Dick’s Sporting Goods: March 2018

Kids are staring at their Chromebooks in the hallway, exclaiming simultaneously every few seconds. It can only mean one thing: March Madness is here.

Nobody can deny the excitement of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Every year, we see something unimaginable. This year, it was the UMBC Retrievers becoming the first-ever 16-seed to defeat a one-seed (University of Virginia), the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers winning two games on the final shot, and University of Michigan freshman Jordan Poole nailing a buzzer-beating heave to defeat Houston.

Student-athletes create unforgettable moments, and the NCAA makes $900 million annually. The student-athletes receive none of that money.

The most expensive tickets to last year’s college basketball National Championship game were sold for $11,500 each. Roy Williams, coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, pocketed over $1 million for winning the game. The Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, Joel Berry II, was not allowed to receive any money despite his stellar performance in leading his team to a National Championship.

The entire college basketball season has been played under the cloud of the ongoing FBI investigation into college basketball corruption. In September, just days before the season began, 10 coaches and athletic company employees were arrested on financial charges. Basketball programs came under scrutiny, and the investigation was discussed more than the games being played.

The frenzy died down, but just a few weeks ago, the FBI’s preliminary findings incriminating current coaches and players were released to the public. College basketball superstars, such as Michigan State University’s Miles Bridges and the University of Alabama’s Collin Sexton, were implicated.

The most notable finding from the release was the discovery of a wiretap of University of Arizona head coach Sean Miller. The alleged wiretap contains a recording of Miller discussing a payment of $100,000 to be paid to high schooler DeAndre Ayton, ensuring Ayton’s commitment to the school. Miller came under fire but has retained his job for now, and the entire controversy surrounding college basketball has raised an important question: should college athletes be paid?

It is not the first time this question has been discussed. Yet with the discovery that a significant number of student-athletes are being secretly paid, it is time for the NCAA to seriously consider sharing some of its billions of dollars of revenue with the college athletes.

Without student-athletes, no money would be given to the schools through athletics. The NCAA is nothing without the athletes, yet they seem to have no interest in sharing the wealth by paying them.

It also seems unfair to not pay student-athletes when looking at the salaries of the team’s coaches. Duke University coach Mike Krzyzewski is the highest paid college basketball coach with an annual salary of $8.89 million, and University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban makes $11.1 million every year. The athletic departments of many schools make millions of dollars every year, and they have more than enough money to pay their athletes.

The main argument against paying student-athletes is that the students are essentially paid by receiving full-tuition scholarships to the universities. However, student-athletes and their families continue to struggle financially even with the scholarships. 2014 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player Shabazz Napier from the University of Connecticut spoke out against the NCAA when he told reporters, “there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I’m starving.”

The universities and athletic departments would not be hindered by paying athletes. The expectation of NBA-level contracts is improbable, but a small salary would help support the athletes who provide their schools with billions of dollars.