Well, we can finally put a number on it.
A hundred-thousand dollars, that’s what the average football and basketball players at top college programs should be earning each year.
And that’s just an average mind you. University of Texas football players should be bringing in over half a million each, while each Duke basketball player is worth over a million dollars.
These figures are found in a new report entitled The Price of Poverty in Big Time College Sport. It was release last Tuesday by a group called the National College Players Association (NCPA). The organization claims over 14,000 members, about half of whom are current college athletes. Former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma is head of the NCPA, and he co-authored the report with Ellen Staurowsky, Professor of Sports Management at Drexel University.
To come up with their figures, Huma and Staurowsky looked at the way professional sports divide up their revenues, and then they applied that approach to top programs based on current university and NCAA revenues.
One of the best things about the report is that the authors are not afraid to call out the unethical profiteers in this system: coaches, athletic directors, and NCAA officials who earn hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dollars per year off the sweat of unpaid “amateur” laborers, while the athletes clock over 40 hours a week for their sports programs on average.
At America’s elite basketball and football factories, the current, longstanding system is a complete and utter sham. Billions of dollars in TV, gate receipt, and merchandise revenue are funneled through the NCAA and various universities, with one authoritarian coach, mealy-mouthed A.D., and sanctimonious NCAA official after another sticking out their hands to skim small fortunes right off the top. Meanwhile, a tiny percentage of the athletes make it to the pros, where they can finally collect a paycheck and get health insurance.
And the rest of them? Many come from marginal economic backgrounds and they either end up in debt, or they break the NCAA’s arcane, self-serving rules and dip into an underground, black market economy of money, goods, and services offered by slimy boosters and parasitic agents. However, doing so runs the risk of being suspended or losing their scholarship if caught.
The most recent examples athletes getting caught include University of Miami football players who received a bounty of illicit favors from a booster, including a boat full of prostitutes. There’s also the case of former Ohio State University quarter back Terrell Pryor, who accepted various doo-dads such as discount tattoos.
For this most heinous of crimes, the NCAA suspended Pryor for five games. When Pryor said enough’s enough and headed for the pros, where he was a 3rd round supplemental draft pick, the NFL pioneered new levels of shameless hypocrisy by applying the NCAA’s attempted suspension to the first five games of Pryor’s NFL career. Why? Because the NFL likes having the NCAA do the work of unofficially running a minor league system for them; it leaves the NFL free to waste its money and time on failed ventures like NFL Europe. The suspension was kinda like the NFL and NCAA winking to each other. You know, one of those creepy, stomach-churning winks between tag-team sexual predators. That kind of wink.
The act was so shameful that the NFL was embarrassed into also suspending new Indianapolis Colts consultant Jim Tressel. After all,Tressel had been Pryor’s multi-millionaire OSU coach, until he was forced to resign in disgrace for his role in the shenanigans.
It’s time spread the wealth.
Oh, and if you’re interested in just how much wealth we’re talking about, check out this week’s cover story from The Atlantic. It’s about the big business of college sports. Apparently the SEC alone brought in over a billion dollars last year.
That’s Billion with a B.
The Big Ten conference, which ran off Terrelle Pryor in the infamous tattoo scandal, was just behind them with $905,000,000.
P.S. I like the Steelers (-16) and the Under (40.5) for an easy split, and I also like Pittsburgh (Houston last week) in King of the Hill Pools.