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NCAA, in the zone, Geo Baker


College Athletes Using NCAA Tournament Platform to Speak Out

About a week  ago now, maybe more, I wrote a piece about Jalen Johnson and how there are two sides to the NCAA pay for student athletes argument but neither side understands the other. This tweet from Rutgers guard Geo Baker perfectly illustrates my point…

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when I came across this tweet and immediately I wanted to point out the fact that most schools spend more on sports than they do on music or any other programs– that includes high school as well. Sports always get a bigger budget than the other programs and this is something his argument overlooks for the simple fact that no one actually looks at how much it costs to fund a team versus these other programs especially the athletes. 

People see a scholarship and think they hold equal monetary value and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Athletic scholarships cost more per student athlete because musicians show up with their equipment or have to purchase whatever they need on their own. Even kids on art scholarships still have to find ways to pay for the art supplies that aren’t covered by their scholarship and that goes for academic scholars as well. 

Classes all have extra things they require that may not be covered because every teacher and degree is different. Most academic and music scholarship students don’t travel nearly as much as a sports team, if at all, and sometimes when they do travel the school only has about 50% of the funds to pay for the trip so it’s up to the students to raise money or get money from their parents for the trip. 

How many college athletes are hitting up their legal guardians because they need money for a plane ticket to their next game? Then there’s the medical staff, training facilities and coaching staff that all have to be paid for and last time I checked parents weren’t sending their D-1 kids to school to play their sport just to have to pick up the tab for that stuff I just mentioned. 

When these athletes get a sports scholarship the school spends a tremendous amount of money for them to be there and participate. Now, I am not saying that there aren’t costs that the student athletes don’t have to cover on their own, but imagine if their scholarship didn’t include the cost of those training facilities, equipment, and the rest of that stuff. Do you think these athletes would still be quick to sign up to go if their parents had to pay $50k/year to cover their participation in the sports? Probably not right?

Is NCAA Protecting Their Product?

That being said, I do understand where they are coming from when they say that the NCAA owns their name and likeness, but where that comes from is the NCAA not wanting anyone making a profit off of their product– including the student athletes. 

I get that it sounds rather extreme, but think about it, if you owned a team you don’t want anyone ruining the brand of that team which is why most leagues have a conduct clause which states that the team can part ways with an individual if their conduct is detrimental to the team. 

Let’s say Geo here decides he wants to be in a gangsta rap video and people get upset about it because there was some really graphic language. Now I know most people won’t care, but if you have faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, and the public saying they don’t want him in the program then they might have to remove him from the program because he has become a detriment to the team. 

I know some people say that’s not right, but that’s how it works and so to protect the players and the NCAA from this happening they do their best to prevent these kids from doing things that could damage their reputations and cost everyone millions of dollars. The reason no one sees things this way is because these kids only care about making money. 

They care nothing for equal treatment because if they got equal treatment they probably wouldn’t be playing whatever sport they are playing at the collegiate level. Think about it, there are students out there right now who wouldn’t have made it where they are if someone wasn’t curving some grades or letting them get extra time for a test. 

Athletes get to tell a professor that they will be out of town for the week of the test and sometimes it benefits them because they get an extra week of study whereas the other students had to take it that day or they failed. I don’t think a sport is a good reason to miss a test, but because it makes big money someone does. 

They don’t want equal treatment they want money, because as far as I know the only real thing that prevents these athletes from making money is their schedule, but barring that there are things they can do to make money while they are in school that isn’t subject to them using their name, image or likeness. 

For instance, Geo mentioned that academic students could start a tutoring service. Why can’t those athletes start a tutoring service? Most campuses have jobs available to students and there are plenty of retail places that are open 24 hours that would work around their “hectic and busy” schedules. This isn’t about equal treatment, this is about people knowing that people are making millions of dollars while they reap no direct financial compensation for their part in the endeavor, but that’s what they signed up for. The deal is that they get to go to college for free, play their sport mostly for free, and all the athlete has to do is show up, keep performing well both academically and athletically and they are pretty much set. If they need extra money there are ways to make it and Geo pointed them out, but because these athletes can’t make the big bucks playing their sport while in college that’s why they’re upset.

At the end of the day, this isn’t about equal rights or the ability to make money; this is about these athletes getting big paydays because as far as I know every student athlete can get a job, work and make money just like any other student the only thing they can’t do is double dip meaning they can’t get paid to do their sport professionally, but they can give lessons. 

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