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March Madness – Should College Athletes Get Paid?
The NCAA Basketball March Madness tournament is in full swing. Games are filled with upheavals, fans young and old cheer on their team, parenthetical challenges are everywhere. America loves this tournament.
The NCAA, colleges and universities, college coaches, TV stations and advertisers also love this tournament. The tournament is a huge source of money for all parties. In 2010, the NCAA signed a 14-year media rights deal with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting for $10.8 billion. For 2012-13, NCAA revenue is estimated at $797 million, including $702 million from the Association’s new rights deal with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting and the other $95 million in revenue generated by the sale of tickets and the sale of merchandise.
According to the NCAA, college athletic programs bring in a lot of money for colleges. Ticket sales, television, radio, alumni donations, royalties, and NCAA distributions, combined, bring in more than $6.1 billion in annual revenue to colleges. That’s a lot of money for the schools. It is also a wonderful marketing tool for colleges.
The opportunity to bring big money to participating universities with winning programs pushes colleges to recruit the best coaches to create winning sports programs. A winning record means more national exposure, which in turn brings in a lot of money and is a great marketing campaign for colleges. Instead of paying for national advertising, the colleges actually get paid for this massive national exposure.
So, finding a coach who can bring a winning program to a college is extremely important. Many schools now offer coaching salaries in the millions to attract the best. Those multi-million dollar salaries are tiny investments that can generate huge revenue for winning college programs.
With all this money earned by colleges, TV stations, dealers, advertisers, and coaches, many college players have asked the question, “Where’s my cut?” After all, the players are the main attraction of these sporting events, so to speak.
Many college athletes believe they should be compensated for the roles they play. This was evidenced years ago with the University of Michigan’s “Fab Five.” The entire starting team was made up of freshmen, and they were able to take Michigan to a championship game in their freshman year.
This almost mythical group of young athletes has become a national sensation. Merchandise with the Fab Five on it, TV, radio, print, college, etc. all generated incredible income. The five freshmen, who were the Fab Five, received no income from their national fame. Does this seem fair when many poor children had families barely able to eat?
Is it fair that none of the Division I college players share in the massive revenue enjoyed by so many other people and entities generated by the star performances of the players?
While the potential for media exploitation of these young student-athletes is an issue that needs to be addressed, I actually think the system as it currently stands is fair. Colleges recruit young men and women to play at their respective schools by awarding them athletic scholarships.
The reason we have colleges and universities is to educate our young people. Colleges expect stellar performance for their initial investments, awarding college players a fully paid 4-year college education. In return, their education is free.
While so many others, again, TV stations, radio stations, colleges, universities, coaches, etc., earn huge sums of money from great college sports performances, the athletes do not receive anything in addition to their sports scholarships. It’s their compensation and I don’t think the students need anything else. The system is not perfect, but it works. I don’t see it changing any time soon. Enjoy performances for the remainder of March Madness from our young varsity athletes who we hope will receive a great education and embark on wonderful careers.
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