Being an athlete in college is an act of pure devotion. There is no compensation, because somehow the National Collegiate Athletic Association wrote the rules this way, and the time and effort it takes away that could be used for studying and socializing means that only the best of the best — and those who truly love the sports they’re committed to — will join an athletic team. By joining an athletic team, these college students are automatically associated with the NCAA, which manages the athletic programs of major universities around the U.S. Advertisers and brand seek endorsements from college mathletes through the NCAA. A recent revelation, however, shows that the students themselves are not getting paid for what they are putting in — instead, the NCAA is allegedly shoving all of the money into its own pocket. College students who invest precious time into such a tedious endeavor should not see someone else accepting the money they deserve — especially the very organization that has profited from their exposure in the first place.
High-level, competitive intercollegiate sports make an extremely profitable business. While schools like NYU have less exposure to the business, other schools like University of California, Los Angeles, Ohio State University and the University of Texas are the notorious big players with renowned football and basketball teams. The teams at these colleges often make millions from brand sponsorship or more. While these teams make considerably less money than professional sports leagues, it can still theoretically sum up to a hefty amount for any college student. The athletes are barred from accessing any of that money for the sake of spo-caled amateurism.
The situation is already absurd, but it gets worse. The NCAA ban athletes from arranging their own endorsements, yet frequently capitalizes off the accomplishments of athletes by organizing endorsements for the athletic teams as a whole (as with the record-breaking UCLA-Under Armour deal), and using them for their own advantage use. The athletes have no control over their athletic career on their college team as all profitable endeavors were almost planned and managed in advance. Several unnamed universities have been called out for their exploitation of this practice, and despite the revelation, very little is known about the details of the whole process.
What we do know, however, is the extent of ridiculous rules the NCAA enforces that inhibit the athletes’ daily lives. Two college athletes who started selling T-shirts online (an endeavor unrelated to NCAA) faced a message from NCAA threatening to disqualify them — merely because they mentioned they were on the college swimming team on their own website. The NCAA reacted in this way because the NCAA’s advertising deals allegedly prohibit the student athletes from promoting themselves.
A manifestation of these issues was recently dealt with when several federal prosecutors charged three parties: an executive of an undisclosed sports apparel brand, several coaches and an agent who linked the two parties up within this NCAA profit cycle. But this still has not made the entire NCAA accountable for its poor treatment of athletes. Athletes are not property; they might volunteer to play with no compensation, but that does not mean they are giving consent for other people to milk the money made on their behalf. College athletes should be appreciated for their hard work, and the NCAA should not take advantage of amateurism to this extent.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. Email Wayne Chen at [email protected]
A version of this appeared in the Monday, Oct. 16 print edition.