Posts Tagged ‘NCAA’

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It may be a changing of the seasons in big-time college athletics—from football to basketball—but, according to Will Hobson and Steven Rich, the basic business model remains the same:

Since 2004, many athletic directors have seen their pay soar and have gone on hiring sprees, surrounding themselves with well-paid executives and small armies of support staffs to help their premier teams — primarily football — recruit, train and plan for games. . .

“We’ve gotten so complex . . . we need people with levels of expertise in a whole myriad of areas that we didn’t need years ago,” said Cindy Hartmann, who makes $225,000 as Florida State University’s Deputy Athletics Director for Administration, a job created in 2014.

“We’re responding to the competitive demands of the market,” Hartmann said. “We’re no different than any other corporation that wants its business to be successful.”

That business, however, depends on unpaid labor. To people who have worked for years to expand benefits for football and men’s basketball players, surging administrative pay exposes the fallacy of the NCAA’s argument that most big college athletic departments can’t afford to pay players.

“There’s just this overwhelming force of greed we’re up against,” said Ramogi Huma, president and founder of the National College Players Association. “It’s clear NCAA sports are financially rich but morally bankrupt.”

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The National Labor Relations Board [ht: sm] has decided that Northwestern University football players cannot form a union.

The board cited the unique nature of college sports in saying it would foster instability to permit Northwestern football players to form a union while players elsewhere in the National Collegiate Athletic Association are not.

“Our decision is primarily premised on a finding that because of the nature of sports leagues…it would not promote stability in labor relations to assert jurisdiction in this case,” the decision said. . .

The unionization effort, along with recent lawsuits seeking to increase college players’ rights, had the potential to upend the business of college sports. Schools in college football’s top division turned a $1.4 billion profit on $3.4 billion in revenue in the fiscal year ended June 2014, according to data schools submit to the U.S. Department of Education.

While the NLRB’s decision leaves no recourse for Northwestern players to appeal, it did leave open the door to other college athletes’ winning the right to unionize in the future.

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I’ve made the case before that student-athletes are performing unpaid labor. That is, U.S. colleges and universities produce and sell athletic performances—especially, but not only, football and basketball games—that are produced by student-athletes who are not paid anything for their labor.

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The question then is, who’s benefiting from that unpaid labor? It’s certainly not the professors who teach at those schools (nor, for that matter, the staff who keep the academic programs and infrastructure running). Faculty members are not making anywhere near what the athletic coaches do, and their salary increases have lagged far behind the amount of money being paid to coaches in recent years.

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And much more money is being spent on athletic programs—although clearly not in the form of pay to the players—than on academic programs.

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So, where are all those revenues from the athletic program going? As it turns out, the single biggest outlay—more than a third—is for coaches’ salaries.

Apparently, according to a recent article on the Huffington Post [ht: ja], that’s the reason so many coaches are opposed to paying college athletes for their labor.

“Schools quite often move around or spend money to basically get rid of excess revenue — what would be called profit in a profit-making corporation,” said Michael Leeds, a professor of economics at Temple University. “‘[That’s why] you have several coaches [in the NCAA] getting paid NFL money, despite working for an enterprise that really does not match what the New England Patriots and the New York Giants take in.”

That would explain why some universities end up with state-of-the-art sports facilities. Or why Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski makes nearly $10 million per year, much more than the typical NBA coach. Or why in so many states, the best-paid public employee is a basketball or football coach. . .

“The coaches very likely are very upset over [the prospect of] players being paid because, for one thing, that means a pay cut for them,” Leeds said.