The Death Of The NCAA: Paying Athletes   Leave a comment

Here's the new weight room for Alabama's student athletes. Not the students - just the student athletes.

Here’s the new weight room for Alabama’s student athletes. Not the students – just the student athletes.

Big time college athletics are a big business.

The University of Tennessee now has 4 full-sized practice fields for their football team (3 outdoor, 1 indoor). Alabama now has a waterfall in their locker room.

A waterfall.

The University of Oregon, with key support from the founder of Nike, is building a new complex of buildings for its football team that will include movie theaters, an Oregon football museum, private classrooms for top players, a player’s lounge and deck.

Who’s paying for this? You are, of course. ESPN is one of the highest-cost cable networks going. Whether you watch sports or not, your cable provider is paying ESPN. And ESPN is paying the conferences and schools … and they’re buying practice fields and waterfalls.

Well, many of them are. UCLA still has only one undersized, outdoor practice field for their football team. UCLA may be a grand school, but no one thinks they have good facilities for their football team, and that means that most elite athletes won’t consider going there. They’re going for the waterfalls and movie theaters.

There is a lawsuit, however, that may change all of this. A key ruling is being argued in court tomorrow, which will determine if the lawsuit will be certified as a class action, or if it will continue as an individual lawsuit. What’s at stake?


If a video game incorporates college logos emblazoned across the chest of a legendary college quarterback, should that player see some money? Or how about simply marketing the University, showing star players in uniform … if those images are on billboards or in Times Square … should the players receive compensation? Should colleges have to pay athletes for the use of their image? Or should colleges & universities get to continue the current system, where athletes receive no compensation, but do get access to a quality education?

Personally, I love college athletics. I follow Mizzou and UCLA, and I’m all in with their football and basketball programs. I buy logo’d merchandise. I buy tickets.

And the athletes are exploited to further the brand of each University, without question. Success in athletics often drives alumni’s contributions to their schools. Star players are needed for winning programs, and those star players play a year or three at the college level, and then they’re off to the pros for the (hopefully) really big bucks. If colleges want to win, they need those star players. To attract the top-shelf athletes, there’s currently an arms race going on between elite college programs, so now we’re seeing waterfalls and movie theaters. How do elite athletes choose their college? It’s not about the education, at least not entirely. It’s about the athletic department’s bling.

And that’s wrong. I hope the courts agree.


Bloomberg: The Lawsuit That Could Bring Down The NCAA

SB Nation: O’Bannon v. NCAA

Mr. A Waterfall In ‘Bama’s Locker Room?

A Look Inside Alabama’s New Weight Room (video)

Kentucky Builds Palace For Players

Our Wonderful, Horrible Schools

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