Press "Enter" to skip to content

College Sports Still a Racket, Denying Athletes Equal Education

A handful of top-performing and photogenic college athletes are now able to cash in on their talents and ply corporations to pay them for the work they do for universities. That perversion of the free market still leaves universities not only not paying for the value they extort from their indentured athletes but failing to provide them with educational opportunities equal to those offered the actual students on campus:

Athletes receive a desiccated version of the education provided to their peers — particularly in the revenue sports of Power Five men’s football and basketball. The institutions themselves acknowledge that they have ceded control over scheduling to television. In their formal letters of intent, athletes pledge to miss class for athletic pursuits. Choosing challenging majors becomes practically impossible; students are all-too-often clustered in classes perceived by campus advising offices to be less onerous. Coaches often receive bonuses for athlete academic performance. Fraud and cheating have followed so often that it is a matter of when, not where. There’s no getting around the structural reality: For students working full time to receive education-as-wage in a college sport, academics come second.

Even as universities and the NCAA force athletes to accept that an educational benefit is sufficient wage compensation for their talent (it is not), these athletes are producing an outrageous amount of revenue. That revenue goes to everyone else. The NCAA is now a billion-dollar annual monopsony. Thirty-seven public universities earn at least $100 million in revenue per year, the top three over $200 million. A significant chunk of that cash goes to football coaches, 54 of whom receive at least $3 million per year. Many are the highest-paid public employees in their states of residence [Nathan Kalman-Lamb, Jay M. Smith, and Stephen T. Casper, “‘Student-Athlete’ Has Always Been a Lie,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2021.12.06].

If the Legislature really wants to make our universities more efficient and give all students more opportunity, it should get SDSU, USD, and other other campuses out of the sports racket.


  1. Bob Newland 2021-12-07 07:39

    I listened to the audiobook, “Indentured, The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA,” by Joe Nocera, a couple of weeks ago. There’s something to piss a person off on every page. It starts by asking these questions:

    “How can the NCAA blithely wreck careers without regard to due process or common fairness? How can it act so ruthlessly to enforce rules that are so petty? Why won’t anybody stand up to these outrageous violations of American values and American justice?”

  2. larry kurtz 2021-12-07 07:44

    American football is a tool of fascism. NFL players protesting law enforcement industry violence against people of color during the Star-Speckled Banana before contests is America’s just deserts.

    The NFL, the Fox group and the Trump Organization are among the country’s most hated companies. Dissolving the NFL then ending college and high school ball can’t happen soon enough.

  3. Richard Schriever 2021-12-07 08:06

    The surgeon who replaced my hip recently was a former offensive lineman at IA State. He somehow managed to achieve academic all-conference status every year of his undergraduate education. Oh, that’s right, he only started 3 games and only played in a few before his Senior year. He must have defied the “intent” contract and skipped practice or weight training to go to class a lot. I’ll have to ask him.

  4. Porter Lansing 2021-12-07 10:59

    Sports are for gambling.
    Tax the wagers and provide all students with wages on a sliding scale of classroom participation.

  5. Mark Anderson 2021-12-07 13:36

    Well Miami just fired their old coach and replaced him with a coach who will be getting twice as much money and they will end up building a new stadium. A winning record only gets you so far. In every state the football coach is the highest paid state employee, by far. Miami is private but they have to compete. I’m mixed on all this, I love watching college football but it’s such a racket. At least Michigan beat Ohio State this year, now if Auburn had just a little more with Alabama, oh well at least Cincinnati beat out the team of the Lord for the playoffs. Now that’s a bigger racket.

  6. Mark Anderson 2021-12-07 15:20

    Oh by the way Cory when I got my graduate degree from USD, I taught sculpture and natually had a football player that I taught how to cast bronze. Luckily for me he was good. Cast some great football players. Better than the Heisman, which by the way was made by a sculptor from Sarasota. He did miss a few times, it was the fall. I don’t know what I would have done if he skipped and didn’t do anything. I was on a scholarship myself.

  7. Arlo Blundt 2021-12-07 21:09

    Sorry Corey, I support what our SoDak universities are doing by upgrading college sports…broadening the horizons of young South Dakotans and bringing in players from across the nation…the schools are in the right divisions…I played some college football on scholarship in the 60’s…it was pretty low key/

  8. John 2021-12-07 21:17

    100 years late, but we finally have our Bessie Coleman.
    Bessie Coleman grew up in Texas picking cotton. She wanted to fly. Her native and black heritage blocked her education. She moved to Chicago, waited tables for for two years and learned French She moved to France. Earned her pilot license.
    Roads bear her name at O’Hare, Tampa, conference rooms at the FAA and aero-distributors bear her name.

    We have a hero and role model for our granddaughters in our midst. Elspeth Thomas.

  9. Arlo Blundt 2021-12-07 21:38

    should add that I agree with Bob…NCAA is composed of a bunch of old timers who never were and think with their nether regions….Whole thing at that level is a scam, through no fault of student athletes.South Dakota has established good programs without getting into the scams….so far.

  10. grudznick 2021-12-07 21:49

    I, too, agree with my good friend Bob and the wise fellow Mr. Blundt. They know nether regions and they know thinking, and grudznick stands with their thoughts. If you wish to debate us, as a team, we three stand lock shoulder together and probably cannot be out-debated on this matter.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-08 07:13

    D-1 is a racket. DSU does as much to broaden students’ horizons by bringing in international students and professors, actual scholars building actual knowledge. Plus, those international students and professors do more to produce lasting economic development than sporting events, and they require a whole lot less expensive infrastructure and salaries to do it. We can hire dozens of professors and researchers for the price of just a few D-1 football coaches.

  12. Arlo Blundt 2021-12-08 17:07

    cory…agree, division 1 is a racket run by a cabal of power and money hungry university presidents, athletic directors, network sports corporations, regents, and big city “civic leaders” who sponsor the Division 1 Championship series through bowl games in their cities. The Division 1 play off series conferences (Like South Dakota U and State in the Missouri Valley) compete at a much different level and it has much less scam potential…it is more like Division 2.The football coaches at the U and State are both excellent people of the highest standard…a real credit to South Dakota. it’s something we’re doing well. So far. Dakota State has always been an NAIA non scholarship school with true student athletes….those schools in South Dakota are adjusting to new alignments in college athletics with some going to Division 2 (many fewer scholarships and other program perks than Division 1..Black Hills State and Northern are now Division 2) or are moving from NAIA to Division 3, like St. John’s in Minnesota and the Wisconsin state university campuses. (UW-River Falls, UW-Eau Claire etc.)We need to do a better job attracting minority students from South Dakota and the mid-west as well as having robust international student programs.The disparity is not an either/or proposition.

  13. Porter Lansing 2021-12-08 18:37

    College sports promotes something that some students and almost all professors don’t appreciate.

    That’s the definition of entertainment diversity.

    There seems to be an abundance of one type of thinking on this subject, on Cory’s blog.

    It doesn’t matter what the detractors of sports think any more than it matters what I think of calculus.

    I say we need as many things to entertain us as possible.

  14. jerry 2021-12-09 19:44

    Players could unionize like Starbucks employees in Buffalo, New York.

    “In a watershed moment for the recent wave of pandemic-inspired labor organizing, workers at a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York, voted today to form the coffee chain’s first union in the United States.

    Despite months of opposition from party leadership, 19 workers at the Elmwood location in Buffalo voted in favor of unionizing in the election, conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. Only eight opposed.”

    Anything is possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.