This week NCAA President Mark Emmert supported a proposal to increase grants to student athletes to $2000, lending even more evidence to how out of touch with reality he and the rest of the NCAA is when it comes to addressing the ever-increasing number of problems seen today in “amateur” sports. Presumably we can assert that Emmert does acknowledge there are problems with the current system with his backing of the additional funding for student athletes, but his vote of confidence for the $2k solution is at best comical, and at worst a clear sign of the major problems in college sports, and the oblivious leadership is that is currently doing little to preserve the integrity of college (amateur) sports.
Breaking down the $2000 “solution” proposed by Emmert and his team of experts, this would mean that student athletes could make $38.46 more a week (one fill of the tank maybe?), or $5.47 a day (not even enough for a Chipotle burrito). Of course, by looking at these figures by themselves the NCAA proposal almost looks charitable – but when you stack up these numbers against what universities make on student athletes it becomes laughable. If you throw in coach salaries and compare them to the new “raises” student athletes may be in store for, and this idea immediately becomes one of the silliest I have heard in a long, long time.
Assuming this proposal is agreed upon by the NCAA, it may be worthwhile to evaluate the new student athlete grant money against the men who coach them each Saturday. If we were to use a base salary of $3,000,000 (a fair salary for a Top-20 caliber coach), that would mean that while the student athlete is clenching the gas trigger to get every last drop of his $38 weekly raise into his gas tank, his coach is purchasing a new Mercedes Benz with his $57,692 weekly paycheck (or maybe he is using the $57k for a 10% down payment on his new $500k house).
Of course, if you break it down even more the numbers become even funnier – while the student athlete will need to save two days worth of his grant money (roughly $11) to buy a burrito, bag of chips and guacamole, and soft drink, his coach will have $8,219 each day to figure out what to do with (perhaps feed the entire football team happy meals, and still have a bunch of cash left over!).
It goes without saying that coaches should have better salaries than their student athletes have grants, but the current disparity between the two is one of the factors at the heart of the problems amateur sports is witnessing today. We are also well past the point of adhering tiny band aids to the problems within the current NCAA system, making the new $2,000 pay advance to student athletes look as though the NCAA has no clue about how to correct a deeply flawed and corrupt system.
The NCAA needs a major and complete overhaul, not just a new mini-revenue stream for student athletes to keep them quiet and happy for another year or two. Unfortunately, it appears as though Emmert and his team of experts seem to believe the “throw ‘em a quick bone” approach will get the job done – for now.
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