April 13, 2011

Experts Say College Athletes are Not Reaping the Benefits of Their Labor

In their research into race and economics in college sports, Robert and Amy McCormick, law professors at Michigan State University, have found that student-athletes, particularly African Americans, don’t reap the benefits of their labor.

Those athletes generate huge revenues for their schools. But, despite getting the opportunity to attend college at little or no cost, they often walk away without a degree or with a substandard education, the McCormicks say. All the while, the predominately white administrators of colleges and intercollegiate sports programs draw rich salaries and their schools build ever-better facilities.

“A largely African American work force – the players – are generating a great deal of wealth by creating the product of college sports, but they are not allowed to share that wealth,” Robert McCormick said.

The average future NFL draftee brings in $400,000 a year and a future NBA draftee brings in $1.2 million a year for their schools, according to Ahmed Taha, professor of law at Wake Forest University School of Law.

If that athlete actually graduates with a degree, it yields them, on average, just $72,868 in annual earnings. And only 56 percent of the 2010 NCAA basketball tournament bracket schools graduate at least 50 percent of their African-American players, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

“African American athletes should not be relegated to providing services for free to benefit and entertain white Americans,” Amy McCormick said. “Legally, as employees, and morally, as human beings, they must be paid.” --- Alicia Roberts

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