WESTWOOD—By now everybody knows about the tragedy that happened to the USC football program. Whether it was the Pete Carroll support video or Reggie Bush once again denying he received any extra benefits, it doesn’t take a sports analyst to know that there is a big problem going on in college sports.
What happened at USC was nothing more than some long overdue light being showered in a dark area. People like to throw around the word student-athlete a lot, but the harsh reality is being an athlete is never second in most players minds. Professional athletes are making more money in every sport right now than ever before and that’s the main thing on most of these players mind.
The sad part of it is–sad for who I’m not really sure–all these schools know about. Do you really think Kentucky thought all-world point guard John Wall was going to stick around for four years and get a degree when he could be making millions in the NBA? If you did then you are sorely mistaken because they knew–just like all the media who were talking about his pro career before he even put on a Wildcat uniform–he was going to be there for only one year, so when he was recruited they didn’t talk about academics or how a Kentucky degree could give him a bright future in the business world. The only subject head coach John Calipari and John Wall talked about was basketball and how the Wildcats would give him the best chance to showcase his talent for the NBA.
This same trend is repeated at pretty much every school around the country and portrays mainly to the big money sports of football and basketball. It’s more of a I scratch your back you make me millions of dollars kind of deal when it comes to these high-profile players, but believe it or not the fault doesn’t lie with the players, the coaches, or even the school for that matter. To find the real cause for the exploitation of college athletes, everyone should direct their attention to the NCAA. Yes, I know I said the NCAA and I know how cynical it may sound, but by looking at the facts it might not sound so farfetched.
In 2006 the NCAA implemented a new rule that forced all college basketball players to stay one year in college or wait one year after high school before they were eligible to join the NBA. At first glance this rule may seem to benefit the players and schools in many ways, and in truth there are some positive aspects of this rule. It allows players to develop into more NBA ready players, gives schools a better chance to win a national championship, makes the athletes think more about their educational future, and of course its good for the fans. This all seems very legit, but when the 10.8 billion dollar deal the NCAA signed this past April with CBS and Turner Broadcasting regarding the broadcast of the Men’s Basketball Tournament gets thrown into the mix, the water starts to get a little murky. I’ve asked a few questions already, but allow me to probe you with another one. Would companies like CBS really pay the NCAA billions of dollars in a broadcasting deal if players like Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, John Wall, Blake Griffin, and OJ Mayo weren’t playing? Would there be as many people tuning in if instead of watching potential first round draft picks there were only players who would only really play in the developmental league on each school’s roster? Answering my own question, it is a definite NO. Much like other organizations around the world, the NCAA is driven by money. As much as the public would like to think it’s the success of student-athletes that drives the motives of the NCAA, its not. Big paydays from broadcast companies are the main reason for many of the things they do, it’s the main force causing teams to join different conferences.
Everyone but college athletes are making money of their performances, so when a player gets in trouble for accepting some money or a couple gifts–even if its USC–forgive me for not jumping on the bag wagon to blame the athlete. Situations like this have happened to UCLA as well, a player named DeShaun Foster may come to mind. The line drawn between right and wrong is not as straight when it come to something like this because in the minds of the athletes caught up in a supposedly immoral situation such as the one Reggie Bush is accused to be a part of, they are simply taking the only piece of pie leftover in the pan left for them to eat.