Congressional scrutiny of the NCAA’s handling of athletics is growing, with members of Congress asking pointed questions of top officials over the treatment and benefits offered to student-athletes. As bills emerge to force colleges and universities to make good on scholarships that cover four years of education — and as legal challenges seek financial rewards and union rights for athletes — NCAA officials should stand warned that lawmakers like former D-1 football player, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) are pressing for action to address the vast inequities that have exploited thousands of NCAA so-called student-athletes. A great example, of such oppressive rules that hurt their athletes is the NCAA’s insistence that college athletes not profit from their individual popularity.
Any reasonable person who believes that the current collegiate athletic model is just cannot possibly understand how the system actually works. For example, most people do not know and/or understand the six issues outlined below:
1. While players can’t make one cent for advertising and marketing themselves, the colleges and the NCAA are free to utilize the student-athletes’ names and likenesses to endorse any product or company and then to reap the resulting financial benefits.
2. While players are prohibited from having legal counsel to help them make decisions, coaches, athletic directors, athletic departments, and the NCAA all have agents and legal counsel who advise them about their legal rights and negotiate on their behalf.
3. While players cannot accept gifts — even money for groceries — coaches are allowed to accept free cars, private plane rides, and free meals for themselves and their family members every time they go out to eat.
4. While players can’t be compensated for making personal appearances, the schools encourage and/or require players to make media and community appearances for which the schools are then compensated and the student-athletes are given excused absences from class and a “thank-you.”
5. According to the seminal study, “The Price of Poverty in Big Time College Sports,” the average D-1 “full ride scholarship” student-athlete is actually required to pay an additional $3,222.00 annually to his or her university, and 85% of D-1 “full scholarship” student-athletes live below the U.S. poverty level.
6. The four-year scholarship that every high school football player dreams about receiving is actually a one (1)-year financial aid package at most schools and the one-year scholarship is renewable at the institution’s sole discretion and that can be revoked for lack of on-field production alone.
The NCAA must openly acknowledge that the highly commercialized D-1 college game that is currently accepted and promoted by the NCAA actually conflicts with the NCAA’s stated core values concerning “student-athletes” and “amateurism.” To be true to its stated mission “to focus on the development of our student-athletes” and not the persecution of student-athletes, the NCAA must work to effect meaningful changes in these disparities — changes that should certainly include allowing a poor inner-city kid, like Jamar Samuels, to accept $200.00 in grocery money from his former coach.
This is why during today’s hearing former Stanford University receiver Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) passionately demanded that the NCAA’s exploitation of athletes must end now! Click here to watch Sen. Booker’s powerful charge to NCAA President Mark Emmert during an official U.S. Senate hearing.legiate athletics when fighting for students’ rights.
Damario Solomon-Simmons, Esq., M.Ed. is the managing partner of SolomonSimmonsSharrock & Associates law firm and a football letter winner at the University of Oklahoma. He can be contacted on twitter @solospeakstruth.