Sunday, September 14, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

College sports: a counterfeit amateurism

RichRifkinW

By
From page A6 | March 19, 2014 |

On your TV set Thursday morning, March Madness, also known as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, begins in earnest.

Yes, it’s true round one opened with 68 teams on Tuesday. But four play-in games will have whittled the tournament down to the standard 64 by tonight. One of those fortunate schools will be awarded the national championship on April 7, after winning six straight games.

The players, who sell tens of thousands of tickets, jerseys, video games and other merchandise and who generate hundreds of millions of dollars in TV revenues during March Madness, won’t get paid a dime. Because college students are branded “amateurs” by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, all of their income goes to others.

A small number of players will go on to lucrative professional careers. But most top-tier college players will have their dreams dashed at the next level. And many of them will depart their schools with no degrees and little hope.

This year, the NCAA sold the broadcast rights to the “amateur” hoops tournament for $770 million. Total revenues, including ticket and merchandise sales, will near $1 billion.

Television ad revenues from the Big Dance in 2012 topped $1 billion for the first time. That is more ad money than the NFL ($976 million) or Major League Baseball ($354 million) generated that year in their post-seasons.

According to Forbes, college sports’ income amounts to $11 billion per year. Almost all of that comes from football and men’s basketball. Top-level college sports make more money than the NBA or the NHL.

In 2011, the University of Texas-Austin had revenues from its “amateur” sports programs of $163.3 million. A total of $95.8 million came from football, another $16.4 million from men’s basketball. Texas’ 2011 profits were $25 million.

Ohio State, with revenues of $142 million, was second. Its profits were $17.6 million. UC Davis ($25.6 million revenues) was 90th. However, the Aggies lost $1.4 million on that.

The coaches are one group who reap the benefits of the charade that college sports are played for the love of the game. Steve Spurrier, the head football coach at the University of South Carolina, recently signed an extension on his contract that pays him $4 million per season. That makes him just the fifth highest-paid football coach in the mighty Southeastern Conference.

The top four in the SEC are LSU’s Les Miles ($4.3 million), Tennessee’s Butch Jones ($4.86 million), Arkansas’ Bret Bielema ($5.16 million) and Alabama’s Nick Saban, who was scheduled to make $5.4 million, but recently got that increased to more than $7 million.

None of the five highest-paid coaches from the 2013 men’s tournament was on his way to the poorhouse. Mike Krzyzewski of Duke was No. 1 at $7.2 million per year, according to USA Today.

The next four in the 2013 tourney were Louisville’s Rick Pitino ($5 million), Kansas’ Bill Self ($5 million), Michigan State’s Tom Izzo ($3.7 million) and Florida’s Billy Donovan ($3.7 million). All of them but coach Krzyzewski made hundreds of thousands of dollars more in bonuses, because their “amateur” teams won a lot of games.

John Calipari, the University of Kentucky’s head basketball coach, whose team did not make it into the tournament in 2013, was paid $5.5 million.

Some top-level college coaches boost their incomes with speaking fees and endorsement deals. They believe in Adidas, Budweiser and Converse.

The players, by contrast, are strictly prohibited from receiving even $1 in endorsement money. If a player or his family member takes anything the NCAA calls “extra benefits,” the student-athlete will be ineligible to participate. His school also might be punished for a serious transgression of these “amateurism” bylaws.

The NCAA is determined to maintain the ruse that high-revenue college sports are not about money. Yet, as I see it, there would be nothing wrong with paying players some share of the income they generate.

Title IX requires that scholarships, facilities, tutoring, accommodations and so on given to male athletes must be proportionately given to female athletes. It’s not clear if it would be legal to pay Johnny Football a salary, while giving no extra cash to Vickie Volleyball.

One thing is certain about a male-female split: Men’s coaches in the big-revenue sports at most schools make a lot more than the women’s coaches. Title IX does not limit the amount USC or UCLA pays its football coaches.

