This weekend one of the most talked about and most popular college sporting events will occur: the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The culmination of the March Madness Tournament features the “Final Four” teams, which then comes down to the final two to play for the National Title. These teams this year include UConn, Michigan State, Villanova, and North Carolina. Every year millions of sports fans print out their brackets and try to predict who will reign supreme in the college basketball world. With these predictions come the inevitable bets from pools with your friends, to putting $200 down on Syracuse to win it all at the Vegas Strip. For the winning team, the shining players will be called up to play in the NBA and the coaches will forever be remembered as an NCAA Championship coach. These coaches will in turn receive substantial pay raises. But what about the players who make it all happen? Millions of dollars are circulated from the March Madness Tournament yet the players who are the ones that made this tournament an athletic sensation cannot see any of that money or compensation for their efforts.After being head coach of Memphis for nine years, John Calipari has been chosen to be the new head coach for the University of Kentucky. After taking Memphis to the Elite Eight this year in the March Madness Tournament he decided to take Kentucky’s offer of $31.65 million making him the current highest paid college basketball coach. According to ESPN, Calipari’s deal also includes perks such as a “membership to the country club of his choice, two cars and incentives for reaching the NCAA Sweet Sixteen and Final Four and winning a national title.” What about the talent of the players that got him to this point? The players are what the fans pay to see, not Calipari screaming from the sidelines. Of course having a good coach means having better recruits and a better teacher for the players, but paying $31.65 million for that seems to be a bit much.
These players make money for not only their coaches and schools but also the big TV networks. Every year CBS and ESPN air the NCAA Men’s and Women’s tournaments and millions of viewers tune in giving them higher ratings making them more money. The players cannot see any of this money being generated by their hard work. Also, the venues that the games are being held at also make more money due to these exciting games. The first time the March Madness Tournament was introduced the NCAA lost money. Today is obviously a different story and it is all due to the athletes’ talent. The only way these players could try to see any of the money they are generating from these groups would be to form some sort of players union like MLB players made in the 1970’s. But again, the NCAA says these players cannot do this because they are strictly amateur players and would be kicked off their team if money is accepted.
These players do receive some sort of compensation: a college education. An education is important and vauleable but how much time do these players actually spend in a classroom or doing school work outside of class? Most are probably concentrating on their game and the players spend so much time on the road that they will miss many classes. The school probably encourages this mentality that basketball is more important so that the team can go further into the tournament and the school can make more money off of the players. They are not getting the same education as the rest of their colleagues. Giving some other compensation like perks or a salary would make up for the education they are losing.
Some fans believe that a salary for these players would ruin the integrity of the game. They believe if these players got paid they would not play as hard and it would be like the NBA with lackadaisical defense and no heart from the players. Fans love to watch college basketball because of the intensity the players give and the madness of a lower ranked team to come out on top. Even though these players are not professional salary-wise, their games are being treated as such. The games are aired on national networks, ESPN has complete game wrap-ups evaluating players, and fans pay top dollar to get into the big time arenas that these college athletes play on. Besides getting paid, what is difference between players on a nationally ranked number one NCAA team and a professional basketball player? Not much. If the NCAA does not want salaries for the players then take away the big venues, the high priced tickets, and the top TV networks. That would truly make these players amateurs.