By Ken Reed

Washington Post columnist Barry Svriuga started a recent column about the college football national championship game this way:

”[LSU and Clemson] boast coaching staffs that will be paid more than $27 million for this season alone. Even if you’re used to the largesse of college sports, chew on that number a bit. Then add up the amount earned by the opposing quarterbacks — marquee attractions Joe Burrow of LSU and Trevor Lawrence of Clemson — which would be $0 plus $0.”

Of course, LSU and Oregon players get a full scholarship, including tuition and room and board. That’s certainly nothing to sneeze at, although nowhere near their true market value. These days, players in the Power Five conferences also receive a “cost-of-attendance” stipend, which provides a little spending money. It’s been popularly dubbed “the pizza stipend,” because it can cover a couple pizzas a week for the athletes for who give their blood, sweat and tears for ol’ State U.

The College Football Playoff, made up of just four teams, annually generates approximately $450 million. A lot of that money ends up in the pockets of coaches. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is taking in $9.3 million this year. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron is getting by on $4 million this year, although I’m sure a big raise is coming his way after his team won the national title. Many coaches also earn bonuses for certain accomplishments. For example, every LSU assistant coach received at least a $60,000 bonus for winning the national championship. Three LSU assistants earned $100,000 each in bonus money.

Yes, the coaches are part of the product on the field, but they aren’t nearly as important as the players that put on the show. Anyone with a basic sense of justice and fairness knows the players that are primarily responsible for producing the product in this humongous enterprise (yes, big-time college football is big-time business, not education) knows the players deserve more than a seat in a classroom, a bed in a dorm and some food in the campus cafeteria.

The NCAA, via its amateurism myth, is perpetrating a classic case of economic and social injustice bred of a plantation mentality disguised by the term “student-athlete.”

Under the current model, as the NCAA takes in more and more money from its growing TV deals, the inequities in big-time college sports continue to worsen, not improve.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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