published Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Pay college football players

Today, millions of Americans will make the trek to modern-day coliseums in places like Ann Arbor, Tallahassee, South Bend, Knoxville, Iowa City and Blacksburg. Tens of millions more will spend the day on the couch focused on the same thing: college football.

As everyone knows, fannies in seats and eyes glued to television sets equals money -- and lots of it.

College football is big business. In 2010, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Education, major college football generated $2.2 billion in revenue and brought in $1.1 billion in profit.

Just yesterday, the Big 12 Conference announced a 13-year television agreement with ABC/ESPN and Fox to broadcast football and men's basketball games. The deal is worth $2.6 billion. Not only is this a payday for the schools in the Big 12, but it also means that the TV networks expect to rake in billions, as a result of the deal.

All that money is great news for colleges with big-time football programs.

The website Business of College Sports combed through financial documents filed with the Department of Education to determine the profit generated by major college football programs in 2011. The University of Texas led the way, pocketing $68.8 million.

Some familiar teams to Chattanooga-area college football fans made up much of the rest of the top ten. The University of Georgia came netted a profit of $52.5 million. Alabama earned $40.8 million after expenses. Despite its recent woes on the field, Tennessee's football team cleared $39.2 million last year.

Universities and TV networks aren't the only ones getting rich off of college football. The average annual salary of a public university football coaches is $2 million, according to Duke economist Charles Clotfelter. University of Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley's contract guarantees a salary of $1.8 million for six years. Georgia coach Mark Richt pulls in about $2.8 million a year. After bringing the University of Alabama its second national title in three years, coach Nick Saban was rewarded with a contract worth $5.62 million a year through 2019. And they all deserve the money because of the tens of millions of dollars their football teams bring in to their schools. (Well, maybe not Dooley who has shown all the coaching ability of a blind, one-legged turkey.)

But what about the people who actually earn coaches those massive salaries, fill college football stadiums and justify those multibillion dollar TV contracts?

They don't get a dime.

•••

Sure, most football players get a free education. But that doesn't put gas money in their pockets. College football players' strenuous class (wink-wink), practice, workout and travel schedules mean they can't work a part-time job to make a few bucks like most college kids.

Sports economist Robert Brown discovered that college football players eventually drafted into the NFL generated revenues for their college that ranged from $187,760 to $2.59 million. But many of these young men who make so much money for their universities can't afford to take their girlfriends out to dinner.

So why not give these football players a stipend of a few thousand dollars a year to help make ends meet?

Many people believe Title IX, the federal requirement aimed at increasing female participation in college sports, would prevent football players from earning a stipend. They argue that stipends would have to be doled out evenly to participants in all sports, not just athletes in profit-generating sports like football and men's and women's basketball. That argument, however, is incorrect.

Title IX requires equal spending on athletic scholarships for males and females in relationship to the population of men and women students at a given college. It doesn't, however, require equal funding. That's how a college football team can have a state of the art $30 million workout facility, while a women's fencing team can be relegated to doing jumping jacks in a parking lot. It's also how it's possible for University of Texas football coach Mac Brown to make $5.2 million a year, while Texas rowing coach Carie Graves earns $97,000 annually.

•••

So what is preventing the NCAA and universities from coming up with a system to offer football players stipends? There are frequent statements about the desire to maintain the sanctity of amateur athletics. But the hypocrisy of such a declaration is laughable when the NCAA and the universities, along with TV networks, apparel makers, sports bars, and casinos make millions on the backs of these young athletes.

In the end, it seems the only thing keeping college football players from receiving a modest stipend is the greed of the NCAA and university presidents who want to make sure they squeeze every dollar possible out of college football.

Calling the current system of requiring the labor force of a multibillion industry work for nothing but a scholarship "slavery," as some have, is too extreme. But there's no doubt that college football is one of the most exploitative, unfair businesses in America today.

11
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Livn4life said...

NO DO NOT pay college football players. That's why there is an NFL. It is professional. If you pay them you have to pay ALL other athletes, yes even the ones whose sports bring in no money. That is the equality way of our system. Those young men know what they sign up for when they play college football. All the "universities make a killing off the backs of the players" is a bunch of bunk. If there was no university, they would have no chance. Sorry I will never believe paying college football players is a good thing or the right thing. I even feel they should HAVE to complete their education before entering the multi-million dollar world of the NFL or pay back the year or two they skipped. College and Professional football are different and should be kept that way.

September 8, 2012 at 4:56 a.m.
rick1 said...

How could you pay college footall players, without paying the players from the basketball, baseball, golf, and other college sports teams? Wouldn't that be discrimination?

September 8, 2012 at 7:59 a.m.
librul said...

What idiocy.

