"NCAA Chief: Running For-Profit Entertainment Subsidiaries Doesn’t Compromise Academic Values, Paying the Workforce Would"
Via Kevin Carey, NCAA president Myles Brand explains that colleges can’t pay the athletes who make money for them because “Paying even a few student-athletes would turn universities into entertainment corporations and misses the point that, for most, some college is better than none.”
This is ludicrous. What’s turned universities into entertainment corporations is the decision to run their athletics programs as big-time profitable entertainment! NCAA member schools could run their sports programs just as recreation for students. Indeed, this is how most college sports programs are run. There are no national television contracts, no high-stakes recruiting, no multi-million dollar salaries for coaches, etc. But then there’s the exceptional case—big-time college football and big-time college basketball. The universities that participate in these sports at the highest levels have already turned themselves into entertainment corporations. The difference between them and other entertainment corporations is that they’ve formed a cartel that bans them from paying their workforces. And they’re backed up by additional cartels—the NBA and the NFL—that make it virtually impossible to ever be compensated for your work unless you agree to an apprenticeship period during which you work for free on behalf of an entertainment subsidiary of an American college.
The whole thing is obscene. I think it’s very understandable that a school might not want to turn itself into a crass, commercial enterprise. But the schools we’re talking about have already done that; they’ve just tacked on an unusually exploitative labor-relations structure to their crass, commercial enterprise. I’m consistently shocked that this setup is even deemed legal.