Kai Ryssdal: I was at a big-time college football game this weekend. Had a lot of fun, it was a great game. But it really did bring home the fact that college sports are really big business — hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars-a-year big business.
The athletes who actually play the games, though, are largely left out of the profits; even full-ride scholarships don’t actually cover the real costs of college. So this week the NCAA is going to start talking about how to fix things. Marketplace’s Amy Scott has more from the Education Desk at WYPR in Baltimore.
Amy Scott: The NCAA is looking at adding $2,000 to athletic scholarships, and allowing schools to offer multi-year scholarships instead of one-year deals.
Kenneth Shropshire directs the Wharton Sports Business Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania. He says one hope is that more money could help clean up college sports. Players have gotten in trouble recently for selling team memorabilia and accepting gifts.
Kenneth Shropshire: The stories come every year, whether it’s sports agents or boosters or even coaches, that money somehow has continued to kind of float around in this secret economy.
But some colleges say they can’t afford to pay athletes more. Bob Kustra is president of Boise State University. He says most states are facing budget crises and cutting college funding.
Bob Kustra: Now doesn’t seem to be the time to put any money on top of what is already a full ride for so many of these student athletes.
But college athletes say that full ride comes up about $3,000 short when you include costs like travel and laundry. Ramogi Huma is president of the National College Players Association. He says together, some of the big conferences make close to $800 million a year from TV deals.
Ramogi Huma: College sports is not struggling. It’s reflected in the coaches’ salaries and bonuses, and stadium expansions. But somehow players are still being stuck with medical bills, and losing their scholarships when their injured. It’s just not genuine.
Boise State’s Bob Kustra says the wealthy conferences will likely jump on the extra scholarship money, leaving the less well-off struggling to attract players.
I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.
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