Plan to Pay NCAA Student-Athletes in Works

 

While college football fans wait for Boise State, Air Force, Navy, Central Florida and a bunch of other schools to accept an invitation from The Big East to join that college/university sports conference which needs to add schools or go into Bowl Championship Series oblivion something else may be happening at big time college sports schools.  The players in all collegiate sports may get paid.

Apparently, according to a person in the know, college presidents, provosts and chancellors are thinking of giving “student-athletes” a $2,000 a year salary for their efforts. Athletic Directors seem to think $3,500 is a better stipend but for now the $2,000 figure seems to be right amount of money to spend on players for the Lords of the Ivy Towers.

The players, who are the show, get a scholarship and are considered “student-athletes” for workman’s compensation purposes. The schools really don’t want to deal with athletes who might be injured on the “job” and fight for payment because they are unable to work anywhere because of being hurt. That is why the term “student-athlete” was coined as it shields colleges and universities from paying workingman’s compensation in the event of a severe injury suffered during a game.  Injured athletes are useless for the big time sports playing schools.

The presidents, chancellors, provosts and other big time college sports playing schools set the rules and give the athlete very few rights with the threat of the revoking of the scholarship for whatever reason (ranging from a coach doesn’t like a player to flunking courses) hanging over the athlete’s head like the Sword of Damocles.

Athletes are limited in their ability to earn money from jobs if they are on scholarship.

The whole issue of paying the players for their work has been around for years. The thinking around college sports is that players should realize how good they have it and that they are getting a scholarship which pays for their education while they are playing a game. Players should just play and shut up. The thinking has convinced other members of the student body that athletes have it made getting full scholarships — sometimes you need to read comments in sports business management courses blackboard discussions to find out how deep the resentment based on the writings of those paying up to $40,000 annually for schooling — the others students think athletes are privileged.

Paying the players on top of the scholarships will make a certain segment of the student body at various schools even angrier as tuition continues to increase and government aid is taken away by elected officials who apparently think they are gifted in economic theory and practicality.

Meanwhile life in The Big East is evolving. Pittsburgh and Syracuse decision-makers have decided that it is best for those universities to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, leaving behind The Big East.

The colleges and universities left in The Big East need to fill those vacancies as soon as possible and hope that the University of Connecticut and Rutgers remain in the conference. The Big East needs to get football playing schools like Navy ,East Carolina and Central Florida to join up. The Big East, which is being advised by former National Football League Commissioner and Georgetown graduate Paul Tagliabue, had added Texas Christian University to the group last year. But TCU declined membership and joined The Big 12 on October 10, which left Tagliabue and The Big East presidents, chancellors and provosts scrambling to replace the Texas school.

The entire realignment of big-time college sports playing schools is being driven by television. In May 2010 Duke Men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski opined that college sports is in a flux because there is no one in charge like a strong commissioner. Krzyzewski is half-right; there is no central figure in big-time college sports to get the school presidents’, chancellors’ and provosts’ attention.

But there is a central figure dominating the restructuring of big time college sports.

Cable TV is providing big money for programming and one college AD said whatever the TV people decide that’s what we are going to do. So the most important people in calling the shots for the school presidents, chancellors and provosts are the Roger Igers, Brian Roberts’, Jeff Bawkes, Sumner Redstones, David Hills (or Rupert Murdochs) of the world. Iger just re-upped as the head of the Walt Disney Company and is the de-facto head of Disney’s ESPN unit.

As the AD said, TV will remake the conferences. TV as in ESPN, as in Brian Roberts’ NBC Sports Network (the rebranded Versus as of January 2, 2012), Redstone’s CBS whose sports partner is Bewkes and the Time Warner/Turner networks which includes TruTV and TNT and Murdoch’s FOX holdings. The presidents, chancellors and provosts bow and pray to the TV people who endow them with billions of dollars. Hill is the final decision-maker in sports for Murdoch’s FOX and News Corp portfolio.

