FanDuel - WFBC

March 31, 2013

Money & March Madness: In 2011, PBS Frontline asked, "If everyone else is profiting from the multibillion dollar college sports business, why shouldn't the athletes?"

posted by phaedon to basketball at 10:11 PM - 14 comments

While I understand the argument, I go with the traditional answer: they have the ability to have their education fully financed (in the major sports), with room and board often segregated within a team dormitory.

Some academically blessed students may be fortunate, through school scholarships, to get a full ride, but most get only partial scholarships (as do athletes in smaller sports, such as tennis and field hockey) and must rely on financial aid and loans to finance the remainder.

posted by jjzucal at 04:32 PM on April 01

Other students who attend school on scholarships still can profit from any work they perform during those years. Why should athletes be treated differently?

posted by rcade at 04:50 PM on April 01

Some academically blessed students may be fortunate, through school scholarships, to get a full ride, but most get only partial scholarships (as do athletes in smaller sports, such as tennis and field hockey) and must rely on financial aid and loans to finance the remainder.

Nobody makes money off of regular students - the difference is the athletes generate a ton of revenue for their performances and get none of it back.

Not to mention - athletes have a shorter window to earn and, as seen by Kevin Ware, there is the potential that they get hurt in college and never get a chance to earn anything from their skills professionally.

It's a matter of degrees - $50-100,000 a year in tuition, room and board might seem like a lot except when you look at the sheer volume of revenue being generated by their activity.

posted by dfleming at 06:24 PM on April 01

Nobody makes money off of regular students - the difference is the athletes generate a ton of revenue for their performances and get none of it back.

Senior year science students were all required to work in a lab for a year, alongside grad students and post-docs. We were doing research that brings money back into the school via grants & potentially patents. I went from paying tuition to be able to work in a lab to getting paid for doing the same exact work upon graduation. I'd say that Universities can make money off students, though not in the same way as athletics. Might sound like I have a problem with this structure, but I don't.

Also consider that student athletes are significantly constricted by the NCAA in how much money they can earn via jobs, a constraint not put on other students.

posted by jmd82 at 09:23 PM on April 01

I am unable to understand why anyone ever takes the argument against compensating highly successful college athletes for their participation on highly profitable sports teams.

posted by DudeDykstra at 11:13 PM on April 01

I am unable to understand why anyone ever takes the argument against compensating highly successful college athletes for their participation on highly profitable sports teams.

I'll play devil's advocate on this one.

1) NCAA doesn't want to give away any money it doesn't have to.

2) It completely removes any pretense of the "student" part of "student-athlete" if you pay them to play. At that point, they are professional athletes, and why bother with having them become students? Why not just have a professional team (with age restrictions) attached to the university/college and be done with it. It would be like a minor league system for the pro leagues (much like the junior hockey system in Canada).

3) How much would you pay them? And do ALL the athletes (for all sports) get paid the same? And do ALL the schools pay the same for athletes in the same sport?

4) Obviously some schools make much more than others, so there would definitely be a discrepancy on how much some schools could pay vs others. If there wasn't a restriction, then the super-schools would simply attract the best players based on money alone. If there is a restriction, who sets the limit for each school?

posted by grum@work at 11:32 PM on April 01

It isn't just the compensation for the athletes' services that I wonder about. It's also the IP stuff - the use of their names and images, etc.

Lots of standout college players that capture the sports world's attention will never have a professional profile as noteworthy or potentially revenue productive as their collegiate profile.

Maybe they should be allowed to share in the cash raking that occurs during their brief window of highest sports career visibility as an NCAA athlete. Wonder how much golden exposure was milked by the tournament off of Jimmer Fredette's one shining moment, for example? That guy owned the country during his tourney run.

The Bryce Drew buzzer beater has gone beyond tournament overuse and is being shamelessly zeliged into ad spots. Nothing beats an astronaut. Is Drew getting any residuals?

posted by beaverboard at 11:00 AM on April 02

Interesting how a corporation can identify top students and provide for education, living expenses, etc without any controls.

Give a student athlete's high school coach a sweatshirt and that athlete gets suspended. Have a corporation donating to the same athlete's university program and it's no issue.

The logisitics of paying student athletes is a dilemma. Perhaps some form of pooled money in a trust fund might work.

posted by cixelsyd at 11:56 AM on April 02

Yeah, I suppose there's some tricky things to work around, but ultimately it's not that complicated. Allow them licensing rights on their name and the ability to sell themselves in endorsement deals. Don't force them to go to college if a pro team wants them. Take 5% of the net the program makes, split it up based on playing time, buy a fund they get when they turn 30.

I realize I'm just making up numbers but again, my only point was just that I don't understand people (other than those who make money off these kids) who argue against this sort of thing.

posted by DudeDykstra at 10:37 PM on April 02

Don't force them to go to college if a pro team wants them.

That's the NBA's doing, not the NCAA.

posted by grum@work at 10:42 PM on April 02

That's the NBA's doing, not the NCAA.

And to be fair, the Pro Leagues in the money sports are just as much a reason why this isn't happening as the colleges themselves, since the pros enjoy having a minor league system they don't have to pay for.

posted by Bonkers at 11:48 PM on April 02

It's a matter of degrees - $50-100,000 a year in tuition, room and board might seem like a lot except when you look at the sheer volume of revenue being generated by their activity.

"Shaq is rich. The white man who signs his check is wealthy."

The system persists because enough people first and foremost enjoy the myth of the true amateur, the scholar-athlete, and the transformative coach; as a result, they accept the "traditional answer" about scholarships because that perpetuates the myth. The mythology precedes the rationalisation, as it has done throughout the history of formalised amateurism in sport.

posted by etagloh at 12:32 AM on April 03

That's the NBA's doing, not the NCAA. Yeah, except they did it only after so many of the best potential players started skipping college entirely. And I may be misremembering but I recall there being substantial pressure from the NCAA to put this rule in place.

posted by billsaysthis at 11:35 AM on April 03

There's no NCAA rule, so you are misremembering it. The NFL and NBA don't discourage kids from going straight to the pros from high school because they care, they do it because it reduces the risk in drafting.

posted by yerfatma at 12:03 PM on April 03

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