Response to Seth Davis

Published on 23 September 2011 by in College Sports, General, NCAA

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Sports Illustrated columnist Seth Davis has posted a blog on SI.com tagged “Rebutting Taylor Branch.” Let me respond briefly. First, here are links to the full text on both sides: my article last week in The Atlantic, “The Shame of College Sports,” and his criticism of it on Wednesday. Interested readers can compare them fully for context.

I wish Davis’s blog had offered a space as commonly allotted for direct comment, and I offer him a reciprocal opportunity on my site to clarify and narrow our disagreements. Transparent dialogue can reduce the waste of straw arguments and mischaracterization.

We agree on one stark reality well stated by him: “There is no movement—none—within the actual governing structure of the NCAA to professionalize college athletes.” We also agree that sports departments lose money now at nearly every college, and that relatively few could afford to pay any athletes if allowed to do so.

The nub of our dispute is over the general terms of service for college athletes. Davis says I overlook the fact that athletes are paid already with scholarship packages, while I say these in-kind benefits beg the fundamental question of whether the colleges and the athletes should be free to bargain for more or less.

To insist that athletic scholarships settle the compensation issue is like saying that any worker who gets medical coverage doesn’t need or deserve a salary. Worse, the NCAA demands adherence to this absurd standard by forbidding both sides to negotiate changes. Non-playing adults thus reserve to themselves all the wealth generated by college sports, whereas the NCAA punishes highly-valued athletes (famously the Georgia Bulldogs receiver A. J. Green last year) even for selling an old jersey.

Davis argues that scholarships are more than enough. (“If anything,” he writes, “most of these guys are overpaid.”) This is a convenient perspective for those who enjoy or benefit from the current structure, but that doesn’t make it fair. The NCAA’s unique amateur rules are imposed by private collusion of the colleges without sanction in law. College players, unlike Olympic athletes, are excluded from NCAA membership and from all rights of due process by the consortium that tries to govern them.

To me, the basics of genuine reform are simple. No college should be required to pay or not to pay students who play for them in any sport. Athletes should have the rights other citizens take for granted, and should be represented in every organization that depends upon their skill and devotion. We are the only country in the world that hosts professionalized sports at institutions of higher learning. There are profound questions about whether these two missions can or should coexist, but genuine education will not begin until we stop pretending that compensation itself makes college athletes “dirty.”

I invite Seth Davis to meet me in any verbal forum that can substitute for mid-court or the fifty-yard line. There we can trade questions and answers openly. He can cross-examine me on any argument or fact in my survey of college sports from the Civil War to Cam Newton. We may have fun, because the arena is inherently colorful and wondrous, but I will challenge him to declare his basic premise. Exactly how does he justify fastening amateurism on somebody else, and on college athletes alone? By what presumption must we all be satisfied that they are not earning too much? Here’s hoping that Davis and I can push forward in constructive debate.

18 Responses to “Response to Seth Davis”

  1. Duke Keith says:

    Understanding your premise that any young adult should be free to negotiate his or her own deals, assuming that college athletic departments are strictly professional endeavors is more than a little dangerous. Title IX applies not just to colleges and universities, but also to athletic departments. Not that it should, necessarily, but that’s another debate.

    The bottom line is, rightly or wrongly, athletic departments are judged by federal law to be part of the school to which they’re attached, thus anything you give to one group you have to give it to everybody — if football makes money and pays players, so must the volleyball team even though it makes no money.

    You say Seth Davis doesn’t answer your basic premise, but Davis accurately points out the fact athletic departments are beholden to the same laws that govern every college campus. Athletic departments could mint money and your point would still be moot.

    It should also be pointed out that, despite what programs cost to maintain, much of that cost goes directly back to campuses in the form of scholarship money for tuition, books, room and board. I would venture to say that, after state and federal governments, athletic departments put more money back into their respective campuses than just about any other single entity. Certainly, some states allow tuition wavers, but most don’t.

    • The Ghost of Columbo says:

      @Duke Keith

      Wow, that’s quite the fusillade raining down from the moral high ground, there.

