14 November 2014

Why I'm Not at the @SunDevilHoops Game Right Now

Earlier this year I decided that I would refrain from purchasing season tickets to Arizona State University football and men's basketball as I had done each year since 2003. I made this decision because I believe that college athletes at ASU, and at other NCAA institutions, are not fairly compensated for their contributions to the university. This is important to me because I place a high value on fairness. It is one of my core values.

Student athletes are not fairly compensated for their work. If they get a full athletic scholarship they can expect to owe $3,222, the average scholarship shortfall, each year. It is also important to show how much some of the coaches are being paid.

Look at the University of Alabama football program. An athletic scholarship at Alabama is worth about $21,000 each year. The head coach, Nick Saban, earns $5,545,852 each year.

At Duke University an athletic scholarship is around $43,623. The head basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski, earns $9,682,032 each year.

If a college education is priceless because it has the potential for greater earnings over a lifetime then that is still not fair compensation because on average there is only a 50% graduation rate. A college degree is only as valuable as what the college graduate can get out of it. Potentially a lot. Possibly nothing.

If a student athlete takes matters into their own hands then the NCAA cracks down on student athletes for any sort of direct benefit from their athletic status. For example a player doesn't receive royalties when their likeness is used in a video game or when a jersey with their number is sold. If a player were to receive money for autographs the NCAA would suspend them.

There is hope for ASU student athletes. Earlier this year the PAC12 announced passing sweeping reforms, guaranteeing four year scholarships, improving health care benefits, and liberalizing transfer rules. That is a step in the right direction but until players are compensated, or paid a commensurate salary for their work then I will be reluctant to support any ASU NCAA athletic programs.

Would this have drastic effects on collegiate sports in America. Yes. I expect that if it moved to some sort of payment model the programs that could afford to pay their players more could attract the best talent and national championships would be won by the same five or six programs each year, maybe from the SEC or ACC.

I am not purchasing season tickets or making any more donations to the Sun Devil Club until there is a system in place to support student athletes having a seat at the table where they can voice their concerns and be a part of the conversation where they can negotiate a fair compensation.

Other resources:

Also see this list of 11 Things That College Athletes Aren’t Allowed To Do from Buzzfeed.

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