Niagara Gazette

Columns

September 11, 2013

GLYNN: College athletes should get a piece of the action

Niagara Gazette — Whenever there's talk about the millions of dollars that flow into coffers of major universities and colleges from their high-profile sports programs, the people largely responsible for that are often ignored.

They're the athletes who play a significant role in shaping that thriving fund-raising business. In the current issue of Time magazine, writer Sean Gregory makes a powerful argument that athletes at big-time football schools should get paid for their work.

Obviously smaller schools (e.g. Niagara, Canisius and St. Bonaventure) are not in a position — even if they did have football teams — to benefit from the lucrative television-rights deals. Take that 12-year, $3-billion pact the Pacific-12 Conference has signed with ESPN and Fox. Gregory notes that coaches, admissions offices and university alumni operations profit from the stars. But the college presidents, athletic directors and conference commissioners set the players' wages at zero. College officials are quick to point out that the players are amateur student-athletes (some would argue athlete-students) and their four-year scholarships valued at $100,000 is sufficient. Still, in a sense, the college brass could be accused of hypocrisy, suggests Charles Clotfelter, an economics professor at Duke University and author of "Big-Time Sports in American Universities."  He contends: "Universities are quick to lecture society, But here is a situation where we're not living up to our best selves."

The magazine article also points to a recent study showing that if college football operated under the same revenue sharing models as the National Football League, each of the 85 players on football scholarships with the Texas A&M Aggies should receive a paycheck of about $225,000 per year. That's only a fraction of what those guys on the field are making for the school.

•••

DIFFERENT SPIN: Some experienced marathon swimmers have been griping that Diana Nyad, who recently swam from Cuba to Florida, may have cheated by coming in contact with her crew's boat and violating other rules of international swim competitions. None of the complaints seem valid, however, according to experts on those rules.

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