The NCAA Continues to Exploit Student-Athletes


Last year, the non-profit NCAA, made a billion dollars in profit. Over 700 million dollars came from the Final Four tournament. Football was a close second. Both sports are dominated by black athletes and both sports that have the most stringent rules on amateurism prohibiting athletes from playing at an amateur level for pay while maintaining their eligibility to play collegiately.

A couple of years ago, two NCAA profiles shocked me. One was the academic advisor for the Kentucky men's basketball team, who had become all but useful with the one-and-done culture at Kentucky. The other was former UConn guard, Shabazz Napier, shedding light on how he and many division 1 NCAA athletes struggled financially and often went hungry. Both point to a systemic problem with how the NCAA conducts business and points to one end. The NCAA prioritizes profit over people and their education. How do we let these young people starve and ignore their need for education?

Many players come from poverty, so a chance to jump from college to the professional ranks to make money from their talents and ability is often more attractive than staying in school to obtain a degree. Players often declare for the draft at the wrong time and go undrafted leaving them with little to no options. Given the short life-span of the average professional career 3-5 years, the odds are stacked against them concerning securing viable options for themselves and their families.

If NCAA athletes were given revenue shares, I believe more of them would stay in school and finish. The one and done culture and the lack of pay for NCAA athletes are both harmful to the black community as black athletes dominate the NCAA's most lucrative sports. Too many athletes see college as a formality to reaching their dreams of being professional athletes. The answer is not rules that make college mandatory or set a minimum number of years before athletes can declare for the draft. These institutions of higher learning should be as concerned with the number of student-athletes graduating with degrees as they are with the profit they make from being known for winning championships or sending student-athletes to the NFL or NBA. If the NCAA and its member universities can make billions from the images and the talents of their athletes, why don't those athletes share in that profit?