The Horned Frogs' head coach gives a rundown of the first day of spring football. cmendez@star-telegram.com
The Horned Frogs' head coach gives a rundown of the first day of spring football. cmendez@star-telegram.com

Mac Engel

College sports are making crazy money, but paying players is nuts

May 03, 2017 06:04 PM

UPDATED May 03, 2017 06:32 PM

The fair and the “right” thing to do is to pay ’em all, because schools are making millions “off these kids.”

Until the entire highly dysfunctional and increasingly overpriced and bloated university system in this country collapses, there is no reason to give a student-athlete another dime. Because they already receive plenty of dimes, sometimes preposterous amounts.

When you wonder how much money Texas A&M profited from Johnny Manziel, be sure to ask the following:

Precisely how much money is TCU making from its volleyball players?

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Exactly what is the profit margin from a UTA men’s golfer?

And approximately how much revenue is North Texas generating from its men’s basketball team? Apparently not enough — according to Denton police three former players from the UNT men’s basketball team were involved in a prostitution and drug ring. Hey, don’t judge, when you’re 2-16 in league play you need distractions.

With the news that Alabama is committed to paying football coach Nick Saban at least $65 million through 2025, a lot of us self-righteous media types needed distractions from the bi-monthly cries of “pay the student-athletes!”

This was after the news that the University of Texas installed 43-inch screen TVs at each football locker.

And after TCU agreed to drop its home-and-home football series with Ohio State and play at JerryWorld. Each school will make $5 million for the game.

Athletic departments are now holding brainstorming sessions to devise absurd reasons to spend millions on sports, which is stupid. Meanwhile, they are digging in against cash payouts to student-athletes, which is smart.

When discussing this argument never exclude Title IX, the federal law that bans discrimination based on sex in education programs that receive federal money. So if you pay the football player $5,000, the women’s softball player also must receive the same-sized check.

People who passionately plead for a student-athlete to receive “just” compensation from its “exploitative employer” are applying logic when, in this world, it simply has no place.

It’s a system that requires tax breaks, government subsidies and donation drives, all the while annually raising tuition on its customers, many of whom require financial aid, are on scholarship, and/or are draining their parents’ bank accounts. Or they are stringing together loans to pay for a Western Civ class that has no real value other than the school says it does, and so it makes it a requirement in order to receive a diploma.

We live in a capitalist America yet universities function with the aid of communism daily. And any of us who aspire to graduate from college or plan to send our child to a TCU, Texas Tech or any other university, have little choice but to negotiate this labyrinth until the market creates its Uber equivalent.

Alabama fan sports title belt, championship ring hat

Birmingham resident Shannon Villa shows of his championship ring hat, signed by Nick Saban, and title belt at SEC media days. Video by Jimmy Burch.

jburch@star-telegram.com

To date, the diploma remains a necessity to advance. Per a report in U.S. News and World Report, a college grad makes about $20K more a year more than the high school grad does. But these figures continually decrease.

All the while the debt rises. This will make you sick: According to The Institute For College Access and Success, 70 percent of college graduates in 2015 had an average of $30,100 in student loan debt at graduation.

The university athletic department is merely an extension of the university. It only makes sense that it doesn’t make sense.

In the 2015-16 school year, the University of Texas reported a profit from its football program of nearly $100 million. Lot of good that did. Bevo has finished 5-7 each of the past two seasons. That money was used to cover the expenses of other sports, and, as a result, the school cleared $26.8 million on its athletic program.

Surely, out of that pile of money, there is some to go around for the players themselves. At Texas, which has the benefit of an exclusive 20-year, $295 million deal with ESPN for The Longhorn Network, you could pay them.

There are other places, such as Ohio State, Florida, and Alabama, where you could swing it.

What about the University of Kansas, which cleared $1.4 million during the 2015-16 school year? The vast majority of athletic departments can’t afford additional compensation beyond what is already budgeted.

Because a student-athlete is compensated. Ask any parent who is lobbying for his kid to be handed an athletic scholarship if that is not compensation.

A four-year athletic scholarship to Texas Tech, for an in-state student, is worth about $100,000. For an out-of-state student, it’s just under $130,000.

At TCU, it’s a paralyzing $232,000.

Is the four-year backup reserve swing guard who plays five career snaps at TCU worth $232,000 to his school? Is the baseball player on half a scholarship at Texas A&M worth $56,000? Is the women’s diver who receives a 25 percent scholarship at Baylor, where the cost of a degree is $226,800, worth $56,796 to her alma mater?

Those figures are just compensation in return to a program that basically owns the student-athlete during his or her tenure. Being a student-athlete is a job.

Now, if one chooses to insist the compensation is underwhelming for a handful of football players and men’s basketball players, you will receive no argument here.

For those special few, they should be allowed to make money from any potential endorsement, the same as Olympic athletes. For the majority, they are already being “paid” for their services, most of which offer minimal value to the university.

And that is why you can’t pay ’em all.