Zion Williamson of the Duke Blue Devils, one of the top players in college basketball, has received a severe injury. He was injured during the first 33 seconds of the Duke versus North Carolina game, in which tickets went for a whopping $2,600 USD for the cheapest tickets, and $4,000 for the most expensive. But while Williamson has put his health and NBA future on the line, he won’t see any money for his contributions, and certainly none in worker compensation–because he is not an employee, he is an unpaid amateur athlete.
People are willing to spend this kind of money for games because of the players. The Duke superstar is known for his flashy and high flying dunks, plus he is on a stacked Duke squad with the top 3 high school recruits in the US, according to ESPN. Alongside Zion Williamson is R.J. Barrett and Cameron Reddish. This squad has gained a lot of hype from Zion’s athletic dunks, and Cam’s deep range, to R.J.’s insane scoring arsenal and clutch factor. They have made merchandise and ticket sales skyrocket for Duke University. But players do not see a single penny of that revenue.
The NCAA makes approximately 8 billion dollars a year from all the sports they organize. Most of this money is made from ticket sales and broadcasting rights. A lot of this revenue is from the Division 1 teams. The NCAA sold the broadcasting rights of the March Madness tournament to CBS sports for 10.8 billion for over 14 years. They make around $1 billion from people watching March Madness alone, to say nothing of the regular season games in which some tickets go for around $3,000.
The NCAA distributes around $164.7 million over 6 years to the division 1 schools based on their performance in the men’s national basketball tournament known as March Madness. This is used to fund and improve the NCAA sports in the school and it provides scholarships.
The NCAA players don’t get paid, but more than 150,000 division 1 and 2 students-athletes receive scholarships. Most of the athletes are given full-ride scholarships, which means their tuition and living expenses are completely covered. This costs tens of thousands of dollars per player, but it is still only a fraction of what the NCAA makes every year.
The NCAA’s best source of income is Men’s Basketball with Men’s Football at second. These two NCAA sports have very big tournaments that bring in the most money, this makes them the NCAA’s most-favoured events. These two tournaments alone help fund a big portion of the NCAA and get the most funding in return.
Due to their regulations the NCAA cannot pay its players, but that doesn’t mean players aren’t getting paid. It does create a situation that makes corruption practically impossible to avoid. Some college players have chosen to take money from a “middle man” who pay them in big sums of cash to come play for their school. Many schools have been exposed and caught in scandals from pay, such as The Arizona Wildcats. In 2018, Arizona’s head coach Sean Miller paid Deandre Ayton’s family $100,000 to get him to join the Wildcats. This payment was to counter an offer from Adidas’s to pay Deandre and his family to come play in the Adidas youth Basketball league and commit to an Adidas-sponsored college. Deandre ended playing in a Nike league and went to a school sponsored by that brand as well. If the players were paid, they would have less incentive to take these deals.
Most NCAA athletes don’t make the NBA or professional leagues and the players who do make it are usually “one and done”-a term referring to players who spend one year in college then leave for the NBA draft due to the NBA’s rules. There are only 60 players every year that make the NBA. According to ESPN, 236 players declared for the draft in 2018 and since only 60 make it, that leaves 176 players undrafted. Those 176 players have devoted all of their time and energy to their basketball career. When it falls through, they do not have any money to fall back on and probably haven’t given the same attention to their studies as other students. Paying the players would give them a cushion in case their journey to the pro league doesn’t succeed.
If the NCAA changes the rules to allow paying the athletes, not only will the players have something to fall back on in case their careers don’t work out, but lot of illegal “middle man” deals would not happen, giving the athletes the freedom to choose which school they want to play for, not which school gives the most money. If the athletes got paid, the NCAA would become less corrupt and much more fair to the players it relies on.
WikiMedia Commons/Jeff Turner