Gosh, why has this taken so long to happen?
A Chicago congressman plans to summon university presidents to a hearing on whether college athletes should be paid, saying athletes are being exploited for their ability to help schools realize extravagant revenues.
Rep. Bobby Rush, chairman of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, wants to know why college basketball and football players, in particular, aren’t compensated for logging hundreds of hours for training, practices and games—free labor, he calls it—that can help institutions reap millions of dollars in TV and other revenues.
Well, one man’s free labor is another man’s scholarship expense:
Northwestern athletic director Mark Murphy said he has not been contacted by anyone related to Rush’s hearing but said he is “very strongly opposed” to paying student-athletes.
“I would rather focus on student-athletes getting their education,” Murphy said. “People make the argument that colleges are exploiting athletes because look at the money they are making. Well, our scholarship is worth over $200,000.
“… The fiction is that every school (athletic department) is making a ton of money. In reality it’s really just a handful across Division I. Michigan and Ohio State do well, but they also support very broad athletic programs.”
And I can’t wait to hear how Rep. Rush reconciles this problem:
There is a problem, said Rush, 60, a Democrat and ordained Baptist minister who says he grew up on the cement courts of Chicago. The question is, in terms of these extravagant revenues, is there any way that these athletes can maintain their amateur status and also get some legal compensation? [Emphasis added.]
That’s what Congress is for.
Rush said in an interview that he wouldn’t hesitate to use legislation to compel the NCAA to act but that it’s too soon. For now, his goal is to attract the attention of top university officials by holding a hearing on an issue he believes many would rather ignore. “I know that university presidents will probably resist to a certain extent,” he said.
No shit, Sherlock.
And for the pièce de résistance, a discrete play of the race card is in order:
Rush, an eighth-term representative who represents a black-majority district, said he believes the issue affects African-Americans disproportionately because for too many African-Americans sports is the way out of poverty and into respectability.
Should be a fun hearing.