College athletes deserve to be paid for what they do. Sorry, I should be clear. When I say college athletes should be paid, I mean the money-generating big-men on campus also known as the basketball and football players.
Sorry, cross country. Maybe one day people will become infatuated by long distance running and pay tons to watch 5Ks, but not today. Sorry, soccer. Maybe one day the rest of the world will successfully infuse their passion for the beautiful game into America, but not today.
In the history of college sports, no university has ever reported a profitable sport to the NCAA other than football and basketball. It's not possible for college sports to survive without the two.
It would be like if Entourage lost Ari and Vince for a season. Turtle, Drama and E would just sit around and stare at each other, wondering where it all went wrong. So shouldn't the NCAA be rewarding their Vinces and Aris?
Even during an economic downturn, players on prestigious basketball teams such as Duke and North Carolina generate around $20 million in a season for their programs. Standout college football players at programs such as Texas can generate up to $100 million.
According to a budget released in February, the NCAA itself receives $757 million through TV and marketing rights fees.
I know the NCAA allocates percentages of the $757 million to conference grants, grants-in-aid and student assistance funds, so a lot of it is there for the athletes to help them get an education. And I know the football and basketball programs allocate hefty percentages to their schools' academics as well.
Don't get me wrong. It's not as if the head-honchos are meeting up with the NCAA president and going to Vegas for the weekend to blow the earnings on black jack and strippers. All in all, academics are the priority. These guys have good intentions.
The lingering issue is that these officials are not in fact the ones playing. They are not the ones putting in the hard work season after season for their universities. The blood, sweat and tears remain those of the players.
If the board of trustees wants to strap on some Jordan IXs and headbands and take on the likes of Xavier and UCLA, then by all means, it's their money. But until that happens, we should be compensating the actual contenders.
A recent study released by an advocacy group stated the average fair-market value of top-tier college football and men's basketball players is more than $100,000 each. I'm not a business major, but when something is valued at six digits, and makes zero digits, there's something fundamentally wrong.
The study also delved into the poverty that many college athletes face. Although they are supported by their universities and have full scholarships, many still are not able to cover the average costs of the college life. The advocacy group calculated this to be between $952 and $6,127, which includes eating, clothes and trips home. Could the NCAA not afford this? $952 goes into $757 million a whole lot of times. I checked.
The NCAA rebuts on its website that only 30 percent of Division 1 football and 26 percent of Division 1 basketball post revenues over expenses, and that many of these basketball and football programs funds go on to support the other teams that don't make money. It is evident then that we cannot pay all of the football and basketball players.
That's why my proposition is not for all universities to pay their players. Definitive salaries would defeat the purpose of amateurism and instead turn the players into employees of the administration. They would no longer be students first.
Instead, I believe that players should be offered performance-incentive bonuses at the right times. Special occasions of success at universities by certain players or teams would qualify.
National championship teams would receive some type of bonus along with players who have stellar seasons. At smaller schools, historically unprecedented success would be recognized.
One example would be the Richmond basketball team's run to the Sweet 16 last year for only the second time in history. The success of the Spiders not only generated revenue, but also brought attention to the school. Fourty-eight percent more people were checking out the Richmond's admission sites right around that time.
Although it cannot be proven what that Internet traffic led to, it seems that this stellar team's national attention helped our admissions office a great deal.
And you're telling me that we can't help out the likes of KA and Harp for the work they did for this university? We couldn't provide each of those players with $1,000 as a sign of our recognition and gratitude? At the very least, it shows how much we appreciate what these athletes did.
Imagine the athletes who would no longer need boosters to lean on for illegal benefits, and the programs that wouldn't then be tainted by scandal. Imagine athletes who could stay out of trouble because they didn't need money, and who could instead focus on their academics and respective sports. If I still haven't touched the surface with you, think about this. I am paid by the university for writing these columns on a weekly basis, while the star athletes I write about don't make a dime. There is most definitely something fundamentally wrong with that.