It’s All About the (Coach’s) Benjamins: BC$ Championship Coaches Cash In!

In one of the most exciting championship games in recent memory, the Florida State Seminoles and their Heisman-winning quarterback,  Jameis Winston, won the 2013 BCS National Championship Monday night, beating the Auburn Tigers 34-31.  However, according to USA Today, the real winners Monday night were the coaching staffs of both Auburn and Florida State who received huge bonuses for their successes on the field this year:

Sure, Monday night’s Bowl Championship Series national title game is about the crystal football trophy, rings and the chance to say, ‘We’re No. 1.’ sports, it’s also about the money. And for the Florida State and Auburn coaching staffs, the money is considerable.

Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher can [did]  get an additional $325,000 with a win Monday night;  his assistants have varying bonus arrangements, but most of them reached their maximums with the team playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game and getting to the BCS title game. Fisher and [Auburn’s head coach Gus] Malzahn also are heading for much bigger payoffs in the form of new contracts.

Fisher’s deal was released Sunday by Florida State, and it showed he will be getting $3.6 million next season — an $850,000 raise over his pay for this season — as part a five-year deal worth about $20 million. Auburn has announced that Malzahn will be getting $3.85 million next season (he was making $2.44 million this season) and receiving $250,000 raises in each of his new agreement’s remaining five years.

To further highlight the mind-blowing money involved in today’s “Big-Time” collegiate athletics, consider the detailed breakdown of bonuses both Fisher and Malzahn earned before the kickoff to Monday night’s instant classic:

Malzahn was paid $575,000 in bonuses, as follows:

·    $125,000 for having 12 wins this season;

·    $100,000 for playing in the Southeastern Conference championship game;

·    $150,000 for winning the SEC title;

·    $100,000 for being named SEC coach of the year;

·    $100,000 for being named national coach of the year.

Fisher earned $225,000 in bonuses, as follows:

·    $50,000 for winning an Atlantic Coast Conference division championship;

·    $50,000 for winning the ACC title;

·    $125,000 for playing in the BCS title game.

Each year at this time of year demonstrates to the world just how lucrative and big of a business major college sports (football and men’s basketball) has become.  In fact, everyone associated with the College Sports Entertainment Complex is being justly compensated except for the individuals who actuallygenerate the billions of dollars everyone else associated with the industry enjoys—the so-called student-athletes.

That’s why it is unconscionable that the NCAA unabashedly states that while the collegiate system is not amateur, the so-called student-athletes (i.e., the workers) are amateurs and therefore not allowed to make money as a result of their labors or likenesses. Further, neither the NCAA nor its member institutions pay any taxes on the billions of dollars generated by the games, TV contracts, licensing, apparel and merchandising sales, concessions, luxury suites, and donation by boosters and fans.  All of this allows universities to offer and pay coaches highly lucrative, seven figure guaranteed contracts as highlighted above and in detail by the New York Times article entitled Contracts for Top College Football Coaches Grow Complicated.

Now let me be clear: I don’t have a problem with top coaches making top dollars.Why? Because the coaches EARN every penny they receive through hard work, long hours, and raising tons of revenue and prestige for their universities.  The  issue is, since student-athletes work  at least (if not more) hard,  work just as many (if not more) hours,  and  bring in just as much (if not more) revenue and prestige to the universitiesas their coaches, there isn’t a reasonable justification for denying student-athletes an equitable share of the revenue they produce.  Everyone else associated with the College Sports Entertainment Complex enjoys the benefits of receiving their share of the profits, and most coaches, when asked about the issue, opine that student-athletes should have the same privilege.  In fact, the entire scheme established and enforced by the NCAA is an affront to the American Dream, where you get to share in the fruits of your hard labor.

Damario Solomon-Simmons, Esq., M.Ed., is a former University of Oklahoma football player, athletic department employee, and full-time Lecturer.  Currently he is the managing partner of SolomonSimmonSharrock law firm and Legislative Liaison for Oklahoma Policy Institute.