If you're a college athlete and you're worried that the NCAA is "taking advantage of" or "exploiting" you... I strongly suggest you flip your perspective. The reality of the situation is that only a small percentage of NCAA Division 1 athletes go on to play professional sports, and the ones that are good enough will get their millions in due time.
The NCAA is far from perfect, as guest writer Grant Prusator, told us back in December. However, playing an NCAA Division 1 sport on full-scholarship is a TREMENDOUS opportunity. I was fortunate enough to EARN a full-scholarship to play football at Indiana State University and I couldn't be more thankful for the education and platform that ISU provided me with.
I loved football and my teammates, I loved being in class and learning new things every single day, aaaaand I didn't have to pay a dime. I don't believe I was exploited at all. If anything, I did all I could to exploit the NCAA myself. I wanted to make sure that I would be fully prepared for life after college, whether that be playing sports or playing the business world. Either way... I was going to be the player. I was going to be the one manipulating and leveraging opportunities.
I know the NCAA makes a lot of money each year and still considers themselves a non-profit organization. According to a report the NCAA put out recently, the organization earned over 1 billion dollars in 2017.
CNN - The collegiate athletic group earned nearly $1.1 billion in 2017, based on a financial statement it put out on Wednesday. More than $800 million of that is due to lucrative TV rights deals with CBS and Turner, which also owns CNN. In April 2016, the NCAA renewed that deal for $8.8 billion.
This also doesn't account for all of the NCAA's expenses in 2017. Although big time D1 football and basketball brings in a majority of the cash, that money has to be used to fund the sports that don't gain that much notoriety and exposure.
The players that play for programs that generate tons of money are compensated through exposure, travel amenities, gear, training tables, stipends, etc., that are vastly different from the programs that aren't generating sufficient revenue.
At ISU we rarely played on National TV, do you realize that most of Power 5 schools play ALL of their games on major TV networks!? What an amazing opportunity to represent yourself, your family, and your program! You honestly couldn't place a price on all the exposure and benefits that the NCAA provides for these athletes. Some take advantage of it, some don't. Some let the NCAA play them, others play the NCAA.
The NCAA was intended to serve the STUDENT-athlete. If you have no interest in being a student than I strongly suggest you search for opportunities outside of the NCAA.
I have an overwhelming level of respect for Brandon Jennings and Emmanuel Mudiay (pictured above). They realized that they would rather be playing basketball full-time than sitting in a classroom, so that's exactly what they did. The NBA requires athletes to be one year removed from high school before declaring for the draft, these players spent that year playing outside of the NCAA.
By skipping out on the NCAA, Jennings and Mudiay missed out on a taste of the college life, on all of the madness that comes with March, and all of the publicity that comes along with the experience.
The athletes that deserve their millions will get them, the students that want their education will get it. Either way, the NCAA is a great platform that athletes need to take advantage of. Instead of "working" for the NCAA, allow the NCAA to start working for you.