• Sumo

By Ken Reed

The NCAA continues to claim that there just isn’t enough money to pay the athletes that create the college sports product more than room and board.

In big-time college football and basketball (most notably Power Five conferences), that contention is simply laughable.

Here’s the latest example: Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops is set to receive a $250,000 bonus for every victory the rest of this season, including any postseason win. Kentucky is currently 6-1 and starting with the team’s 7th victory the bonus kicks in. Additionally, win number 7 would trigger an automatic one-year extension of Stoops’ contract. Stoops’ contract runs to 2024. He is set to make $5.25 million that year in base salary.

In addition to the bonus money for wins after six in a season, Stoops gets a two-year contract extension following any season in which Kentucky wins 10 games or more.

Stoops, like hundreds of other coaches, athletic directors, college administrators and television executives associated with college sports at the highest level, is rolling in the dough while many football and basketball players from tough economic backgrounds can’t afford to take their girlfriends to dinner and a movie on the weekend.

College athletes have no representation like their professional counterparts. As a result, they’re getting screwed economically. Moreover, too often they’re left to handle huge medical expenses resulting from injuries incurred while playing for their colleges. That’s criminal.

Supporters of the current system say a free college education is nothing to scoff at. And that’s certainly true. It indeed has great value for those athletes that take college seriously. But just because college athletes have the opportunity to get a free education doesn’t mean that they’re being compensated fairly.

As an example, Ellen Staurowsky, a professor at Drexel University, has said the fair market value of a football player at the University of Texas during the 2011-12 school year was $567,922 on an annual basis. The calculation was based on an NFL-like shared revenue system. The value of a “full-ride” athletic scholarship at Texas was $21,090 a year at the time of her study. As such, the fair market value denied (the difference between the fair market value and the value of the scholarship) was $546,832.

Big-time college sports is a classic case of economic and social injustice bred of a plantation mentality disguised by the term “student-athlete.”

The details of Stoops’ contract at Kentucky is but the latest example.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans

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