As the NCAA college basketball tournament gets started this week, another version of March Madness has been playing out in the U.S. court system and in the court of public opinion: The debate over whether college players should be paid has heated up again.
Earlier this week, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held a hearing to consider a lower court’s ruling that the National Collegiate Athletic Association pay Division I basketball and football players the cost of attending college or contribute $5,000 a year to a trust for them.
A couple of days earlier, Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver went on a rant about how the NCAA’s tournament brings in more than $1 billion in ad revenue, but the organization overseeing college athletics refuses to pay players who often face high tuition and living costs, while the coaches, paid directly by the colleges, often get humongous salaries.
The NCAA is looking to keep in place the current “amateur” system, in which college athletes may receive scholarships but can’t get paid — or, as Oliver pointed out, can’t be given so much as a sandwich without their scholarship being placed at risk. Those student-athletes also aren’t covered by workplace compensation in the case of a serious injury that might result in their athletic scholarship being withdrawn.
College coaches, meanwhile, can benefit tremendously under the current system, with many earning millions. Some have argued that coaches’ salaries, which are often higher than those of university presidents, could also easily pay for tuition or room and board for hundreds of students at their schools, many of whom are using student loans to afford their education.
Redfin, a real estate broker, selected 10 schools participating in the NCAA championship tournament and figured out how many students at the schools could have their annual tuition or room and board costs covered by their basketball coach’s annual salary. The results are astounding:
- Arizona Wildcats’ Sean Miller
Salary: $2.6 million = tuition for 239 students or room and board for 270 students
- Duke Blue Devils’ Mike Krzyzewski
Salary: $9.7 million = tuition for 211 students or room and board for 728 students
- North Carolina Tar Heels’ Roy Williams
Salary: $1.8 million = tuition for 219 students or room and board for 172 students
- North Carolina State Wolfpack’s Mark Gottfried
Salary: $2 million = tuition for 242 students or room and board for 200 students
- Oregon Ducks’ Dana Altman
Salary: $2 million = tuition for 201 students or room and board for 180 students
- Texas Longhorns’ Rick Barnes
Salary: $2.5 million = tuition for 259 students or room and board for 222 students
- University of California, Los Angeles Bruins’ Steve Alford
Salary: $3.5 million = tuition for 273 students or room and board for 239 students
- Villanova University Wildcats’ Jay Wright
Salary: $2.5 million = tuition for 54 students or room and board for 202 students
- Virginia Commonwealth University Rams’ Shaka Smart
Salary: $1.5 million = tuition for 123 students or room and board for 142 students
- Wisconsin Badgers’ Bo Ryan
Salary: $2.4 million = tuition for 231 students or room and board for 282 students
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