate several thousand standing-room only viewers. Last Thursday, newly released SRO tickets went on sale for $200 apiece. As of Monday morning, the secondary market ticket site StubHub was listing general admission SRO tickets to the game for just $115.

TIME College Sports

Jameis Winston Hints at Returning to Florida State Next Season

Jameis Winston during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015 in Pasadena, California.
Jeff Gross—2015 Getty Images Jameis Winston during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015 in Pasadena, California.

He has two more seasons of eligibility

Florida State sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston made no commitments about his future or the NFL draft after losing in a College Football Playoff semifinal on Thursday, saying that he “isn’t focused on that at all.”

Winston was asked after Florida State’s 59-20 loss to Oregon in the Rose Bowl about his future plans. He has two more seasons of eligibility, and many expect him to be a first-round pick if he enters the 2015 NFL draft.

The deadline to declare for the draft is Jan. 15.

“I’m looking forward to next season and playing baseball,” Winston said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “So I’m just trying to get better every day.”

Winston is a relief pitcher for the Seminoles baseball team and went 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA, seven saves and 31 strikeouts in 24 appearances last season.

Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, suffered his first defeat as a collegiate starter against Oregon, completing 29 of 45 passes for 348 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a lost fumble that was turned into a 58-yard touchdown return for Oregon.

He completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,907 yards, 25 touchdowns and 18 interceptions this season.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

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