EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

December 14, 2012

Time to pay bigtime college athletes

Mistreatment of big-time college athletes is criminal

Nick Saban is the best college football coach in America.

The Alabama coach makes $5,476,738 a year.

Johnny Manziel is the best player in college football, he makes about $18,200, the value of his scholarship (tuition and room and board).

They are probably of similar value to their universities, but Saban makes literally 300 times as much as the Heisman Trophy winner.

That’s just wrong. And it has to stop.

Now.

How do you calculate “Johnny Football’s” value to Texas A&M? Certainly, it’s subjective, but ESPN.com said last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Robert “RG III” Griffin, was worth $250 million to Baylor last season.

When college teams win big, the stadiums are packed, the TV contracts are mind-boggling, the merchandise flies off the shelf and endowments soar.

And Johnny Football earns $18,200?

No matter how you slice it, it would impossible to say in an open market he shouldn’t make $10 million next year as a returning legend.

Big-time college sports are corrupt to the core, but the athletes, who make it all go, are supposed to penniless amateurs.

Even if you don’t pay the superstars fair-market wages, how about a healthy salary for all big-time football and men’s basketball players from the big 5-6 conferences (SEC, ACC, Big 12, PAC 12, BIG 10 and perhaps Big East basketball). Make it $80,000. The maximum is 85 football scholarships per school so that’s $6.8 million a year. For basketball, with its 13-scholarship maximum, it would be just over $1 million.

With a handful of exceptions, others sports don’t make money — most actually lose money but are bankrolled by football and men’s basketball — so those athletes would be limited to their scholarships. As would the smaller 1-A football programs and the smaller 250 or so men’s basketball programs which don’t have the huge TV contracts.

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