Sunday, February 22, 2009

Getting mad about the wrong thing

An "activist" put a bug up UConn coach Jim Calhoun's butt about Calhoun getting a big salary in these tough economic times.

Calhoun went off on the guy as follows:

“My best advice to you is, shut up,”

“Quite frankly, we bring in $12 million to the university, nothing to do with state funds,” Calhoun shouted back. “We make $12 million a year for this university. Get some facts and come back and see me. … Don’t throw out salaries and other things.

“Get some facts and come back and see me. We turn over $12 million to the University of Connecticut, which is state-run. Next question.”

People, Jimmy's rant unwittingly reveals the real outrage about Jim Calhoun, the University of Connecticut athletic department, Bob Stoops, the University of Oklahoma athletic department, indeed all of "big time" college sports.

For you see, the way Jim Calhoun turns over millions of dollars to the University is the same way all big time athletic programs turn a profit. On the backs of young men (and in some cases women) who toil on the last plantation left in America, the NCAA.

TV networks make money, journalists make money, coaches make money, Universities make money, but the actual performers do not make money. I can't believe we have made it to 2009 with this archaic, unfair, and often racist system still in place.


Anonymous said...

And despite the occasional team that "makes money," a closer look (once you count the costs of running empty stadiums, etc) will reveal that this is rarely the case.

Anonymous said...

True, but neither are athletic departments always a money hole. While only a dozen or so individual athletic departments "make" money, a lot more than that secure enough revenue streams in order to break even.

Its often the case, at least at a D-1 level, that individual teams (usually football and basketball) will have a net gain, only to see the losses incurred by other, less profitable sports cancel them out in the AD's ledger.

But what's the solution? The NCAA is anal about "fairness" as they define it. They would never go for paying individual athletes at least not officially (though off the books there are plenty of players who enjoy a "upgraded lifestyle").

You could pay football players bigger living stipends then they already receive, but the NCAA would insist that ever swimmer, runner, and water polo player get the exact same payout, and in terms of generating revenue they aren't worth it.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the average life after graduation -- if they even graduate -- of a typical NCAA football player is like. I assume it's not so great, what with having to sacrifice academic performance for athletic effort. They should at least make some money while they're at it. It would ease the transition as they find out that they don't really have a future in football.

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Anonymous said...

You're forgetting the free education that the athletes get. That seems like more than enough compensation for me.

Anonymous said...

Angus--the difference between current system and a plantation system is that the current system is voluntary. One might even suggest that participants in the current system are playing a lottery. According to the NFLPA: Likelihood of becoming a pro is 3.44444 (310 out of 9000) and expected income as a pro player is 3.85 million (average annual salary is 1.1 m; average career is 3.5 years).

The expected value of playing this lottery is thus $132,611 + the value of college degree (310/9000)x3,850,000). Or, with median salary (770,000), the expected value is $93,000 + the value of the college degree.

Moreover, what alternative do you propose? Paying college players merely pushes the lottery back one level (though one might say this is happening already in round ball-MD All Americans, Nike camps, etc). Shifting to "true college athletes" doesn't solve the problem, it just closes one opportunity disadvantaged youth now have.

Angus said...

Anon 12:14 I don't think it's all that voluntary. the NFL and NBA restrict entry based on age and heavily scout and draft from college players. Basketball players could go to Europe out of High School but that is probably out of the question for a lot of them. So my solution is to either pay them or force the pro leagues to drop their entry restrictions.

Anon 11:05 At most big time athletic schools, it is exceeding hard to both get a valuable education AND play a major sport. It can be done, but often it isn't. Many don't graduate and are gone once their eligibility is used up or they pass the age bar to go pro. Others who do graduate are channeled to majors that do not give a lot of value added. There are many exceptions but in general many many top revenue producers are not really getting an education in college.