But There’s Still No Money to Share With Players
By Ken Reed
According to reports, Michigan State is close to offering the school’s head football coach a 10-year $95 million contract extension. Other reports say LSU is dangling an eight-year $96 million contract offer in the face of Oklahoma football coach Lincoln Riley.
Of course, these dollar amounts are obscene for non-profit academic institutions. And they certainly don’t help the NCAA and its power conferences argue that there is no money available to better compensate the athletes creating their huge entertainment product.
College sports are nothing more than amateur-based extracurricular activities for students on campus. Right?
In reality, 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. Meanwhile, Power Five conference football powers can pull in $100 million+ annually in revenue. Data from 2017 show Alabama made $108.2 in football revenue alone. You can add multiple thousands to that figure today. The NCAA, college sports governing body, makes more than $1 billion a year in revenue. Top coaches are making around $10 million a year.
On the other side of the fence, the players get chairs in classrooms, dorm room beds, dorm cafeteria food and, in recent years, a small stipend for basic living expenses. I’m certainly not downgrading the value of a college education, but in terms of true market value, the artificially-capped compensation packages that athletes get fall well short of what an open market would get them.
“I can’t think of any other business where there’s such a transfer of wealth as there is in this case; where the student-athletes are basically powerless, and everyone else in the system is benefitting,” said Steve Berman an attorney and advocate for economic justice for college athletes.
Some people argue that college players will get their big payday when they go to the NFL. But only a very small percentage of the 85 players on each FBS college 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. Instead they get room and board and a few bucks for an occasional pizza.
After immense pressure from courts around the country, state legislatures, and Congress, the NCAA has started to allow athletes to make money off their names, images and likenesses (NILs). That’s a HUGE step forward. But there are still steps that need to be taken in the name of economic fairness for college athletes.
The huge contracts being talked about for Tucker and Riley are but the latest evidence that the athletes are still getting screwed.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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. Linda writes extensively about how youth sports can hijack families, and family outings, non-sports activities and bonding time are lost in the pursuit of the next club team game or travel tournament.
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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.
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.
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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