NCAA President Mark Emmert made nearly $1.7 million in calendar year 2011 according to the association's federal tax return. Robert Griffin III, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2011, earned zero dollars in salary during that calendar season. Emmert was on The Dan Patrick Show on Monday morning and maintained that's quite alright.
The notion that student-athletes, or "amateurs," should not be able to capitalize on their likeness due to "competitive fairness" is one of the most anti-capitalistic statements I have ever heard. Does Dr. Emmert think he should not be able to earn income from speaking engagements, essentially capitalizing on his likeness, because of "competitive fairness"? I'll go out on a limb and assume he is more than happy to collect checks for those appearances.
I don't believe every college player should be paid, and do believe that to the vast majority of them an education is very fair compensation (as Emmert suggests). For the Johnny Manziel's of the world, however, it's absurd to suggest that they shouldn't be able to capitalize on their likeness. If a local car dealership or restaurant or even an international brand want to offer a player (of any sport) an endorsement deal, then that player should be able to profit. Manziel's jersey earned Texas A&M nearly $60,000 in royalties during the 2012 season. I'm not saying Manziel deserves that entire sum, as clearly Texas A&M provided him a platform for success, but he obviously deserves some cut of the profits. Texas A&M would not sell that "number 2" jersey unless a major player was wearing it. In fact, they didn't begin to sell that jersey until mid-way through Manzeiel's Heisman season. That must have been purely a coincidence, though. TAMU also had a fundraiser during which they earned $20,000 by auctioning off seats at his dinner table. The university is profiting off of Manziel's immense talent and popularity and they shouldn't be the only one. In this great nation Manziel should be able to sign as many autographs for as much as the market dictates.
Dr. Emmert claims that Manziel will be very successful at the professional level and will become wealthy. Evidently he is also an NFL scout. While Manziel may be very successful, it's also a non-sequitur. If there is a sponsorship opportunity for Manziel or any other athlete in the current marketplace, then he or she should be able to take advantage of it. Now. Tim Tebow was the biggest college star I can recall during my lifetime and while he has made money off of endorsement deals and as a professional quarterback, it's unacceptable that he wasn't able to sign an endorsement deal while he was still attending classes at the University of Florida. Tebow was also a prized recruit and schools should have been able to bid for his services. Schools will have to make decisions if it's better to pay recruits/players, coaches or administrators, just as every other business in this country does. The third string long snapper who is taking up the 85th scholarship probably doesn't have the same marketability as the star quarterback, but if any company wants him to be a spokesperson then that individual should be able to capitalize.
In 2010, CBS and Turner Sports agreed to a 14-year contract to televise the men's NCAA Tournament worth $11 billion and in 2012 ESPN paid $5.64 billion over 12 years to create the College Football Playoff. Sounds like a lot to pay for the rights to broadcast a few amateurs playing a sport. Everyone, but the ones in jerseys are profiting. Let's change that.
Last year on the Freakonomics blog, Dave Berri suggested that the average Indiana University win was worth at least $100,000. Using the statistics "wins added," Victor Oladipo was worth approximately $737,000. Players probably couldn't have earned that much in the open market coming out of high school, but perhaps a school would have be willing to give Jabari Parker $750 K for an automatic shot at a national title. Butler University came within an inch of defeating Duke in the 2010 title game and that run gave the university an estimated $410 million in free exposure as well as a 41% increase in applications. A check to a player like Jabari is no different than Subway signing Robert Griffin III to an endorsement deal. An investment in an elite athlete is essentially part of the marketing budget.
The NCAA president's stance is simply anti-capitalistic and is the complete opposite of the "American Dream" that makes this country so wonderful. Emmert's salary of $1.7 million is a 46% increase of his predecessor Myles Brand's. I'm sure he also has the ability to make more in future years should he hit performance goals, which is perfectly fine in a capitalistic society. I guess he just wants to set a cap on the "compensation" for the student-athletes and not the NCAA executives.
Amateur hour is over. Show them the money.