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NCAA’s treatment of athletes is unacceptable Lincoln Plews

Allow me to describe a business plan: you set up a league of 350 basketball teams across the United States.

These teams recruit talented players directly out of high school. Due to societal conditions and professional regulations, players’ other options are so limited that they effectively have no choice but to join your league.

The teams play each other, and the competition is very good. So good, in fact, that sports fans around the nation want to watch them play. You, being a wise businessman, charge for entrance to the games, television broadcasting, jersey sales, etc.

As the founder of this system, you are rolling in dough. Here’s the real kicker, though. Those players, the ones everyone pays to see? Because you’re their only real option, you don’t have to pay them anything! Sound messed up? It is. It’s also exactly what the NCAA does.

Twenty-two million six hundred thousand people watched the men’s college basketball national championship this year.

All those viewers mean big money. The NCAA brought in just under $1 billion last year, $700 million of which came from the multimedia/marketing rights to college basketball.

Everyone who is part of the college basketball system is paid handsomely for their involvement, with one massive exception: the players. The NCAA’s CEO, Mark Emmert, made $1.7 million in 2013. The next two highest paid executives made $1 million and $600,000, respectively.

Coaches are similarly compensated, with top names like John Calipari ($6,300,000) and Mike Krzyzewski ($6,000,000) rewarded for their success.

The most frequent argument made against paying college players is that they are already being paid in the form of a free education. Let’s deconstruct that a bit.

At the University of Kentucky, in-state tuition with room and board totals $26,700. Out-of-state tuition is $40,3000.

The players, who are risking their bodies and future career prospects, all while practicing too frequently to take full advantage of their education, are “paid” .4 percent of what their coach makes.

Income inequality is often justified by saying that people are paid their market value. It doesn’t take much thought to see that doesn’t apply here. Extreme athletic talent is rare and highly valuable, as demonstrated by the massive salaries of professional athletes.

Despite the clear injustice of this situation, most people still oppose paying college athletes. In a Washington Post-ABC News poll from March 2014, 64 percent opposed payment, while only 33 percent supported it. This must change, and the first step is admitting that there is a problem.

How can we allow what is effectively athletic serfdom in the name of “amateur” contests that lead to million-dollar payouts for everyone but those actually playing the game? Is it really that important to our society to have non-paid professional athletes to watch in addition to the paid pros we enjoy every day?

The guise of “amateur” sports and their association with higher education in the United States has allowed an incredible injustice to continue for too long.

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