      Just one more question, though…

      Why can’t athletes collect gifts from boosters – or for that matter, anyone? Is that because of Title IX, too? Somehow, I doubt it. Somehow, I think the swim team would get by just fine if I took the entire wide receiving corps down the local deli and covered everyone’s tab.

      Oh, and another question…sorry, I’m just a ghost…

      Are you sure you know what the term ‘moot point’ means?

    • Andy Schwarz says:

      Duke Keith — that’s not how Title IX works. Specifically, just because you give some male athletes X does not require you to give all women athletes that same X. For example, at Florida State in 2009-2010 numbers, all 82 men on the mens football team got 100% scholarships.

      This contrasts with:

      Women’s Golf: 5.66 GIAs over 8 women, 71%
      Women’s Soccer: 13.39 GIAs for 18 women, 74%
      Women’s Softball: 11.95 GIAs for 19 women, 63%
      Women’s Swimming: 14 GIAs, 28 women, an even 50%.
      Women’s Track & Field and Cross-Country: 17.99 GIAs for 32 women, 56%
      Women’s Volleyball 11.89 scholarships for 14 women, or 85%
      Women’s Basketball: 12 GIAs for 12 women, a perfect 100% GIA for every woman on scholarship.
      Women’s Tennis: 7.5 GIAs across 8 women, for a very high 94%

      So basically, schools have no problem giving some male athletes a full scholarship but giving most female athletes less.

      But let’s say you’re right, and if the schools gave male athletes another $1 that would mean they had to give women athletes another dollar too. Why would that be bad? Yes, it would dampen demand for male athletes, because effectively there would be a 100% tax. But we have 100% taxes on cigarettes and yet they still sell.

      If each new dollar of spending went equally to men and women, the system would function like a 100% payroll tax on male college athlete’s pay. If a star quarterback is worth $50,000 to a school, and they knew that for every dollar they spent on him, they would also need to allocate a dollar to women’s sports, then the most they could afford to offer him would be $25,000, knowing the other $25,000 had to go to meet their (theoretical) Title IX pay-equity burden. As every school would have this same tax burden, competition for those athletes would be fair, but muted.

      Economics teaches us that a high payroll tax will keep salaries down, but not eliminate them. Under this interpretation of Title IX’s mandate, the system would take advantage of the high demand for male athletes to funnel a lot more money into women’s sports (which is the point of Title IX, after all). Title IX doesn’t stop male athletes from getting receiving market-based compensation any more than cigarette taxes have eradicated smoking in this country.

      • Jared says:

        Andy, your numbers for scholarships aren’t exactly correct. You also represented only one side, by examining only women’s sports.

        There are two different scholarship models for NCAA sports – head count and equivalency. For a head count sport, you can only give scholarship money to students up to the scholarship limit for that specific sport, even if you don’t give each student a full scholarship. Women’s volleyball for example is a head count sport. The scholarship limit is 12. So you can only give athletics grant in aids to 12 total student-athletes, whether you give each one a dollar or a full scholarship. In your list above, if FSU is truly giving out volleyball scholarships in the way you’ve listed they are in violation of the NCAA limits. They cannot award scholarships to 14 women. Football is also a head count sport.

        The other model is the equivalency model. This means that you can spread out your scholarship limit among however many students you choose to. An example of this would be the women’s golf listed above, which has split 5.66 scholarships between 8 students.

        The equivalency model is used for both men’s and women’s sports as well. In every sport that has a male/female equivalent, more scholarships are available for the women’s sport than the men’s. This is because of the overwhelming scholarships allowable for football, which has no female equivalent.

        I would also suggest you re-check the scholarship numbers you listed. If those are indeed correct, FSU has some NCAA issues as they would be above the allowable scholarship limit in several sports.

    • Frank Daniels says:

      @Duke Keith

      I believe your Title XI argument is covered by the “schools can’t afford it” issue raised by Branch.

      But the “schools can’t afford it” issue brings about a larger issue: have college athletics become a liability for universities.

