By: Trace Welch, @twelch88
My last weekly whip around tackled the issue of the revenue the NCAA makes from the NCAA tournament, and whether it is appropriate or fair to share this profit with the athletes that are generating the interest in the event. As was pointed out in my last article, the NCAA makes an extremely large amount of revenue off of the NCAA tournament though broadcasting rights, advertising revenue, concession and merchandise revenue, as well as the profit made from tickets sold. According to my last article, the NCAA earned $1.15 billion in advertising revenue during the 2013 NCAA tournament. That is a massive amount of revenue that completely goes against the classification of the NCAA as a not for profit entity.
Although the purpose of NCAA sports is not to make a profit, the NCAA willingly accepts and markets any opportunity to profit off of their events and the NCAA tournament is the most extreme example of the actions of the NCAA. I believe there is nothing wrong with the NCAA profiting off of their hard work, and they also share profits with the respective conferences and universities that take part in the tournament, but I feel that it is completely unfair for the individual players whose hard work and effort fuels the popularity of the NCAA tournament. I realize that allowing these athletes the opportunity to see some of these profits could be a complex issue both legally and logistically, but I believe that it would align with the NCAA model of increasing the welfare of student athletes.
One such proposal that I think could create a very realistic method of profit sharing with student athletes is to create a sort of trust or fund where profits could be deposited for future disbursement. I believe this would be a very effective method of payment as it would reward the athletes but there would be no legality issues with their amateur status, as they would not receive payment until they are done with school. I think that there could also be an added component to this method by stipulating that an athlete must graduate in order to receive their share of the money, thus further promoting continuing their education and completing their college degree.
Although this seems like a simple solution, there would obviously be details that would need to be ironed out before such a system could be implemented. One issue could be how to determine how much profit is to be shared, and if every athlete would receive the same amount of money or if it would depend on how far the team/individual advanced in the tournament. Also would each player receive the same amount of money or would it differ on the type of player? Although creating a system such as this to reward athletes with the large profits that the NCAA receives from the tournament would create some logistical headaches, I believe that it would be only fair to reward the athletes who are generating such substantial revenues for the NCAA.