October 5, 1997 in Sports

Study: Ncaa Money-Driven WSU President Says Athletes Reap Organization’s Benefits

Associated Press
 

The NCAA does not pay state or federal income taxes because it claims non-profit status while working to “maintain a balance between intercollegiate athletics and academics.”

Yet, the ruling body of college sports could teach its professional counterparts a few lessons in the art of making a buck off the blood and sweat of athletes.

The Kansas City Star, kicking off a six-part series after an 18-month investigative study, said in today’s editions that in the past 23 years the NCAA’s total revenues have increased almost 8,000 percent, and the NCAA’s $1.7 billion contract with CBS for rights to the Division I basketball tournament is bigger than any single professional sports league deal with any network.

NCAA officials make no apologies for increasing revenues.

“We have been able to provide so much more in terms of student-athlete welfare, participation opportunities, quality of education, quality of training because of the popularity of college sports and the increased revenues that have been a result,” Samuel Smith, chairman of the NCAA Executive Committee and president of Washington State University, told the newspaper.

The NCAA refuses to let most athletes receive anything more than the estimated cost of attending their school. Any young athlete caught taking gifts or money risks being kicked off the team. But the Star found that an association that punishes athletes for accepting gifts puts no restrictions on itself.

For example, the manual for cities holding the Final Four requires a series of gifts to be delivered every night to the hotel rooms of NCAA officials. These mementos cost Indianapolis an estimated $25,000, said John Parry, athletic director at Butler. At a minimum, gifts for each official included a Samsonite suit bag, a Final Four ticket embedded in Lucite, a Limoges porcelain basketball and Steuben glass.

Another example is the NCAA’s sale of its job base and prestige to Indianapolis. Even though the vast majority of its 250 employees wanted to stay in the Kansas City area, the NCAA decided on May 31 to accept Indianapolis’ offer of $50 million to move its national headquarters there.

“Money drives it,” says Tom McMillen, formerly a college athlete, congressman and member of the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, which attempted to reform college sports. “Greed drives it.”

Said NCAA executive director Cedric Dempsey, “I don’t see that we are money-hungry.”

The newspaper said sports generate almost $2 billion in annual revenue - twice the money that the Department of Defense pays colleges for research - just for Division I schools (the top 305).

And in Division I-A - the 100-plus power schools that control the NCAA - the average college makes more than $4 million annually on football and men’s basketball.

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Cashing in

According to research by Notre Dame economist Richard G. Sheehan, at least three college football teams Michigan, Florida and Notre Dame are each worth more than the NFL’s Detroit Lions.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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