NCAA must start sharing the wealth

For those that still deem college athletics as a pure bastion of amateur sports, I would suggest that you put your Gremlin in park, put your 8-track down and adjust the rabbit ears on your television.

Major college football and basketball remain amateur only in the vein of how they finance their labor, the scholarship.

Many feel scholarships provide a more than ample compensation for the efforts of the student-athlete, especially considering that the true value of education is inherently greater than its present face value.

While there is no disputing the value of a college education and the increased earning potential it may provide, equating this payment as commensurate with the service rendered is moronic and self-serving.

It’s like paying a nickel to mow a lawn based on the earning potential of the nickel over the course of the next 40 years. Any equitable solution has to consider the hundreds of millions of dollars that gush from the coffers of the NCAA.

Coaches of major programs swim in a sea of cash and float freely from job to job without so much of a head turn when NCAA infractions are committed. Players, on the other hand, are heavily restricted by the totalitarian laws of the NCAA, often feeling the weight of sanctions for happenings outside of their control.

Under NCAA regulation, a player cannot even sell his autograph, but it’s perfectly acceptable that the NCAA sell and license player images even years after the players’ college careers are finished.

The fact is scholarship money is but a pittance of the riches enjoyed by the big business of major college athletics.

The current landscape of the NCAA is dotted with super conferences, mega TV deals and various types of endorsements, helping to ensure that a steady pipeline of money is fed into the university side of the equation, all while the student-athlete’s recompense has remained largely unchanged.

NCAA apologists would have you believe that imbalance is critical to fund other less lucrative sports at universities across the nation.

My response: “So what?”

Why should this burden be placed at the feet of a student-athlete? This is a college problem, and if the sport cannot fund itself, something is wrong: cut the sport or cut expense.

If this happened at the Department of Revenue, people would march on the Capital, screaming “redistribution of wealth.”

Maybe some of you on the other side of this argument are jaded by the presence of monthly student loan payments in your budget 20 years after graduation, or perhaps you still experience night terrors from being dunked in a toilet at the hands of a football player, or some other so-called “elitist” from your college days.

Your subconscious belief that the perceived debt owed to you can only be paid by keeping up this charade is sad and misguided. As fans we all cling to the notion that the innocent nature and purity of college sports is alive, but the truth is it died long, long ago.

The last remnant of this bygone era is how we pay our student-athlete, and with recent events and pending lawsuits, the days of this barter system’s existence are numbered. So believe all you want that the Texasas, Alabamas and Florida States of the world take care of their players.

A dose of reality is probably not going to make you shut off your phonograph, forever turning the NCAA’s broken record.

John Bauman resides in Hollidaysburg.