You can call me Aaron Burr from the way I’m droppin’ Hamiltons.
CBS Sports Writer and KSR favorite Gregg Doyel came at’cha with some math yesterday, and used basic arithmetic to illustrate what Coach Cal’s been saying for a while: it’s time to pay football and basketball players.
While Cal’s been preaching the need for athlete compensation for a long time, the figures Doyel puts up are pretty mind-boggling. Consider the following: (1) the average D-1 football player is worth $121,048 per year; (2) the average D-1 basketball player is worth a staggering $265,027 per year; and (3) the average “full-scholarship” athlete leaves each academic year owing over $3,000 to their university.
Ridiculous, right? Add in that while the average basketball player is worth over a quarter-million to their school, a player at Kentucky has to be worth an inordinate amount more. Heck, Duke players are “worth” over a million, and that’s Duke. How much money do you think Michael Jordan has earned UNC over the years? And what about Anthony Davis for Kentucky last year? I know the University put up that billboard for him in NOLA, but surely that didn’t wipeout the million-plus in revenue he earned in his nine or so months here. And while it may not matter much to the players who get drafted, Doyel points out that those are the minority:
A kid like Anthony Davis from Kentucky or Andrew Luck from Stanford can afford whatever bill comes, but those guys are the exception. Most college players don’t go to the NFL or NBA. They go into the same labor force as you and me, and after the fortune they helped generate for their school, the last thing they deserve is to owe that school another $14,000 for their years of free labor.
Cal campaigned earlier this year to implement a remodel to the compensation in order to make sure athletes are properly nourished. This goes a little beyond hunger and addresses an almost equally fundamental need: equity. Schools are being enriched by athletes, to whom they owe more than just a room, even if that room is in the luxurious Wildcat lodge. Would I be jealous if these athletes got paid, and I didn’t? Sure. I’d like to be paid money to go to school, too. But at the same time, I’m not bringing the school hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue to merit that kind of payment.
Are Doyel and Calipari right? Is a slow, inevitable, almost glacial change to paying players on the horizon? How would that affect recruiting? Would it be required for all athletes, or only the programs that bring in a certain amount of money? There are a lot of questions around the issue, but one thing is certain: the pay-for-play dynamic is looking more and more inevitable.