NCAA tweets laughable stance for why players shouldn't be paid in midst of $700M tournament

The Dagger

The NCAA just came off a wildly entertaining, upset-filled first weekend of its men’s basketball tournament that drew the attention of millions of Americans and the TV revenue that comes with it.

It responded by tweeting a flawed argument Monday from a man with a six- or seven-figure annual salary about why the college athletes that produce that revenue shouldn’t be paid.

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That’s Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir making a case that if basketball and football players got paid, then his school would have to cull other sports that are supported by the revenue-producers.

We would have to whittle down the list. We have 36 sports. … We would have to kind of concentrate to a small number in order to pay student athletes. That would be unfortunate because the reason why we recruit and say come to Stanford is that we want to provide you an excellent experience regardless of the sport, and we have 36 to choose from. Now we’d have to have less of our offerings.

Nonsense.

Even more ridiculous is that the NCAA is brazen enough to tweet that out on the Monday after the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament.

A private school, Stanford is not required to report the salaries of its athletic department employees like its public-school counterparts. Muir’s salary is not known, but athletic directors at comparable schools pull in high six figures or more than $1 million annually.

We do know how much Stanford football coach David Shaw makes, and it’s staggering in light of the players who put on pads and risk their health on Saturdays during the fall. Tax forms released last fall showed that Shaw made almost $5.7 million in 2015.

This is a man accumulating a fortune on the backs of players while arguing that those athletes shouldn’t see a dime of actual money in a 2014 interview with Fox Sports.

If we’re going to pay for your education, if we’re paying for your schooling, if we’re paying for room and board and if we’re paying for all those other things — to say that we need to pay you more money on top of that just because we have a TV contract, to me, is a little bit different because now you’re skewing what they’re there for, which is to play great football, yes, but it’s also is to go to school to learn and to learn how make a living. I’ve been saying this for years: It’s our job to teach them how to make a living at the university and not to give them their living at the university. Then, we’re not teaching the proper lessons at the school.”  

Meanwhile, basketball coach Jerod Haase’s salary is not public, but it’s safe to assume it’s significantly more substantial than the $1 million annual package he pulled down at UAB before taking the Cardinal job.

So just to get this straight. Muir claims that non-revenue sports would be the spots that suffer in the athletic department budget if the athletes that produce revenue get paid for their labor. Meanwhile, there are millions of dollars annually available for coaches and other athletic department administrators that don’t fit in to that equation.

Got it.

And, for the record, Stanford’s millionaire president doesn’t believe that student-athletes should be paid either.

But again, what’s really compelling here isn’t that an athletic director with an interest in maintaining his and his colleagues’ high salaries would make a case against paying student athletes. It’s that the NCAA could be so tone-deaf as to publish that tweet on this Monday in a public climate that is becoming increasingly aware of the injustice of athlete compensation in light of NCAA revenue.

UMBC’s historic win over Virginia is worth millions to the school and the America East conference, but not a penny for the players who made it happen. (AP)
UMBC’s historic win over Virginia is worth millions to the school and the America East conference, but not a penny for the players who made it happen. (AP)

“Time” reports that the NCAA tournament generates more than $700 million in revenue largely from its broadcast deals with CBS and Turner that is distributed to the conferences of participating teams. It estimates that UMBC’s historic upset over Virginia Friday was worth $1.7 million for the America East conference.

Media analysts have estimated that the exposure generated by UMBC’s win is worth significantly more, in excess of $100 million worth of publicity for the school.

Meanwhile, coaches of the elite blue-blood programs who managed to survive the weekend’s slew of upsets are amassing fortunes. Duke’s Mike Krzyewski ($8.98 million), Kentucky’s John Calipari ($7.45 million) and Kansas’ Bill Self ($7.15 million) have three of the four richest salaries in college basketball.

Arizona’s Sean Miller, who’s in the middle of scandal having reportedly arranged for an illegal payment of $100,000 to star center Deandre Ayton and whose Wildcats got bumped early from the tournament yet again, is slated for a $4.05 million payday. 

But the NCAA agrees that field hockey will have to go if basketball players get paid.

OK.

NCAA president Mark Emmert recently acknowledged the obvious in that something stinks in college sports. But he doesn’t appear willing or able to do anything about it.

”I haven’t heard any universities say that they want to change amateurism to move into a model where student athletes are paid by universities and universities are negotiating with agents for their relationships with a school,” Emmert told the Associated Press.

In other words, Emmert doesn’t see any support from people who have the money to share the wealth with the people who don’t have the money, yet generate the revenue. And why would they? People generally like having money.

Monday’s tweet is just the latest shot from the NCAA that nothing is going to change under this administration.

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