As such, said Huma, what colleges should do is take the massive TV money and put it into a “lockbox” of sorts. Then, if players use up their eligibility but want to finish their education, they can get that money. Or, if they graduate, they receive the money, no questions asked. This proposal is not “paying” players, because they would not get the money up front.
Given that only a small fraction of athletes even sign pro contracts, much less appear in the big leagues, there’s an incentive for the other 98 or so percent of them to stay in school and, when they graduate, have a nice head start, a reward for their labor. How novel.
This means, of course, that it will never happen. It makes too much sense, appeals too much to common decency and fairness, and who wants that anyway?
Both Branch and Huma, through their different approaches, arrive at the same conclusion about the inherent contradictions present in college sports, and the total lack of credibility that the NCAA and college presidents have on the treatment of the “student-athlete”.
Think of it – on the one hand, the schools want these athletes (mostly African-American, by the way) to shut up and be grateful that they’re getting a free ride, even if it’s only on a yearly basis and subject to arbitrary removal. On the other hand, they grab football millions from ESPN, basketball billions from CBS and Turner, and share none of it with their hired help.
Contrary to the popular myth, the vast, vast majority of college athletes are not stupid. They see how their work draws in legions of fans who buy all kinds of merchandise which benefit the school, but not them. So can you blame them for wanting a little something more?