As March Madness continues, the NCAA has a big problem because of its insistence that college athletes should not be paid. In 2011, there was a plan to give all student-athletes $2,000 annually but nothing ever materialized. Student-athletes should be grateful that a school wants them to play for a scholarship while hundreds of millions of dollars flow into the industry, coaches get big money, so much so that at state schools, the coaches in football and basketball can be that state’s highest paid public employee. College sports is a business, period, the end. No one is watching any college sports product because of a coach. The players should be paid because they are the reason people buy tickets and watch or listen to games on TV and radio or streaming. Many people are watching college sports because of betting, both legal and illegal.
College sports pushes amateurism and has gotten away with a fable for decades. The very term student-athlete was invented as a dodge so the college sports industry would not have to pay workman’s compensation in the event of injury or death to an on the job athlete because the colleges said the players were not employees. The term “student-athlete” did not exist when Walter Byers took the job at the helm of the NCAA in 1951. It would first appear a number of years later following the death of a college football player on the field. A Fort Lewis A & M student, Ray Dennison, died from injuries suffered in a game in 1955. Dennison’s widow sued for workman’s compensation in Colorado. She lost. Dennison was a student not an employee. That enabled Byers to come up with the student-athlete term because the NCAA got legal cover from the judge who ruled that Fort Lewis A&M school was not in the football business. The college sports business would be better off paying players.