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Study: Value NCAA Earns From Black Athletes Exceeds the GNP of Russia

Study: Value NCAA Earns From Black Athletes
Exceeds the GNP of Russia

Arecent study by Dr. Boyce Watkins, assistant professor of finance and researcher at Syracuse University, calculates the financial value of the Black athlete to the NCAA to exceed a quarter of a trillion dollars over a 40-year period. This value is in 2004 dollars, and exceeds the value of the largest company in the United States, as well as the 2003 gross national product of Russia.

The study, to be published in the journal Bridges, calls into question whether athletes should be compensated by the NCAA, and why coaches stand to earn millions of dollars while players earn next to nothing for their services in revenue-generating sports.

Watkins makes the following points in his research:

– Less than one-third of all Black Division 1-A basketball players earn college degrees, implying that the finances earned by the NCAA may move universities away from their academic mission.

– Even if 100 percent of all Black athletes earned a college degree, the economic value of their degrees would be only 5 percent of the total economic value of their athletic contribution.

– While many players come from conditions of poverty, their play on the field has led to 43 NCAA coaches earning over $1 million per year, and nine earning over $2 million.

– While Black athletes are the greatest contributors on the field in many sports, they are the last employed as coaches and administrators by the NCAA. Only 3.8 percent of Division 1-A athletic directors and 5.1 percent of coaches are Black.

The financial power Black athletes generate for the NCAA is in sharp contrast to the financial challenges of historically Black colleges and universities. The amount that Black athletes bring to non-Black universities is roughly 125 times greater than the 60-year aggregated fund-raising total of the United Negro College Fund.

The NCAA would be best served to consider either complete amateurism (with salary caps and limits on television appearances) or complete professionalism.

“The results are astounding, and lead to one question; whether or not there is a type of athletic sweatshop in the U.S. that rivals those in China,” says Watkins. “Rectifying the situation would require us to decide if we are a capitalist country or a communist one.”

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