It’s all about money, a die-hard supporter said about the state of college sports today. Money can corrupt. College sports is infected with the corruption disease. Not all of the programs, of course, but enough of them to cause worry and a degree of lost respect.
Violations of rules imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the watchdog and enforcement agency for college sports, are common and sports page headline grabbers.
To regulate college sports is no easy task. Criticism is heard that penalties imposed can be unfair and highly questionable.
Take the University of Missouri. It has under appeal sanctions given after MU reported that one of its student tutors cheated in dealing with student-athletes in regard to academic work.
The NCAA imposed severe penalties on MU’s football, softball and baseball programs in the form of postseason bans, plus scholarship and recruiting restrictions. MU reported the rule violation by a “single, rogue, part-time employee who acted on her own. MU was transparent and did the right thing by reporting the tutor’s actions with a small number of players,” Sen. Roy Blunt said earlier this year.
Now the University of Kansas is fighting allegations of rule violations. Some universities have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in hiring lawyers to fight NCAA allegations.
College sports are big business and bring in millions to athletic departments at the schools.
The NCAA is the sponsor of postseason tournaments in many sports and doles out millions of dollars every year to schools that excel with winning programs. The schools benefit from television contracts worth millions of dolars, endorsement deals and other advertising promotions. Rich donors contribute big bucks to college sports programs. Coaching salaries can run into millions of dollars at some colleges and universities. Huge stadiums and field houses are built to accommodate team fans, who pay out large sums of money for choice seats and field boxes. Parking for tailgating is expensive.
The Associated Press reported on MU’s booming athletic budget. “Just 15 years ago, the school reported athletic revenue of about $47 million. Within 10 years, the number had climbed to more than $82 million, coinciding in part with the school’s decision to jump from the Big 12 to the lucrative SEC. And last year, the school reported a record $107 million,” the AP reported.
That’s Big Business!
The schools are giving alumni and other supporters what they want — winning teams, game perks, comfortable surroundings for tailgating, entertaining halftime attractions and social days and/or weekends.
But all of this has been leading up to demands that the players should share in the wealth. There’s movement by the NCAA to relax rules as to endorsements by players, which would generate money for the players, and other money directed to them for their athletic abilities.
Are we entering an era when college athletes no longer are in the amateur status? Will colleges become farm systems for professional sports teams (they already are that to a degree)? Will the NCAA survive?