The unknown future of NCAA revenue in college hoops


Olivia Braito, Graphics Manager

Graphics by Olivia Braito

Michael Caruso, Senior Writer

Every year as March approaches, basketball fans wait in anticipation for the NCAA Tournament. Fans fill out brackets in quixotic hopes of making a perfect entry, school rivalries and comraderies surface, and scouts look at the talent for future NBA players as they play in the most significant games of their college careers. However, there is a controversy over the division between the money the NCAA makes from the tournament and how much the players are actually earning from their play.


According to a recent Forbes article, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament generated $1 billion in revenue last March Madness Tournament, and that number is expected to increase this year. This money goes towards funding college athletic programs, in addition to paying conference commissioners. While referees, coaches, and colleges all profit from the tournament, the players themselves do not share in the wealth. This is a prevalent political issue today, as student-athletes are unable to collectively bargain against their colleges to negotiate the conditions of their “employment.”


This debate has been emphasized more this year than ever before, especially after the NCAA released a video on their social media platforms just before the tournament that depicted a day in the life of a student-athlete. Collegiate and professional athletes took notice, stating it was completely unrealistic for the actors in the commercial to receive more compensation than the players themselves.


An example of the organization’s efforts to present the lifestyles of student-athletes is shown with Duke star, Zion Williamson. CBS created the “Zion Cam” to follow him around throughout the tournament both on and off the floor. “We hired a cameraman, a camera, a digital tape machine to record everything he does,” CBS producer Mark Wolff said to Raleigh’s local newspaper, News and Observer. “We were recording his workout here today in the event something were to happen. We are monitoring Zion 24-7.”


Washington Wizards Power-Forward Bobby Portis responded that the NCAA is “robbing” student-athletes. While he sparked outrage on social media, Portis has a point. If you follow college basketball, you know that the buzz surrounding Williamson is very rare, as he is considered to be one of the most dominant college players of all time. So for CBS Network to commodify the player’s talent through social media, while Zion makes no money, proves that the lucrative scheme the NCAA is taking part in: they are exploiting student-athletes as they are the ones bringing in the profits for the organization.


Now, although the players are not getting paid for the efforts, they are still traveling for free, their meals are paid for by the fundraisers for their respective college teams, and they do not have to pay for housing on the road. It should also be mentioned that the experience the players are getting from the tournament almost mimics an NBA schedule with traveling and games every other day. But the next step now will be to see if the players, either women or men, form unions to get paid for their talents, or if the NCAA will continue its ways by not paying the players, regardless of how much money they may be bringing in to the sport.

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