By Ken Reed
It’s Sweet Sixteen time at the Big Dance. On the hardwood, March is becoming more and more mad. Florida Gulf Coast is one of the NCAA tournament’s best stories in years.
However, the big-time college sports model remains as ugly as ever. And nobody lays out the case against the NCAA cartel system better than Patrick Hruby.
Hruby recently wrote a superb in-depth piece for SportsOnEarth entitled “The Gold-Plating of College Sports.”
He describes the current college business model beautifully (“a tax-evading, labor price-fixing cartel”) and makes it clear who’s getting screwed (“the athletes who do the actual, you know, work.”)
According to a recent joint study from the National College Players Association (NCPA) and the Drexel University Sport Management Department, “FBS football and men’s basketball players would receive an additional $6 billion between 2011-15 if not for the NCAA’s prohibition of a fair market.”
The study used publicly available information to determine the value of football and men’s basketball players’ full athletic scholarships relative to the money that revenue-producing football and basketball players would receive in a fair market.
The research project found that the average football and men’s basketball players from BCS conferences would receive an average of over $714,000 and $1.5 million, respectively, above and beyond the value of their full athletic scholarships over the four years between 2011-15.
How anyone can still believe that a scholarship is fair competition for these athletes is beyond me … but I digress.
College administrators have it made. When there’s no player payroll to deal with, there is a lot more money left to pay $5 million salaries to coaches and million dollar salaries to athletic directors. As Hruby writes, “When you don’t have to pay competitive wages for your actual workforce, there’s a lot more cash available to shower upon high-level bureaucrats.”
There’s also cash on hand to pump into new facilities, luxury suites, and fancy scoreboards.
Hruby warns us to not listen to college athletic directors who are out on the speakers circuit pushing the notion that college sports will collapse if revenue-producing athletes receive more than an athletic scholarship. He calls this argument “a subsidiary strain of uncut malarkey.” And he persuasively lays out the reasoning as to why.
So, this weekend, enjoy watching Florida Gulf Coast’s “Dunk City” offense. Check-in to tournament coverage to see if there are more big upsets in the making.
But also take time to read Hruby’s article. It’s a truly enlightening look at the specifics of how the NCAA cartel game really works.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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