      The arguments in support of college athletics have counter arguments that weigh heavier than the pro-position.

      “College athletics afford people who wouldn’t ordinarily go to college an opportunity at higher education.”
      There is anecdotal evidence to support the contention that athletes aren’t receiving the purported education they’re in a school to receive. There are reports every year about a school that has a special list of classes designated for athletes to take. Athletes who’ve turned professional are still functional illiterates. Athletes who get cut when a new coach comes to the school aren’t allowed to continue their education under scholarship. Athletes are ushered into degree programs that won’t lead to gainful employment outside of booster and alumni intervention.

      If a University’s mission is to education those who enter its hallowed halls, most Universities are failing to fulfill that mission when it comes to athletes.

      “Athletes are compensated by scholarships.”
      I was paid to attend college. Full tuition, room, books, food, and even spending money. But I was still able to go after more money whenever I wanted to. I was able to play schools against each other when they recruited me. I told recruiters what schools called me and what schools offered me what and I asked them could they match it or better it. I had schools offer me laptops and money in addition to the scholarship package they already awarded me. I was even given money to apply to some schools. But I wasn’t an athlete, so I could do that.

      Athletes are more highly recruited than I was and yet they aren’t afforded the same leverage I was. In fact, athletes and schools are punished for doing the exact things I did when choosing a university. How is that fair to athletes? Revenue sport athletes bring in a lot of money to their schools, I brought a grand total of $13,000 to my school (money from sources outside of the University). Athletes, for the most part, pay for themselves. I was a loss-leader for my University (spending money on the student to get them to enroll in hopes that the student then donates after graduation). I have yet to repay my University for the amount of money they spent on me. No return on investment.

      But you, and others, expect me to believe that an athlete should be grateful for what they get from the university when they bring in far more than normal students? Researchers who bring in major contracts and grants to universities are compensated very well for their efforts, but an athlete can’t get a ride from a coach without an NCAA investigation?

      Outside of all this the vast majority of D-1 athletic departments lose money. Schools are forced to subsidize the athletic program you claim is sending so much money back to the university.

      The best idea I’ve heard for college athletics was offered by an agent: remove sports from colleges. Athletic departments can be spun out of the university and operated as a business. Each program will be able to compete in an open market for talent. Schools can sign contracts with athletic programs where the schools offer vouchers to players — 1 year of school for each year played — in return for discounted or free tickets to the university that it could give to students or alumni. Each player will be paid according to their talent level.

      This would give schools a quick influx of cash as the athletic programs would buy the logo and other trademarks along with all the facilities, if wanted, from the university.

  2. Taylor: Seth’s view is limited. For purposes of analysis, OW Holmes’s “inarticulate major premise” should be the starting point. Always look for it. This entire “payment for athletes” discussion is skewed by the “inarticulate major premise”: that they are not employees. One should first assume that they ARE employees. Because, by every test of employment (workers’ comp, independent contractor, NLRB, wage & hour, unemployment), these players are employees. All such tests emphasize “control” by employer over employee (and that’s “de facto” control, which allow recognition that FB players effectively have to be on campus ,working out, year round.) The control factor, as regards these players, has ramped up incredibly over the last two decades; that fact, coupled with the tsunami of money, make it only a matter of time before they are declared employees. Here’s why: ALL of the law on this issue, whether its Wadrup, or the 84 Indiana case, is convoluted, poorly reasoned law. If one could just magically remove the habitual “hero worship” factor which infects the minds of judicial decisionmakers everywhere, we will see a change.
    So these arguments which are “Oh, the schools could not AFFORD to pay them as employees” are the very same arguments which courts across the country EVERY day respond to by saying, “Hey Pal, that’s YOUR problem, not mine. Go figure it out.”
    Sum: this social problem, like tobacco, Curt Flood, and others, will be solved by rapid, judicially-mandated change. NOT by NCAA , or some kind of Emmert-negotiated middle-ground, let’s pay them $2G more.. Most likely: paralyzed player’s parents file workers’ comp case to establish employment relationship. Easy case; revolutionary result.
    Pragmatically, what’s required to further this end, to protect these backward black kids who are getting scammed, when there’s no difference between them and an 18-year old Alisha Keys or Michael Jackson?: the fabulously wealthy black athletes, along with leaders like Jim Brown, need to form a 501c3, pumped with cash, to provide every black high school recruit with basic legal advice & protection. THAT’s how this needs to happen. It’s a challenge to guys like Jalen Rose and others: step up to the plate.

