An $871.6 million pie sits on the windowsill of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and athletes from all over the country can only get a whiff. When they try to take a bite there is a penalty.
Athletic programs across the country have been severely punished for violating the amateur clause, which prohibits players from gaining benefits from an agent, their likeness or licensed products like jersey sales.
This has created a system of dirty money and corruption that is wide spread, unfair and un-American.
Former USC Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush bit into the forbidden pie and his alma mater paid a heavy price. USC lost so many scholarships that a once-mighty program slid into a swamp of mediocrity.
D.J. Fluker, the San Diego Chargers 2013 first-round pick, allegedly received improper benefits while attending the University of Alabama. Now the NCAA has his alma mater backed into a corner, with its 2012 national championship season in peril.
Never mind that Fluker was so destitute when he started college that he lived in his car.
For the first time, however, college athletes are starting to push back. Players are beginning to understand their value and have clearly, through their actions, expressed the desire to seek compensation for their labor.
Athletes in college work like professionals, train like professionals and are expected to perform the duties of a full-time college student without proper financial compensation.
Florida Gators jerseys with #15 and USC #5 jerseys sold millions, but Tim Tebow and Reggie Bush never saw a cent. That’s like not paying Michael Jordan for selling underwear or not compensating Elton John for using his songs on “Glee.”
Meanwhile, the NCAA recently signed a $10.8 billion deal with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting for the rights to televise games.
In 2011, Long Horns Network at the University of Texas signed a 20-year $300 million contract with ESPN. Texas players will likely never see a penny.
A free education may seem like an adequate compensation for an elite college athlete, but in a time where employment is never guaranteed, a degree seems small compared to the billions on the table.
It is exploitative that college athletes risk their bodies as gridiron gladiators while universities exploit their sweat and blood under the banner of “nonprofit” and “tradition.”
The NCAA should allow those players who have market value to capitalize on it.
Athletes would be allowed to receive benefits for their likeness through signing bonuses, endorsement deals and product sales, all supervised by a financial coordinator already in place at most major universities.
Eliminating such strict rules would fair well for the NCAA. Scandals would disappear and marketing of star athletes would elevate visibility and profits.
There is nothing more American than a free marketplace. Not even college football.