If you were an essential employee to a company that was worth billions of dollars but you were only paid a sliver of what was made, would you want to change that? Recently College athletes have been fighting for a change in the system that makes Universities rich and often leaves them with little.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is the governing body for every college and every sport played at those colleges. This includes Divisions I, II, and III. In total, the NCAA is in control of over 1200 colleges. Division I and II schools are allowed to offer scholarships to their athletes; Division III schools are not. After all is said and done, the assets of the NCAA and the schools it oversees equal billions of dollars. NCAA President Mark Emmert made a cool $1.7 million in 2011 and his COO, Jim Isch made $977,531. Head coaches are most often the highest paid public employee in any given state. University of Alabama Football Head Coach Nick Saban was paid $7 million last year, and University of Kentucky Basketball Head Coach John Calipari was paid $5.5 million plus bonuses. More recent attention has been paid to College Athletic Directors (AD’s) and coaches who are earning bonuses due to the extraordinary play of their athletes. Ohio State University AD Gene Smith received a $17,000 bonus because an Ohio State wrestler won a national title.
Student-athletes are usually offered full ride scholarships which include tuition, rent, a meal plan, books, and health care. Depending on what university you attend, the benefits can vary widely. At Harvard, such a deal would be worth nearly half a million dollars, while at SUU it can be worth as much as $100,000. During this time, student athletes are forbidden from accepting gifts or profiting from their status in any way. The question has arisen as to whether or not this is just compensation or a raw deal to athletes who often generate a great deal of revenue for their schools. 2013 Heisman Trophy winner (The MVP of College Football) Johnny Manziel led his college team to an 11-2 record. During this time Texas A&M had $740 million dollars donated; more than $300 million more than any other similar period of time. This past season, Manziel was suspended for half a game because evidence surfaced that he had sold his autograph, a violation of NCAA rules. Manziel’s coach, University of Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin made $3.1 million last year.
The NCAA has been in court several times over the past several years but perhaps the most significant are the cases brought by former UCLA athlete Ed O’Bannon and the Northwestern University Football players. Ed O’Bannon sued the NCAA because they were using his image in marketing. O’Bannon argued that he was entitled to a percentage of the money generated by the NCAA for using his image. His case has gathered several former student-athletes under his name, and the case is still ongoing but looking promising for these former players. More recently, the football team of Northwestern University was granted the ability to unionize with the National Labor Relations Board ruling that they qualify more as employees than students. This case is being appealed but has the potential to majorly shake the foundation of the NCAA.
So what do you think? Are these students benefiting by playing a game and getting their college education paid for? Or are they employees of a University who are being exploited?
1) Should student-athletes be allowed to unionize?
2) Should student-athletes be paid, if so how much?
3) Are college coaches overpaid?
4) What about smaller programs; tennis, golf, wrestling, etc. what happens to them?
5) Should the percentage of money generated by Athletic programs be more in favor of the University in general? Or should it stay with the programs?