  3. Andy Schwarz says:

    This is an excerpt of my blog entry on this subject, which is located here:
    http://sportsgeekonomics.tumblr.com/post/10576830828/sethdavishoops-falls-for-and-perpetuates-myths-10

    Seth Davis’s recent efforts to dispute Taylor Branch rested heavily on two pernicious NCAA myths.

    Myth 10: What they get is very valuable, it should be enough. How can you say what they get is unfair? I wish my kid got that deal!

    Myth 13: “It’s a free country, so if they don’t like what the NCAA is offering, get a job elsewhere.”

    Davis writes:

    Left unsaid is the fact that the players do have access to the fair market. If they want to be compensated for their abilities, they can simply turn professional. Yes, the NFL and NBA have draft age minimums, but those rules were put in place by the leagues, not the NCAA. Does that not fall under the rubric of the “fair market”? Since the NFL won’t accept a player who is not yet three years removed from his senior year in high school, the “fair market value” for a freshman or sophomore in college is actually zero. Yet, the NCAA is still “compensating” those players with a free education and other expenses, even if they are among the 98 percent who will never make a dime playing football. If anything, most of these guys are overpaid.

    So Davis basically has the myths down cold: College players are getting a very good deal and if they don’t like it, they should go work elsewhere.

    What’s wrong with that argument? Well, it confuses the current collusive market, where the NCAA controls well over 95% of the demand for college athletic talent with a truly free market, and it confuses a generous but collusive offer with a free market offer.

    Specifically, when Davis says there is No Demand for freshman and sophomores in college, what he means is that other than the cartel of schools that have agreed not to pay the athletes, there is no demand. So in essence, he’s saying that the NCAA has succeeded in cartelizing 100% of the industry. That’s not a defense, it’s an indictment.

    Antitrust laws exist for a reason, as do labor laws. A capitalist society should recognize that collusion is damaging to a free-market economy. Indeed, the irony of this myth is that it is designed to prop up the current collusion in the name of capitalism, but the current collusion is basically socialist. … The NCAA maximum allowable athletic scholarship is not a free market offer. It is a take-it-or-leave it offer by a monopsonist. The smattering of high schoolers who can do better outside the NCAA does not mean the NCAA can escape from the fact that it is the sole option for the vast majority of college aged athletes. The Hobson’s choice they offer (my scholarship or no scholarship) is no choice at all.

    That said, a GIA is in fact, very valuable and of course any parent would love to have the school pick up the tab for one of the most expensive investments they will ever make in their child. Plus, to the extent a student gets into a school that their grades and test scores might not otherwise merit, it’s hard to place a specific dollar value on that entrée.

    But that misses the point entirely. The point is not that college athletes get no value in exchange for playing sports for their schools, since they clearly are getting compensated with a valuable scholarship. If the NCAA did not collude to limit how much each school can offer to incoming high school football and basketball players, those athletes destined for the major conferences would get everything that they currently get and far, far more. The idea is not that the GIA isn’t valuable (although the million dollar claim is laughable), but rather that it is far less than the value of what the schools would gladly pay in a free market, if the NCAA didn’t cap compensation.

    And if the schools were operating in a market system where they could give more, they would, because even at the current “full ride” price, college athletes are cheap relative to the profits they bring in, and competition would force schools to pay more to get the most-prized recruits.

    But in the end I have to give Davis credit, because he actually propounded a new Myth, one I will have to add to my list as Myth 14, which is:

    If anything, most of these guys are overpaid.

