College Football is a cash cow. The impact from tickets, TV, donations, sales of jerseys, and the like is a staggering amount of money that flows into universities. For example, in 2008, the University of Alabama had and Athletic Department total operating revenue of $123,769,841 and they topped all schools with their number one ranking. By contrast, the University of Oregon was ranked 40th with 56.6 million dollars brought in by the athletic department. The notion that all this money is going to the athletic department to support the college athletes is a foolish one. This is money that is going into the college coffers and paying for, in some instances, professors who cringe at the very notion of college athletics. How ironic.
So, is the paradox of university athletics. The school’s need the money, but many in academia despise the vulgar nature of the athletics that fund their needs. Wrapped up in this paradox is the fallen notion of the student-athlete and how today’s college coaches are supposed to bring together young men and women from all backgrounds and mold them into great leaders. Thoughts of Bill Bradley come to mind of how a student athlete can produce both academic and athletic greatness and go forward and become a leader for our country. Alas, that was long ago in a country far, far, away. What we have in college athletics today is a farm system for top athletes to move into professional sports. Yes, it has always been like this, but today it is much more exaggerated because the sports programs at the high school and junior high level are now being designed to run the same offenses that the top colleges run and there is much more money involved. There are youth travel leagues for baseball, softball, track, volleyball, soccer and the top college scouts go to these travel tournaments and bypass many of the school games. A local high school girls soccer coach told me recently that the big travel league tournaments are now the scouting hotspots for all levels of college. Many college sports programs now state on their websites for their summer camps that kids who want to be evaluated for an athletic scholarship should regularly attend their summer camps. This should start at an early age because of the scouts who are there watching.
I think it is obvious that the top-tier of college sports has moved way past the idea of a student athlete and is firmly entrenched in the reality of being semi-professional ball-particularly football and basketball.
Ohio State is no exception with about 47 players currently in the NFL. That is almost one entire game day roster.
Now that Ohio State has embarrassed itself nationally, with an ex-football coach who is now both gone and permanently shamed, and as of yesterday vacating all its wins from last season, I think the time has come for the NCAA to stop its charade and re-organize its rules to allow for payments to athletes. There is a way this can be done appropriately and effectively that can provide these athletes with money that they should get from the school and not from outside interests and sponsors. In 2008, Ohio State University totaled 115 million dollars in operating revenue from its athletic department and yet the school’s football program was brought down over Ohio State player’s signing memorabilia and it being sold to pay for their tattoos.
Couldn’t these players been given enough money that they could pay for their own? I know there is more to the story but that is the main gist and the thought of something so simple causing such a mess is ridiculous.
I think it is the NCAA and some of their arcane and idiotic regulations that is ridiculous.
In the South Carolina Presidential debate, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson made a comment about drug addicts and drug use that is analogous here. His comment, and I am paraphrasing, was that we have spent all this money fighting a war on drugs and treating minor drug offenses as felonies, when we should be fighting the addiction. The NCAA has been chasing minor infractions and placing the death penalty on some schools, that has in effect depleted any potential monies that the school could use by removing its ability to compete. What the NCAA should have been doing is trying to find away to minimize the outside influence (like the tatoo scandal) and paid their athletes so they wouldn’t be engaging in infractions that are program killers.
The NCAA and the academia elites who run it, need to come down from their high horses, join the real world, and figure out a way that these kids can have some money in their pockets-they are earning it already aren’t they?