I am encouraged there are presently serious discussions taking place regarding the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and their student athletes debate. Is there a more appropriate time to have a discussion regarding “paying college athletes” than during the NCAA’s March Madness College Basketball Tournament? With billions of dollars being generated during the March Madness Tournament and questions are being raised why college athletes are not being paid, the NCAA is hard pressed to ignore the debate this time.
This is not the first nor will it be the last time that the NCAA is being asked why they are not paying their student athletes. The drum beat for students athletes to be paid is getting louder and gaining more support every year, because the NCAA revenues from the March Madness Tournament are getting larger while the graduation rates of the so-called student athletes are dismal. The students, who are drafted into professional sports, many of them without college degrees, are being asked to become proficient at playing their sport while neglecting to study and take classes to obtain their college degrees. This would be a wonderful scenario if most of the athletes made it in professional sports. The number of college student athletes who are successful in professional sports are minuscule in comparison to the number of young men and young women who enter the NCAA’s programs to play college sports.
Every year March Madness is one of the hottest topics in the United States of America during the month of March. This year, the billionaire and philanthropist Warren Buffet offered a billion dollars to anyone who would predict the final winners of the two brackets in the three-week basketball tournament. It took less than two days for Mr. Buffet to win his bet. No one to date has been able to pick the correct winners of the games played so far. This is why the tournament is called March Madness. No team is immune from an upset. Even President Barack Obama, an avid basketball fan, picks for March Madness was reported live on sports television. March Madness is BIG business.
One of the reason I am encouraged regarding the student athletes discussion is while on Meet The Press” last Sunday, Mark Emmert, NCAA President, remarked they (NCAA) are considering offering student athletes who did not gain their college degrees the opportunity to return to college and get their degrees at no cost to the students. This I believe is a start in the right direction.
Whether college athletes will be paid for their athletic prowess, which generates billions of dollars for American colleges, is not a simple debate to resolve. There are pros and cons on each side of the debate. My hope is that when the dust has settled from all of the discussions and lawsuits the students well-being will be one of the main priorities.