    Although the NCAA has a maximum scholarship, cap, it does not have a minimum. Which means that when we see school after school offering a full scholarship to these athletes, when they could have offered them less, it means that their value (and competition) forces the schools to pay for it. This is actually really basic economics, but I am thankful that I can address this in a new chapter when the Myths paper becomes the Myths book.

    • John Casper says:

      Andy, thanks for a terrific comment. You understand capitalism and that it nurtures competition, innovation, and a meritocracy; all the thing that unregulated monopolies and oligopolies hate.

      Unless the football factories are preparing their football players to compete for jobs outside of football (and educating them more broadly to become good citizens), the scholarship has less than zero value. It’s ripping the “student” out of “student-athlete.”

      Seth is missing that it’s robbing players of a time in their life, when for the sake of their own future, they should have been investing more in their own academic advancement.

      Florida State got in trouble when the NCAA transcripts came out, that they had players reading at the level of primary-school. Among a lot of things that Seth doesn’t understand, that’s illegal. A University by law is prohibited from issuing academic credit for course work that’s not consistent with POST-SECONDARY education. Florida State was at least trying to advance these students from where they really were as students, because the fraud starts at the admission process, when they certify to the players and their families that they are able to do college level work. If you look at players like Mario Manningham (MI) and Terrelle Pryor (tOSU), who score very low on the NFL’s wonderlic, it appears the Universities don’t follow FSU. They actually keep players in courses they can’t comprehend, to insulate the institution from fraud charges.

      As a reporter, Seth and SI have a responsibility to steward the once proud brand of college football. See Hugh Fullerton for a reporter who understood his responsibility to his readers. Seth is enabling Universities to insure that more college football players will end up in unemployment lines, bankruptcy courts, and prison. Fostering an environment where an Alan Page, can aspire to become a MN Supreme Court Justice, not likely with reporters such as Seth.

      • Ed Houghton says:

        I will disagree with the assertion that our current form of capitalism is a meritocracy. Pure capitalism (with the absence of misinformation) is meritocratic. Our current system, however, rewards those at the top far beyond their actual merit due to the collusive compensation practices of compensation “experts” and general corporate hubris.
        Which means that our current business culture is just like the NCAA. I believe that NCAA stands for Nobody Cares About Athletes. The major schools are entertainment providers, pure and simple. Their behavior has nothing to do with the primary academic purpose of the school. If the accounting department at Michigan had a 2% post graduation placement rate, do you think it would be heralded in the media as a great achievement? Yet that is exactly what the football players are getting.
        If any of my sons had shown some real talent in baseball I would have taken him to the pros, not even if all he had was a pittance of a signing bonus and a minor league roster spot. Why? Because the pros don’t grind up their assets in the minor leagues, because winning isn’t really the object. Player development is.
        My belief is that the income from sports activities should be taxable income, and that donations for expenditures (coaches salaries, stadiums, etc) are not tax deductible expenses.

  4. John Casper says:

    Seth’s assertion that a scholarship for most of these players has any value is completely wrong. The best players are frequently unprepared to do college level work. After three-years at Ohio State, Terrelle Pryor scored a 7 on the NFL’s wonderlic. Deans and faculty routinely commit serial academic fraud by issuing grades that keep players eligible. In most cases the players and their families have no idea they’re receiving fraudulent grades and an education that is worth almost nothing. It’s no different than trading a grade for sex or cash. Per Jim Harbaugh and Tom Brady, football players are routinely slotted into easy majors that don’t prepare them to compete for jobs outside of football. That makes it easier for them to spend more time lifting weights, watching film, practice, and (just like the NFL), memorizing tendencies: by down and distance, formation, score, field position, and personnel packages. That’s what all NFL and college players have to do each week of their season. Seth’s assertion that a scholarship in most cases is commensurate with the value the player creates is completely unsupported by the facts.
    OT, last year, the UFL charged the NFL a $150,000 transfer fee per player. That’s for developmental costs and the college presidents should do the same. MLB owners have to fund their own minor leagues, there’s no reason NFL owners can’t pay for their own minor leagues.

