This Dan Wetzel piece is good. A taste:
In 2011, the University of Michigan athletic department employed 253 people, according to state records. Four years later, in 2015, it was 334, up 32 percent.
During that period, the average salary grew 22.4 percent, to $89,851. Over a seven-year span, the number of athletic department employees making six figures went from 30 to 81.
Michigan is hardly unique. It’s on par with its peers. Critics point to the salaries of big-name coaches, but it’s everything that is growing in college sports.
It’s the National Collegiate Industrial Complex.
Soaring media rights and vast new revenue streams continue to flood department coffers. Like any good non-profit bureaucracy, they have deftly figured out how to spend … mostly on themselves.
Michigan didn’t add 32 percent more sports in those four years, or 32 percent more scholarship athletes, requiring 32 percent more staffing.
It just made about $30 million more dollars per year, from $122.7 million in 2011 to $152.5 million in 2015. Most of the increase came courtesy of the Big Ten Network.
So it spent the money: on new workers and new raises and more assistant directors and more construction and additional private plane flight hours and the gold plating of everything…
All of this money – namely all of this brand-new money that isn’t even needed – ratchets up cries to share it with the student-athletes.
That’s the exact kind of black/white wedge issue however that college sports executives’ love. It’s so complicated, so all or nothing, so emotionally charged that they can use it to stall any progress or let the entire debate get bogged down in nonsense. [Emphasis added.]
They can turn Marxist and note wrestlers work just as hard as football players. They can throw up their hands at Title IX. They can form another subcommittee and stage February meetings somewhere warm.
And they can hire another 100 people and refurbish their corner office. Or build an entirely new one, because, you know, it’s good for recruiting or something. They can spend every penny so they don’t actually have any left and then cry poverty (generally less than 20 athletic departments nationally turn a “profit” each year).
A lot of them still hit actual students up for athletic fees, because college isn’t expensive enough.
You can make all the excuses in the world for inaction, but the bottom line is that this is how a cartel behaves. Because it can. After all, that money isn’t going to spend itself.
If your objection to this is simply that players don’t deserve to be paid, Wetzel’s got a response for that, too.
The NCAA is vehemently opposed to paying the players or even allowing them to profit off their own image and likeness. (It’s worked well for the Olympics.) Doing so might chip into the revenue coming in, after all.
Why do the schools limit the number of scholarships handed out though? Why do they not provide additional educational opportunities for athletes? Not just in football and basketball, but all sports. Non-revenue teams exist essentially as a form of welfare from what football and men’s basketball brings in, a questionable practice but one that isn’t reasonably going to change.
So go with it. Why does women’s gymnastics have an average roster of 19, according to scholarshipstats.com, yet can only offer 12 scholarships, which they often divvy up? Why not all 19? The money is there. Or coming. Men’s gymnastics is capped at just 6.5 scholarships. That, leadership says, is because of Title IX. Fine, so add seven to each side.
That’s 14 more kids getting a full ride. Then move on to soccer and softball and swimming and everything else.
Or they can add a hundred new jobs and dole out bigger raises and construct bigger facilities that no one rightfully needs. They can put the kids paying their own way in a nicer locker room or hire Ludacris to 15 minutes. Before long, it’s all spent and there is nothing left for the players.
Then they can keep dropping draconian rulings and say any solution is simply impossible while they stand around and argue about real dangerous, pressing issues such as where Jim Harbaugh wants to stage a practice.
It’s a corrupt system, plain and simple. If it’s really supposed to be about the student-athletes, big time college athletics sure has a funny way of showing it.