January 04, 2008

College Sports scam

I read an excellent New York Times piece by Micheal Lewis of Liars Poker and Moneyball fame. One of the best things I have read on the economically exploitative student-athlete farce.
It makes the scale of the ripoff abundantly clear.

In 2005, the 121 Division 1-A football teams generated $1.8 billion for their colleges. If the colleges paid out 65 percent of their revenues to the players, the annual college football payroll would come to $1.17 billion. A college football team has 85 scholarship players while an N.F.L. roster has only 53, and so the money might be distributed a bit differently.

“You’d pay up for the most critical positions,” one N.F.L. front office executive told me on the condition that I not use his name. “You’d pay more for quarterbacks and left tackles and pass rushing defensive ends. You’d pay less for linebackers because you’d have so many of them. You could just rotate them in and out.”

A star quarterback, he thought, might command as much as 8 percent of his college team’s revenues. For instance, in 2005 the Texas Longhorns would have paid Vince Young roughly $5 million for the season. In quarterbacking the Longhorns free of charge, Young, in effect, was making a donation to the university of $5 million a year — and also, by putting his health on the line, taking a huge career risk.

At least Young was able to eventually to parlay his college football exploits into a lucrative NFL Career. The vast majority of young athletes that keep the cogs on the NCAA's money machine turning never see a penny of it.

I recommend reading the whole article here. Lewis focuses on football, but the same obviously applies to basketball. The NCAA tourney generates tremendous sums that most of the (often poverty stricken) kids who create the product that launched a thousand CBS commercials will never see.

1 comment:

Dorie said...

Thanks for writing this.