Big Money Continues To Pour Into College Sports

The reconstituted Big 12 will get billions from TV and video partners.

For the remaining few people who still think college football and college sports is an amateur endeavor played by athletes for the love of the game, The Big 12 Conference and its television-video partners  would like to have a word with you. The conference is about ready to get a six-year, $2.28 billion contract extension with ESPN and FOX sports. College sports is a big business not some archaic notion of college students who love football and would play for nothing. Each of the 12 colleges and universities could get as much as $50 million annually for TV rights to their games in all sports but the schools are getting the money because of football.

Football delivers eyeballs to networks and streaming services and advertisers are willing to pay for those eyeballs. But the Big 12-media deal brings up a question that most everyone in the college sports industry wants to avoid. If the games are so valuable to the schools and TV partners, how come the players, the stars of the show, are not paid directly by the schools? Sure some athletes can get some money by selling their faces and their names to marketing partners but doesn’t it take a full squad of athletes, not just marquee names to produce a sports event? The term “student-athlete” did not exist when Walter Byers took the job at the helm of the NCAA in 1951. It would first appear a number of years later following the death of a college football player on the field. A Fort Lewis A & M student, Ray Dennison, died from injuries suffered in a game in 1955. Dennison’s widow sued for workman’s compensation in Colorado. She lost. Dennison was a student not an employee. The college sports business should be paying players since they are the game.

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