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.
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 #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan in the year 2022.
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Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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