  5. Dan says:

    Taylor,

    I have found back and forth with you and Seth very insightful and entertaining. However there are a few keys points I wish one of you would have mentioned.

    1. No one is forcing these athletes to go to college to make it professionally. Brandon Jennings proved that when he played in Europe for a year then went to the NBA. He has made a pretty good career so far hasn’t he? While the NFL has a three year rule, this is not an NCAA rule. Players can play in the UFL, CFL or any of the 1000′s of Arena Leagues if they want to play professional right out of High School.

    These college athletes know what they are signing up for. If they do not like it either accept the consequences of their actions or play professionally elsewhere. They want their cake and eat it to and that does not always work.

    2. No one mentions then millions of college kids doing unpaid internships every year for nothing (maybe room and board) from their company. Several interns I have had work for me either saved the company over six figures or made us that money. Yet they do not profit?

    3. People are only focusing on what the athletes get while they are in college. No one mentions the benefit they get once they graduate. I would argue playing football at Ohio State will almost certainly guarantee a player a pretty darn good job after college, one he probaby would not have gotten, even with the same resume, had he not played football.

    4. No one is saying AJ Green or Terrell Pryor cannot profit off of their jersey, helmets or autographs. All the NCAA is saying is you cannot do it until you are out of school. To me, this is impatience on the player. In the case of AJ Green, he could not wait another 8 months to sell his jersey for a few $1000? He would be a multi-millionaire in less then a year.

    I do not agree with a lot of the NCAA rules and believe some need drastic updating. You and Seth make some strong points but no one ever talks about the Athletes taking responsibility. They have options outside of college athletics. This is where I blame the Universities and Coaches more then anything. They want the player so bad that they do not even try to understand the motivation behind the players. If they did, perhaps they might understand where the player is best suited (college or EuroLeague) as opposed to winning games.

    • Teo says:

      Dan

      1.) The NCAA exists in part to profit off of the choices these college kids make (such as staying at Ohio State or at UCLA or wherever). Sure, the kids could leave/never attend and try to make it to the NFL or NCAA. It’s possible and it even works in very rare instances. But that doesn’t change the fact that the NCAA makes a ton of money off of these kids. It resists the notion of sharing even a little bit of it.

      2.) I hardly think that the interns at companies generate the kind of revenue that a Terrelle Pryor generates for Ohio State and the NCAA. If your intern committed the kind of rules violations that Pryor committed last BCS season, do you think your intern would have been allowed to come to work the next day? With Pryor, of course, the advertisers and, eventually, the NCAA required that he play in the BCS game against Arkansas. Why? Without Pryor and his buddies, Arkansas would have won by 50.

      3.) Your third argument is ridiculous. It ignores the reality that big-time college athletes often lack the academic skills needed to successfully navigate the college experience. Southern California, with its 50% graduation rate for football is a prime example. The third stringers who play at USC graduate and land good jobs. The first stringers may end up getting paid outside of college to play. But they don’t get paid to work anywhere else because they often lack the academic success/requirements needed to land a job. This is true even with the name recognition (i.e. the employer wants to make sure that it gets a decent return on its investment; doing so comes not by hiring someone famous on the football field but capable in the classroom).

      4. Actually, the NCAA is telling Terrelle Pryor that he cannot profit off of a lot of the things he did while in college. As Branch describes, Ed O’Bannon is suing the NCAA and various video game manufacturers because the NCAA is keeping profits that flow from “his” likeness in video games. That O’Bannon would think he’d be in a video game when he signed his LOI to play at UCLA in the early 1990s is doubtful. Finally, as for “waiting” until Green was a professional, you assume that the professional status is a guarantee. Football is a violent sport and a kid’s career can end at the drop of a hat. Of course these kids should be able to sell jerseys and hats and autographs when their brand recognition is high.

      Bottom line: the kids in the revenue generating schools are mistreated and should be paid.

