March Madness brings mad money: money for mammoth coaching salaries, huge revenues for television companies, mega-dough to support the lavish lifestyles of the NCAA bigwigs… College football post-season bowl games reportedly earn more money than the NBA or the NFL.
Meanwhile, according to a study by the National College Players Association (NCPA), the average full scholarship at Football Bowl Series universities falls $3,222 short of covering the player’s actual annual expenses. The NCAA’s strict rules forbid athletes from even working part-time jobs to help meet these extra expenses. Many players have families living in poverty, while the profits that could not be generated without them enrich so many others.
Some Ohio State football players were caught trading memorabilia for tattoos that were worth less than a couple of hundred dollars. Miami quarterback Jacory Harris was suspended for a game last year over $140 worth of meals and entertainment. UNC defensive end Robert Quinn received about $5600 in benefits which doesn’t seem so rich when compared to Coach Butch Davis’ annual earnings of $2.25 million.
The NCPA concluded their report by stating the obvious: paying the players what they need to meet all of their basic expenses could “reduce their vulnerability to breaking NCAA rules.”
This type of suggestion creates great gusts of righteous indignation from the NCAA. The brain trust speaks of the sacred nature of amateur athletics. They ignore the current black market that the current system has helped to create.
Any other student is free to make money while they attend school. A trumpet player in the music department can play gigs. A writer can sell their work. Their status is not tainted by participating in the marketplace. How is it that — once someone puts on their school colors and takes the field or court — they sacrifice their right to make money just because some claim that it would sour the entire NCAA system?
I’m not real fond of quoting Dookies, but here’s what former basketball player Jay Bilas had to say about this: “It’s hard not to laugh, it’s so ridiculous — that the pesky free-market system the rest of us seem to be able to navigate without a problem would sink the whole enterprise.”