Where does television get the billions needed to pay rights fees? The answer is from cable TV viewers. As long as ESPN, the NBC Sports Network, USA Network, TruTV, TNT and FOX sports properties are on the basic expanded tier of a cable system they will be able to raise rates from subscribers and pay the bills. As long as Congress does not undo the 1984 cable television legislation which allowed cable operators to bundle various channels and sell them as one to the consumer and give the consumer no option or choice in choosing channels on the basic expanded tier, the television people will spend huge amounts of money for programming. Everyone who has the basic expanded tier is paying for sports programming whether they watch it or not thanks to Congress and President Ronald Reagan’s signature.

The cable operators decide what networks to put on the basic expanded tier, not consumers. The Dolan family’s Cablevision and Time Warner have not added the NFL Network to the basic expanded tier because those entities feel that the NFL Network does not have great value to consumers.

That decision has cost the NFL hundreds of millions of dollars but there may be more to the “does not have great value to consumers” tale. The NFL has sold the entire slate of Sunday games as a package for consumers to DirecTV and bypassed the multiple systems operators and this may be a payback by the cable multisystem operators. Major League Baseball worked with cable TV multiple system operators and gave the cable companies along with DirecTV a piece of the action and landed a plum basic extended tier spot.

The MSOs (multiple systems operators) seem to have no qualms about passing on the cost of the MLB network to all subscribers whether those subscribers wanted the network or not. This helps make sports rights fees the most costly part of the monthly cable TV bill.

The changing landscape of college sports driven by football has some in the college sports industry concerned that Congress will snoop around and start asking questions about the Bowl Championship Series and the conference realignment.

The worry is justified.  Congress has given college sports some perks including looking the other way when it comes to collecting taxes from a school or a conference from earnings at a bowl game (which are considered non-profit organizations for tax purposes).

Government and sports are partners. As conferences continue to realign in pursuit of television dollars, conference commissioners genuflect before TV executives knowing that their jobs are on the line (see the Big 12 as an example. The college presidents, chancellors and provosts got rid of Commissioner Don Beebe in September because of the TV money divide between Texas and the rest of the conference and the splintering of the sports conference). Paying the players may be a small concession to make in order to keep Congress from investigating the TV deals, the tax loopholes and the Bowl Championship Series.

Evan Weiner, the winner of the United States Sports Academy’s 2010 Ronald Reagan Media Award, is an author, radio-TV commentator and speaker on “The Politics of Sports Business.” His book, “The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition” is available at bickley.com, Barnes and Noble or Amazon Kindle.

 

14 Comments

  1. Taifuwa_14 November 1, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    What about NCAA Division II???

     
  2. Taifuwa_14 November 1, 2011 at 9:22 am

    What about NCAA Division II???

     
  3. Besautter November 14, 2011 at 12:03 am

    If tv and cable programming is the major reasoning for the reconstruction of big time college sports and the millions paid by the programers to the colleges for the rights to broadcast the games is what will be paying the “salaries or stipends” to the athletes, how does the statement from the first paragraph apply, “The players in all collegiate sports may get paid”.  How will Division II and III athletes be compensated when their games are very rarely played on national television.  How will those colleges receive the money necessary when their sports bring in very little revenue?

     
  4. Besautter November 13, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    If tv and cable programming is the major reasoning for the reconstruction of big time college sports and the millions paid by the programers to the colleges for the rights to broadcast the games is what will be paying the “salaries or stipends” to the athletes, how does the statement from the first paragraph apply, “The players in all collegiate sports may get paid”.  How will Division II and III athletes be compensated when their games are very rarely played on national television.  How will those colleges receive the money necessary when their sports bring in very little revenue?

     
  5. Steven Davis December 1, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    At first i didn’t think that college athletes who was given a full athletic scholarship should get paid, but now looking at the way things are in collegiate sports i think differently.If you look at the way that the power conferences are teaming up and making deals with the power cable networks, you can understand why some say that the athletes should get paid. They are making deals that earning them billions of dollars revenue and they are not doing anything more for the stundent athletes. I feel like the more money you make using these student athlete, the more you do to help them.

     
  6. Steven Davis December 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    At first i didn’t think that college athletes who was given a full athletic scholarship should get paid, but now looking at the way things are in collegiate sports i think differently.If you look at the way that the power conferences are teaming up and making deals with the power cable networks, you can understand why some say that the athletes should get paid. They are making deals that earning them billions of dollars revenue and they are not doing anything more for the stundent athletes. I feel like the more money you make using these student athlete, the more you do to help them.

