By Eli Hearne (Sports Correspondents).
Monday marked the end of another beautiful March Madness tournament. Throughout the tournament, colleges made money, coaches showed why they deserve their high pay, and the players situations remained the same: unpaid while everyone else is making millions.
For starters, college basketball programs rake in money for the big schools which millions of basketball fans love watching. According to USA Today, Louisville ranks top in the nation valuing their program at around $45.6 million featuring a high profile coach in Rick Pitino as well as a generally successful team. Other high profile basketball schools such as Kentucky and Duke come in valued at around $30 million.
The Coaches paychecks reflect this gargantuan income of basketball programs. According to USA Today, Louisville’s Pitino earns $7.76 million followed by Kentucky’s Calipari at $7.43 million and Duke’s Coach K at $5.55 million.
Each year, eager viewers wager hundreds of dollars on eighteen year olds playing basketball. According to Time magazine, the total amount wagered on brackets is around 9 billion dollars with only 240 million of this on the books in Nevada. Also, an approximated $1.9 billion is lost by companies due to a lack of working and flow of watching by employees.
Sports lovers all around the country, and world, join with the friends to watch arguably the greatest sporting event of the year. Switching around from CBS to TBS to TruTV to TNT, networks gain millions of views. To put a number to this money earned, in 2010 CBS and Turner Sports paid $10.8 Billion for the rights to broadcast the tournament for a 14-year period through the year 2024. Add the estimated $1.15 billion worth of ads throughout the tournament, and March Madness proves to be a massive money-maker.
Money flies all around during March, except to one place, the players. While universities and companies are making million and even billions of dollars, the individuals producing the product are making nothing.
One of the biggest advocates for college players being paid is ESPN’s Jay Bilas. “In any facet of college life, only one class of people have any financial restriction on them at all and that’s athletes. So the idea that it’s based on education is a lie. No other student is told what they can and cannot make, and if it affects their education, or scholarship, or anything,” he said.
“If you’re a music student, who’s on a full music scholarship, you can apply your trade in any professional sense you want. You’re not kicked out of the band. Not kept from performing on campus. Doesn’t affect your academic status in any way. You’re celebrated for that,” he added.
Many people say that the players are getting full-rides to these colleges, but according to Time Money players are valued at $212,000 and are receiving benefits valued up to $125,000 (Scholarships, Health Care, Coaching). To put it simply, what the players are receiving does not come close to equaling the actual worth of the players to the schools.
A player should be able to make money off of their likeness as well. If Lonzo Ball is the highest profile player in the country with companies selling his jersey, making millions off of him, he should be able to make some money. It is absurd that a player can make millions for their respective college, but receive compensation even remotely approaching how much they are worth.
The change will come. Eventually players will follow the lead of teams such as Northwestern and Missouri football and go on strike. Don’t be too surprised if in the future student-athletes take the NCAA by the reigns and begin to protest March Madness games.
As Duke basketball legend J.J. Reddick tweeted out after Monday night’s national championship game, “Every player on the court should have been paid. Scholarships don’t count.”