By Quintez Brown —
The NCAA needs to compensate college student-athletes.
We are inching closer and closer to March Madness. The annual NCAA college basketball tournament generates billions of dollars in revenue. None of this revenue goes to the stars of the show. The basketball players.
According to SB Nation, last year the NCAA received $857 million from Turner Sports for broadcasting rights of the basketball tournament. In total, the NCAA makes $11 billion annually from college sports. Athletes take home none of it.
The disparity gets uglier when you realize that the NCAA isn’t harboring all the money. Out of the total $1.07 billion dollars made from March Madness, the NCAA paid $560 million to Division I schools. None paid out to Division I athletes.
In fact, Forbes recently ranked U of L as the most valuable college basketball team in the nation. The report said U of L basketball had average revenue of $52 million and profits of $30 million from the 2014-2015 season through the 2016-2017 season.
Now, the money that schools receive from the NCAA does support athletes. They benefit from academic scholarship and athletic program funding.
The schools and athletic departments have the freedom to decide where they invest their revenue. According to Forbes, most of this money goes towards hiring coaches, athletic directors and administrators.
In most states, the highest paid public official is a head coach of a university’s football or men’s basketball team. Coaches are making millions, while players receive a scholarship.
Freshman marketing major Merise Mywambayi says that the scholarship and benefits that athletes’ receive is fair compensation.
“They are already getting paid with the full scholarships that they’re receiving,” said Mywambayi.
Comparing college athletes to traditional students, senior sociology major David Mucker agrees that their benefits are a privilege.
“Essentially, people feel that the value of what they receive in food, housing, etc., is already payment enough when you consider how traditional students experience college,” said Mucker.
Nonetheless, Mucker contends that the value of student-athletes’ benefits is negligible compared to the amount of revenue that they make for their school.
“However, I feel that in relation to how much money college athletics makes off the athletes themselves, to players their worth, that number would be minimal,” said Mucker.
Mwambyai argues that being an athlete in college is enough of a benefit. He warrants that student-athletes go to college to learn. A funded college education in of itself is a privilege.
“Being a college athlete is a privilege but also when you look, athletes are labeled student-athletes,” said Mwambayi.
“The student part comes first and they are not professionals.”
Although they are not professionals, student-athletes are not students first when they represent their school. They are the marketing and labor for a lucrative billion dollar industry.
A freshman member of U of L’s marching band and pep band Mikaela Bertholf says that the determination and dedication to a sport is reason enough for compensation.
She is a compensated student-athlete for being apart of the pep band, but only receives the academic scholarship for the marching band.
“My compensation for each game goes to me because it’s like a job. We are the entertainment that people are paying to watch and we should be treated accordingly,” said Bertholf.
America has a history of institutions that use unpaid labor for lucrative revenue: slavery and the prison system.
The system of compensation would be complex, but an important first step would be recognizing that student-athletes aren’t just playing for fun. Their mental and physical sacrifices are enough reason to pay them.
Considering the money that NCAA, schools, and coaches receive, being a student-athlete should be looked at as a job as well.