     
  7. Amber Williams December 29, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    I have to say, even with me being a former full ride college athlete, that I don’t think athletes should be paid. We know what we sign up for, and it shouldn’t be for extra benefits. P’us it may end up being unfair for those athletes who may not be in Division I. DII and DIII athletes work just the same amount of hours and time at their sport as someone else and there could be a variety of reasons why they are not at the DI level. Just like a regular student you work hard to get to a level you want to be at. I understand that DI athletes bring in a lot of money to television networks and the schools themselves but the athletes money can be made later. They sacrafice something just lke any other student would sacrafice something. If money is paid sports will become a race to students for who can get money and where and the sport can become, in my eyes, unclean. Plus those student-athletes who do not have many television events or anything to generate their money will be left in the cold.

     
  8. Amber Williams December 29, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I have to say, even with me being a former full ride college athlete, that I don’t think athletes should be paid. We know what we sign up for, and it shouldn’t be for extra benefits. P’us it may end up being unfair for those athletes who may not be in Division I. DII and DIII athletes work just the same amount of hours and time at their sport as someone else and there could be a variety of reasons why they are not at the DI level. Just like a regular student you work hard to get to a level you want to be at. I understand that DI athletes bring in a lot of money to television networks and the schools themselves but the athletes money can be made later. They sacrafice something just lke any other student would sacrafice something. If money is paid sports will become a race to students for who can get money and where and the sport can become, in my eyes, unclean. Plus those student-athletes who do not have many television events or anything to generate their money will be left in the cold.

     
  9. Whitneymusgrove December 30, 2011 at 4:01 am

    After reading this, I understand why they are considering paying athletes. It makes sense, if cable companies and nationally aired channels are making millions then giving athletes a couple thousands to the players is chumo change. On the down side, what about the other divisions, are they not to get paid since their games do not recieve so much media attention, I do not agree with that and feel athletes all levels should get paid.

     
  10. Whitneymusgrove December 29, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    After reading this, I understand why they are considering paying athletes. It makes sense, if cable companies and nationally aired channels are making millions then giving athletes a couple thousands to the players is chumo change. On the down side, what about the other divisions, are they not to get paid since their games do not recieve so much media attention, I do not agree with that and feel athletes all levels should get paid.

     
  11. Jcpuryear March 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I still do not feel that athletes should get paid. Academic standards are lowered to allow athletes in and they are rewarded with scholarships. If we want to be fair, why do we not keep the same academic standards that the general population get judged by and take away all athletic scholarships? Then if you can meet the academic standards and pay for tuition (or take out loans that the rest of us do) then if you apply for and get the job of athlete then you can be reimbursed for your effort.

     
  12. Jcpuryear March 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    I still do not feel that athletes should get paid. Academic standards are lowered to allow athletes in and they are rewarded with scholarships. If we want to be fair, why do we not keep the same academic standards that the general population get judged by and take away all athletic scholarships? Then if you can meet the academic standards and pay for tuition (or take out loans that the rest of us do) then if you apply for and get the job of athlete then you can be reimbursed for your effort.

     
  13. Ekprice March 24, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    I am against paying college athletes for participating in a sport.  Athletes that are on full scholarship have very little need to earn outside money.  While it is frustrating to see cable companies benefiting from the skills of these athletes, the athlete is in college to earn an education (which is what their efforts are earning them).  If the athlete felt earning money was more important that education, they can leave and join the NBA or NFL.  Otherwise, the athlete should count their lucky stars that someone believed in them and their talent to give them the gift of an education in return for playing the game they love. 

     
  14. Ekprice March 24, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    I am against paying college athletes for participating in a sport.  Athletes that are on full scholarship have very little need to earn outside money.  While it is frustrating to see cable companies benefiting from the skills of these athletes, the athlete is in college to earn an education (which is what their efforts are earning them).  If the athlete felt earning money was more important that education, they can leave and join the NBA or NFL.  Otherwise, the athlete should count their lucky stars that someone believed in them and their talent to give them the gift of an education in return for playing the game they love. 

     

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