  6. Freddie says:

    You haven’t even attempted to rebut the most serious criticism: the large majority of colleges lose money on college sports.

    • Ed Houghton says:

      Freddie –

      That is what they claim. As a financial analyst, I can tell you that the claim of loss for most of these “losers” is cash positive. For example, the depreciation on the stadium (that was donated to them) results in a non-cash charge to income. The result reduces income while being cash neutral. it is the cash that pays the bills. If they weren’t generating significant positive cash flow, they wouldn’t be doing it. They couldn’t afford it. Either each student at Alabama pays $236 for Nick Saban to coach there, or the money is coming from somewhere else.

  7. Mike Su says:

    I just posted a comment on Andy’s blog post, but thought I’d leave it here as well since Seth doesn’t allow comments on his article.

    One other thing worth noting, in Davis’ article he fears that allowing athletes to secure endorsement deals would lead to a world where coaches bring along endorsement deals (using Saban and a car dealership as an example). That is just about the worst reason on the face of the earth to NOT pay these athletes. “Sorry bud, it gets kinda complicated if you were to be paid fair market value, so instead, let’s keep you free”. So let the lazy rich guy continue to exploit the poor athlete because figuring out a way to pay him fairly would just be too much work.

    Furthermore, he makes the argument that we’re making an argument on behalf a small number of elite that will be multimillionaires soon anyway, but that completely misses the point. The vast majority of D1 NCAA players will never suit up in a professional uniform, and then are left with nothing. Even the ones that make it will for the most part have short careers. The fact that Ed Obannon is working at a car dealership in Vegas should speak volumes.

    Incidentally, if the colleges are losing money left and right then they are absolutely terrible businessmen because the pro leagues which do not have orders of magnitude higher revenue levels and have all the equipment, travel, and facilities expenses the colleges have PLUS player salaries seem to be doing just fine. Mr. Davis if you could find me 12 (or 55) employees that are willing to be paid $50k a year and generate me eight to nine figures in profits outside of college sports, well, sign me up.

    Another thing that often gets lost in the discussion is that most of the people arguing against paying athletes are people who live a privileged lifestyle. Most of these athletes being exploited are poor inner city youth. It is annoying if not completely offensive to see these people peering down from the ivory towers and continuing to tell these poor athletes, the majority of which will be at the peak of their marketability (and therefore earning potential) in their college years, that they should simply be happy with their college scholarship (which is a sham because even at Ivy Leagues most of these players are not getting an actual education). If Branch lost him at the point he talked about colonialism, well, Davis lost me when he dismissed it.

  8. john chamberlin says:

    Note that Seth Davis’ employer is yet another of the parasites rhat profits from the indentured servitude of their athlete employees (NOT students) . Mr Davis, you give a new meaning to chutzpah, to say nothing of dispassionate balanced journalism.

  9. marla miller says:

    Taylor, I saw you on Colbert- u handled his zaniness well—I not only agree with you, I’m the mom of a few of these D-1 athletes and dear friend to one guy right now who’s finishing his college career—I can tell you stories about how they aren’t treated for stuff they should be treated for, how the coaching staff takes full advantage of these kids’ passions to play by playing them when they’re injured & should be benched–the list goes on—the coach of this one D-1 player is making 1.5 million/yr & Lord knows what other perks .
    I will contact you in hopes that you offer autographed copies thru ur site maybe? I want to buy one book for this fella who is an AMAZING young man and FINE athlete. He & I talk a lot–he will really respect your story and I have no doubt, will relate.
    Thank you for being brave–butting heads with NCAA has gotta hurt….
    Marla Miller

  10. Steph says:

    Great article! It seems it’s time college athletes should be paid. The NCAA has held down this racket for a long time. If they don’t change, more than $2,000 per year, they’re going to fall. The debate over at TC Huddle got me thinking about this. I wondered what other people were saying and found your opinion.

    Thanks for the post! Enjoyed it. Here’s the article that led me here if you’re curious: http://www.tchuddle.com/2011/07/pay-the-kid-the-earned-dollars-of-college-athletes/

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