Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Give it a rest...

I believe strongly in the concept of amateurism in college athletics.  I justify my support of college athletics at the University of Maryland with reference to the educational opportunities afforded to students.  The value of such an opportunity is underscored by the college search that we are engaged in right now with a family friend -- most schools are simply not affordable to Americans from low-income backgrounds.  For an elite few, athletic scholarships are an equalizer.

But, man, the NCAA makes it really, really hard to defend the status quo.

Here's Pat Fitzgerald, coach of Northwestern University's football team, in his discussion with the media explaining his opposition to his players organizing into a labor union:
"It's been tough for me to be silent," Fitzgerald said. "I believe it's in their best interests to vote no. I'm a teacher, I'm a coach, I'm an educator. There's no laws against that."
I went to an elite liberal arts college in the Midwest.  According to the school's Form 990 filed with the Internal Revenue Service, the highest salaried professor at the school makes less than $300k a year.  No administrator at the college makes more than $600k.  At Carleton College, a peer institution, no administrator or professor made more than $500k.  At Haverford College, no employee made more than $600k.  At tony Wellesley College and Vassar College, no employee made more than $700k, while the highest paid employee at Swarthmore College earned a total package of just over $700k.

For the 2011-2012 academic year, the teacher Pat Fitzgerald received a base salary of $1.97 million and a total compensation package of $2.22 million.  (Northwestern finished the 2011 regular season with a 6 and 6 record and lost the Meineke Car Care Bowl to Texas A & M).

The educator Pat Fitzgerald made more in total compensation than Patrick M. McCarthy, the Director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and Chief of the division of Surgery-Cardiac Surgery at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of medicine.

That's stupid.

But not as stupid as Mark Emmert's (President of the NCAA) $1.42 million base salary the same academic year (total compensation package $1.67 million) or the nearly $1 million James Isch (Chief Operating Officer of the NCAA) made in total compensation that year. 

Again, the highest paid professor at my alma mater makes less than $300k.  During the 2011-2012 academic year, there were fifteen (15) employees at the NCAA that made more than that.  Fifteen!   

So, if you are telling me that allowing students to organize into a labor union poses a threat to college athletics as we know it, I'm ok with that.  Because ultimately, Jeff Samardzija is right, if you're making this much money off the backs of non-compensated student athletes, "it would be nice to see if they did a little bit more to try and help these guys out in the long run."

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