NCAA's Record Profits Fuel Player Salary Argument

By Karim Akbar
Kentucky Wildcats
Jasen Vinlove – USA TODAY Sports

With 68 teams and roughly 770 players battling it out in the NCAA‘s gauntlet known as March Madness, it’s all about one thing–winning a national championship. But behind the scenes, athletic directors and trustees are vying for a more important prize — the almighty dollar.

Forbes estimates each tournament victory is worth roughly $1.6 million while a special “basketball fund” totaling $194 million will be distributed evenly to each Division-1 conference.

Not only does a tournament bid and subsequent win boost the profile of the university with it’s priceless exposure to a national audience of 30 million eyeballs, but it also does wonders for recruiting efforts in the offseason.

Also, the NCAA signed a lucrative 14-year $10.8 billion extension with CBS and Time Warner for broadcast rights to the NCAA tournament.

That adds up to some serious loot — and incentive — for teams to do well in the tournament. But with so much money going to the NCAA, many are calling on the league to cave in and start to pay its student athletes. The idea of paying players seems to be gathering steam, but the NCAA maintains that a player gets “much more” value out of the education and scholarships provided by athletics than money could ever provide.

That line of thinking doesn’t sit well with the majority of disadvantaged players who forego their junior and senior seasons to jump to the NBA. Attracted by the big money and instant gratification.

With so much money generated, it’s understandable that outsiders feel the NCAA is doing a disservice to its players. The profits are staggering.

An estimated $7 billion will be wagered on the NCAA tournament while advertising revenue for March Madness has now eclipsed the World Series and NBA Finals.

When it’s all said and done, the NCAA will probably fold to pressure, but they won’t submit to influence when it comes to player salaries. A stipend of some sort seems like a logical concession.

Many say the NCAA is a corrupt potluck; others say the institution has the best intentions for the student athlete’s interests in their hearts. Whether you believe it as gospel or corporate hogwash is a matter of opinion and you could be right on both accounts.

However, with a new deal in place, the culture won’t be changing anytime soon. Nothing personal, just business.

Karim Akbar is a Sacramento Kings columnist for Rant Sports  For More Sacramento Kings News.

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