By Ken Reed
The national college football championship game on Monday night generated millions of dollars for the NCAA, the universities and their media partners.
The players that put on a great show of athleticism for the country? Well, they probably got a nice steak dinner.
Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Notre Dame made $6 million for themselves and their conferences by being selected for the College Football Playoff (CFP). Since Notre Dame is an independent, they get to keep the entire $6 million for themselves. The SEC will give Alabama over $4 million for playing in the championship game. Clemson’s take will be less because the ACC distributes bowl and playoff revenue equally among member schools, but it will still be a multi-million dollar payday.
Moreover, data from fiscal year 2017, based on what each university reported to the NCAA, showed Clemson with $52.3 million in total football revenue for the year and Alabama with $108.2 million in total football revenue. Clemson’s revenue will get a boost next year with the launching of the ACC Network, which could be worth an additional $15 million to Clemson.
The head coaches in the championship game are certainly getting rich. Dabo Swinney of Clemson and Nick Saban of Alabama will make nearly $20 million a year between them this season.
Meanwhile, the NCAA is also getting rich. The organization that oversees college athletics broke the $1 billion mark in annual revenue for 2017. That’s just the NCAA as an organization. The revenue for college sports as a whole, including conference and school sports revenue, is in the billions. The NCAA is a 501 (c)(3) organization that doesn’t pay federal taxes because the government considers them a non-profit, same as the Red Cross.
I’ll wait while you finish laughing.
Bottom line: It’s simply a rotten system that screws the players. Some people claim that the players will get their big payday when they go to the NFL. But as good as Alabama and Clemson are, only a relatively small percentage of the 85 players on each team will get an NFL paycheck. For the majority of these college football players, their only chance to make money off their football talents is now, while they are in college making millions for their schools and conferences.
But the NCAA’s draconian amateurism rules prevent that.
Things could be about to change for the players, however. A federal judge could issue a ruling in a lawsuit brought by more than 40,000 current and former college athletes in the coming weeks. The class-action case, called “National Collegiate Athletic Association Grant-In-Aid Cap Antitrust Litigation,” went to trial late last year. The players as plaintiffs in this case seek a ruling that would abolish NCAA rules capping compensation for athletes at the value of a college education. They want conferences to be able to set their own rules on compensation.
“I can’t think of any other business where there’s such a transfer of wealth where there is in this case; where the student-athletes are basically powerless, and everyone else in the system is benefitting,” said Steve Berman lead attorney for the athletes.
In the name of fairness and economic justice, here’s hoping the judge in this case puts a kibosh on the sham known as college amateurism.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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 and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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