When it comes to sports, I don’t normally like to write about things that isn’t Temple football or at least related to Temple sports in general (hence the website). Not that there aren’t interesting news stories or meaningful events, but I simply read them and move along. They just don’t mean that much to me. Most preseason predictions and top 10 lists aren’t very imaginative or inspiring. Another yawn post about who is the “Under-The-Radar Big 10 Team”. How exciting. Tennis and Golf? Not very riveting for me. Its like every year at about this time, the national writers have a template and just sort of insert a new name and post their story.
And then every once in a while you have a more local paper with wacky stories, such as this one from pennlive.com, written by a PSU guy, who is trying to figure out why Temple football isn’t running away from 7+ mil a year and jumping into the A10. So ridiculous it hardly deserves a response. Forget the fact that they can win the AAC Championship, play in a NY6 bowl, and play in a basketball conference with potentially 6 tournet bids a year (Temple, Cinci, Memphis and #1 recruiting class, Houston, Wichita, SMU) which means a likely revenue stream of 10 mil per year assuming the conference can reach its potential. And that’s all the AAC is trying to do, nothing more, and nothing less. Somewhere in the land of being a solid sports conference. Not poor, nor rich. And most importantly, not flailing and irrelevant like the A10. Despite Villanova being okay in the Big East, Temple being okay in the AAC is somehow not as acceptable to that writer.
But then we have other, more intriguing pieces of news. More recently, California is trying to bust open the scam of NCAA athletics. And regardless of which way you lean on the issue, it is a scam of the highest order. Unethical at best and robbery at worst.
Fair Pay to Play
Approved in May by California’s state Senate, the Fair Pay to Play Act will allow athletes to seek compensation outside their university for use of their likeness. Shoe companies, clothing stores, outside merch companies, and video game companies can pay athletes. If passed, the bill will go into effect in January 2023 for universities in California. This of course had wide reaching consequences and immediately puts the NCAA on notice that its days as the governing body with absolute dictatorship rule is over. The LA Times wrote a wonderful piece about it a few days ago ( found here).
The NCAA has been adamant about not allowing students to make any revenue from college athletics. The multi-billion dollar basketball and football revenues, not to mention other profitable sports, never make it to the athletes that generate the revenue. That being said, the issue is not so cut and dry. There are legitimate arguments to be made that a 4 year scholarship on top of stipends, room and board, and other scholastic payments are compensation enough. And indeed, for many of the athletes, it is. But what about guys like Trevor Lawrence and Zion Williamson, who create headline after headline and bring millions of eyeballs to the televisions? They never receive a penny of the millions of money that flows in. And some may argue that they are playing for their future compensation. I get it, I do. There are biology major students who are saddled with 100k in debt and have to scrap by for 4 years. So in effect the student athletes are receiving payment in the form of free college, if you put it that way. Again, it isn’t a simple issue. The Fair Pay to Play Act still has ways to go, as outlined in a Sports Illustrated piece, found here. But the cost of school attendance vs the 5k it cost per ticket to see Zion play, not to mention tv viewer money, isn’t really all that close.
You see, biology majors don’t introduce billions into network television. They don’t have shoe companies licking their lips waiting for the doors to bust open. Once you introduce shoe companies and other businesses into college athletics, the ball starts rolling and before you know it, the best recruits go to the highest bidder, not unlike the current professional landscape. Yes, I know, it isn’t exactly advertised on billboards that college basketball players are getting paid, but there have been more than enough scandals to prove that it occurs, and likely at alarming rates. The shoe companies control the recruiting game in basketball and everyone knows this. But that is to be expected. The best athletes will bring with them the most interest, and with it, more viewers and dollars.
Should the bill pass, and it likely will, there will be fallout that no one can really predict. The NCAA’s refusal to allow monetary compensation outside of tuition has lead to this. The billion dollar industry it generates and withholds from its athletes has been illuminated. No one denies that the college tuition pales in comparison to the multi-billion dollar industry. And the day is coming where athletes will get paid.
This is America and money talks. The NCAA as we know it could crumble under the cracks of its facade of amateurism. It really only has itself to blame.