By Ken Reed

It’s long amused me how the NCAA claims that they don’t have the money to pay student-athletes. How ludicrous!

Big-time NCAA football programs fill stadiums that are in many instances bigger than NFL stadiums. Seat prices are nearly similar, and in many cases, college fans are forced to pay seat license fees for the right to purchase season tickets. Additionally, and more importantly, the college media rights contracts (primarily TV) have gone through the roof in the last decade. Then, of course, there’s the millions in ancillary revenues, e.g., marketing rights such as the sale of licensed products, etc.

On the other side of the ledger, consider that NCAA player compensation, in the form of athletic scholarships, is but a tiny, tiny fraction of what the NFL pays its players.

It gets worse. As Patrick Hruby points out in his recent SportsOnEarth piece, the NCAA claims that 90 cents of every dollar goes to schools to support student-athletes. The key here is examining the fine print to see what “supporting” student-athletes entails.

“Thing is, the 90 percent support claim is the product of creative accounting,” wrote Hruby. “And by ‘creative,’ I mean the bookkeeping equivalent of duct-taping a waffle cone to a donkey’s forehead, then claiming you’ve discovered a real-life unicorn.”

What the NCAA claims as “support to student-athletes” includes head coach performance bonuses, assistant coach car stipends, country club memberships for athletic department staff members, and housing allowances for key athletic department personnel.

Fuzzy math indeed.

“Like amateurism itself, spending on college athletes is whatever the association says it is, and a depressing reminder of the real golden rule: Those who have the gold, rule,” wrote Hruby.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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