The NCAA Tournament is a three-week long theater that provides us with countless storylines. With Virginia’s Kyle Guy, De’Andre Hunter and coach Tony Bennett cutting down the nets on Monday, the 90th running of the most dramatic postseason in sports officially came to a close.
One of the biggest storylines that popped up during the tournament was the debate about whether or not athletes should be paid. As of now, it seem as if the NCAA is of the belief that education means more than money for its young athletes. Did you notice that since the start of the 2016 tournament, the NCAA logo on the court was replaced by a logo with the words “March Madness?”
That was done because the NCAA trademarked that phrase. This trademark, along with partnerships with major corporations like Coca-Cola, Progressive and Buffalo Wild Wings has brought the NCAA truckloads of money.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said in his state of the union address during the Final Four that “there is very likely to be in the coming months even more discussion about the whole notion of name, image and likeness and how it fits into the current legal framework.”
The NCAA is far from the innocent, righteous party they claim to be. Despite this, however, they’re right. While the NCAA may still be hypocritical, they’re on the right side of this debate. College athletes are hardworking people who have earned the opportunities they have because of their natural talents in a specific sport. But in a country that is plagued by an unfair college admission system, why should a student athlete who is only going to be at a university for a year or two be paid? At the end of the day a scholarship means free school.
You mean to tell me that a player like Duke’s R.J. Barrett — who only plans on being there for one year — should be paid when at the same time there’s a law student there from inner-city Philadelphia who is going to graduate with truck loads of student loan debt?
Emmert also said in his state of the union address that “there needs to be a lot of conversation about how, if it was possible, how it would be practical. Is there a way to make that work? Nobody has been able (to come) up with a resolution of that yet.” That basically means this: If you pay the basketball team, you have to pay the water polo team, the lacrosse team and the rowing team.
Don’t kid yourself about the meaning of this debate either. It’s not whether college athletes should be paid; it’s about major programs in men’s college basketball and football receiving compensation. If you’re not a student athlete in the ACC or Big Ten, you’re never going to see a cent.
Hypocritical and unfair, those are the two words that basically sum up the meat of this debate. College athletics will always be the lifeblood of American sports: the question is when will greed stop being a distraction for the leaders and the players.
Dante Centofanti is a columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.