Tune in during college football’s Bowl Season or during March Madness and you are almost guaranteed to hear a discussion about athletes potentially being paid for their efforts on the court or on the field. Those statements fail to address the fact that there are more than 600 colleges that compete at the NCAA Division I and Division II levels. This means that less than 10 percent of athletic programs actually make money, and approximately 90 percent lose money from having athletic teams.
The top dogs like Alabama, Penn State, Michigan, and Texas all profited more than twenty million dollars in the 2010–2011 school year. Sure, they may be able to pay a few of their top players for playing, but what about the bottom half of the list that makes less than five million dollars in revenue? The fact of the matter is athletic departments are not raking in as much profit as the pay-to-play advocates would like you to think.
What Does this Mean for Other Sports?
Given that the notion surrounding the profitability of athletic departments is a myth, how does that affect college athletes? For starters, if athletes were to get paid any amount (most schools can’t even afford the $2,000 pay-to-play measure passed this year), it would create a huge recruiting advantage for the wealthier schools. Let’s not forget that the discussion is surrounding such a small portion of the overall schools and a very limited number of sports.
How Does this Affect My Recruiting?
Most athletes believe coaches will magically appear one day and scout them if they are good enough; this is far from the case. Coaches at most schools have very little money to spend on recruiting. This means that you must be the one to reach out to them. Waiting until your senior year thinking a coach is going to contact you is a recipe for recruiting disaster. Sure, it does happen from time to time, but do you really want to tempt fate with your academic and athletic career hanging in the balance? Get out there and get your recruiting started today.
If Schools Are Making Millions of Dollars and Not Turning a Profit, Where Does that Money Go?
The Business of College Sports has created a chart to depict the college programs whose athletic departments turn a profit. Most profits come from football and to a lesser extent men’s basketball programs. This money is used to support other men’s and women’s programs, and those other sports are really expensive. To afford to pay football and basketball players, schools would have to cut most women’s and men’s programs, in what are called non-revenue sports. Basically, throw Title IX out the window.
It is unlikely that most athletic departments will become profitable anytime soon; how are you going to become more proactive in your recruiting and work your way toward a scholarship?