Fixing the NCAA’s Money Problem

According to Investopedia.com, the NCAA signed a 14-year, $10.8 billion TV contract with CBS and Turner Broadcasting in 2010. They have since extended this deal through 2032 and thrown in an additional $8.8 billion more in rights fees. This rounds out to a whopping $890 million per year. Which is completely fine. The goal of a business is to make money.

The NCAA is a non-profit organization, which angers people who don’t understand what designates a non-profit organization. The name is misleading, but with a little research you can find that being a Non-Profit means that you must serve the public by charitable, educational, scientific, religious or literary means. The NCAA serves an educational purpose by paying for athletes to go to college in exchange for play. According to investorwords.com, “Any money earned by a nonprofit organization must be retained by the organization, and used for its own expenses, operations, and programs.”  This is the part that people have a hard time with, including myself. It’s a pretty giant loophole tax-wise, as they don’t pay them at all, and expenses can include paying your employees. The President of the NCAA, Mark Emmert, is an employee so he can take home his just over $2 million in 2016 and this doesn’t disqualify them as a non-profit. If you really want to have your mind blown, the NFL is also a Non-Profit Organization.

March Madness is the annual end of the season invitational tournament that is used to determine an NCAA Champion. The money made off of this tournament is astronomical. First of all, they hold them in football stadiums. Do you know what football stadiums are good for? Watching football and definitely not for watching basketball. It’s a money grab. The biggest college basketball venues hold about 20,000 people, which is ideal for watching basketball. The Alamodome, the site of the 2018 NCAA Tournament Championship game, is a giant dome that seats 64,000 people. Cha-ching! There are 68 teams invited to the tournament with payouts that total approximately $220 million. That’s $1.7 million awarded to each conference per game played in the tournament. A team that makes it to the final game would make $8.3 million for it’s conference.

The winnings from each game are awarded to the team’s conference. The conference then distributes that money evenly (in most cases) among it’s members. The Atlantic Coast Conference, or ACC, had nine teams make the tournament last year. Those nine teams played in twenty-one games in last year’s tournament. That’s $35.7 million split between 15 teams for a total of $2.38 million per school. That’s a sweet chunk of change for playing basketball.

How is it that all of this money is flying around but the players who actually play the sport and provide the entertainment don’t get a piece of that? Well, it’s not entirely true that they aren’t benefitting from this. College players do benefit from a free education and free room and board. According to CollegeFactual.com, the cost of tuition at Duke University is $53,500 per year and the cost of room and board will run you approximately $18,000 per year. That’s an annual “salary” of $71,500. Sure, other colleges will cost you less, but I think we all know who we’re really talking about…*cough* Zion *cough*.

The real problem with NCAA rules not allowing college players to earn money has nothing to do with Universities or the NCAA itself paying these players, but that it doesn’t allow them to make money off of their likeness or to earn money in other ways. I understand why the NCAA doesn’t want to get into the business of paying their players, but why are they not allowing players to make money on their own? The NCAA is holding on tight to their Amateurism Model, but my fix won’t mess with that. If Nike puts me into an ad wearing their newest shoe or shooting a jumper in an empty gym, does that make me a professional basketball player? No? Then why would it make Zion Williamson a professional basketball player? He’s still an amateur basketball player, but now he’s a professional model or actor.

Let’s allow these athletes to make money off of their likeness and earn money outside of basketball. Only if the NCAA were paying these athletes could they demand that they not earn money outside of college basketball. Frankly, it’s un-American. The portion of the NCAA guidelines regarding this roughly states that student-athletes may not use their skill in athletics in exchange for pay in any form, which includes TV commercials and other demonstrations. That’s bullshit. Would allowing the players to earn money from outside sources create an unfair environment for people to essentially be bribed into going to a certain school? Probably, but guess what? That’s already happening. This won’t hurt the NCAA any further than it has already hurt itself, because the organization is already wrought with corruption and bribery. Players being able to make money outside of the sport won’t affect the NCAA in any way. Don’t pay the players, let them earn money on their own.

 

 

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