By C.J. Demers
The terms student-athlete and amateur are synonymous. The name student-athlete was coined in 1964 by the first ever executive director of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and holds much more weight than people would like to think. Student-athlete was not just created to keep the amateur status of college athletes, but to prevent universities from having to pay workers’ compensation to its athletes. This becomes a big issue in the eyes of the athletes when a team can generate 95 million dollars for its university, or have a company sign a 280-million-dollar apparel deal with a university.
During the 2015 college football season the University of Alabama football team had a great season and the amount of money generated by the team was unparalleled. This quote from Forbes truly shows the magnitude of wealth a single team of student-athletes can generate. “Not only did Nick Saban deliver the University of Alabama its 4th national college football title in 7 years, but he also helped subsidize the entire Crimson Tide athletics department by generating an astonishing $95,132,301 in revenue, the most ever by any single team in the history of college sports.”
From the outside looking in, this sounds great. The players on the University of Alabama football team have helped their entire University and fellow student’s athletes out. However, none of these players will ever see this money these athletes worked for. If each of the 103 student-athletes were to see an equal share of this money they would each receive $923,614.57. While there are still other expenses that need to be paid $95 million is a ridiculous amount of money to be generated by a group of amateurs. Had these athletes not won the National Title, there would not be over 95 million dollars for the rest of the athletic program. This is not the only time where college athletes generate an immense amount of money based off of their play.
The University of California Los Angeles, also known as UCLA, recently signed a 15 year 280-million-dollar apparel deal with Under Armour. This is not just some run of the mill apparel deal. The UCLA-Under Armour deal is the largest sneaker and apparel deal ever made, with the next largest deal being nearly 30 million dollars less. This sneaker and apparel deal was so groundbreaking, that former UCLA football coach Jim Mora was quoted saying “We just signed the most lucrative deal in the history of college sports.”
As you look deeper into the UCLA-Under Armour agreement, you begin to find some interesting things. The Los Angeles times stated that “Under Armour has committed to supplying an average of $7.4 million in clothing, shoes and equipment each school year and contribute an additional $2 million over the next eight years for upgrades at facilities such as the Morgan Center and the Acosta Athletic Complex.” By using those numbers only 127 of those 280 million dollars are being used. This brings into concern the ideas of what will really happen with the leftover 153 million dollars and why the UCLA athletes should not see any of this excess 153 million dollars.
Under Armour did not just sign the biggest sneaker and apparel deal of all time with UCLA because Under Armour just felt like it. This begs the question of why these athletes cannot get paid. There is such an excess of money that it seems insane for these athletes to not even see a fraction of it. The issue is such a problem because this 280-million-dollar deal was created because of the success of UCLA athletics. This is money that the UCLA athletes worked for, and without them, this deal would never have even been a thought.
Division I colleges and universities are able to use their student-athletes to make money. UCLA and the University of Alabama are two extremes that have large amounts of money that athletes do not get to see. Athletes at these big time Division I colleges and universities, should be able to make money based on their on-field performance. Money would be allocated through a pay-for-play type scenario, where athletes would be able to make money off of how well they play and how much their respective institution uses them for advertisements.