NCAA needs to share wealth from contract

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 28, 1999

O.K., how much longer can we not pay college athletes? Or I guess a better question might be how long can we go without paying all of the college athletes? CBS recently agreed to pay the NCAA&160;$6 billion to retain the broadcasting rights of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament from the years 2003 through 2114.

If I am a Chris Porter of Auburn, Michael Wright of Arizona, Chris Mihm of Texas or Brendan Haywood of North Carolina I’m saying, &uot;Show me the money.&uot; I would add Lester Earl, but he’s made enough.

According to the latest NCAA News, the Association is beginning the process of determining how the revenue can best be used to enhance the student-athlete experience and defray the ever-increasing costs that member schools experience in running their athletic departments.

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Boy, how is that for proper public relations.

Let’s face it, you are not going to do a thing for the student-athletes and the schools are on their own.

The NCAA’s main concern should be with the number of college players leaving the game early or skipping college altogether.

The agreement between the NCAA and CBS begins with the 2002-03 academic year and contains an average payout of $545 million per year.

The agreement also contains financial-incentive opportunities for the NCAA and an option for the NCAA&160;to renegotiate after eight years.

The NCAA&160;News says the new contract will bring more exposure to all college sports and provide benefits to student-athletes through enhanced or additional programming. What is not clear yet, however, is how the new dollars will be distributed.

Something tells me that part of the discussion will keep being swept under the rug.

Annual payments to the NCAA under the new contract will start at approximately $360 million, a 20 percent increase over the last year of the existing contract.

Payments throughout the remainder of the contract will increase by about 8 percent annually.

Of course my first thought is how much would a network be willing to pay to carry a college football playoff system?

And they could certainly do a better job of promoting collegiate baseball.

CBS&160;pays $500 million over an eight-year stretch for the rights to televise NFL games.

How many more NFL games have you watched as compared to college basketball?

Last year’s NCAA Tournament was the lowest rated since it began covering the event in 1982.

The championship game between Connecticut and Duke drew an all-time low 17.2 rating.

So the rich get richer and the players just keep dreaming of getting to the NBA to make the big bucks.

Sure, I know you get into all kinds of problems when you start talking about paying college kids.

But we’re not talking playing NBA&160;salaries.

Pay enough that these players can enjoy their college experience and more important improve their games.

The NBA&160;is supposed to be the elite.

Give collegiate players a reason to stay four years at a school, and I guarantee the NBA game will improve.

And if you are not going to do that, filter some down to the athletic programs so the average fan doesn’t have to take out a loan for season tickets for your family.

Share the wealth NCAA. We’ll all be better off for it.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Democrat. He can be reached by calling 446-5172 ext. 232 or at