Study: "TV Money Windfall in Big Time College Sports"

Study finds over three-quarters of a billion dollars in new TV revenue, football and basketball players the petition NCAA to invest in their education and basic protections.

NCPA President Ramogi Huma, Drexel Professor of Sport Management Ellen Staurowsky
October 25, 2011

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Riverside, CA - The NCPA and the Drexel Department of Sport Management is releasing a joint study today that finds TV revenues from five major athletic conferences and the NCAA average approximately $784 million per year while total TV revenues have soared to $1.8 billion per year.  The study, titled “TV Money Windfall in Big Time College Sports”, is available on the NCPA web site.  In addition to calculating TV contract numbers, the study questions how this new revenue will be spent.  

Current and past spending patterns indicate that colleges are likely to spend all of the new revenue on luxury athletic facilities and salary increases for coaches and athletic directors.  Also of concern is a recent NCAA proposal to trim roster sizes which would result in the elimination of over 1500 scholarships in Division I football and basketball.

Ramogi Huma, NCPA President and co-author of the study, stated, “It is inconceivable to me that the NCAA and its colleges are considering eliminating over 1500 educational opportunities while enjoying $784 million in new annual revenues that, thanks to their ‘educational mission’, they will receive tax free.”

In explaining the purpose of the study, Drexel University professor Dr. Ellen J. Staurowsky noted, “During the past few months, proposals to address the scholarship shortfall have prompted questions regarding how such proposals would be funded.  With this influx of new money, we argue that this is the time for college presidents, conference commissioners, and athletics administrators to make covering the full cost of attendance a budget priority.”  

Football and basketball players whose talents generate this money and graduate at a rate of about 50% have begun calling on the NCAA and college presidents to invest a portion of new revenues to bring forth comprehensive reform.  Players from Arizona, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Purdue, and UCLA sent NCAA President Mark Emmert a petition signed by the majority of their teams which calls for investing some of the new revenue in reforms that would increase graduation rates among football and basketball players and provide basic protections for players of all sports while complying with Title IX.

In the petition, the players state that the NCAA can “realize its mission to educate and protect us with integrity” by adopting comprehensive reform during its Board meeting scheduled for this week.  The players endorse the NCPA’s call for comprehensive reform including:

- Preventing permanently injured players from losing their scholarships.

- Ensuring players are not stuck with sports-related medical expenses.

- Dividing a portion of new TV revenues evenly among FBS football players and Division I men’s basketball players. This money would go into an educational lockbox (a trust fund) that they can receive if they abide by NCAA rules and graduate, or to pursue our undergraduate degree when their eligibility expires. This would increase their graduation rates and decrease violations.

- Raising scholarships equal to the cost of attendance so schools can fully support their education – an average increase of approximately $3200/year per full scholarship athlete.

- Giving schools the option to prioritize their education by providing multi-year scholarships.

Purdue quarterback Rob Henry is recovering from knee surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered just before the start of this football season.  He stated, “I have been very fortunate with my situation and Purdue paying for everything.  I know there are cases in which players at other schools don’t have the same fortune, and this is morally wrong.”  Henry gathered his teammates’ signatures on the petition and said they were surprised to learn about how much new money was being generated.  He said, “Everyone on my team was astonished.  They were very supportive of the petition, and have been very inquisitive about reform since they signed the petition.  It’s amazing how little players knew about the financial situation of the NCAA before our scholarship shortfall and TV revenue studies.”

UCLA football player Jeff Locke, who circulated the petition among his teammates and the basketball team, is concerned that the NCAA might delay important reforms.  He stated, "As almost $800 million in new TV revenue streams into college football next year alone, it is important that we address these issues surrounding college athletics immediately.  If the NCAA pushes back these issues, the schools will find other ways to spend this money, whether it is put into new facilities or to increase coaches salaries, and the players will not be able to receive the basic protections they need from the billions they help generate."

Arizona wide receiver David Roberts stated, "I felt that it was important that the student-athletes who make up the core of NCAA have their voices heard, which is why I brought the petition to the attention of my teammates. I, along with those who signed the petition, hope that more will be done to benefit future student-athletes that make many sacrifices to be successful on and off the field; but their finances should not be a part of those sacrifices. My teammates and I hope to welcome better protections that will provide a proper experience for student-athletes."

Kentucky cornerback Anthony Mosely who gathered signatures from his teammates stated, “I felt it was important for the petition to be circulated because of the information it held in its contents.  The players should know the details that deal with their collegiate future.  We as players put so much time, energy, and pride into what we represent.  To be under-supported within the NCAA given all of the new money that we’re generating for our schools is just horrible.”

Yesterday, NCAA President Mark Emmert announced that he would support a proposal to allow multi-year scholarships and a scholarship increase of up to $2000 per player.  The NCPA has fought for multi-year scholarships and a scholarship increase for over 10 years and views these possible reforms as important steps in the right direction.  However, the study points out that even if every school decided to provide the maximum scholarship increase of $2000, it would still leave players at 100 FBS schools with an average scholarship shortfall of $1500/year.