The Alabama football coach is a millionaire when he signs his contract and his office is so big he has to press a button to open his door because it's so far from his desk it would take him too long to walk over and open it himself -- while professorial educators and their adjuncts struggle with increasing workloads and often make less than five percent of his salary -- AT A UNIVERSITY.

The problems of our world cannot be solved by dimwits in football pads. What advancement in ANY area of the arts or research has Peyton Manning provided? Sure, he can sell Buicks and DirecTV but the needs of the human race go unserved. The mania surrounding college and professional sports is a pathological expression of our collective inability to deal with real-world problems and a frantic search for diversion from them. Restoring sanity demands that sports be cut back to the level they enjoyed when academics was the primary purpose for going to college and when there was more ground dedicated to academic halls than stadiums and arenas.

September 8, 2012 at 9:11 a.m.
EaTn said...

Pay the college players a percent of coaches and staff salaries. It's a business, and why would any business not share the booty with the ones making the booty? How many coaches put one point on the board?

September 8, 2012 at 12:27 p.m.
jesse said...

Ya know with whats goin on in the nation now and what we might be facin down the road i have a hard time worrin about whether "football"players get a payday or not! Like WHY would i get my bvd;s in a wad over that when i might be divin a dumpster a month from now tryin to survive??

September 8, 2012 at 2:13 p.m.
librul said...

Well, Jesse - if more people were more vocal on these "non issues" rather then just resigning themselves to "the way it is", maybe the money that is misdirected to them would be redirected to better uses and it would be less likely that you would have to go dumpster divin'. You know - "If the people lead, the leaders will follow".

September 8, 2012 at 3:11 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

"Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important." - Sen. Eugene McCarthy

I don't usually find myself at a loss for an opinion, but I have to admit that I can't bring myself to come down totally on one side or the other here. There are some compelling arguments made either way and I can honestly see both sides to this. So I will leave this to better minds than mine, and in the meantime I just thought I would throw in one of my favorite quotes on politics and football, for what it's worth.

September 8, 2012 at 3:16 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Librul, I agree: There is entirely too much money squandered on football that should be directed towards education. I think it's obscene and disgusting that college coaches are paid in the millions while teachers and professors get table scraps by comparison. It just shows how skewed our values are as a nation. We think it's more imnportant to be entertained than it is to be educated.

Given the system as it is, though, I can see how college football players sacrifice a lot and probably should receive some sort of stipend, at least, as recompense for all the money that they help to generate. After all, most football players are not even on scholarsip but they are expected to sacrifice the same as the scholarship players, and they have no time to take on a part-time job or barely enough time to even study adequately. But if they are paid or given a stipend, how does anyone justify not doing the same for the athletes of the other sports as well? And once you do that, the entire nature of college sports will be irrevocably changed.

Indeed, there is entirely too much money directed towards and involved with college football in the first place, but I don't know what it will take to change the mindsets of most Americans who want first and foremost to be entertained.

September 8, 2012 at 3:45 p.m.
jesse said...

Hey librul! If you took a poll of the U.T. alumni of the top 10 most important things to do in Tenn. ,Winning the S.E.C champsp. would be in the top 5, winning the Nat. champsp. would prob. take priority over anything else you could bring up! Like if we could just win a national champsp. all the other probs would just go away!Tell's you a lot about the mind set of our so called best and brightest!!

September 8, 2012 at 5:08 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Librul must have been the last one picked in PE class every day, if he even dressed out and didn't "forget" to bring his sneakers..

A successful college football program isn't just a diversion for fans/alumni or a moneymaker, it's a huge draw for prospective students. Look how many students gain their first interest in UT-Knoxville due to their football program. Not all end up going there but the applications would drop drastically without a team, or with a bottom of the barrel program.

Paying players sounds reasonable, but I do not believe athletic departments could avoid paying women's volleyball, men's track or women's golfers as well. On top of that, and a huge potential negative, what's to stop Alabama or Texas from paying its players $25,000 a year, when UAB or Texas-San Antonio could possibly afford a fraction of that? Even worse as far as program-destroying, who's to decide if the starting quarterback or an All-American running back deserves more than a fourth-string defensive back who never takes the field?

Too many negatives especially when tuition, room, board, possible training for a pro career and other benefits can easily hit a value of a quarter million dollars or more.

September 9, 2012 at 12:43 a.m.
Plato said...

"So what is preventing the NCAA and universities from coming up with a system to offer football players stipends?"

What's preventing it is the loss of the universitys' non-profit status since paying the players for a revenue producing activity would likely result in the IRS revoking their 501(c)(3) and making them for-profit corporations subject to taxation.

September 10, 2012 at 2:39 p.m.
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