In a victory that is reverberating across the collegiate sports landscape, Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy Saturday night. The embattled Auburn quarterback smiled broadly during a news conference after winning the nation’s most coveted college sports award.
This product of south Atlanta did not however, win by an historic margin as some predicted; he had the third-highest percentage ever of first place votes (79%) and his margin of victory was the 11th greatest of all time.
What caused him to lose the support he should have easily garnered given his stellar performance on the field?
It’s now apparent that a silent protest vote took place, where 105 of the 886 voters omitted Newton completely from their top three, over ongoing questions about his recruitment out of junior college. Granted, the young quarterback has never been charged with any wrongdoing. In fact, a lengthy investigation by the NCAA concluded that Cam’s father violated the rules, but the player did nothing wrong and should be allowed to continue to play.
“The conduct of Cam Newton’s father and the involved individual is unacceptable and has no place in the SEC or in intercollegiate athletics,” said Mike Slive, Southeastern Conference commissioner.
The larger question is why was Cam Newton investigated in the first place. Why does the NCAA maintain the charade that collegiate sports are amateur sports? Thus college athletes are not entitled to payment for services rendered to their employers… Oops, I meant colleges.
From the *KentuckySports.com a leading source for SEC sports information, in an article titled “SEC football brings the cha-ching”, look at these staggering numbers enjoyed by big time college football.
- In 2010 the SEC distributed $209 million — $17.3 million for each of its 12 members in the fiscal year that ended Aug. 31. About $150 million of that money came from football through television contracts, bowls and the league’s championship game.
- At LSU, the Tigers take in more than $4 million on Saturday nights in Death Valley — averaging $3.6 million in ticket sales, $550,000 in concessions, $125,000 off souvenirs and $300,000 in parking.
- Alabama University completed a $65 million stadium expansion this summer — the second in four years — pushing capacity to 101,821 and making Bryant-Denny the nation’s fifth-largest facility. Ticketholders pay $500 to hang out and eat before, during and after games in “The Zone.”
- Two professors with the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research found that a Crimson Tide football game has a $21.8 million economic impact on the state. Seven home games in 2008 generated a total of $152.8 million.
- In Tuscaloosa, one football game generates about $14.5 million.
The financial bottom-line impact from these “amateur” athletes on their Colleges, Cities, Towns, Television, etc. is astounding. Noticed I used the word “bottom-line”. As a business school grad that’s a term we use alot because it is the first thing many investors look at to gauge a company’s profitability. For me, that’s what college sports truly are. It’s a business with many tentacles and each one is handsomely rewarded by the success of its product.
Therefore, how can a successful company get away with not paying the employees that produce the product or service? I know it’s great that college athletes get a free education but so does 65% of the other students who don’t make any money for their school. From prized math majors to engineers, students across the school are all awarded a free education. Yet only the athletes produce revenue.
It’s time to end the charade…College Sports is a business and the NCAA is the largest employer in the US. So either pay your employees or be ready to assume your real title.
I know it’s harsh…but if you step back from the initial sting of my accusation..
…doesn’t it truly fit?
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