The knee-jerk reaction of some people upon reading the headline of this article is probably, "How absurd! College athletics is built on the bedrock of amateurism. It keeps it pure!"
Back in the day, this argument used to be fairly convincing. As the years go by, though, the basis for this continues to dwindle. According to Investopedia's Tim Parker, March Madness generates around $900 million in revenue for the NCAA. No one tunes in to watch the NCAA officials. They memorize the channel numbers of CBS, TNT, TruTV and TBS, so they can see the most talented young basketball players compete for a national title.
The athletes involved, despite being the focus of the entire event, do not receive compensation for their efforts; the schools are the main beneficiaries. The tired excuse given by athletic directors, coaches and officials is the players receive a scholarship, and gosh, in this modern world, what could be more valuable than an education?
Money. Money is more valuable. The sole reason some players go to college is that they are not allowed to go straight from high school to the NBA, where millions of dollars await them. Admittedly, there are less than a dozen players of that caliber each year, but most of the high-caliber players who end up getting drafted do not spend four years in college. University is not so much a foundation to future success, but rather a means to an end.
What about other sports? After all, men's basketball is only one of 16 NCAA sports sponsored by Mississippi State University. If you look at the attendance for the volleyball games versus the basketball games, you can figure out which one brings in the cash. I feel there should be limited restrictions on how much any athlete could be paid—perhaps a salary cap—but why should the NCAA interfere? Let the market determine the rate.
If you support women's sports, supporting a revolution in the financial realm of college sports is a no-brainer. The NCAA's bylaws can be altered more easily than the federal governments. Title IX will still be in place at any school receiving federal funds (i.e. almost every college in the nation). Because of this, for every thousand shelled out to bring the point guard of the future to campus, an equal amount will have to be allotted for female athletes. Every grade-school girl with an ounce of athleticism will take up some sport or another, for finally, they have a chance to make more than chump change.
Change is coming; you can already see the rebels. Last week in Lawrence, Kansas, the NCAA served the University of Kansas a Notice of Allegations, largely concerned with a recent trial in which several assistant coaches from various schools detailed a complex web of money flowing from Adidas to high school recruits, as reported by Myron Medcalf with ESPN. How did Kansas react? On their men's basketball Twitter page, Kansas head coach Bill Self appears in a video sporting both an Adidas shirt and a gold chain with a dollar bill sign. Nominally, this was meant to drum up attention for a Kansas recruiting event, but the video is clearly also tinged with vibes of anti-authoritarian sentiment.
Another school mentioned at that trial was from our very own alma mater.
According to CBS News's Matt Norlander, former Arizona assistant "Book" Richardson said when it came to recruiting against MSU, "all bets are off."
Now, this is just the allegation of one man, but I, for one, would not be shocked if there is some element of truth.
But, who cares? The NCAA only has power because of television deals and the major colleges agreeing to follow it. Why should the big-time universities not decide to set up a new organization for themselves, one where they do not have to pretend they abide by outdated guidelines? Let the schools ditch the NCAA at the next renegotiations with TV. They have a lot more to gain than lose.