Amateur or Profitable: The NCAA Problem
August 9, 2013
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Freshman Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel’s problems over signing autographs for a fee highlights the nature of modern “amateurism ” in college, especially in football and basketball.
This case also reminds us that the NCAA is an authoritarian, self-serving, and self-controlling system.
College football is an enormously profitable system, just not for the players.
College basketball is an enormously profitable system, just not for the players.
Television contracts bring almost unthinkable amounts of money to major colleges and universities. The Pac-12 schools have a $250-million-a-year TV deal with ESPN and Fox.
The programs are enormous money machines. Penn State spends $92 million a year on its athletics program. University of Michigan spends $110 million. Ohio State spends $126 million.
The coaches are paid huge salaries. John Calipari, coach of the University of Kentucky’s men’s basketball team, is the state’s highest paid employee at $5.4 million a year. The average salary for a coach in the NCAA basketball tournament is $1.47 million. Nick Saban, head coach of the Alabama football team, makes $5.5 million a year. Les Miles from LSU makes $3.9 million.
The athletic directors are doing great as well. At University of Louisville he makes $1.4 million. At Nebraska and Oklahoma, $1.1 million.
Let’s be honest. People do not watch college football to see the athletic director or the ever-growing staffs. They watch to see the players.
The Final Four is exciting because of the players.
You can tell where the fans focus if you go to the college or university online store.
They sell players’ jerseys and players’ pictures. They almost never sell the athletic director’s jersey or the university president’s jersey.
Thousands of people are making a living off of these student athletes.
The entire paid NCAA bureaucracy is making a living off of them.
It creates real difficulties if you are an athlete from a poor neighborhood with limited resources.
Four years is a long time to be both a hero and one of the poorest people on campus.
Maybe it is time to rethink the entire NCAA system. These athletes are not amateurs anymore. Their schools and coaches certainly treat them like professionals. They just don’t pay them.
Let me know what you think: