HBO Student-Athlete | NCAA Should Pay The Price / by Hussein Abdullahi

Producers Maverick Carter & Steve Stoute, and LeBron James have teamed up to produced a HBO documentary “Student Athlete”; which sheds a light on the lucrative billion-dollar sports industry. In the world of college sports athletes are exploited every year, college institutions generate billions of dollars annually and profit of it’s pool of student athletes. This has become a common trend for the college athletics system. If you calculate the high-revenue colleges make of their athletes and the time invested by the athletes, it just doesn’t add up. In the 2016-17 academic year, the NCAA records 91,755 men that played basketball and football, only 303 were selected by the NBA or NFL. Over decades the NCAA made profits at the expense of their student-athletes, not to mention the lucrative TV deals and partnerships that they’ve solidified over time.  The conversation has always been in the works, but now Iconic figures like LeBron James will like to push the conversation forward on the NCAA prohibiting student-athletes to get paid from colleges. It’s imperative for the NCAA to come to terms and provide a solution for why college athletes should be better compensated. The colleges are making a fortune, and the coaches and staff are greatly benefiting off of the revenue, so it’s only fair that the student-athletes benefit somehow. In America amateur athletics present several restrictions pertaining to student-athletes, we’ve witnessed the causing effects that the college athletic system created over the course of decades.

Generally, there’s a pool of workers generating millions of dollars and they’re not allowed to touch the money.
— Don Yee (Sports Agent)
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The current college athletic system offers scholarship athletes free education and dorm to represent their university in competition. This would seem like a fair exchange however; as we know college basketball and football generate billions of dollars in revenue annually. It’s a common trend for coaches to benefit off highly touted recruits because they’re generating all the revenue for the university. In 2002 Carmelo Anthony led the Syracuse Orangeman to a NCAA National title. In his final game at the Carrier Dome 33,071 fans attended to witness the ending of an era. More than 70% of fans were wearing Carmelo’s Jersey, while he was living the struggle of a college athlete. Over a decade later Carmelo Anthony found out financial revenue that the NCAA has leveraged off him.

There is no security blankets for these kids in college, you here for school and you here for education. If you go out there and play and get hurt, then its on you.
— Carmelo Anthony (Houston Rockets)

Every year there are various individuals who are impacted by the college athletic system and what stood out to me was the fact that coaches and other faculty members fail to express the concerns about profiting of the athletes. A large representation of African-American male athletes comes from families who live below the poverty lines. It’s a common trend now where athletes are specifically going to school for athletics and have less emphasis on education so they’re obtaining meaningless degrees. What happens to the 50% of college graduates don’t get to play professionally? In the HBO film former College Graduate Shamar struggles to provide for himself due to the financial instability of his job. Shamar attended college where her was a student-athlete and then decided to pursuit a professional career in football. It’s safe to say that things didn’t work out the way he expected and now he finds himself working dead-end jobs to provide for his basic necessities of life.

I couldn’t afford rent. Plan A didn’t work, about to try Plan B
— Shamar Graves (Former NCAA Athlete)

For the average college coach, in order to make a living you must develop the subtle skills of talent recruitment, fundraising, and most importantly winning. The more wins equal more revenue the universities makes, not to mention all the monetary investments that alumnis and business corporations dump into the institution. The modern day college athletic system is strictly about big business. Over time we’ve witness the top tier programs have legendary coaches who make a fortune. Duke’s Coach K is currently the highest paid NCAA coach in men’s basketball, followed by Kentucky’s Coach Calipari whose annual salary is 8 million dollars. It time for the NCAA to push the conversation forward and try to implement a new policy where the student-athletes are getting a percentage of the revenue they generate for the institution. It’s good to see a. lot of NBA athletes show there support in hopes of breaking the corrupted college athletic system.

Fundraising, public relations, and obviously recruiting which is the top priority of a coach.
— Steve Lavin (Former St. John's Coach)

Thanks: HBO, Uninterrupted, ESPN

Athletes: Shemar Graves, Carmelo Anthony