My suggestion is that the NCAA drop its prohibition on extra benefits for athletes.

Some players, we often learn after the fact, accept handouts under the table. An agent will lend a kid $50,000. A booster will pay the rent on a house for a student’s poor parents. A kid will earn a few dollars selling a signed photograph of himself.

As long as the money is not coming from criminals or gamblers, I have no idea why such benefits need to be outlawed.

If Nike gave $75,000 to Brandon Ashley, a star forward from Oakland who played for the Arizona Wildcats this season until he badly injured his foot in a game, who would that endorsement harm?

When the championship game is played on April 7, I cannot guarantee that Harvard will cut down the nets. But I am already sure of this: The winners will be the non-players who pocket billions of dollars players generated for them this season.

— Rich Rifkin is a Davis resident; his column is published every other week. Reach him at Lxartist@yahoo.com

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Psychologist casts doubt on Marsh insanity defense

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Looking for a few good residents

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Well levels drop around the county as drought presses on

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Snyder pleads no contest in UCD explosives case

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

    Video shows slaying of British aid worker

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Try yoga, meditation at Holistic Health Center

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Sign up now for free Community Yard Sale

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Friday night robbery leads to arrests, dog bite

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A2

    Bob Dunning: Now the weather nut is all grown up

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

     
    Portuguese breakfast set in Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Youths can learn from DHS cheerleaders

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    West Nile virus holds strong in Davis area

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Davis Neighbors’ Night Out brings residents together

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Saylor meets constituents at Peet’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Hawaiian Luau set at Covell Gardens

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Memorial playground approaches goal

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

     
    Logos plans four events for October

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    White, Gaard will lead Yolo Superior Court in 2015-16

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Fourth annual Capay Crush celebrates farm life

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Climate change rally planned in Central Park

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Downtown history tour planned in October

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Gibson House hosts plant sale and workshop

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Farmers Market sets Fall Festival

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Renée Thompson to discuss her novel for Woodland Reads project

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Day of the Dead altar makers sought

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    MCCC will present justice awards at luncheon

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    New class offers parenting strategies

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Genealogy club presents virtual tour of local resource

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    University Farm Circle reaches out to newcomers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Garden doctor: Our trees are getting thirsty

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    Public invited to 2014 Yolo Aging Summit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    .

    Forum

    They don’t want him around

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A5

     
    Unexpected treasures from the summer

    By Marion Franck | From Page: A5

    Preventing RSV infections in our kids

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    She’s getting all the blame

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    The sacrificial lamb on the altar of denial

    By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A5

     
    Is history repeating itself?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Time for a progressive PD

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

     
    A bad vote for our water

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Bloggers, beware: They might be out to get you

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A12

     
    Bob Englehart cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A12

    Davis has options on innovation

    By Our View | From Page: A12

     
    Archer has worked hard for us

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Speak out

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A13

     
    .

    Sports

    Unlikely hero powers Republic in playoff opener

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    No more FBS, but UCD’s tough schedule continues

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    DHS boys get a nice win with two big games looming

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Vintage pounds DHS on the ground

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie offense is there, but UCD can’t stop Rams

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    JV Blue Devils drop a high-scoring affair

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B3

    UCD roundup: Dons do just enough to edge Aggie women

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B4 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Blue Devils net a tournament win at home

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    Baseball roundup: A’s get a much-needed win in Seattle

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    Apply now for Davis Community Idol

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    .

    Business

    Nugget Markets’ cheese specialists achieve certified professional status

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Talks continue for proposed Old Soul site

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A9

    Yolo County real estate sales

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A9

     
    University lights way for hospital energy savings

    By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A14 | Gallery

    Davis leaders celebrate Engage3′s advances

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14 | Gallery

     
    Doby Fleeman: The opportunity is ours

    By Doby Fleeman | From Page: A14

    .

    Obituaries

    Virnelle Triebsch

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, September 14, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8