Los Angeles Lakers University Is Looking for You!

Barry Lenson

Los Angeles Lakers University Is Looking for You!

Paying College Athletes“College football and men’s basketball have become such huge commercial enterprises that together they generate more than $6 billion in annual revenue, more than the National Basketball Association.”

-          “Let’s Start Paying College Athletes,” by Joe Nocera, The New York Times, December 30, 2011

“Let’s Start Paying College Athletes,” a recent article written by Joe Nocera in The New York Times, does a great job of documenting the fact that college athletics have become nothing short of a travesty, and a blight on the face of American higher education.

Here are some highlights:

  • The 15 highest paid college football coaches in America earn a total of $53.4 million.
  • The combined salaries of 13,877 Division I college football players amounts to $0.
  • College football and men’s basketball together generate more than $6 billion in annual revenue.
  • In 2010, Turner Broadcasting and CBS signed a 14-year, $10.8 billion deal for the television rights to the N.C.A.A.’s men’s basketball national championship tournament.

Now, is Nocera really recommending that colleges pay a salary to athletes? Not really. He seems to be trying to make the point that if college athletes are generating huge amounts of revenue, perhaps they should be paid something beyond the scholarship dollars that they already command.

But should they really get paid salaries? Only if the purpose of a university to provide sports spectacles for the alumni and the American public at large.

So here’s a suggestion of my own to take Nocera’s question one step further . . .

 Why don’t professional sports teams become universities?

I mean, why not? Why don’t the New York Giants, the Chicago Bulls and other professional sports teams step up and simply become universities that grant degrees to college-age athletes?

I am kidding of course, because that suggestion doesn’t make any sense. But when you stop to think about it, does it make any sense for American universities to be paying $53.4 million to 15 football coaches? At a time when soaring college tuitions are making it impossible for tens of thousands of serious students to attend college at all, spending that kind of money on spectacle is obscene – no matter the revenue it brings in.

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