So 13 University of North Carolina football players were suspended for selling team-issued shoes. It's a clear NCAA violation.
Meanwhile, the school had a $36 million, 10-year deal with Nike. And Nike has a separate deal with UNC coach Larry Fedora, a man who doubts the link between football and brain injury, who will make $2.2 million 2018.
Yes, the players knew they were breaking the rules while trying to make a few bucks. They also know the school and their coach are stacking up greenbacks thanks to Nike while they bust their butt, risk their health (despite what Fedora thinks) and spending countless hours practicing and playing a dangerous game. And they do it while trying to maintain a decent GPA at a respected academic university.
Alabama coach Nick Saban, who is 66, has a new eight-year deal worth $74.4 million. Jimbo Fisher signed a 10-year, $75 million deal to coach at Texas A&M.
UNC's expiring Nike deal is chump change compared to the $250 million deals Nike pays Texas and Ohio State.
Yet many student athletes don't have enough money to go home for a family emergency or even a holiday. And coaches often complain if a players simply wants to transfer to another school. The NCAA will make him sit out a year, as is the case with Washington quarterback Jacob Eason, who transferred from Georgia.
Players sometimes suffer injuries that are ongoing long after their college eligibility ends, leaving them without health insurance to cover it.
This little shoe-selling episode is nothing compared the rampant corruption in college athletics with players being compensated under the table by wealthy alums, potential agents and possible future sponsors.
This system is broken and must be changed at the Division 1 level. It's true that most sports don't make money for the university. Football and basketball pay for everything else.
However, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in income while the student athletes struggle to make ends meet is wrong, especially when it's the athletes that enables the school and coaches to get rich.
And I'm not buying the usual answer of "They're getting a free college education."
That's not enough, and it isn't free. They are working hard every day, and taking health risks, to earn that education.
At the very least, the NCAA should allow student athletes to generate income off their names, which the schools are doing now. Let them sell jerseys with their names. Let them sign autographs for money.
On the other end of the spectrum, have the athletes become university employees who can attend school if they so desire. That's a huge step with enormous Title IX implications, but changes must happen soon.
At UNC, the players tried to sell some shoes for a little money. The schools, the coaches and the NCAA have sold their souls for the almighty dollar.
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