Hypocrisy reigns in college sports

Hypocrisy reigns in college sports
January 04
03:00 2018

College athletics, particularly basketball and football are big business for coaches, school presidents and networks like ESPN.  The NCAA portrays itself as an amateur governing body but more often than not carries themselves like a fortune 500 corporation.

What confuses me most is the double standard that lies between how coaches and players are treated.  Coaches are allowed to literally come and go as they please if a better job presents itself while on the other hand the players are treated more like commodities that are controlled and manipulated.

Take for instance the new head coach of the Texas A&M Aggies football team, Jimbo Fisher.  Fisher is the former head coach of the Florida State Seminoles and made $5.5 million dollars this past season.  He just signed a contract extension at Florida State in January and was scheduled to run through 2025.

Instead Fisher was poached from the Seminoles by the Aggies and will now make a whopping $75 million over the next 10 years, making him the second-highest paid head coach in the country behind Alabama’s Nick Saban who makes $11.125 million per year.

Now I understand the players benefit from the universities as well, with the ability to gain a free education at an institute of higher learning, but with the salaries these coaches and schools are making a small stipend should be made available to the players, since they are the ones putting in the blood, sweat and tears to bring the money to these universities.

From jerseys, video games and TV contracts, these schools are literally raking in the dough that they make off of the backs of the players.  Many of these players come from impoverished households, so a monthly check that I feel they have earned would be extremely beneficial to the players and their families.

Even if they don’t want to pay the players during their careers maybe an interest gaining account could be set up in their name that they are allowed to access upon graduation or leaving the school.  Or they could just allow the kids to market themselves and make money while not having their “amateur” status affected as it would be now.

Fisher was able to leave Florida State with no repercussions or penalties.  Juxtapose Fisher with a player who wishes to leave a program after his freshman year and he would have to sit out the next season and the coach is allowed to dictate which school the player is not allowed to transfer to in some cases.

I find this to be a huge contradiction to what the NCAA is supposed to stand for.  I am not advocating for allowing players to transfer for any reason but I feel if a coach who recruited a player leaves the players should be allowed to do the same among other exceptions.

What many people don’t realize is these scholarships are in essence one-year deals.  The scholarships are not four-year commitments from the schools and they are allowed the option of not offering a scholarship to a kid if they find a better commit coming out of high school or transfers in from another school.

It seems as though the coaches and the schools hold all of the leverage and the players are just pawns in their money game.  The players from Northwestern University attempted to implement a players union a few years ago but that was quickly squashed in court.

I have seen the way coaches can control a player’s movement firsthand.  I was a former track and field athlete and wanted to transfer to another institution because their journalism department was far and away better than my college’s program at the time.

I informed my coach, who was also the athletic director, of my intentions to transfer and he in return told me that he can’t let me transfer because he has two seniors leaving and needed me even more for next season.  I told him why I wanted to transfer and his exact words to me were: “I can’t let you go and if you try to I will get my year.” 

Since I was transferring from a Division II school to a Division I college after the fall semester, I was eligible to run immediately for my new college once there.  When he told me he would get his year, that meant he could protest my transfer since it was the middle of the year and I would have to sit out the outdoor season and next year’s indoor season.

It took a call home to my parents for my coach to finally agree to let me go.  I wasn’t transferring for selfish reasons. I did it for my future.  I knew that running track and field professionally was a long shot and knew that my journalism degree would take me further. 

This is just one example of the power these coaches and athletic directors have over their players.  I was just a small example so you know how much more prevalent this is at powerhouse schools in the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 conferences where the money is exponentially larger in sports that are money generators.

In the years to come, something has to be done to even the playing field while also finding a way to put some money in these kids’ pockets.  The pressure will continue to mount on these schools to share the pot with the players that are fattening their wallets, but will they fold is the question.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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