About this time each year, we always have head NCAA basketball coaches, leaving their familiar pastures for greener ones. We also have an onslaught of underclassmen declaring for the NBA draft, some also deciding to transfer to other schools. No matter your feelings towards the latter, you simply can’t deny an athlete a right to make a living especially if they feel that they are ready for the next level. Keep in mind that NBA scouts are the ones that access the talent available and forward the information to their bosses to make a sound draft choice.
What is getting lost in the shuffle is the escalating coaching salaries of NCAA Football and Basketball coaches. Since this is a broad topic I will stick with the subject of College head basketball coaches in this article. With the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit gaining momentum, high profile coaches like Oklahoma Sooner, head football coach Bob Stoops speaking out against paying players, and NCAA President, Mark Emmert continuing to back a version of the athletic $2000 stipend proposal the NCAA membership overrode in 2012. This is all starting to become a public relations nightmare for the NCAA.
It has been reported by Curtis Eichelberger, Bloomberg News that on top of the $5.7 million dollar base pay that Louisville Cardinal Head basketball coach Rick Pitino salary was for the 2012-13 season, he received a $425,000 bonus for leading his team to the 2013 Division I National Championship bringing his total salary to a little over $6.1 million. The bonus is about 70 percent of the $600,000 annual salary that Louisville University President James Ramsey is getting this year.
Recently USA Today revealed the top 2013 salaries of NCAA basketball coaches. I was somewhat surprised because I thought Coach Pitino was the highest paid coach in College basketball but that title goes to Duke Head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski.
According to USA Today Coach K’s salary for the 2012-13 season is a little over $7.2 million. Don’t get me wrong I am not criticizing these coaches or any coach for making a fortune doing something that they love, but the NCAA and the majority of their member institutions especially those from the top conferences can be very hypocritical when it comes to the topic of whether college student- athletes should be compensated for playing the sports that they love as well.
College coaches have the luxury of hiring agents to negotiate the huge salaries that they earn; student- athletes don’t have that luxury. Athletic scholarships aren’t fully funded leaving the athlete’s and their families footing the bill for the short fall. Why in the world should an athlete especially athletes from the revenue generating sports like basketball and football pay a dime for this so-called free ride that everyone thinks they get?
ESPN's Michael Wilbon stated, "Using the inability to distribute the funds equally as an impediment is an excuse, a rather intellectually lazy one at that." I certainly agree with Mr. Wilbon! We live in a capitalistic society where not everything is equal, not everything is fair but it's time for a change! Student-athletes in revenue producing sports such as football and basketball should start receiving a tiny piece of the pie.
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